20 Things Only People in Pennsylvania's Coal Region Know To Be True

Halupkies, Knoebels and Soupies. Some of your favorite things if you’re from the coal region in Pennsylvania.

1. High school football games are the place to be on a Friday night.

No matter what city or town you’re from in the Coal Region, odds are on any given Friday evening in the Fall, high school football games are the “gathering spot” for both teens and adults alike.
Many high schools in the Coal Region have a rich tradition in high school football, such as Mount Carmel, North Schuylkill, Jim Thorpe and Southern Columbia who make it to the state playoffs practically each year.

2. In most towns, there is a bar and church on every street.

During the economic boom in the Coal Region from the late 1800’s to the early 1960’s, the miners often needed somewhere to get a cheap beer nearby after a hard day of work in the mines. As for the churches, most neighborhoods had one depending on one’s ethnicity.
Despite the lack of industry, many of the bars remain. Possibly as an outlet for most of the townsfolk to gather and revel in the greatness of the past.

3. The town’s local swimming spot is more than likely a hole in the ground.

Due to a particular type of anthracite coal mining known as surface mining, which was a popular and easy mining method during the coal boom; large holes, sometimes nearly a mile long and over a hundred feet deep still remain to this day.
In more modern times, the surface mining holes have become popular swimming spots in many Coal Region towns, such as “The Mile” in Trevorton, PA or “The Caves” in Shamokin, PA.

4. Each town has an eatery that has been open as long as anyone can remember.

Whether it is Coney Island Lunch in Shamokin, The Mrs. T’s Pierogi Factory in Shenandoah, or Heisler’s Cloverleaf Dairy in Tamaqua, each town in the coal region seems to have its famous eatery that, surprisingly to those in the Coal Region, tend to be endemic to their respective areas.
From a personal perspective, I was very shocked to go to the beach in North Carolina last summer and not be able to fine Mrs. T’s pierogi. (A pierogi is an Eastern European food made of potatoes and cheese and then wrapped in a dough, ravioli-like shell) available at any supermarkets.

5. Church or fire company block parties are the place to be in the summer.

Another popular custom that has become a chief tradition in most Coal Region cities and towns are block parties. Most churches and town fire companies each hold their own block party when the weather in nice on summer weekends. They usually include live music (more often than not polka music), Eastern European ethnic foods, such as pierogis, haluski and halupki, games, and of course lots of alcohol.

6. Mountain parties are a weekly necessity.

In most of the smaller Coal Region towns, since the coal boom has died down, many businesses have left the area, which has led to teens to find less-wholesome forms of entertainment, such as the notorious “Mountain Party”. Mountain Parties are basically composed of a group of friends buying some cheap beer and driving up to old coal mountains to drink on the weekends.
Despite not being a particularly productive way to spend time, most people in the Coal Region look back at mountain parties with fond memories.

7. Growing up, there was a Catholic school for every neighborhood.

Though many have been closed down by local Diocese, not very long ago, Catholic schools were practically more popular than public schools in most Coal Region towns. Especially for the older generations, most people look back on their private school days and still fear the sight of nuns.

8. Your friends from outside of the coal region cringe at your accent.

Over the years, the Coal Region has developed its own unique and often cringe-worthy dialect. Terms such as “hain’t”, instead of ain’t, or isn’t, or “bot” instead of buddy or pal. The accent itself is difficult to describe, but one that may haunt you forever once you hear it for the first time.

9. The opening to deer hunting season might as well be a national holiday.

The first day of deer hunting season is a huge tradition in the Coal Region. Most men, women and children take the day off and most schools are closed. Most coal region folk treat this day as a holiday and participate annually.

10. Soupies, Pigeons, and City Chicken are some of your favorite snacks

Despite their odd names, many people in the coal region love the aforementioned foods.
Soupie, a meat snack relatively similar to pepperoni, is a traditional coal region cuisine that originated in Italy, but since is nearly endemic to small coal region towns.
City Chicken, despite its name does not contain chicken. Instead, city chicken is made up of pork and veal, then covered in breadcrumbs and fried.
Pigeons, are also a coal region favorite and are composed of a hamburger and rice ball, which is wrapped in a cabbage leaf and then boiled in a tomato sauce. All are cherished foods, but rarely heard of outside of the area.

11. No matter what, you love Penn State football.

Despite the relatively recent lawsuits against the program, Penn State football has a cult-like following in the coal region and most of PA. It is exceedingly rare to find someone in the Coal Region who does not own at least one PSU shirt or jacket.

