from The History of the Lackawanna Valley
by H. Hollister, M. D.1869
THE PENNSYLVANIA COAL COMPANY.
The definite and successful character of the coal schemes devised
by the Wurts brothers, tested amidst every possible element of
discouragement and hostility, inclined capitalists to glance toward
the hills from whence coal slowly drifted to the sea-board. Drinker
and Meredith, aiming at reciprocal objects, and alive to venture
and enterprise, each obtained a charter for a railroad in the
valley, which, owing to the absence of capital, proved of no practical
value at the time to any one.
Twenty-one years after coal was carried from Carbondale by
railroad toward a New York market, the Pennsylvania Coal Company
began the transportation of their coal from the Lackawanna. This
company, the second one operating in the valley, was incorporated
by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1838, with a capital of $200,
000. The proposed road was to connect Pittston with the Delaware
and Hudson Canal at some point along the Wallenpaupack Creek in
the county of Wayne.
The commissioners appointed in this act organized the company
in the spring of 1839, and commenced operating in Pittston on
a small scale. After mining a limited quantity of coal from their
landsof which they were allowed to hold one thousand acresit
was taken down the North Branch Canal, finding a market at Harrisburg
and other towns along the Susquehanna.
Simultaneously with the grant of this charter, another was
given to a body of gentlemen in Honesdale, known as the Washington
Coal Company, with a capital of $300,000, empowered to hold two
thousand acres of land in the coal basin. This last charter, lying
idle for nine years, was sold to William Wurts, Charles Wurts,
and others of Philadelphia, in 1847.
In 1845, the first stormy impulse or excitement in coal lands
went through the central and lower part of the valley. Large purchases
of coal property were made for a few wealthy men of Philadelphia,
who had reconnoitered the general features of the country with
a view of constructing a railroad from the Lackawanna to intersect
the Delaware and Hudson Canal near the mouth of the Paupack.
The preliminary surveys upon the proposed route had barely
commenced, before there sprang up in Providence and Blakeley,
opposition of the most relentless and formidable character. Men
who had hitherto embarrassed the company mining coal in Carbondale
during its infancy, found scope here for their remaining malignity.
The most plausible ingenuity was employed to defeat the entrance
of a road whose operations could not fail to inspire and enlarge
every industrial activity along its border. Meeting after meeting
was held at disaffected points, having for their object the destruction
of the very measures, which, when matured, were calculated to
result as they did to the advantage of those who opposed them.
It was urged with no little force, that if these Philadelphians
"seeking the blood of the country," were allowed to
make a railroad through Cobb's Gap, the only natural key or eastern
outlet to the valley, the rich deposits of coal and iron remaining
in the hands of the settlers would be locked in and rendered useless
forever. Such fallacious notions, urged by alms-asking demagogues
with steady clamor upon a people jealous of their prerogatives,
inflamed the public mind for a period of three years against this
company, but after such considerations as selfish agitators will
sometimes covet and accept tranquilized opposition, those amicable
relations which have since existed with the country commenced.
In 1848, the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed "an act
incorporating the Luzerne and Wayne Railroad Company, with a capital
stock of $500,000, with authority to construct a road from the
Lackawaxen to the Lackawanna."
Before this company manifested organic life, its charter, confirmed
without reward, and that of the Washington Coal Company being
purchased, were merged into the Pennsylvania Coal Company, by
an act of the Legislature passed in 1849.
This road, whose working capacity is equal to one and a half
million tons per annum, was commenced in 1848; completed in May,
1850. It is forty-seven miles in length, passing with a, single
track from the coal-mines on the Susquehanna at Pittston to those
lying near Cobb's Cap, terminating at the Delaware and Hudson
Canal at the spirited village of Hawley. It is worked at moderate
expense, and in the most simple manner for a profitable coal-roadthe
cars being drawn up the mountain by a series of stationary steam-engines
and planes, and then allowed to run by their own weight, at a
rate of ten or twelve miles an hour, down a grade sufficiently
descending to give the proper momentum to the train. The movement
of the cars is so easy, that there is but little wear along the
iron pathway, while the too rapid speed is checked by the slight
application of brakes. No railroad leading into the valley makes
less noise; none does so really a remunerative business, earning
over ten per cent. on its capital at the present low prices of
coal; thus illustrating the great superiority of a "gravity
road" over all others for the cheap transportation of anthracite
over the ridges surrounding the coal-fields of Pennsylvania.
The true system, exemplified twenty years ago by its present
superintendent, John B. Smith, Esq., of uniting the interests
of the laboring-man with those of the company, as far as possible,
has been one of the most efficient measures whereby "strikes"
have been obviated, and the general prosperity of the road steadily
Through the instrumentality of Mr. Smith this has been done
in a manner so uniform yet unobtrusive, as to make it a model
coal-road. It carries no passengers.
