The paper aims to unfold the intangible elements that form the industrial culture based on the analysis of two former mining communities from Romania. Research conducted in 2014 in two former mining cities located in the northern part of the country highlights their particular characteristics and the strategies employed by individuals to cope with mine closure. The research found a strong occupational identity among former miners, which affected the way they perceived themselves, the surrounding environment and the opportunities they had after restructuring. The self-perception of what people could work hindered the economic redevelopment process. We found that after living and working for many years in a state-led regime, people expected the state to take care of them and to create new jobs in their communities. Even though many stakeholders acknowledged the importance of preserving industrial heritage for collective memory, few projects were implemented, and no mining museum was built. In both cities, a large number of people migrated abroad or returned to their hometowns to compensate for the job scarcity. Miners coming from other regions to work in younger mining communities experienced a lower level of community integration.