Bethlehem in Northampton County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Coal for Cabbage
1829 - 1942
"We used to trade a lot along the canal. People who had vegetables and things. We'd give them coal and they'd give us cabbages, tomatoes and things like that. There were lock tenders whose wives made good bread. We'd give them coal for bread."
Mrs. Chester Mann
Daughter of a boat captain
A coal-laden boat coasted through placid canal waters toward the next lock. The captain's family made a grocery list; he evaluated equipment needs. The bachelor canaler behind readied dirty laundry to exchange for clean laundry dropped off last "lock through." Everyone counted coal to trade for services. It was Saturday night and a Sunday in town moved closer with each mule step.
The captain blew the conch shell. Recognizing his signal, the locktender's wife reached for her, freshly baked bread and plump tomatoes. Coal would soon be added to next winter's supply. Soon she'd share canal gossip with the boatman's wife while the children played nearby. Later, at the dance, they'd meet again.
Small towns grew along locks, offering blacksmithing a place to
Bartering, when canalers and townsfolk traded goods and services instead of paying for them, was an everyday occurrence along the canal.
Erected by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Bethlehem City and Township, and Carbon County.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1829.
Location. 40° 36.977′ N, 75° 22.847′ W. Marker is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County. Marker is on D&L Trail / Sand Island Trail, 0.1 miles east of Main Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bethlehem PA 18018, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. It's a Short Commute (here, next to this marker); A Water-Powered Elevator (within shouting distance of this marker); From Mountain to Market (within shouting distance of this marker); The Canaler's Life (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Continental Army Honored DeadBell House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sisters' House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gemeinhaus (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bethlehem.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 6, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 47 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 6, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.