In the troubled history of anthracite coal mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania, there is little that can compare with the long-term battle between labor activist Sicilian mine workers and the hard-nosed Erie companies that employed them.
Their struggle erupted into shootings, bombings and seemingly endless strikes, nearly all of them screaming out from newspaper headlines. It rocked the area from Pittston to Scranton for decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fueling the perception of the anthracite region as a place of lawlessness.
“This was one of the most bitter chapters in American labor history,” said historian Robert P. Wolensky. “This was really rough stuff up here.”