and Monroe counties contributed the land for Carbon County
on March 13, 1843. The name comes from carbon, the basic element
of the areas rich anthracite coal deposits. The most famous
names in Carbon County
history is Asa Packer and Jim Thorpe. Read
about them and lots more about Carbon County
history right here!
Packer is the most prominent citizen ever to live in Carbon
in Mystic, Connecticut on December 29, 1805, Asa was an entepreneur even at an
early age. He started out as an apprentice, worked as a house carpenter,
a farmer, a boat captain and a store owner in Mauch
Chunk. He married Sarah Blakeslee in 1828.
later became involved in coal mining and shipping coal to Nesquehoning,
a neighboring town. He later chartered the Lehigh Valley Railroad
in 1846 and built it into a financial empire. He built a line from
Mauch Chunk to Easton
and then spent the rest of his life expanding the line and making
the railroad more efficient and successful. He built the railroad
into a 650 mile stretch of track from New York
through New Jersey
to the shore.
his greatest gift was the founding of Lehigh University,
one of our nations finest college institutions. At his death in
1879 his estate was valued at more than $55 million dollars.
the Old Mauch Chunk National Historic
District. The home today is almost exactly the way it was when
it was built in 1861 at a cost of $14,000. While the exterior
has changed very slightly from its original fashion, the interior
is virtually intact.
1956, The Jim Thorpe Lions Club has made the Asa
available and open to the public seven days a week from Memorial
Day to October 31st of each year. Since 1912 the Mansion has been
owned by The Borough of Mauch Chunk and
its successor, The Borough of Jim Thorpe. The Mansion was designated
a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
historic town of Jim Thorpe
was formerly known as Mauch Chunk. Mauch
Chunk took its name from the curiously shaped hill across the Lehigh
River. The Lenape Indians
called it the Mountain of the Sleeping Bear. The Indians
felt the contour of the mountain resembled a crouching bear.
town began growing in the early 19th century when the first road
was built by the Lehigh River.
The region was rich with anthracite coal deposits and the Lehigh
River made transportation a natural for the newly emerging Industrial
Revolution in America.
1828 the Switchback Gravity Railroad was built to carry coal from
Summit Hill to the Lehigh
1850, Asa Packer developed the Lehigh
Valley Railroad and helped Mauch Chunk
become a prominent rail transfer point bringing huge amounts of
coal to New York and Philadelphia.
natural beauty of the Lehigh River Gorge, narrow streets, and terraced
gardens earned Mauch Chunk the nickname
the Switzerland of America. Asa Packard and other wealthy industrialists built mountainside
mansions and villas in town. Many of the millionaires resided in
a row of elegant homes known as Millionaires Row.
the need for coal waned, the Switchback Railroad was abandoned and
became a popular tourist attraction for sightseers. Visitors included
the likes of General U.S. Grant and Presidents William McKinley,
James Garfield, Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt.
region was in decline in the early and mid 20th century with mine
closings and the Great Depression. However, an interesting development
occurred in 1954 when Mauch Chunk was looking to revitalize the community. The
widow of Jim Thorpe, the Olympic hero of the 1912 Olympics in Sweden,
offered her husbands remains in exchange for a proper memorial.
The boroughs of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch
Chunk agreed to bury the Olympian Gold Medal Winner in a 20 ton
granite monument, befitting his stature, just outside of town.
The merging boroughs were now called Jim Thorpe.
the name to Jim Thorpe did not have a huge economic impact. The
town continued to survive, but it was not until the 1980s
that tourism began to grow in earnest and many of the townspeople
began restoring their homes. A Historic District was established
and buildings began appearing on the National Register of Historic
Places. Today Jim Thorpe is a vibrant and growing community with
a sound economic future.
Gustav V of Sweden said of Jim Thorpe after he
won Olympic Gold Medals in the Pentathlon and Decathlon Sir,
you are the greatest athlete in the world. In 1950 ABCs
Wide World of Sports named Jim Thorpe Athlete of the Century.
RUN STATE PARK
15,500 acre state park is in the western foot hills of the Pocono
Mountains in Carbon
ice age left the park region with poor, rocky soil that was almost
impossible to farm. The property was bottomless swamps and bogs.
Hickory Run became territory claimed by the Lenni Lenape, Susquehannock
and the Iroquois Nation, but very few American Indians lived there.
