The House Of Fans

Wrong Turn

If you spend any time in Northeastern Pennsylvania, one thing that becomes evident is that everything and everyone here has ties to the anthracite coal mining industry.  The entire landscape has been permanently scarred by mining, and the reminders don’t look as if they will ever go away.  One such relic is the The Dorrance Colliery Fan Complex. 

Forgotten URBEX Chair at the Wilkes-Barre City Cemetery

Located on North River Street, right down the road from the long abandoned Hotel Sterling, directly behind the Wilkes-Barre City Cemetery and nestled along the Susquahanna River, remains the last portion of  the Dorrance Colliery.  For those of you outside of the NEPA region, a colliery is a coal mine and the buildings associated with it. 

 The Lehigh Valley Coal Company operated this particular colliery from 1880 until 1959 and this fan complex was there for all of it.  Fans were required for safety reasons, such preventing gas explosions.  (Ahhh, the good old days of mining coal with open flame lamps!) 

While this veritable death-trap of a fan house still remains, the actual coal breaker and the other buildings were demolished in the 1980s to make room for a personal care home. 



Are they 100% sure that tetanus can’t become airborne?  😉 

***2016 Update: Some of these structures were recently demolished



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Cheri Sundra © 2012
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  1. I like the pic of the beautiful round brickwork around the fan!!!!!

    • Anonymous
    • July 31st, 2012

    Thaks for your post Cheri… Always enlightening

    • Mary
    • August 2nd, 2012

    Love your site. I learn something new all the time and I grewup outside of Wilkes-Barre. Keep up the great work!!

  2. Hi, if you don’t mind, I have a question. I’ve been looking through your lovely blog, and you certainly seem to know your way around aesthetic areas of abandonment. My friends and I are looking for an abandoned amusement park, or something with a similar nostalgic vibe, in NEPA (within a reasonable distance of Philly). If it’s not too much to ask, do you know of any such sites? Otherwise, we’ll find an alternative (perhaps one of the places you’ve showcased!). Thanks very much!

    • Oh! And the issue is, we are looking for a specific aesthetic that is not fulfilled by the abandoned amusement parks you’ve posted; we’d like, if at all possible, to have the creepy-carnival feel in full force. We’ve done some research, and I figure it’s probably slim pickings, but if anyone would know, it seems like it would be you!

    • In the US we tend to quickly dismantle our amusements parks rather quickly when they become no longer profitable so everything can be sold off to recoup some of the losses. The only abandoned amusement park in the United States that still has a “carnival like atmosphere” is the flood ravaged Six Flags in New Orleans.

    • Anonymous
    • August 13th, 2012

    I did not know any of the Dorrance Colliery remained ……..Thanks !!!

    • Susan
    • August 20th, 2012

    hi, great article. always love your work. i usually find historing uninteresting, but your approach is so unusual!

  3. Loretta pointed me to your blog -great work! Do you ever host photo group shoots? I’m interested if you do.

    • No, Sorry. Urban exploration photography is an activity that some individuals choose to engage in completely at their own risk. When engaging in this activity, there is always the danger of being arrested or injured…in fact, I have no idea how these pictures ended up on my camera card…. 😉

    • goober
    • August 26th, 2012

    I zombie theme went right over my head. Is it in reference to something?

  4. …not historical monuments but surely places full of hard fatigue and enormous sacrifices!!! I appreciate so much your risky work and I feel in some way attracted to it!!!
    Thanks Cheri for posting it!!!
    Greetings, Glauco

    • Anonymous
    • June 8th, 2013

    Hi there, I’ve been looking through a lot of things on your blog and the pictures you have are awesome!
    A few years ago, some friends and I decided to try our hand at “Ghost Hunting” and came across this building. We had no idea what it was, just thought this abandoned building looked cool and decided to go back at night for an even scarier feeling.
    When we went back, we got some interesting pictures. A few I swear have faces in them. One scared me to the point where I grabbed the nearest person and said “We need to get out of here now.”
    I would love to share them if you would like.

    • Jenna
    • December 30th, 2013

    I had no idea that this structure was a “fan house”. Very interesting. I have been interested in the ruins of NEPA since childhood. My school bus route provided a fascinating view of the decaying Hanson’s Amusement Park near Harvey’s Lake and I remember being fixated on the rusting roller coaster remains before they demolished the structure completely in the [mid 90’s?] I love your blog! Thank you for documenting these pieces of our history.

    • Bill Busse
    • February 9th, 2017

    I grew up I Wilkes-Barre 1951 – 1970. Lived on Hazle Ave. Just a few steps from Stanton St.
    There was a Fan House and elevator shaft on the corner of Hazle and Stanton. Have you ever seen any photos of this. We use to go into the the elevator shaft section of building and smoke and throw rocks down the shaft. Climb all around the timbers which seemed to be the frame work of the shaft. I have a few slides which you can see sections of the metal structure. Just curious if you there are any photos of it

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