This company, having a capital of about $4,000,000, gives employment
to over three thousand men.
FROM PITTSTON TO HAWLEY.
A ride upon a coal-train over the gravity road of the Pennsylvania
Coal Company, from Pittston to Hawley, is not without interest
or incident. Starting from the banks of the Susquehanna, it gradually
ascends the border of the Moosic Mountain for a dozen miles, when,
as if refreshed by its slow passage up the rocky way, it hurries
the long train down to the Dyberry at Hawley with but a single
Let the tourist willing to blend venture with pleasure, step
upon the front of the car as it ascends Plane No. 2, at Pittston,
and brings to view the landscape of Wyoming Valley, with all its
variety of plain, river, and mountain, made classic by song and
historic by her fields of blood. The Susquehanna, issuing from
the highland lakes of Otsego, flows along, equaled only in beauty
by the Rhine, through a region famed for its Indian historythe
massacre upon its fertile plain, and the sanguinary conflict between
the Yankees and Pennymites a century ago. The cars, freighted
with coal, move their spider-feet toward Hawley. Slow at first,
they wind around curve and hill, gathering speed and strength
as they oscillate over ravine, woodland, and water. Emerging from
deep cuts or dense woods, the long train approaches Spring Brook.
Crossing this trout stream upon a trestling thrown across the
ravine of a quarter of a mile, the cars slacken their speed as
they enter the narrow rock-cut at the foot of the next plane.
While looking upon the chiseled precipice to find some egress
to this apparent cavern, the buzz of the pulley comes from the
plane, and through the granite passage, deep and jaw-like, you
are drawn to a height where the glance of the surrounding woods
is interrupted by the sudden manner in which you are drawn into
the very top of engine-house No. 4.
The Lybian desert, in the desolation of its sands, offers more
to admire than the scenery along the level from No. 4 to No. 5.
Groups of rock, solitary in dignity and gray with antiquity, are
seen upon every side; trees grow dwarfed from their accidental
foothold; and only here and there a tuft of wild grass holds its
unfriendly place. The babbling of a brook at the foot of No. 5,
alone falls pleasantly upon the ear. As the cars roll up the plane,
the central portion of the valley is brought before the eye on
a scale of refreshing magnificence. The features of the scenery
become broader and more picturesque. The Moosic range, marking
either side of the valley, so robed with forest to its very summit
as to present two vast waves of silent tree-top, encircle the
ancient home and stronghold of Capoose. As you look down into
this amphitheater, crowded with commercial and village life, catching
a glimpse of the river giving a richer shade to a meadow where
the war-song echoed less than a century ago, evidences of thrift
everywhere greet and gladden the eye.
At No. 6, upon the northern bank of the Roaring Brook, are
located the most eastern mines of this company, being those which
are situated the nearest to New York City. These consist of a
series of coal deposits, varied in purity, thickness, and value,
but all profitably worked. The largest vein of coal mined here
is full eight feet thick, and is the highest coal mined on the
hill northwest of plane No. 6.
Upon the opposite range of the Moosic Mountain, in the vicinity
of Leggett's Gap, this same stratum of coal is worked by other
companies. Each acre of coal thus mined from this single vein
yields about 10,000 tons of good merchantable coal.
The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, crosses that
of the Pennsylvania at No. 6, giving some interest to the most
flinty rocks and soil in the world. No. 6 is a colony by itself.
It is one of those humanized points destitute of every natural
feature to render it attractive.
On either side of the ravine opening for the passage of Roaring
Brook, the sloping hill, bound by rock, is covered with shanties
sending forth a brogue not to be mistaken; a few respectable houses
stand in the background; the offices, store-house, workshops,
and the large stone car and machine shops of the company are located
on the northern bank of the brook. Some sixty years ago a sawmill
erected in this piny declivity by Stephen Tripp, who afterward
added a small grist-mill by its side, was the only mark upon the
spot until the explorations and survey of this company. This jungle,
darkened by laurels blending their evergreen with the taller undergrowth,
was more formidable from the fact that during the earlier settlement
of Dunmore it was the constant retreat of wolves.
Over this savage nook, industry and capital have achieved their
triumphs and brought into use a spot nature cast in a careless
mood. At the head of No. 6 stand the great coal screens for preparing
the finer quality of coal, operated by steam-power.