It originally was part of an immense tract of land that the Commonwealth
purchased by a treaty with the Indians.
the American Revolution the government was giving away 400 acre
parcels for free. There were few takers. However, one of the wealthiest
men in America,
Robert Morris purchased land there in 1794. Morris was known as
the financier of the American Revolution and was George
Washingtons best friend. He also was a signer of the Declaration
of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the
the 1800s Hickory Run saw a number of mills and roads built
in the region. Loggers clear cut the forests, but with little conservation
no replanting took place. Flooding was a constant problem and many
people left the region.
was not until 1912 that Allentown millionaire General Harry Trexler began purchasing large tracts of land to develop it
as a future state park. Subsequently at tax sales, General Trexler
added to his holdings until he had acquired over 20,000 acres.
He opened the land to the public for hunting and fishing. Following
his death in 1922, his executors disposed of 15,000 acres of his
holdings to the Federal Government. In 1935, the National Park
Service purchased Hickory Run to create a national recreation area.
The Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation
Corps began building roads, trails and campsites. In 1945 Hickory
Run was transferred to the state of Pennsylvania
and became Hickory Run State Park.
Field is a small piece of a landscape left over from the last ice
advance. About 15,000 years ago, this type of landscape was common
throughout Pennsylvania and the
northern part of North America.
Since that time the climate has changed and most boulder fields
have disappeared. Only in a few places do they still remain, and
field is a jumbled assortment of loosely packed boulders which range
in size from 15 feet to several inches in length. The field is
400 feet wide, 1,800 feet long, 12 feet deep and comprising about
30 acres of land.
Switchback Railroad was the creation of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation
Company. It was the first railroad in the United
States and was a 9 mile Gravity
Road that was completed in April 1827. It was created to transport
coal from the mines at Summit Hill to the canal at Mauch Chunk. In Mauch Chunk the coal was loaded onto canal boats and transported
down river to Philadelphia.
railroad had ten wagons, each carrying up to 2 tons of coal traveling
down Summit Hill powered entirely by gravity. A brake attached
to a cable was the only means of control. Mules pulled the empty
cars back up the hill then rode down with the coal in a car of their
own. The mules pulled the empty cars back up to the summit in three
hours, while the gravity-assisted descent lasted about 35 minutes.
the 1840s the old track was expanded to become a continuous
18-mile figure eight, allowing empty cars to travel back to the
mines while full ones descended down to the canal making
operations much more efficient.
the mid 1870s, major railroads began using steam locomotives.
The Switchback Railroad became obsolete, but the railroad adapted
by becoming a major tourist attraction. The Switchback prospered
and became the second leading tourist attraction in America,
behind only Niagara Falls.
It attracted over 75,000 tourists a year each paying one dollar
for the privilege of riding down the first roller coaster
in the country. Thomas Edison marveled at the technological wonder
and pronounced that he would not change any part of its operation!
the 1920s the popularity of the automobile hastened the rides
demise and the Great Depression sealed its fate. The last car ran
on October 31, 1933. Restoration efforts are under way to revive
the attraction for future use. The non profit organization is the
Switch Back Gravity Railroad Association in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
WALKING PURCHASE OF 1737
1681 King Charles II granted William Penn a charter for the land
north of Maryland and west of the
Delaware River. Penn called it Sylvania,
meaning woodland, because of the magnificent forests which were
there. William Penn believed that all people were children of God
and should be considered equal. He went to great lengths to treat
all men including Native Americans fairly. While King Charles granted
Penn all these lands, Penn also acknowledged the Indians as the
rightful owners of these vast lands. He made friendship treaties
with the Indians and then made his first land purchase from them
in 1682 and continued this practice in the following years.
occurred despite the fact that traditional Indian custom did not
include private ownership of land. They believed themselves to
be the chosen race, the true children of the Great Spirit and saw
the land and forests as things not to be possessed or sold, but,
like the air, as things free for the use of all.
William Penns sons John and Thomas had inherited the colonys
proprietorship they had fallen into debt and needed to generate
new sources of income. The demand for land was strong because of
heavy immigration from Europe, and settlers were moving north in
to the area from southeastern Pennsylvania
and west from New Jersey.
Provincial officials needed to extend their authority and provide
a form of government for these settlements. As a result, they considered
it necessary to obtain a clear title from the Indians to the land
in the upper Delaware and Lehigh River
Governor James Logan and Thomas Penn convinced the Indian tribes
that all the ground walked in eighteen hours would belong to the
white man, the vast lands beyond, exclusive Indian
territory. The Walking Purchase was signed on
August 25, 1737.
next step was to measure the purchase and specify the boundaries.
