Skip to main content

Skeleton found in coal mine

An unidentified coal breaker in Scranton, circa 1905

With thousands miles of abandoned mines below the surface of Pennsylvania, one can only imagine how many skeletons still lurk in the inky depths....

From the June 23, 1910 edition of The Scranton Truth:

Workmen in the Mount Pleasant mine of the Scranton Coal Company made a ghastly find this morning when in making a tour of the old workings at that colliery they came upon the skeleton of a man lying across the pathway. It was evident that the body had been lying there a number of years and nothing was found near the body that would lead to the identification of the remains. From the position in which the skeleton was found it is not probable that the man met death by accident incident to the unusual risks in mining such as fall of roof.

Indications point rather to the theory that the man may have lost his way and wandered into the old workings, where he either fell exhausted before he was able to get back on the right track or was murdered and dragged into the workings to hide the crime. No one in the vicinity remembers of the sudden disappearance of anyone within the past few years that would lead to the solution of the mystery. 

Not a particle of flesh remains on the bones of the victim, but portions of the clothes are still intact. Coroner Saltry was notified by David Williams, an employe of the company, but it is hardly probable that an inquest will throw any light on the mystery.

Popular posts from this blog

Mount Carmel's Mysterious Suicide Cell

Tucked away at the head of North Oak Street in Mount Carmel is a quaint shop housed in a tiny historic brick building. The Shop at Oak & Avenue is a must-see destination for visitors, offering an impressive variety of gifts and handmade jewelry. It is a gem in an otherwise drab coal town whose glory days faded away with the demise of the steam locomotive and the trolley.

While this quaint small town gift shop gives off a pleasant appearance, the history of the building-- one of the oldest in the borough-- is tinged with horror and death. For this tiny building, erected in the 1880s, served as Mount Carmel's first city hall and jail, and this jail had a rather dark distinction of being the site of the cursed and mysterious "suicide cell".

History records six suicides taking place in the basement cell, along with scores of other attempted suicides. For a reason that has defied explanation, this tiny jail in this tiny town seems to bring out the darkest demons lurking wi…

Natalie, Pennsylvania: A Murderer's Paradise

When a miner named Michael Wanzie was murdered in June of 1905, it was evident that something wasn't quite right in the tiny village of Natalie. Although the scenic mountain village had a population of less than two hundred, the slaying of Michael Wanzie was the fourth murder committed in the village in less than a decade.

By 1924 the population had nearly doubled, thanks to a building "boom" that saw the construction of 40 new homes during the preceding year by builders employed by the Colonial Collieries Company, owners of the Natalie Colliery. Twenty of these homes, many of which still stand today, were built by the Evert Construction Company of Kulpmont. In 1923 there were 56 homes in the village, housing 375 residents. By April of 1924 that number would swell to just under 400 residents and 93 homes.

Although the building boom lent a measure of respectability to the village, Natalie was still imbued with a notorious reputation as being one of the most lawless places …

The True Story of Shamokin's Famous "Mystery Head"

Hardly a week goes by that I don't receive an email from a Pennsylvania Oddities reader asking me to write about the Shamokin "mystery head"-- yes, the very same human head, complete with curly hair and mustache, that was put on display in the window of the Farrow Funeral Home (presumably to show off the establishment's embalming abilities) and later displayed at a local mining museum. The head belonged to an unidentified murder victim whose headless body was found in the woods near the Hickory Ridge colliery in 1904, and the head has been a source of local pride and urban legend ever since.

I've resisted the urge to write about the "mystery head" for a few reasons. Having grown up in the area, I heard about it so many times that the story has worn thin. Secondly, the erroneous local legends and false claims are probably a lot more entertaining than the actual truth about the "mystery head". These local legends run the gamut from plausible to …