Up the slope of the Moosic, plane after plane, you ascend along
the obliterated Indian path and Connecticut road, enjoying so
wide a prospect of almost the entire valley from Pittston to Carbondale,
that for a moment you forget that in the crowded streets elsewhere
are seen so many bodies wanting souls. Dunmore, Scranton, Hyde
Park, Providence, Olyphant, Peckville, Green Ridge, and Dickson
appear in the foreground, while the Moosic, here and there serrated
for a brook, swings out its great arms in democratic welcome to
the genius of the artificer, first shearing the forest, then prospering
and perfecting the industrial interest everywhere animating the
valley. The long lines of pasturage spotted with the herd, the
elongated, red-necked chimneys distinguishing the coal works multiplied
almost without number in their varied plots, give to these domains
a picturesqueness and width seen nowhere to such an advantage
in a clear day as on the summit of Cobb Mountain, two thousand
feet above the tide.
Diving through the tunnel, the train emerges upon the "barrens,"
where, in spite of every disadvantage of cold, high soil, are
seen a few farms of singular productiveness. The intervening country
from the tunnel to Hawley, partakes of the hilly aspect of northern
Pennsylvania, diversified by cross-roads, clearings, farm-houses,
and streams. Here and there a loose-tongued rivulet blends its
airs with the revolving car-wheel humming along some shady glen,
and farther along, the narrow cut, like the sea of old, opens
for a friendly passage. Down an easy grade, amidst tall, old beechen
forests half hewn away for clearings and homes of the frugal farmers,
the cars roll at a speed of twelve miles an hour over a distance
of some thirty miles from the tunnel, when, turning sharply around
the base of a steep hill on the left, the cars land into the village
of Hawley, a vigorous settlement, existing and sustaining itself
principally by the industrial manipulations of this company.
A little distance below the village, the Wallenpaupack, after
leaping 150 feet over the terraced precipice, unites with the
Lackawaxen, a swift, navigable stream in a freshet, down whose
waters coal was originally taken from the Lackawanna Valley to
the Delaware in arks.
It is fourteen miles to Lackawaxen upon the Delaware, where,
in 1779, a bloody engagement took place between John Brant, the
famous chief of the Six Nations, and some four hundred Orange
The Tories and Indians had burned the town of Minisink, ten
miles west of Goshen, scalping and torturing those who could not
escape from the tomahawk by flight. Being themselves pursued by
some raw militia, hastily gathered from the neighborhood for the
purpose, they retreated to the mouth of the Lackawaxen. Here Brant
with his followers formed an ambuscade. The whites, burning to
avenge the invaders of their firesides, incautiously rushed on
after the fleeing savages, ignorant or forgetting the wily character
of their foe. As the troops were rising over a hill covered with
trees, and had become completely surrounded in the fatal ring,
hundreds of savages poured in upon them such a merciless fire,
accompanied with the fearful war-whoop, that they were at once
thrown into terrible confusion. Every savage was stationed behind
the trunk of some tree or rock which shielded him from the bullets
of the militia. For half an hour the unequal conflict raged with
increasing fury, the blaze of the guns flashing through the gloom
of the day, as feebler and faster fell the little band. At length,
when half of their number were either slain or so shattered by
the bullets as to be mere marks for the sharp-shooters, the remainder
threw away their guns and fled; but so closely were they in turn
pursued by the exultant enemy that only thirty out of the entire
body escaped to tell the sad story of defeat. Many of these reached
their homes with fractured bones and fatal wounds. The remains
of those who had fallen at this time were gathered in 1822, and
deposited in a suitable place and manner by the citizens of Goshen.
The New York and Erie Railroad have sent up a branch road from
a point near this battle-ground to Hawley, thus giving to the
Pennsylvania Coal Company an unfrozen avenue to the sea-board,
besides dispensing in a great degree with water facilities offered
and enjoyed until the completion of this branch in 1863.
From 1850 to 1866, 9,308,396 tons of coal was brought from
the mines to Hawley, being an average of 581,775 tons per year.
Report of Coal transported over the Pennsylvania
Coal Company's Railroad for week and for year ending December
31, 1868, and for corresponding period last year:
By Rail, week ending December 31
By Rail Previously
By Canal, week ending December 26
By Canal Previously
Total by Canal and Rail, 1868
Total To same date, 1867
JNO. B. SMITH, Superintendent.
While a great part of the coal carried to Hawley acknowledges
the jurisdiction of this branch road, a limited portion is unloaded
into boats upon the Delaware and Hudson Canal.
