Lokie lore and more
Pioneer Day in 26th year
Atourist attraction borne out of the hard-work ethic and anthracite mine-laden history of the Coal Region will be hosting an all-day family event this weekend in a northern Schuylkill County community.
The 26th Pioneer Day, celebrating 56 years of the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train, will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the tunnel and nearby HigherUps Park, 19th and Oak streets, Ashland. There is no cost to enter, according to Chastity Moran, Pioneer Tunnel business manager.
The event will go on rain or shine, she said.
“There’s a lot to do for any age group. We have The Shoreliners performing . ... We also have the coal mine tours and the steam train running that day, and additionally we’ll have two special characters here that day,” Moran said. “We’ll have Batman and we’ll also have a minion from the movie ‘Despicable Me’ here interacting with the kids. It’s just a really fun, laid-back day with good food and good memories.”
Whether it be memories to be made or memories that hearken back to the early days of the attraction, there will be plenty to do at Pioneer Day, including the coal mine tours in the cool 52-degree tunnel and rides on the freshly refurbished, 91-year-old Henry Clay steam train. The mine tours will start at 10:30 a.m., with the last being at 4:30 p.m., Moran said. The train rides will start at 11:15 a.m., with the final ride at 3:45 p.m.
The tours won’t be the only entertainment going on in the side of the Mahanoy Mountain, as The Breaker Boys will be in there putting on a show of their own.
“They’re old-fashioned coal miners, and they do some songs inside the mine and it’s a really interactive, fun skit they do,” Moran said.
In addition, there will be a slew of vendors at the get-together as well, selling crafts and food alike.
On the craft front, Moran said, vendors will be selling blankets, T-shirts, Scentsy products, woodworkings and carvings, sports collectibles, Pampered Chef culinary items, jewelry, crocheted items and even homemade slime. Scotty McCoy, a local author, will be there doing book signings, Moran said, adding that kids can also get free face paintings.
Meanwhile, there will be a vast variety of food, including Wilburton Fire Company’s bleenies; M&M’s halupkis, halushki, pierogies, mac ‘n’ cheese, pulled pork and kielbasa; Groody’s Catering selling hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza; Lilly Q’s barbecue shack; Freemasons’ chicken barbecue dinners; and, new this year, My Pop’s Place food truck will be serving up kielbasa po’boy, cheese fries, crabby fries and more.
Mary K’s Fabulous Funnel Cakes will be doling out the powdered sugar-topped favorite, while Bethany Evangelical Christian Church will have apple dumplings. Egyptian food will be available, as will walking tacos, chicken fingers, meatball hoagies and other fare, Moran said.
There will be fundraising for different Ashland area organizations. Doing some fundraising will be the Ashland VFW, Ashland Public Library, Ashland Area Historic Preservation Society, Order of the Eastern Star, American Legion Post 434, Ashland Girls’ Softball, Ashland Black Diamond Cheerleaders and Hillside SPCA, Pottsville.
For more information on Pioneer Day, call the tunnel at 570-8753850, visit its website at www.pioneertunnel.com or find Pioneer Day on Facebook.
Tom Symons Sr., one of The Breaker Boys, educates visitors at Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train during the 2017 Pioneer Day celebration at the Ashland tourist attraction. Symons will entertain again Saturday during the tunnel’s 26th annual event.
Visitors will find a host of craft vendors, local organizations and food available in nearby Higher-Ups Park at the 26th annual Pioneer Day celebration at the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train, Ashland.