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Ireland and the Irish in America: A Living Musical Tradition: Eckley Miners' Village

Companion to a display in the Rohrbach Library featuring library resources related to Ireland, Irish immigration to the United States, and Irish traditional music

Local Connection -- Eckley Miners' Village

     Eckley Miners’ Village near Weatherly, Pennsylvania is a restored “patch” town. It was one of many company towns built by coal companies in the nineteenth century to provide housing for their miners. Many Irish immigrants found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Eckley gained notoriety in 1969 when it and the town of Jim Thorpe were used as the primary sets for the feature film, The Molly Maguires. Since that time, Eckley has been operated as a museum by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

     One of the persistent problems in patch towns such as Eckley was the relentless conflict between miners of different ethnicities. Miners from different parts of Europe lived in separate parts of town and labored in separate work gangs. This ethnic antagonism was a major barrier to union organizers such as John Mitchell, first president of the United Mine Workers of America. Mitchell frequently told the miners, "The coal you mine is not Slavic coal. It's not Irish coal. It's not Polish coal. It's not Italian coal. It's coal." Until the miners learned that lesson, nothing would change. After half a century of failed efforts to organize mine workers in a united job action, John Mitchell led a successful strike against the mine owners in 1900. 

     For more information about Eckley Miners' Village and to take a virtual tour of Eckley, click here.

History of Anthracite Mining Links

For additional information on the history of coal mining and labor organization in Pennsylvania check these links: