Skip to content

Bootleg Mine Map of Northumberland County (1937)

    Map of bootleg coal mines in Northumberland County, 1937

    In 1937, the state government created a commission to study bootleg coal. They launched an extensive survey to map out bootleg coal operations in Schuylkill and Northumberland counties, using airplane and employing 20 unemployed miners to go site to site. They had the cooperation of the Independent Miners’ Association and most coal bootleggers.

    Published in 1938, the commission found 7,000 people working together in 1,129 illegal mines across Schuylkill, Northumberland, Columbia, and Dauphin counties. They estimated another 250 coal holes existed in Carbon, Luzerne, and Lackawanna counties. Another 1,300 worked in small breakers and 2,700 truckers ran the coal to market.

    Approximately 1/5th of all bootleg mines were in Northumberland County. Below, you can see the commission’s map of active bootleg mines there in late 1937.

    You can read a 108-page excerpt from the Anthracite Coal Industry Commission at Or if you’d really like to melt your brain, read the full 1223-page report.

    1 thought on “Bootleg Mine Map of Northumberland County (1937)”

    1. My wife, Jan and I met Don Meslinger at Cox’s restaurant many years ago (1975+/-) as we danced to the music of the Vic Boris Trio. Don sang a solo or two every nught we saw him, and we eventually found out that he was an independent miner from the Shamokin-Pottsville area – worked alone, blated the coal chunks with dynamite and ran into the State officials looking for vio;ation nt theses indeoendent souls, trying to make a meager living with their bare backs, and bare hands. Many more stories about “the Incredible Don”.

      Charles Pursel, Lewisburg, Pa.

    Comments are closed.