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A Town Destin Not to Learn From Its Own Past

August 9, 2010

I don’t know how true it is but, I have always said that if you want to see the outlook for the country, look at the town I live in. Also, if that is actually factual then it is a sad state we are in.

Avella is a small village in south western Pennsylvania, about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. The area played a role in the Whisky Rebellion, and in later years would play a major role in the “Underground Railroad”.

However, the village of Avella was developed thanks to the rich veins of coal discovered in the late 1800’s running beneath the surface. We have come to find out, a large field of Marcellus Shell rich in natural gas is now making the area as desirable, if not more so than when coal was king. The problem with this is, it has the people seeing dollar signs and we all know that money can block the commonsense of some.

At this point, not many of the original people remain that remember the Coal Era of the area. The truth is, there are not many true Avella-ites left. The ones that remember the after affects of the coal mining, are becoming fewer everyday. However, when you enter the village on Rout 50 the biggest reminders are the slate dumps that setoff to the right. It has been cleaned up a bit because, there was an old Wheel, or Cable House right at the bottom of the hill. They were taken out in the 80s. A few years ago they correctly sealed the opening of the mine shaft the Wheel House pulled the coal from

To this day, if you travel down Highland Ave. onto Brown Town Rd. you will see the hillside spewing sulfur from one of the old mine shafts that was abandoned and is full of water. The woods around Avella are full of sinkholes. As kids I remember being told, don’t play in the woods because of the sinkholes. (Yes, we did anyway.) If you walk out Deer Lane (A access road to the slate dumps, off of Brown Town Road) you will find the old settling ponds, and the remains of blast sheds.

Just like the dangerous and unsightly reminders of the Coal Era, there are and will be more reminders that the people allowed the energy industry rape the land. And just like the Coal Era, millions of taxpayer dollars will have to be used to clean up the aftermath caused by Hydraulic Fracturing. Also like the coal companies, drilling companies will treat the people like a “Twenty Dollar Hooker” tossing them aside and moving on after they have used them.


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