Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) is home to one of the largest anthracite deposits in the world. At one time, over 400 coal breakers – large, factory-like machines that break and sort anthracite – dotted the landscape. The last of these structures in the Northern Pennsylvania Coalfield, the Huber Breaker in Ashley, was demolished in August 2014 despite grassroots community efforts to save it.
“Beyond the Breaker” explores the impact of the Huber Breaker’s loss on the rural NEPA community. Standing at a massive 130 feet, the Huber loomed over the Wyoming Valley since 1939, able to process over 7 tons of anthracite per day at the height of its operation.
Long removed from its heyday, the film begins in 2012 – 36 years after the Huber was initially abandoned and two years before the 26-acre property and its buildings were sold in Luzerne County bankruptcy court and demolished for scrap.
While the absence of physical presence on the NEPA landscape is striking, the loss of what it represents – the shared history of a community – is even more profound. Through a series of interviews with citizens and scholars from all walks of life, “Beyond the Breaker” captures the passion and resiliency of a community struggling to preserve its identity.