Once emptied, the cars return to the valley upon a track called
the light track, where the light or empty cars are self-gravitated
dowel a heavier grade to the coal-mines. Seated in the "Pioneer,"
a rude passenger concern, losing some of the repelling character
of the coal car, in its plain, pine seats and arched roof, you
rise up the plane from the Lackawaxen Creek a considerable distance
before entering a series of ridges of scrub-oak land, barren both
of interest and value until made otherwise by the fortunes of
this company. Leaving Palmyra township, this natural barrenness
disappears in a great measure as you enter the richer uplands
of Salem, where an occasional farm is observed of great fertility,
in spite of the accompanying houses, barns, and fences defying
every attribute of Heaven's first law. About one mile from the
road, amidst the quiet hills of Wayne County, nestles the village
of Hollisterville. It lies on a branch of the Wallenpaupack, seven
miles from Cobb Pond, on the
mountain, and ten miles above the ancient "Lackawa"
settlement. AMASA HOLLISTER, with his sons, Alpheus, Alanson,
and Wesley, emigrated from Hartford, Connecticut, to this place
in 1814, when the hunter and the trapper only were familiar with
the forest. Many of the social comforts of the village, and much
of the rigid morality of New England character can be traced to
these pioneers. Up No. 21 you rise, and then roll toward the valley.
The deepest and greatest gap eastward from the Lackawanna is Cobb's,
through which flows the Roaring Brook. This shallow brook, from
some cause, appears to have lost much of its ancient size, as
it breaks through the picturesque gorge with shrunken volume to
find its way into the Lackawanna at Scranton.
This gap in the mountain, deriving its name from Asa Cobb,
who settled in the vicinity in 1784, lies three miles east of
Scranton. It really offers to geologist or the casual inquirer
much to interest. This mountain rent, unable longer to defy the
triumphs of science, seems to have been furrowed out by the same
agency which drew across the Alleghany the transverse lines diversifying
the entire range. Like the mountain at the Delaware Water Gap,
it bears evidence of having once been the margin of one of the
lakes submerging the country at a period anterior to written or
traditional history. Emerging from beech and maple woodlands,
you catch a glimpse of a long, colossal ledge, bending in graceful
semicircle, rising vertically from the Roaring Brook some three
hundred feet or more. Its face, majestic in its wildness, as it
first greets the eye, reminds one of the palisades along the Hudson.
As it is approached upon the cars, the flank of the mountain defies
further progress in that direction, when the road, with a corresponding
bend to the left, winds the train from apparent danger, moving
down the granite bank of the brook deeper and deeper into the
gorge, enhanced in interest by woods and waterfall. The hemlock
assumes the mastery of the forest along the brook, whose waters
whiten as they pour over precipice after precipice into pools
below, which but few years since were so alive with trout, that
fishing half-an-hour with a single pole and line supplied the
wants of a family for a day with this delicious fish. In the narrowest
part of the gap, the cars run on a mere shelf, cut from the rock
a hundred feet from the bed of the stream, while the mountain,
wrapped in evergreens, rises abruptly from the track many hundred
Greenville, a fossilized station on the Delaware, Lackawanna,
and Western Railroad, and once the terminus of the Lackawanna
Railroad, lies on a slope opposite this point.
The great pyloric orifice of Cobb's Gap, once offering
uncertain passage to the Indian's craft, illustrates the achievement
of art over great natural obstacles. Roaring Brook, Drinker's
turnpike, now used as a township road, the Pennsylvania and the
Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, find ample place under
the shadow of its walls.
A ride of an hour, far up from the bottom of the valley through
a forest trimmed of its choicest timber by the lumbermen and shingle-makers,
brings the traveler again to Pittston, renovated in spirits and
vigor, and instructed in the manner of diffusing anthracite coal
throughout the country.
DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA, AND WESTERN RAILROAD.
Historical Summary of the Susquehanna and Delaware Canal
and Railroad Company (Drinker's Railroad)The Leggett's Gap
RailroadThe Delaware and Cobb's Gap Railroad CompanyAll
merged into the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad.
Imperfect as was the knowledge of the value of coal forty years
ago, large bodies of it being discovered here and there in the
valley, mostly upon or near the surface, led the late Henry W.
Drinker to comprehend and agitate a plan of connecting the Susquehanna
River at Pittston with the Delaware at the Water Gap, by means
of a railroad running up the Lackawanna to the mouth of Roaring
Brook, thence up that stream to the placid waters of Lake Henry,
crossing the headsprings of the Lehigh upon the marshy table-land
forming the dividing ridge between the Susquehanna and Delaware,
and down the Pocono and the rapid Alanomink to the Water Gap,
with a view of reaching a market.
This was in 1819. The contemplated route, marked by the hatchet
over mountain and ravine profound in the depth of their solitude,
had no instrumental survey until eleven years afterward, but an
examination of the country, with which no woodman was more familiar
than Drinker, satisfied him that the intersecting line of communication
was not only feasible, but that its practical interpretation would
utilize the intervening section, and give action and impulse to
many an idle ax. In April, 1826, he easily obtained an act of
incorporation of the "Susquehanna and Delaware Canal and
Railroad Company." The charter implied either a railroad
operated up the planes by water, or a canal a portion of the way.
