Feels like old times during Patch Town Days

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First Posted: 6/10/2013

While the need for a mining village hasn’t existed in Northeastern Pennsylvania for many years, the memories of the lives lived in the so-called patch towns linger for many residents.

“You can see on our Facebook page, we often have people sending in pictures of their grandparents that lived here and sharing with us their reminiscence of coming down here on Sunday afternoons for dinner,” said Bode Morin, site administrator of the Eckley Miners Village in Weatherly. “It’s a real good connection to the generations that have passed.”

That connection will be restored yet again this weekend as the restored and interpreted coal-mining village hosts its annual Patch Town Days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“Patch Town Days is just a celebration of the way miners used to live here,” Morin explained. “There’s music, there’s crafts, and there’s food that kind of relates to the history of coal mining in this area.”

The village opens its doors to the homes of historic interpreters and any number of demonstrations on how life was lived during the height of the coal mining era.

“We’ve got three miners’ houses that have been completely restored to the time period that we’re interpreting them in,” Morin said.

A slate picker’s house, home to one of the lowest-level workers in the colliery, is tied to the 1860s. Two miners’ homes are interpreted to the 1880s and 1940s, respectively.

“We talk about the progression of life almost over a century in the patch towns,” Morin said. “We demonstrate the changing lifestyles, values, and accoutrements of life for the people here.”

The event is managed by the Eckley Miners Village Associates, the nonprofit, volunteer, and fundraising organization that helps support the site. Morin said approximately 40 volunteers will be present this weekend.

The village has 10 rentable units that Morin said fit perfectly with its historic intent.

“It’s our tradition. This village was built to house people from the region, and houses have continually been rented here since 1854,” he said. “That’s an important part of our historic preservation.”

A special exhibit of the outsider art of the late Frank Wyso also opens this weekend. Wyso left behind 5,000 works upon his passing in 1994, and Wyso Foundation director and curator Steve Lichak will present programs on the artist each day this weekend.

This weekend, an entertainment tent also will house regional music performances, and costumed historic interpreters will engage visitors throughout the village.

“It’s a celebration of the people that lived here and made this place what it is,” Morin said.

For more information, call 570.636.2070, visit eckleyminersvillagemuseum.com, or find the village’s page on Facebook.