150th Anniversary Commemoration of The Avondale Mine Disaster – September 2019

Featured are a series of events to be held in Scranton, Plymouth, and Plymouth Township.

This important weekend will acknowledge and memorialize anthracite’s most deadly mining disaster, which took 110 lives when it occurred at the Avondale colliery in Plymouth Township on September 6, 1869.

The events have been organized by the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Lackawanna Historical Society, the Plymouth Historical Society, the Luzerne County Historical Society, and the Avondale Disaster Memorial Committee.

The program is sponsored by the North American Wales Foundation, the Pennsylvania Labor History Society, the St. David’s Society of Lackawanna County, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, the Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) Penn Anthracite Section; Earth Conservancy; the First Welsh Baptist Church, the NEPA Labor Day Festival Committee, and individual donors.




Friday, September 6, 2019
6:30 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
Richard Healey, Professor of Geography, University of Portsmouth, England
“Anthracite Coal Breakers of the Avondale Era: An Overview of the Early Stereographic Record”

7:30 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
Opening of a Special Photographic Exhibit, Anthracite Coal Breakers of the Avondale Era: An Exhibition of Early
Stereoviews, circa 1860-1885 (arranged by John Fielding, Curator, and Richard Healey, Academic Coordinator)

Saturday, September 7, 2019
9:30 am, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
William Jones, Prof. Emeritus of History & former Director of the Welsh-American Center, Univ. of Cardiff, Wales
The Welsh of Scranton during the 1860s and 1870s

11:30 am, Washburn Street Cemetery, Scranton (If inclement weather, use the Anthracite Heritage Museum)
Tribute to the Avondale Mine Disaster Victims (58—all of Welsh heritage—are buried in this cemetery)
Program hosted by Richard Sedlisky will include description of the site, dedication of new marker listing the
names of each victim buried in the cemetery, a short memorial service, reading of the victims’ names by Avondale
descendants and local students, and music and the singing of Welsh songs
(Transportation & Lunch available, see registration form)

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
The Avondale Disaster of September 6, 1969, An Overview
Moderator: Bode Morin, Administrator, Anthracite Heritage Museum
Panelists: Richard Healey, Professor of Geography, University of Portsmouth, UK, “The Railroads
Robert Wolensky, Adjunct Professor of History, Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, “The Causes and Consequences
William Jones, Professor Emeritus, University of Cardiff, Wales, “The Cultural Context

3:15 pm – 4:45 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
Remembering the Avondale Disaster
Moderator: Mark Riccetti Jr., Director of Operations and Programs, Luzerne County Historical Society
Panelists: Steve Kondrad, Plymouth Historical Society; Robert Hughes, EPCAMR; Torry Watkins, Avondale
Commemoration Committee; Bill Best, Huber Breaker Preservation Society; Fiona Powell, The Guild of Brythonic
Tradition Bearers

6:00 pm, Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
Evening Dinner Program: Welcome by Bode Morin, Music by Jay Smar, PLHS Awards
Ken Wolensky, President, Pennsylvania Labor History Society, will present the 2019 awards from the PLHS
William Sylvis Award: Walter Klepaski, United Way Labor Liaison, Greater Wilkes-Barre Area Labor Council
John Brennan Award: Paul Tucker, Author and Editor of The Union News
Mother Jones Award: Robert Wolensky, Adjunct Professor, King’s College

Sunday, September 8, 2019 (Presented by the Plymouth Historical Society)
10:00 am, First Welsh Baptist Church service, Plymouth
12 Noon, Steve Kondrad, President, PHA, at the Avondale Disaster Site, Plymouth Twp., a memorial program for
the 150th Anniversary of the Avondale Mine Disaster; “The Avondale Ballad,” performed by Don Shappelle
1:30 pm, refreshments and sociality, Plymouth Historical Society headquarters, Plymouth