Throwback Thursday: The Light at the End of the Peale Tunnel

The planned mining community of Peale, near Grassflat, in Cooper Township, rose, flourished and then declined in a matter of decades during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Peale was the part of the enterprise of the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Co., and was named for Samuel Peale of Lock Haven, one of the coal company’s directors.

The village owed its rapid growth to the coming of the Beech Creek Branch of the New York Central Railroad, which connected Clearfield County mining areas from Peale to Gazzam in Jordan Township.

Company houses, stores, churches, a school and even a swimming pond were built to accommodate the quick influx of mining families who were mostly Swedish and Slovak immigrants.  Perhaps 300 buildings served the population of roughly 2,500 souls.

The town diminished as the rich coal veins waned.  By the 1930’s, only a few families were left.  Today, one building structure, used as a camp, still stands

A good deal of research and writing has been done regarding Peale. David Caslow, a local historian from Osceola Mills, presents a superb historical lecture and photo slide show about Peale.

Caslow has conducted fascinating walking tours of the community and can point out buildings as well as demonstrating Peale’s human and working dynamics.  He knows where the buildings once stood and where the bodies are buried.

The photo shows the now abandoned railway tunnel near Peale.  It is a landmark that is difficult to access.  The road is rough and the walk is for those fit enough to make the trek.

The tunnel is also a monument to the hard-working laborers who blasted and picked their way through the rock in order to see its completion.

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