A photograph of the top the fourth and final built breaker at the Short Mountain Colliery of the Lykens Valley Coal Company, Bear Gap, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. It was completed in 1913 and served the colliery until it closed in the early 1930s.
A group of unidentified “breaker boys” sit on coal cars ready to be dumped into the breaker, where the coal was freed of debris and shaken through a series of sizing screens, eventually ending up in coal cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad at the bottom.
“Breaker boys” were a combination of child labor and men who were injured in the mines and could no longer do the underground work of mining.
The man in the lower left corner is holding a sprag in the wheel of the last car shown. This was the only method of braking or stopping the colliery cars. An iron bar had to be thrust into the spokes of the wheel, which checked its motion when the bar hit the underside of the car. Careless handing of the sprag could result in crushed fingers or a crushed hand. A slightly enlarged section of the photo is shown below.
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