By Paul Golias
May 3, 2020 - Pennsylvania's Huber Breaker Preservation Society is looking for help to preserve the lokie that once hauled cars of freshly mined anthracite at the Wanamie Colliery in Newport Twp. and at the Loomis Colliery in Hanover Twp.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, efforts continue to “bring home” a mine lokie that once ran on narrow-gauge tracks at two Wyoming Valley mines.
The lokie remains in Michigan but the hope is to move it to the Anthracite Miners’ Memorial Park in Ashley this year.
Ashley resident Don Kane, a member of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society and a volunteer who has restored mining and railroad artifacts at the park, said a site has been selected for the lokie.
“We have narrow gauge tracks and ties at the site,” Kane said. “We need to level the ground where the lokie will sit.”
Because the Huber Breaker could not be saved, artifacts such as the lokie have become important in telling the anthracite mining history of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Kane said the plan is to put the lokie on tracks and shelter it in a pole-barn structure. The hope that the lokie could be restored and one day operated on trackage in the park has been scrapped due to the cost.
The lokie would join restored underground mine cars, a railroad switchman’s shanty, powder house, railroad signal and other artifacts. Kiosks would tell the story of the heyday of mining and railroading.
The lokie, best known as Wanamie 9, once chugged along narrow-gauge tracks at the Wanamie Colliery in Newport Township and previously at the Loomis Colliery, Hanover Twp.
The Huber Breaker Preservation Society, with an assist from Ashley Borough, was awarded $21,000 from the Local Share Account of the state Department of Community and Economic Development to secure the lokie. State Sen. John Yudichak, I-14, Swoyersville and local legislators have supported park development.
Kane said half of the $17,000 purchase price has been paid to Veirson Boiler Works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, Wilkes-Barre, has been assisting in the arrangements to transport the lokie on a flatbed truck to Ashley.
The miners’ park is now in the hands of Ashley Borough. The Huber Breaker Preservation Society is pondering its future, including a possible name change and new mission. Meetings have been postponed due to the virus.
Greg Gulick, Ashley Borough manager, said the virus pandemic has impacted the government operations but planning continues to get the lokie to Ashley.
The state has approved continued use of grant money for the lokie and the park under auspices of the borough. The Phase 1 park grant approved two years ago, which has a balance of $40,000, has been extended to June, 2022, according to George Lehman, chairman of the Huber Breaker society.
Matt Stegura, a history major at King’s College and lokie committee member, has been locating missing pieces of the lokie, including its steam whistle, a steam gauge and a water sight.
The lokie was built in 1915 by Vulcan Iron Works in Wilkes-Barre. It weighs 27 tons when the tank is full of water. There is no tender. The lokie coal box was filled from large chunks of anthracite from piles along the tracks.