Jim Thorpe in Carbon County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
From Mountain to Market
1849 - 1942
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, the canal finally closed. Costly floods, railroad systems, evolving highway networks and declining coal sales eventually took their toll. The last boat floated peacefully along the canal the evening before the flood of 1942. An era and lifestyle ended.
Location. 40° 51.789′ N, 75° 44.28′ W. Marker is in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in Carbon County. Marker is at the intersection of East Calawissa Street (U.S. 209) and Susquehannah Street (U.S. 209) on East Calawissa Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jim Thorpe PA 18229, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Anthracite (here, next to this marker); Mauch Chunk Railroad Station (a few steps from this marker); Packer Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Carbon County (within shouting distance of this marker); The Soldiers and Sailors Monument (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Self Made Man (about 300 feet away); Molly Maguire Executions (approx. half a mile away); Colonel Jacob Weiss Monument (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jim Thorpe.
More about this marker. The caption for the main picture on the marker identifies it as, "Loading Panther Valley anthracite into canal boats in Mauch Chunk."
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Natural Resources • Railroads & Streetcars • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 25, 2010, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 520 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 25, 2010, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.