NE Pa. man creates miniature Huber Breaker
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) -- The Huber Breaker will live forever in miniature.
Grantland Hine, of the Parsons section of Wilkes-Barre, said he was moved by ongoing coverage of the demolition of the breaker.
"The loss of the breaker is a great loss to the community," he said.
Using photos from The Citizens' Voice, Hine scratch-built a model of the breaker and placed it on a new section of his HO-gauge model railroad in his basement.
The breaker includes coal conveyors, the retail coal pockets, coal trucks loading up at the pockets, mine cars, the power house and chimney. Railroad tracks run near and through the Huber complex, just as the Central Railroad of New Jersey did in the heyday of anthracite mining.
"It was something that I felt had to be done," Hine said. "I've been a railroad buff since I was a kid. Now we have a coal breaker on the layout."
The HO layout measures 10 feet by almost nine feet, or 90 square feet. About 20 square feet make up the new section holding the breaker.
Even without the breaker, Hine's layout is a sight to behold. Multiple freight and passenger trains meander around mountains and plateaus. Hine said he eschews what model railroaders call "hi-rail" realism for operating fun, and his grandkids love the action.
The layout includes a farm, a military training camp, electricity-generating wind turbines atop one of the mountains, a fishing scene along a stream, an auto crash scene complete with first responders in action, a road construction segment, a fire tower, bear and deer in the woods, operating signals and lighted buildings, most of which Hine built.
Hine said he chose HO because, as a youngster, he could afford more cars than the larger O-gauge models. He stayed with HO throughout his life and eventually he constructed a layout with the encouragement of his wife, Betty Jane, known better as Janie.
Hine, 72, a native of Hudson, Plains Township, grew up talking to Delaware & Hudson Railway employees in the Hudson Yard.
A workbench covers the south wall of the comfortable basement train room. Hine said he uses balsa wood and anything adaptable to scratch-building to create his houses, factories and churches.
As he read about the Huber Breaker, he resolved to create one in miniature. That also meant adding to the layout.
"It took several months, but it is fun," he said.
He used coal made especially for model railroaders to cover the coal piles in his "Huber" yard and to create anthracite loads for hoppers.
In a clever use of old HO-gauge tracks, he stripped the rails and used the ties to create the window effect of the original breaker. A slope runs into the nearby mountain which sits where the Huber's shaft once was located. Hine said he was not fully aware of the placement of all of the outbuildings and parts of the Huber complex but what he created gets the focus on history done.
The retail coal pocket section of the Huber Breaker has been razed along with other outbuildings. The larger main sections are expected to come in April and May. Paselo Logistics, LLC, of Philadelphia, which bought the breaker late last year, has been salvaging steel.
Some artifacts will be saved, an official of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society said.
Two mine cars once used at the Huber have been donated by Paselo to the society. Hine has models of the coal cars on his layout.
The breaker opened in 1939. It was named after Charles F. Huber, chairman of Glen Alden Coal Company, predecessor to Blue Coal. It replaced the Maxwell Breaker built in 1895. The Huber mine and breaker employed 1,700 people at its peak. The coal was sold throughout the eastern United States and most was hauled out by the Central Railroad of New Jersey which had a major yard adjacent to the colliery. The breaker was owned and operated briefly by Lucky Strike Coal Co. before its sale to No. 1 Contracting which went into bankruptcy. Paselo bought the breaker and 26 acres through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Information from: The Citizens' Voice, http://www.citizensvoice.com