preface: as far as i could tell, the site did not have any “No Trespassing” signs. it was fenced off but the gate was open leading to a new memorial park that’s being built, and then a well-worn walkway down to the breaker itself. also, i’m not saying a dozen wrongs make a right, but according to my count there were at least 11 of us exploring the site at one point or another during my visit, including a couple having wedding slideshow pictures taken(! love, love). also, and i can’t stress this enough, be careful, especially if you go into the buildings. many parts are rusted out or downright missing. also, get in while the gettin’s good — they will likely be tearing it down soon for scrap metal, says wiki.
today started out pretty badly — i woke up with a headache and the site i wanted to explore, Frick’s Locks, was closed (i’d read it was open, but i guess only open for tours certain saturdays). i decided to drive up north to the Huber Breaker (aka Ashley Breaker) and take my chances there (stopping to get some aleve along the way for my headache).
i was surprised and delighted (ok, overcome with ecstasy) when i discovered that the site was actually open to exploration (see disclaimer above)! i had mostly just planned on getting pictures from the property line, but nope! in i went — and what an amazing time this was. most definitely one of my top abandonment/urban exploration adventures. as always, more pictures on flickr.
a coal breaker, i have learned, does exactly what the name implies: it breaks coal down into usable chunks and otherwise gets it ready for use. with its richness of anthracite, Pennsylvania has many of these breakers, perhaps the most famous (at least to urban explorers) being the Huber Breaker in Ashley, west of Wilkes-Barre [map]. the present breaker operated for about 40 years in the middle of the previous century before being closed down in the ’70s. read more on the history of coal in the region and coal breakers.
sidebar: getting there keeping with my “avoid tolls, see more” mantra, i cannot recommend routes 309 and 100 enough. they take you on a scenic journey through the Appalachians, and on a beautiful fall day like today, it’s all you can do to keep your eyes on the road instead of the fall-hued tree-lined countryside below as you round the mountains.
(again, please please be careful. by the time i reached the top of the main building my heart was pounding and my head was swimming in adrenaline. i’m not afraid of heights but i was afraid of collapse or plunging through the floor since some of the staircases i took were quite rusty and missing steps. i ran into a trio of other explorers who pointed out a slightly safer means of getting up, which i took down, but if i did, i guess i wouldn’t have gotten to some of these shots.)
ack my palms are sweaty just looking at those pictures again. you can’t tell but in most of them, i’m several (if not many) stories up from the ground. one false move and…ack! partially due to the rush and partially because of the amazing abandonment, i was (and still am) so high on life! it was dizzying and thrilling and amazing all at once.
again, (many) more pictures on flickr. as usual, “take only photographs, leave only footprints.”