The "head-waters of the river Lehigh and its tributary stream,"
were prohibited from being used for feeding the canal, as it might
"injure the navigation of said river, from Mauch Chunk to
Easton." By reference to the original report and survey of
this road, it appears that horses were contemplated as the motive
power between the planes, that toll-houses were to be established
along the line, and collectors appointed, and that the drivers
or conductors of "such wagon, carriage, or conveyance, boat
or raft, were to give the collectors notice of their approach
to said toll-houses by blowing a trumpet or horn."
Henry W. Drinker, William Henry, David Scott, Jacob D. and
Daniel Stroud, Jai-ties N. Porter, A. E. Brown, S. Stokes, and
John Coolbaugh, were the commissioners.
Among the few persons in Pennsylvania willing to welcome and
recognize the practicability of a railroad route in spite of the
wide-spread distrust menacing it in 1830, stood prominently a
gentleman, by the aid of whom, the Indian Capoose region of Slocum
Hollow changed the ruggedness of its aspectWilliam Henry.
In fact, Messrs. Henry and Drinker were two of the most indefatigable
and energetic members of the board.
In 1830, a subscription of a few hundred dollars was obtained
from the commissioners; in May, 1831, Mr. Henry, in accordance
with the wishes of the board, engaged Major Ephraim Beach, C.
E., to run a preliminary line of survey over the intervening country.
By reference to the old report of Major Beach, it will be seen
that the present line of the southern division of the Delaware,
Lackawanna, and Western Railroad is, in the main, much the same
as that run by him at this time. Seventy miles in length the road
was to be made, at a total estimated cost of $624,720. Three hundred
and thirty-six wagons (cars), capable of carrying over the road
240, 000 tons of coal per year, were to be employed.
Coal at this time was worth $9 per ton in New York, while coal
lands in the valley could be bought at prices varying from $10
to $20 per acre.
It was not supposed by the commissioners that the coal trade
alone could make this road one so profitable, but it was originally
their object to connect the two at these points, so as to participate
in the trade upon the Susquehanna. For the return business
it was thought that "iron in bars, pig, and castings, would
be sent from the borders of the Delaware in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey, and that limestone in great quantities would be transported
from the same district and burned in the coal region, where fuel
would be abundant and cheap." [Commissioners'
Report of the Route, 1832].
Simultaneously with this survey was the route of the Lackawannock
and Susquehanna, or Meredith Railroad, leading from the mouth
of Leggett's Creek in Providence up to that graceful loop in the
Susquehanna, called Great Bend, forty-seven and a half miles away,
undertaken and surveyed by the late James Seymour, four years
after the granting of its charter.
Near the small village of Providence these two roads, neither
of which contemplated the use of locomotives in their reliance
upon gravity and seven inclined planes, were to form a junction,
and expected to breathe life and unity into the iron pathway that
was to grope its way out of a valley having scarcely a name away
from its immediate border. Neither. road proposed to carry passengers.
The report of the commissioners, presenting the subject in
its most attractive light, failed to excite the attention it deserved.
Men reputed as reliable looked upon the scheme as unworthy of
serious notice. Those who had achieved an indifferent livelihood
by the shot-gun or the plow, saw no propriety in favoring a plan
whose fulfillment promised no protection to game or greater product
to the field.
The few who felt that its success would interweave its advantages
into every condition of life, were not dismayed.
In the spring of 1832, a sufficient amount of stock having
been subscribed, the company was organized: Drinker elected president,
John Jordon, Jr., secretary, and Henry, treasurer. At a subsequent
meeting of the stockholders, the president and treasurer were
constituted a financial committee to raise means to make the road,
by selling stock, issuing bonds, or by hypothecating the road,
&c. The engineer's map, the commissioners' report, and newspaper
articles were widely diffused, to announce the material benefits
to result by the completion and acquisition of this new thoroughfare.
The Lackawanna Valley, set in its green wild ridges, known
in New York City only by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company,
then in the fourth year of its existence, confounded often with
the Lackawaxen region lying upon the other side of the
Moosic Mountain, neither Drinker's nor Meredith's charter was
received with favor or attention.
The advantages of railroads were neither understood nor encouraged
by the inhabitants of the valley in 1832, because the slow ox-team
or jaded saddle-horse thus far had kept pace with its development.
To render the scheme, however, more comprehensive and general
in its character, and make more certain the building of the Drinker
railroad, a continuous route was explored for a gravity railroad,
"from a point in Cobb's Gap, where an intersection or connection
can be conveniently formed with the Susquehanna and Delaware Railroad,
in Luzerne County," up through Leggett's Gap, and running
in a northwesterly direction to the State of New York.
This was the Leggett's Gap Railroad, an inclined plane road
which, when completed, was expected to receive the trade along
the fertile plains of the Susquehanna, Chenango, and the Chemung,
now enjoyed so profitably by the New York and Erie Railroad.
