Pennsylvania: Start of a Legend?

Oneida (pop. 500) and Sheppton (pop. 1,100) are bleak little towns about a mile apart in the worked-out anthracite fields of eastern Pennsylvania. The women age fast while their men scrabble for a living in bootleg mines—tiny, independent operations that ignore rigid safety standards. From one such mine, dug into the side of the hill that separates Oneida and Sheppton, two men were rescued last week after nearly 14 incredible days of imprisonment beneath the earth's surface.

David Fellin, 58, a co-owner of the single-entry mine, was running his operation on two three-man shifts. On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Fellin,...

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