Coal mining program featured at James V. Brown Library

Coal mining has left an indelible imprint on Pennsylvania history. From the anthracite region in the east to the bituminous mines in the west, coal affected the growth of Pennsylvania’s economy, development of towns and, of course, the people who lived in them.

Some may be familiar with films, such as “The Molly Maguires” and “Matewan,” which depict the harsh realities of living in a coal mining town, but local resident Martin J. Hula lived it. Hula grew up in the western Pennsylvania town of Marstella, or Moss Creek as the residents referred to it after the nearby stream.

Hula has created a documentary memoir titled “Life in a Coal Mining Town,” which he will show at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21, in the Lowry Room of the Welch Wing of the James V. Brown Library.

This stark portrayal of the hardships of the people of Moss Creek is incredibly moving and enlightening and should be seen by anyone who lives and works in Pennsylvania. From the dangers of the mines to the tyranny of the company store, this is a tale not to be missed.

Hula also will have a display of his personal collection of coal mining memorabilia and he will detail his work of his historical drama, “The Coal Picker,” set in the coal mining town of Moss Creek in 1931 and tells the story of Johnny Marko, 10, and his parents.

After the mysterious death of his father, Johnny and his mother eke out a living, and a few years later move to a larger city. But the memories haunt him. Many years later, Johnny returns to his hometown under an assumed name to set things right. He concocts a plan he knows borders on lunacy. But he follows through with the plan, which plays itself out to a horrible conclusion.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is suggested but not required. For more information, or to register, visit or call 570-326-0536.