H. W. Drinker, Elisha S. Potter, Thomas Smith, Dr. Andrew Bedford,
and Nathaniel Cottrillthe last two of whom are now living-were
among the original commissioners.
Public meetings were now called by the friends of the Drinker
road, at the Old Exchange in Wall Street, New York, to obtain
subscriptions to the stock of the company, and, while many persons
acknowledged the enterprise to be a matter of more than common
interest to the country generally, as it promised when completed,
to furnish a supply of coal from the hills of Luzerne County,
a county where thousands of millions of tons of the best anthracite
coal could be mined from a region of more than thirty-three miles
in length, and averaging more than two miles in width, underlaid
with coal probably averaging fifty feet in thickness, and besides
this, unlike most other mining portions of the world, it abounded
in agricultural fertility.
While these facts where generally conceded, they produced no
other, effect, than bringing from capitalists the favorable opinion
that final triumph probably awaited their hopes. In Morristown,
Newton, Belvidere, Newark, and other places in New Jersey; at
Easton, Stroudsburg, Dunmore, Providence, and Kingston, in Pennsylvania,
meetings were called to draw the attention of the public mind
and acquire the requisite means to open this highway through the
wilderness, where the wolf, crouched in the swamp; bestowed with
his gray eye as friendly a glance upon the project as many capitalists
were inclined to give it. Every sanguine hope, every flattering
promise made in a spirit of apparent earnestness languished and
died like the leaves of autumn.
At length, engagements were made with New York capitalists
to carry the matter forward to a favorable termination, provided
that Drinker and his friends would obtain a charter for a continuous
line of gravity railroad up the Susquehanna, from Pittston to
the New York State line. In 1833, a perpetual charter for such
a road was obtained by their agency, and the first installment
of five dollars was paid, according to the act of Assembly. In
itself it was considered, that in connection with other roads,
at or near the Delaware Water Gap to New York City, it would be
with its terminus at Jersey City eastwardly, and the State line
near Athens, in Pennsylvania, westward, the shortest and the best
line the natural avenues indicated from New York west. It was
shown by the official report of a survey made in 1827, by John
Bennett, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, that the distance from the
mouth of the Lackawanna of eighty-six miles had but two hundred
and fourteen feet fall, or about two and a half feet per mile,
the acclivity for the whole distance being in general nearly equal,
and beyond this to the city of Elmira at about the same grade.
The vast project of the New York and Erie Railroad was agitating
southern New York at this time. Of the seven commissioners, John
B. Jervis, Horatio Allen, Jared Wilson, and William Dewy urged
the adoption of the present route, while F. Whittlesey, Orville
W. Childs, and Job Pierson reported adversely to it.
The New York gentlemen interested in Drinker's route, having
full faith in the realization of an idea promising control of
a line reaching the same point on the New York and Erie Railroad
(as laid down by Judge Wright, civil engineer, but on which nothing
more had yet been done), at a distance of eighty-one miles short
of this line, while running through both the anthracite and bituminous
coal districts upon easier grades, were greatly encouraged to
hope for success; several sections in the "Susquehanna Railroad"
law were, by supplements, so amended by legislative enactments
as to fulfill upon that point every expectation.
In October, 1835, the services of Doctor George Green, of Belvidere,
who was a friend of this improvement, and who originated the "Belvidere
Delaware Railroad," were procured. William Henry's note,
indorsed by Henry W. Drinker, accepted and indorsed by the cashier
of the Elizabeth Bank as "good," was taken by the doctor
to the Wyoming Bank at Wilkes Barre as a deposit and payment,
in compliance with the law called the "Susquehanna Railroad"
act. of Assembly of 1833.
In consequence of the commercial embarrassments alienating
credit and confidence throughout the entire country in 1835-6,
the New York party, impoverished and appalled by the shock, could
give no further thought to the road. Other parties being prostrated
by insolvency or death, the positive spirit, inaugurating the
company, carried with it thus far a success decidedly negative
Ten years had thus escaped, and not a single tie nor rail had
shod the road; here and there a few limbs clipped from the forest-tree
to aid the surveyor, and a few rods graded for the flat iron bar,
bore evidence of the hope of the directors.
In the summer of 1836, there was traveling in the United States
an English nobleman named Sir Charles Augustus Murray, who, learning
of the important character of this proposed road from one of his
friends, became interested in its success. A correspondence ensued,
which led to a meeting of the friends of the project, at Easton,
June 18, 1836; Mr. Drinker and Mr. Henry on the part of the railroad
company, and Mr. Armstrong of New York, Mr. C. A. Murray, and
Wm. F. Clemson of New Jersey, wrote out articles of association;
the railroad committee fully authorized Mr. Murray to raise, as
he proposed to do, 100,000 pounds sterling in England, conditional
that the company should raise the means to make a beginning of
the work. Mr. Henry accompanied him to New York, and furnished
him with the power of attorney, under seal expressly made for
the purpose, and on the eighth of August, 1836, Mr. Murray sailed
for Europe. Mr. Henry at once met and made arrangements with the
Morris Canal Board of Directors to raise $150,000 on stock subscriptions
to commence the road, but before these arrangements had matured,
discouraging news came from England through Mr. Murray, who informed
the company that the prostrated monetary affairs of Europe rendered
any assistance by him out of the question.
