Wednesday, January 17, 2024

State Grant Awarded to Reclaim Abandoned Mine Lands Near Ashland's Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train

A state grant for $605,849 was awarded to a project to reclaim abandoned mine lands near the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train in Ashland on Wednesday, by Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) and Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-123).
The grant, awarded through the Abandoned Mine Lands and Acid Mine Drainage Grant Program, aims to protect the health and safety of communities grappling with the impacts of abandoned coal mines.

Ed Wytovich, a member of the Board of Directors of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train, highlighted the positive impact of the grant. “This grant will lead to increased safety at the mine by reinforcing the tunnel,” he explained. “It will also be good for the environment by reforesting part of the mountain. Ultimately, it should end up favorably impacting everyone who visits the area, including local ATV riders.”

The funds will be utilized for a project focused on backfilling approximately 10,000 feet of open mine pits and several deep mine openings on Ashland Mountain. Part of the Mammoth pit will remain open at the end of the rail trail for educational purposes, featuring a fenced-in safety area for visitors to learn about mine reclamation.

Senator Argall expressed his gratitude for the competitive funding, stating, “There’s no better place to learn more about the backbreaking and dangerous labor that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents needed to perform in the mines to feed their families than Pioneer Tunnel. I’m thankful they were awarded this highly competitive funding to make the surrounding area safer.”

Representative Twardzik emphasized the commitment to revitalizing and safeguarding the historic site. He said, “This funding underscores our commitment to revitalizing and safeguarding this historic site, contributing to the well-being of Schuylkill County residents and fostering sustainable tourism. I am truly happy to see these resources allocated to such a meaningful project.”