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It’s that time again...

The Boot Room

Today’s photo comes from the long-abandoned Old St. Nicholas Coal Breaker in eastern Pennsylvania. This region is known for its anthracite- a harder and cleaner-burning coal than the bituminous coal mined in other parts of the country. Due to the coal’s hardness, massive breakers were constructed all around the region to process it. Coal would travel out of the mine and up to the top of the breaker, where it’d be broken, crushed, and sorted as it fell through multiple levels of sorting grates. Through the sorting process various impurities such as slate would be removed, allowing the pure coal to be dropped into train cars waiting at the bottom of the breaker.


The Old St. Nicholas breaker is the largest coal breaker in the world. It’s a machine on a mind-boggling scale. It looks like a massive building, but in reality it’s a giant machine with rudimentary walls built around it. Exploring the place, it was obvious that human occupation of the breaker was a secondary concern.

These boots sit in the locker room of the coal breaker. It looks as if they were left behind when the workers clocked out from their last day on the job, but it’s actually much less dramatic than that. Dozens of boots and other garbage and debris litter all levels of the coal breaker, and about 15 years ago or so some urban explorers collected many of the boots and placed them here. It still makes for an impressive scene, though.

  • Camera: Pentax K20D
  • Lens: Tamron 18-250mm
  • Focal Length: 27mm
  • F-stop: F/8
  • Exposure Time: 1 second

Bonus shot, to better explain what the coal breaker is:


This is the last shot I took that day, with the moon rising over the breaker. See that little black rectangle just below the point of the roof? That’s an 8 foot tall door. Yeah, this thing is big.

More daily photos available on my Flickr and Instagram pages.

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