To this meeting, which lasted three days, in the village of
Easton, can be traced the starting of the iron-works in Slocum
Hollow, whose varied and wide-spread prosperity have animated
the entire domain of the Lackawanna. [See History
The first iron-works in Scranton after those of Slocums', were
erected in 1840. In the summer of 1842, after the artificers gathered
around the Scranton furnaces had learned to smelt iron with the
lustrous anthracite, the directors of the railroad held only annual
meetings. Drinker and Henry had each expended nearly their entire
resources to fructify a project whose magnitude found no place
or conception in the public mind; this being done in vain, postponed
further sacrifices and efforts to stretch the iron fiber from
river to river, until greater wants from the sea-board came up
to the coal heaps, and established mutual confidence instead of
The simple acquisition of Slocum Hollow, in 1840, by a New
Jersey company, had but little interest outside of parties concerned
in the purchase. Who were taxed for the rough pasture-land cleared
on Roaring Brook, none cared to inquire. Its purchase, however,
originally suggested by Mr. Henry with especial reference to the
furtherance of Drinker's road, favored that result sooner than
was anticipated. With the concentration and expansion of capital
here at this time, a business was generated which called for a
better communication with the seaboard than the ox-team or the
sluggish waters of a canal frozen up at least six months of every
Col. Scranton, in the simplicity of whose character the whole
country acquiesced and felt proud, representing the interests
of the iron-makers in Scranton, yet willing to give power to a
measure full of public good, conceived the project, in 1847, of
opening communication from the ironworks northward to the lakes
by a locomotive instead of a gravity road run by plane, stationary
engine, and level, as Drinker's, Meredith's, and the Leggett charters
all contemplated. The charter of the last-named road, kept alive
by the influence of Dr. Andrew Bedford, Thomas Smith, Nathaniel
Cottrill, and other spirited gentlemen, was purchased by the "Scranton
Company" in 1849, by the suggestion of Colonel Scranton.
A survey was made the same year; the road was commenced in 1850.
For the purpose of giving favor and strength to a project unable
to make its way to a practical solution without capital from abroad,
a road was chartered in April, 1849, to run from the Delaware
Water Gap to some point on the Lackawanna near Cobb's Gap, called
"The Delaware and Cobb's Gap Railroad Company." The
commissioners, Moses W. Coolbaugh, S. W. Schoomaker, Thos. Grattan,
H. M. Lebar, A. Overfield, I. Place, Benj. Y. Rush, Alpheus Hollister,
Samuel Taylor, F. Starburd, Jas. H. Stroud, R. Bingham, and W.
Nyce, held their first meeting at Stroudsburg, December 26, 1850,
choosing Col. Geo. W. Scranton president.
The northern division of "The Lackawanna and Western Railroad
Company," carried by genius and engineering skill for sixty
miles over the rough uplands distinguishing the country it traverses
from Scranton to Great Bend, was opened for business in October,
1851, thus enabling the inhabitants of the valley to reach New
York by a single day's ride instead of two, as before.
Travel and traffic, hitherto finding
its way from the basins of Wyoming and the Lackawanna to Middletown
or Narrowsburg by stage, and thence along the unfinished Erie,
now diverged westward, via Great Bend, sixty miles away,
before apparently beginning a journey eastward to New York. This
unphilosophical and wasteful manner of groping among the hills
in the wrong direction before starting for New York, directed
the intelligence of the mass toward the purpose of Col. Scranton,
of planing a continuous roadway direct to New York, via
the celebrated Delaware Water Gap.
The original charter of Drinker's railroad was purchased of
him in 1853, by the railroad company, for $1,000. Immediately
after this, a joint application was made by the "Delaware
and Cobb's Gap Railroad Company," and the "Lackawanna
and Western Railroad Company," for an act of the Legislature
for their consolidation, which was granted March 11, 1853, and
the union consummated under the present, name of "The Delaware,
Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company."
Of this consolidated road, the late George W. Scranton was
unanimously elected President: how well he filled this position
until compelled to exchange it for the invalid's shelf, let the
movement of the iron pathway across a valley which would be comparatively
idle to-day without itlet the mutually satisfactory adjustment
of every conflicting interest arising in the progress of this
great roadlet the spirit of his administration, characterized
by qualities both sterling and comprehensivemore than this,
let the simple fact that he, inspiring capitalists with the same
confidence he himself had acquired and cherished, was able to
draw forth the wherewithal to complete a road deriving its origin
and vigor from him, bear ample and praiseworthy testimony.
