The first main shaft for iron ore in Reading was sunk on Mt. Penn around 1843. The first mining there was done for the late George W. Oakeley. At first most of the ore was shipped to Phoenixville and some to a furnace near Pottsville.
The late Isaac Eckert owned a considerable tract of land along the side of Mt. Penn. The ore from his mines were hauled to the Henry Clay furnaces, Reading, where it was used in the manufacture of iron of excellent quality.
A great deal of ore was taken from the mountain up to around 1871, when mining ceased there on account of the large quantity of water that flooded the mines, which required almost constant pumping to enable the miners to work.
Mining operations moved from atop Mt. Penn to Hill Road, Eckert Avenue, down into City Park and along North 13th Street.
On a bank of ground in a field between Hill Road and Clymer a stationary engine was used in pumping water and hoisting Iron ore out of shafts dug in the side of Mt. Penn.
Below: City Park Mine Shafts.
Aged citizens around 1900 recollect when, before an engine was used, the ore in buckets was drawn up a perpendicular shaft with a rope which was wound around a large drum by horse-power. The ore was dumped on a heap and then hauled away in wagons.
Old records show that later ore was taken from the mine shaft by means of a bucket hoisted by hand. This was loaded on cars and taken by gravity along a “drift” to Mineral Spring road where it was loaded on wagons.
When the miners were not at work some boys with lighted tallow candles went into the drift, got on the truck, started it, and rode by gravity to the outer end of the underground railway, which they greatly enjoyed.
Today Hill Road, Eckert Ave., City Park, and North 13th Street are permeated with shafts that were closed but never filled in.
The Luden Mansion structure is built over a mine shaft which had to be sealed before construction could begin. The Berks Geological Survey in the Reading Public Library tells that the mine was 168 feet deep in a vein of ore 28 feet thick.
The contractor attempted to fill the abandoned mine. After dumping and dumping, he finally placed railroad rails across the mine top, and closed it with concrete. The mine opening was under the main stairway entrance of the Luden Mansion.