Returning to the ghost towns of Pennsylvania, on my last visit I found myself climbing through the back wall of an abandoned bank. As I entered its walls, I learned there wasn’t more to rob than peeling paint and rotting wood.
The First Miners Bank was created to help support the booming industry that sprouted after it was discovered that the river could take resources as far as Mexico. First building steam boats, Brownsville was once a city larger than Pittsburgh. Unfortunately the railroad industry put an end to steam boats, and Brownsville had to survive on the mining industry alone. Located on the Monogahela river, the city was able to export goods for many years, until their resources dried up and the town became empty.
The First Miners Bank was for those who stayed during Brownsville’s mining peak, but as mining declined, so did this banks customers. The teller booths were torn apart and the vault door strewn open. The whole bank looked as though there had been a robbery, but the only robbery here was of Brownsville’s industry.
We climbed through a the back of the building, which had given way through many cold Pennsylvania winters. The inside was very empty and the safe was locked, but the banks basement held a surprise. We found ourselves in a second bank, then a hotel, and an ice cream parlor.
As Brownsville declined, buildings were reused for purposes that were confusing. Some banks became ice cream parlors and some hotels, apartments.