Refurbished mining shuttle on display at AOAA

May 17—COAL TOWNSHIP — A restored mining tour shuttle is on display at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) in Coal Township.

The welding students at the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center (NCCTC) in Coal Township spent the last six months restoring the Glen Burn Mine Tour shuttle, which operated from 1968 to 1977 in Shamokin. The renovated tourist mantrip — the name for the shuttle that transports miners to and from an underground mine — was delivered last week to the outdoor recreation park.

"I loved it," AOAA Operations Director Dave Porzi said of the bright yellow vehicle. "What a piece of our anthracite history that got saved."

The AOAA is located along Route 125 on more than 8,000 acres of forest and reclaimed coal land in Coal, East Cameron, Mount Carmel, West Cameron and Zerbe townships. The land is mainly owned by Northumberland County with some leased from private landowners and managed by the AOAA Authority.

The mining car was used by the defunct Glen Burn Colliery, located along Route 61 on the left traveling south into the city of Shamokin near the Cameron Bridge and the Cameron/Glen Burn Colliery Culm Bank. The mining tours, in collaboration with the Lower Anthracite Regional Economic Development Organization (LAREDO), started in June 1968 and ended in March 1977.

The mining shuttle, believed to be one of two, sat at the entrance to the West End mine along Route 225 in Coal Township until owner Ed Helfrick Jr. donated the car to the AOAA in 2014. The shuttle then sat for nearly 10 years out of the public view at the AOAA until the park leadership decided to have it renovated for the 10th anniversary in 2024.

"It was bad," Porzi said. "It was rough."

It was delivered by the AOAA to the school in early November. The students spent the last six months welding, reconstructing and painting it.

"Brian Fetter, of Sunbury, prepped the wood (for benches)," Porzi said. "The students did all the reconstruction and welding. It was quite an undertaking."

Once the students were finished, the AOAA moved the shuttle back to the park on May 10. They prepared the pad with stone and railroad tracks. They plan to add more stone and coal as well as a kiosk to provide information on the vehicle, Porzi said.

Route 61 Signs, of Sunbury, created the decals that mimic the original artwork on the mine tours, based on photographs. AOAA also added decals mimicking the "No Smoking" on the side of the vehicle, Porzi said.

Porzi thanked Helfrick, the students, welding instructor Craig Fegley and the school's administrative Director James Catino for the partnership.

"The students went above and beyond on this mine cart," Fegley said. "The amount of work these young students accomplished is phenomenal. They completed everything from steel and metal work to stripping, priming, painting, wood staining, and installation. I can't be happier than how it turned out. They met the deadline with time to spare."

Fegley said the students did all the work.

"All I did was bark orders," he said.

A dedication ceremony is planned for later this year in conjunction with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources's Trails Month in September.

Meanwhile, the shuttle is available for visitors to sit in and take photographs, Porzi said.

Fegley said he plans to take the students to the park next week to take photos with the finished product.