Grandma, What Was It Like?
Northeastern Pennsylvania, specifically the
Lackawanna Valley, served a crucible of industry during the late
19th and early 20th centuries. Extensive anthracite coal mining
operations, iron and steel production, and the manufacture of
textiles combined to create a robust economy and a compromised
environment. Immigrants poured into the region's cities and towns
by the tens of thousands in search of financial independence.
Within a relatively brief period, towns and cities dotted the
Lackawanna Valley floor. By the 1880s, most were linked by electric
trolley systems and connected to the outside world through
extensive steam-powered railroads.
Seeking a better life for their children, immigrants
sought employment in the mines and on the region's railroads.
Immigrants flowed in; coal flowed out. Work in the mines and mills
provided nearly universal employment, but came with a price. The
hard and dangerous work in the mines caused more than 10,000 deaths
of miners between 1869 and 1900. This difficult and dangerous
period provided a fascinating historic record of hope, courage, and
the desire of diverse peoples to create a better life for
themselves and their children. As the economy of Northeast
Pennsylvania shifted with the advent of new technologies, this
earlier era sparked the imagination of a new generation wishing to
understand and experience the lives of their grandparents and great
The project consists of a videotape, "Grandma, What
Was It Like...", documenting this earlier era with a series of
conversations with people who are playing an integral role in the
preservation and public interpretation of Northeastern
Pennsylvania's industrial era. Featured are four individuals,
volunteers and staff at several of the Lackawanna Valley's key
attractions: Steamtown, the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, the Eckley
Miners Village, and the Trolley Museum. Historic photographs,
films, commentaries, and oral histories are interwoven in the video
to provide a broad understanding of the area's industrial era
heritage and ongoing conservation efforts.
Originally submitted by: Donald Sherwood, Representative (10th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.