12. No one that you know from outside of the Coal Region can pronounce the names of most towns.

In homage to the Native Americans who once populated the Coal Region, many local cities and towns have named themselves after local tribes and Native American words.
Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah, Shamokin, Tamaqua, Mahantango and Chillisquaque are a few. Despite their odd names, the local populace pronounce these names with ease.

13. More than likely, Yuengling is your favorite beverage.

Hailing from the heart of the Coal Region, in Pottsville, Yuengling is one of the most well-known coal region-based companies and many locals proudly profess how it is not only the oldest brewery in America, but also the best. Founded in 1829 and becoming more popular nationwide than ever, it is hard to argue with the Coal Region on this one.

14. It’s not a surprise to visit your hometown and find that the creek is bright orange.

As odd as it sounds, due to acid mine drainage, most of the creeks in Coal Region towns and cities are orange. Caused by sub-surface mining and the abundance of sulfides in the mines, the acid mine drainage has ruined many creeks and water sources, such as the Shamokin Creek and the Swatara Creek in Schuylkill County.
There are many restoration projects in place to bring back fish and wildlife to areas near the water.

15. Knoebels is the best amusement park to go to.

Opened since 1926, Knoebels Amusement Park and Resort in Elysburg is a Coal Region gem. (It’s actually more popular worldwide, and has recently been rated as the second best family friendly amusement park in the country.)
Practically everyone in the Coal Region visits Knoebels at least once a year. From the amazing food to the world famous wooden roller coasters, “the Phoenix” and “the Twister”; Knoebels is likely to stay one of the most popular attractions in the Coal Region for generations to come.

16. You’ve been to Centralia at least once.

Centralia is, or was a town in Coal Country, which was exposed to a devastating mine fire in the 1960s. Currently, less than ten people reside in Centralia and despite a church, the cemeteries and just a few houses; the entire town has been leveled by the government, as it has been deemed unsafe to live in due to the fact that the mine fire is still raging underneath the town.
A few people still refuse to leave. Due to the eerie smoke that rises up out of the ground and the fact that it is basically a ghost town, Centralia is a popular spot for tourists and for local kids, who want to give themselves a fright after dark or write their name on the infamous “Spraypaint Road”. Centralia is also the inspiration for the movie, Silent Hill.

17. Trail rides are an area pastime.

Due to the awful roads and lack of things to do in Central PA, many of the local populace have invested in older jeeps and trucks, known for their sturdy designs and the plethora of customization options available. Lots of people who own these customized vehicles also tend to take them out on the weekend to many of the old coal truck routes nearby the mines.

18. Halupkies are a New Year’s tradition.

Unlike the rest of the U.S., which tend to bring in the New Year with pork and sauerkraut, halupkies, also known as “pigeons” are a local favorite to celebrate the beginning of a New Year in the Coal Region.

19. The Pottsville Maroons won The NFL Championship in 1925.

Despite not being known outside of the Coal Region and even forgotten by many of the younger generations; the city of Pottsville once housed an NFL powerhouse, which would win the NFL Championship in 1925. However, despite defeating every team that they played that year, it was stripped of its title due to a legal stipulation.
Many in the Coal Region still consider the Pottsville Maroons to be champions.

20. You have more pride in your home town than anyone else you know.

If there is one thing above all else that all coal regioners have in common, it’s an undying sense of loyalty to the Coal Region and your town. Whether you are from Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Hazelton, or truly anywhere in the Coal Region, more than likely you have a sense of pride in the rich traditions and history that your town is known for.
As they say, there is no place like home and this phrase is as true as it can be in the Coal Region.

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22 thoughts on “20 Things Only People in Pennsylvania's Coal Region Know To Be True

  1. Thanks for the write-up. As an old Hazletonian, I really miss “City Chicken” as well as most of the other items in this article.

  2. It was a nice article and for all the haters this is just some of the reason I love living in the coal region props to the writer

  3. Been to shamokin twice and still hope to go back again.One of our best reunions was at Glossers.thanks for the review of The coal region.

  4. No mattr what has been said Minersville was the town in the 70`s the gal`s were the pretties and the football was the best, not much more to say after a statement like that. thank you.Battle`in Miners, the mighty mighty Miners. I`m long gone from minersville but will never forget.

    1. Tony your right.i was a bartender at the ally. And all the coolest and craziest guys were from minersville.i was from girardville. We had cool people too like minersville. Everybody had a dry sense of humor.

  5. My Grandfather, Charles Myers was born in Alaska, Pa. I had trouble locating it until vising the mine museum at Knoebels. Found it on an old map and took a picture. Eventually found my way only to find it now is a dynamite co. I wanted to see and photo the area for my family history but was denied access. Love all the history in the area..

