Eckley was founded in 1854 as a company owned and built anthracite-mining community and remained that way for 115 years. It included not only the mines and collieries but also the houses, churches, schools, hotel, and company store.
Eckley Miners' VillageThe entire village was owned by a series of coal companies during those years, and the houses were never sold to the occupants. As a result, very few changes were made to the surviving houses, and much of the original fabric of the houses has been retained.
It was for this reason Paramount Studios chose Eckley for on-site filming of the movie, The Molly Maguires. Paramount made some cosmetic restorations to the village, such as burying the power lines and building a reproduction breaker, company store, and mule barn.
At the end of the filming, the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce saw the potential the village had and negotiated the purchase of the town. They formed the Anthracite Historic Site Museum, Inc., and three years later donated the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The village is part of the PHMC's Anthracite Museum Complex, which includes four museums in a 70-mile arc throughout the region. Each museum deals with the general history of the region from pre-history to the present.
In 1971, when the village became a museum, over 200 people still resided in the houses. These residents provided extensive oral historical information for the initial research on the Village. Today, only a few residents remain, but they, along with former residents, continue to provide information and insight that is useful in the museum's research, restoration projects, exhibits, and interpretive programming. Eckley today has a Visitor’s Center, which houses a number of exhibits on aspects of life in an anthracite community (including the work life of both men and women), education, religion, and recreation.