The deed indicated that the purchase extended from a point on the
Delaware River near Wrightstown,
northwest into the interior as far as a man could walk in
a day and half. This is a typical measurement of space used
by Indian tribes that they felt comfortable using. The deed also
used typical Indian phrases that showed their respect for elders
and their way of calculating distances.
to signing the deed the Penns had sent
scouting parties to clear the route, making it much easier for the
men to walk at a rapid pace and achieve much better results. In
addition, they hired three outdoorsmen, Edward Marshall, James Yeats
and Solomon Jennings. These men were tremendously prepared for
the task and set a fierce pace hour after hour. It was the ultimate
cross-country foot race that confused and angered the exhausted
Indians following along. The walk ended well into the Lehigh
near what is now Jim Thorpe, formerly Mauch
Chunk at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. A line run at a right angle from that point
struck the Delaware River near the mouth of the Lackawaxen
River, giving Pennsylvania
all rights to what the Indians called the Minisink
country west of the Delaware.
The amount of land involved was three-and-one-half times greater
than had been anticipated by the Indians and included prime Indian
Penns sons John and Thomas, as well as Governor Logan indicated
clearly that they had abandoned William Penns policy of fairness
toward the Indians. Their actions demonstrated their short-sightedness.
They achieved their immediate objectives of acquiring land in the
Upper Delaware and Lehigh
but they contributed to a later catastrophe by alienating the Indians.
Bloody warfare was soon to follow when Indian tribes ravaged the
frontier, destroying crops, burning homes and killing many colonists.
Molly Maguires was a secret
organization of Irish-Americans in the anthracite mining districts
of Pennsylvania in the mid
1800s. The group was coal miners that used violence and terrorism
to combat the deplorable conditions of the mines, inflicting horror
on police, supervisors and mine owners. They blew up railroad cars
loaded with coal, organized riots and threatened anyone who spoke
out against them. They intimidated, beat, bashed and murdered mine
owners who mistreated them. There was a level of violence that
eclipsed the wild wests gunslingers.
Maguire is said to have been an actual woman, a widow, who was persecuted
in her homeland because she was a Catholic. The conception of the
Molly Maguires occurred at a time long before child labor laws,
a minimum wage, suitable standards on working conditions, or any
organized form of labor unions came into existence. The working
hours in the coal mines were long, the pay was low and they often
lost their lives due to the terrible working conditions. They lived
in company owned houses and were forced to purchase everything they
needed from the company owned stores, often paying inflated prices
for goods and services. The frustration levels were high and tempers
is known about the American Mollies in Pennsylvania is that they
worked within the legal organization The Ancient Order of
the Hibernians, otherwise known as the A.O.H., the largest
fraternal organization of the times, even larger than the Masons.
Each region had its own body master, treasurer, secretary and members.
At meetings they discussed working conditions, terrorist acts, and
even murder. The henchmen would often say Take that from
a son of Molly Maguire! before bashing and beating its victims.
The Mollies reached the height of the power around 1875, when they
managed to organize a union and call a strike.
railroads owned most of the coal companies. Franklin Gowen,
President of the Philadelphia
and Reading Railroad was one of the most powerful company owners.
Gowen saw the union crippling company
profits and decided to hire Pinkerton Security to break the Molly
Maguires. Pinkerton assigned James McParlan,
a young outgoing Irishman, to infiltrate the Mollies, collect evidence,
and crush the organization. James McParlan,
armed with his new name, James McKenna, set out on a mission that
would take almost 5 years to accomplish. McParlan gained respect among the criminals, stopped many
crimes from taking place and reported back the inner workings of
all was said and done, twenty men were hung. On June 21, 1877,
four men were hanged at one time in the Mauch
Chunk Jail. Within the next two years, three more men were accused
and hanged in the jail. The men were accused of murdering two mine
Cambell, who moved to America in 1868,
was tried and found guilty of the murder of John P. Jones and, soon
afterwards, of Morgan Powell. Before going to the gallows
Cambell declared his innocence by placing
his hand on the wall of his cell and stated that his hand print
would remain on the wall for all time to prove his innocence. His
hand print remains a silent witness to his claim. It can still
be found on the wall of his prison cell at the Mauch
Chunk Jail in Jim Thorpe.
remain questions to the innocence and guilt of some of the Mollies
that were hung. One thing was certain, the Molly Maguires
were through. To the dismay of the coal barons, the unions would
gain strength and become one of the most powerful unions in the
United Mine Workers.
a footnote, Franklin Gowen earned a selfish,
elitist image that historians regard as repugnant. He committed
suicide in Washington D.C.
in December 1889.