Take a Peek Inside the Huber Breaker Ruins

All Photos by Cheri Sundra

Up the Coal Chute

Eleven stories of tar-coated steel, scads of partially dismantled machinery, hundreds of broken steel-reinforced windows and more insight into the ravages of time than you can hope to absorb in one visit make the Ashley/Huber Breaker a popular site for urban explorers in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Since closing in 1976, this mammoth structure has had to survive salvage operations, vandalism and Mother Nature, in addition to fears about typical Luzerne County style politics.

When it was built in 1939 to replace an older and out-dated structure, the Huber Coal Breaker was considered a technological marvel. The facility was operated by the Glen Alden Coal Company to process coal from three nearby mines. Seven to ten thousand people have worked at the Huber Breaker sorting, washing and loading 7,000 tons of coal daily into train gondolas.

Long before companies like Nike and Ralph Lauren embraced the color “Pop” merchandising display technique to seduce consumers into buying their products, the Glen Alden Coal Company painted their coal blue as a marketing ploy that resulted in the moniker “Blue Coal Company”.

Because of the decline of the mining industry in the region, the facility was abandoned in 1976. The Huber Breaker Preservation Society was formed in 2001, hoping to turn the location into a local tourist attraction and historical sight. You can read about their current efforts at:
citizensvoice.com/news/huber-breaker-pre servation-society…

Unfortunately, local residents seem to have little confidence that this endeavor will achieve success because the restoration costs are so prohibitive and many doubt that this vision will actually draw additional tourism to the area.

Incidentally, I’ve had conversations with some urban explorers who would like to see the Huber Breaker Preservation Society adopt an Eastern State Penitentiary-esque approach to their efforts to save the Huber Breaker before this structure is forever lost to history.


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Cheri Sundra © 2010
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    • Clark
    • November 14th, 2010

    Cheri- THANK YOU! Great pictures- better compositon and lighting than many. I spent childhood summers in the Wyoming Valley and now my son and I are trying to recoup the sense of family and coal and the unique context of the area.

    Parenthetically, MANY years ago I knew a couple in north Jerssey- George and Julia Sundra. Any chance you are related?

    • Hi Clark

      I know that there was a George Sundra (a 2nd cousin) who passed away several years ago, but he lived in Hazleton. I’m not sure if he had any children.

      Thank you for your nice comments….This area does have a rich history that brings people back again and again!


        • Jan Kubicki
        • March 24th, 2012

        Cheri, Back in the 80’s when I was researching my book, I went prowling around some of the still extant breakers. They were closely guarded, and trespassing was frowned upon to say the least. (What were we gonna do, steal the coal?) Access to the Huber Breaker was impossible, but I see all these pictures and I would like to know if they don’t bother patrolling the ruins like they did in the past. An urban exploration group in Philly I belong to is making a trek up there this weekend to explore and photograph. I can’t make it, but if it’s open season on the Huber, I’d love to drive up and finally explore it myself. Any info you might have would be appreciated.

        Jan Kubicki

    • Mike
    • January 7th, 2011

    Nice photos Cheri! I explored the breaker as a teenager in the late 70s, early 80s and would like to go back. Can anyone just wander in and walk around? Is there security and risk of being cited for tresapssing?

  1. Hello Mike,
    The entire area is not fenced off around the back…just follow the rail road tracks that run behind the breaker until you see an opening.

    While I can say that I have never heard of anyone getting into any kind of trouble for exploring the breaker, it would be considered trespassing….so proceed at your own risk! You can also try to get permission..they have been known to do that! 😉
    Thanks for stopping by

  2. Cheri love reading your blogs like this – keep up the good work.

    • alex j r
    • March 15th, 2011

    Looks like a dangerous place. I like your pictures. Looking forward to seeing more from you in the future.

  3. Wonderful photos and blog post, Cheri!

  4. Awesome photos, Cheri! I love the conveyor shot and the colorization of the image!

  5. Cheri, I always thought if they could get the old Barney Cars working again, it would make a good sort of ride/theme park thing. Not all the way to White Haven, of course, but up the mountain a bit, and then back down.
    Great shots!!! My husband’s been in the breaker, but I am too chicken.

    • Anonymous
    • November 16th, 2011

    Looks like it’s quite dangerous visiting such abandoned ruins. Love your effort and your courage!

    • Nicholas Spock
    • January 30th, 2014


    You want to be a tour guide? An internet acquaintance is coming over from France next month.

    • James
    • April 23rd, 2014

    I was employed in the Main office at the Huber back in the 50s 60s and early 70s that was a beehive of activity back then. Stood at the head of the mine shaft when the water was coming into flood the mine from the Knox mine disaster was a sad time

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