  6. I grew up in Heckschersville Valley and after marriage lived in Minersville for 42 years.After retirement moved back to the “Valley” . Contrary to belief not everyone was a Penn State fan. Norte Dame had their share of fans since there were a lot of Irish Catholics living there.

  7. I am from Berwick. We moved to Lancaster when I was about 10 years old and the people down there called us “coal crackers”. ….Also, are pigeons the same as pigs in the blanket??? We drove through some of the towns listed in this article when we drove from Lancaster to Berwick …… Pottsville, Tamaqua, Shenandoah and Centralia (you could see the side of the mountain burning from the road). I remember I was the only person in my 4th grade class to pronounce the town of Wapwallopen (sp?) correctly!!

  8. A days trip to the woods or the mulley dam or skinney dipping in the Logan was a million time better than hanging at the mall,Kids will never understand this.

  9. Sneaking back to the stone pits in minersville to get to the quarry. Those were awesome summers you cant beat the swimming holes in the area u truly come across some gems

  10. Not the greatest living in Schuylkill county. More and more people either move out for work or drive for better pay. Just look at Hazleton 924 industry. Loaded with distribution centers, cheap labor. We had many opportunities for decent and reputable industry to move in. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. A certain organization pushed them away. Sad. Some of these factories pay peanuts. 13.50 an hour and all of the abuse you can take. Time for a serious study to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, I agree. Coal Region have some great tradition going. Football, food and beer.

  11. Great music came out of the area, The Jordan Brothers, The Other Side. Fat Robbie and the Mudflaps, the Individuals, and a whole lot of great polka bands. Just to name a few.

  12. BORN IN Pottsville. RAISED IN Buck Run, Llewellyn, and Minersville, the Top 20 Nails it.
    I MOVED out, up to New England. NO guers Iced tea, No Pigeons, no Tasty cakes, no Hot Bologna, no Ring bologna, no Yuengling, no Bush parties, no blackwood, no Dicks Dam. I came back for a visit,… the food and that accent , cant get enough. LOVE BEING A SKOOK, FROM SCHUYLKILL

  13. I lived in Kulpmont and moved away 35 yrs. ago to get a better job. I still go back to see family and it’s great to see the old town and relive old memories of going out the bush on my way home from school and swimming in the stripping holes. Walking up the mountains to see the coal holes where my Dad worked. Missing all the stores in town that were there when I was a kid.

  14. When I was in the Marines one of the corporals mother sent us Yuengling Lager to Cali because it wasnt available there. My mom sent us Tasty Cakes and Middleswarth Potato chips to El Toro and Iwakuni.

  15. going back to see my friends in minersville many times was such a good feeling best angelo

  16. Born in Park Place and graduated from Mahanoy Area High School. Great to go back and visit family & friends. Miss all the great food. Make my our Bleenies, Halupies. & Pierogies – recipes from coal region recipes.

  17. Originally from Shamokin, I loved growing up there,we had everything you could want, bowling at the Moose,,midget football and more football, shamokin high.vs coal township …bunker hill…Independence st,a thriving downtown..Martz ice cream, biggest 7 cent cone in the history of man, French fries at knoebels..Great times,many fond memories.

  18. Grew up in Girardville. Hung out in Finn’s in the 60’s, also Marrone’s, Centiole’s, Pinchot’s Bar, and Tony’s Diner. Swam at Beury’s lake and Reichwein’s pool fed by so cold spring water. Went to Knobel’s every summer and drive-ins in Fountain Springs and Natalie. Shopped in Mt. Carmel every Saturday and went to visit Grandparents there. Rode a bus to Shenandoah to shop as a teen and go to the movies there. The movie house in Girardville closed but opened to dances and then skating. We went to Lakewood for Lithuanian Day in August. Bloomsburg Fair was a day off from school and we were bussed there when Girardville didn’t have buses cuz we all walked to school. A bar and/or church on every corner. Sad to see it all so different now. Only 2 churches left, Marrones is closed and Centiole’s just sells pizza. The bank is a deli, no Acme or A & P supermarkets. I have been out of the area for over 50 years but keep in touch with friends still there. So nice to reminisce with everyone on here. Pigeons are halupki’s in this area but the same as pigs in blankets, stuffed cabbage, etc. Block parties at the Ranger’s and they made and sold bleenies (potato pancakes) and you could smell them a block away and always a line to buy them.

  19. Remember Edgewood park with its swimming pool and amusement park. The park had a Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, school of mines and a prevelion.

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