From Mountain to Market
1829 - 1942
"A few miles above Easton, the Lehigh was pocked with white water at almost every turning. To navigate it seemed impossible."
Josiah White, Co-founder of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company
Pennsylvania's anthracite (hard coal) lay entombed within isolated, rugged mountain valleys north and west of the turbulent Lehigh River. Anthracite spelled money to those who knew of markets downstream, but low-cost transportation challenged prospective coal barons. By the beginning of the 19th century, eager businessmen struggle toward a solution.
A civil engineering feat of its time, the Lehigh Navigation tamed an almost 1,000 foot elevation drop between White Haven and Easton. Creatively designed, it used dams, hand-dug channels and calm river straits to weave a path downstream. It eventually became known as the largest capacity and longest running towpath canal in America. The section between Mauch Chunk (today's Jim Thorpe) and Easton still offers tow-path trails and watered sections.
Though successful longer than most due to location and industries it spawned,
Each boat captain warned locktenders of their approach through some type of horn. Conch shells were popular.
[Photo caption reads]
Loading Panther Valley anthracite into canal boats in Mauch Chunk.
Erected by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Bethlehem City and Township, and Carbon County.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1942.
Location. 40° 36.971′ N, 75° 22.8′ W. Marker is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County. Marker is on D&L Trail / Sand Island Trail, 0.2 miles east of Main Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 28 River St, Bethlehem PA 18015, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Water-Powered Elevator (within shouting distance of this marker); Coal for Cabbage (within shouting distance of this marker); It's a Short Commute (within shouting distance of this marker); The Canaler's Life
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 45 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.