A fun place to visit that is also educational is right up my alley. Let’s visit the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine in Ashland, Pennsylvania!
On a recent visit to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania (more on that coming soon), I was looking for fun things to do along the way home. I checked my favorite travel app, Roadside America, because it’s is a treasure trove of quirky things to do and see based on your current location, and that’s how I discovered the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine. Although we have visited coal mines for tours before (see Exhibit A), this one was a little different because you could take a ride through the coal mine in one of their coal buckets on a track. There is also a separate ticket you can buy for a ride on a steam locomotive train (we didn’t do that one because we got there too late to catch the last ride of the day).
So because we’re knee-deep in COVID times where everything is upside-down and you can’t assume anything is operating, we called first to make sure they were still open and had tickets available before we made our way there, and luckily they were open and ready for us. The tickets are reasonably priced at $11 for adults and $8 for kids, and combo tickets are available if you add the steam locomotive ride to your purchase as well. We got there a few minutes before the scheduled start of our mine tour, and that was just enough time to check out their small gift shop and make the requisite souvenir purchases of must-haves. Maddie also found a smashed penny machine (which, you know, is my favorite souvenir ever!), and I was so glad because it was the only one we had seen all weekend.
Once it was time to start our tour, Joe Keohoe, our fun and knowledgeable guide, directed us to choose a car and make ourselves comfortable. Our group of six filled up a car on own, so you know we took our masks off as soon as we sat down since we weren’t anywhere near anyone else!
The ride started with a lurch (he warned us first) and ambled along the bumpy tracks into the darkness of the mountain. We ended up being 450 feet underground once the car stopped and we got out. We walked around as Joe pointed out different areas of the tunnel and rattled off way too many facts to retain, and, I’m not gonna lie, I worried a bit about an avalanche and us being buried under the mountain, particularly when I noticed the wood beams that were holding everything up. Good times!
The tour lasted about 40 minutes, and he was great in answering any questions we threw at him. No question, he knows his stuff. Our visit was a fun way to break up the car ride home and stretch our legs, learn a few things, and cool off from the humidity (because inside the tunnels, it’s a cool 50 degrees!).
Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train
9th & Oak Streets
Ashland, Pennsylvania, 17921
Hungry for more things to do in Pennsylvania?
Our visit to Turkey Hill to learn about ice cream making was a popular one!
You can’t go wrong with Hershey Park in the Fall.
Lost River Caverns is another fun tour in PA.
I loved the Eastern State Penitentiary (so many great photos that day!).
I still need to take my kids to visit the Magic Gardens.
And my Pinterest board dedicated to Pennsylvania visits.