This side trip was made for an online friend whose father was born in Pontycymer. I looked on the map and saw that this town was about an hour out of our way, one way--and the only way out seemed to be to backtrack the way we'd come in. But we had all day to get to our next destination, and we were intrigued by the town's history as a coal mining town and its location so far up the Garw valley. So we set the SatNav and off we went. The way there took us close to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. We really did not want to go there; neither of us enjoy cities, particularly large ones at rush hour.
Fortunately we just skirted the city's edge, and then we were off on narrow, twisting roads, where we feel more comfortable. The SatNav map often looked like this:
We did find the town, though, right after we passed through Pantygog (I love Welsh placenames).
The road basically deadends into the mountain ahead, that was mostly shrouded in fog when we were there.
It was a busy morning in town, and not easy to find parking. We found a 20-minute space, and were worried about getting a ticket, but locals assured us we'd be okay for at least an hour. Whew.
A wide variety of shops line the streets; this one with the wide doorway made me wonder if it led to the old livery stables.
A small park, planted with three young trees, stands at the entrance to town. I walked up to look at it, and found it was a touching memorial to a recent Mid-East war soldier.
We stopped in a shop with collectibles of all kinds and met owner Wayne and his mother, Glenys Steel. She was full of stories about the town, and Wayne and Larry talked motorcycles. What fun we had there! I came out with a spoon for my West Virginia friend and a book and a plaque for me. Again, I could have filled the car, but I was being astonishingly careful for a change.
Across the road from the memorial, Larry pointed out the old road leading to the mine.
The memorial is a simple, old-fashioned mining cart, the type used when miners pulled them by hand, loaded with coal. A brass plate lists the names of the men killed in the mine.
So many, so young. you can read their names on this website.
Part of the old mine loading area across the road. There are pictures of what this mine looked like on this webpage.
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