An old picture post card aerial view of the operations of the Lykens Valley Coal Company at Bear Gap, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, sometime between 1912 and 1915.
The wooden structure at left contained the machinery for the digging of a vertical mine shaft near the center of the Bear Gap. The intent was to burrow straight down and create five mining levels, each approximately 300 feet deeper than the one above it. Extending from the shaft would be tunnels from which the coal could be extracted and brought up on steam powered elevators through the shaft in coal cars. The coal cars would be pushed from the elevator onto tracks which would go to the breaker.
This mining method was chosen because using the slopes had become too expensive since the available coal was too deep.
Once the shaft was completed, the wooden structure was replaced with steel, which can be seen in later photographs of the operation.
The white smoke coming from the building at the center is from coal burned to operate the steam engines that powered the shaft digging and other machinery at the site. After a while it was discovered that the burning of coal for this purpose was eating too much into the profits and the coal company began thinking about building an electrical power plant at the site. That became a reality in 1921.
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