The vast business of this road, which in the year of 1868 carried
1,728,785.07 tons of anthracite, requires one hundred locomotives,
about five thousand coal-cars, and gives employment to over 5,000
men. Its total disbursements at Scranton alone, through H. A.
Phelps, the courteous paymaster of the road, amounted, during
the last year, to over $4,000,000, while a considerable sum diffused
itself through the treasury department in New York.
The same efficiency and ability
with which Hon. John Brisbin acquired popularity as the president
of the great primitive locomotive railroad in the Lackawanna Valley,
from 1856 to 1867, has been continued and even augmented by Samuel
Sloan, Esq., its present vigilant president, and formerly the
presiding officer of the Hudson River Railroad, whose admirable
management of the interests of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western
Railroad, has placed it upon a basis reliable and remunerative,
and given it a character, even beyond the States it traverses,
enjoyed by few, if any, railroads in the country.
The lease of the Morris and Essex road by the Delaware, Lackawanna,
and Western, for an almost indefinite term of years, establishes
more intimate relations between the Lackawanna Valley and the
sea-board than ever enjoyed before, and marks an era in the history
of coal transportation, second, only in importance to the conception
of the original gravity railroad stretched like a rainbow over
the Moosic in 1826-8 by Warts brothers. Hitherto, the former road,
vigorous with local traffic, strove only to compete with a diverse
railway for doubtful dividends, without a wish to advance or retard
the welfare of the valley. By a stroke of policy seldom surpassed
in the grandeur of its results, all this was changed in January,
1869, by the practical foresight of President Sloan and his associates.
The consolidation of these two roads gives a future interest to
the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western road far beyond the appreciation
of the hour. It abbreviates distance, offers a continuous and
controllable rail from the mines to New York, increases the value
and tonnage of the road almost fourfold, while the travel over
it for all time to come will make one steady, living stream of
various lineage and faith, steady, remunerating, and thus commemorate
the wisdom of the men who inaugurated the movement. The superintendency
of the Morris and Essex division of the line has fallen into the
experienced hands of Hon. John Brisbin.
THE LACKAWANNA AND BLOOMSBURG RAILROAD.
After the locomotive railroad from the Lackawanna Valley had
become a fixed fact by the genial efforts of those to whom its
failure or its success had been intrusted, other roads began to
spring into a charter being. Among such was the Lackawanna and
Bloomsburg Railroad. An act incorporating this company was passed
in April, 1852, but not until some valuable and essential amendments
were obtained for the charter the next year, by the able efforts
of one of the members of the Pennsylvania LegislatureHon.
A. B. Dunningdid it possess any available vitality. This
road, running from Scranton to Northumberland, is eighty miles
in length, passing through the historic valley of Wyoming, where
the poet Campbell drew, in his Gertrude, such pictures of the
beautiful and wild. It also passes along the Susquehanna, over
a portion of the old battle-ground, where, in 1778, a small band
of settlers marched forth from Forty Fort, in the afternoon, to
fight the spoilers of their firesides, and where, after the battle,
the long strings of scalps dripping from the Indian belts, and
the hatchets reddened with the slain, told how sore had been the
rout, and how terrible the massacre; that followed. The dweller
in wigwams has bid a long farewell to a region so full of song
and legend, and where can be found the one to-day who, as he looks
over the old plantation of the Indian Nations, once holding their
great council fires here, upon the edge of the delightful river,
surrounded by forest and inclosing mountain, can wonder that they
fought as fights the wild man with warclub and tomahawk, to regain
the ancient plains of their fathers?
Wyoming Valley, taken as a whole, compensates in the highest
degree for the trouble of visiting it. The grand beauty of the
old Susquehanna and the sparkling current of its blue waters nowhere
along its entire distance appears to better advantage than does
it here. Along the Po or the Rhine, there loom up the gray walls
of some castle dismantled and stained with the blood of feudal
conflict; here on the broad acres of Wyoming turned into culture,
humanity wears a smile nowhere more sweet or lovely.
The tourist who wishes to visit this truly interesting valley,
can step into the cars of the Lehigh and Susquehanna, or the Lackawanna
and Bloomsburg Railroad Company, at Scranton, and in twenty minutes
look "On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!" Across the
river, half a mile from Campbell's Ledge, near the head of the
valley, is seen the battle-ground. About three miles below Pittston,
left of the village of Wyoming, rises from the plain a naked monumentan
obelisk of gray masonry sixty-two and a half feet high, which
commemorates the disastrous afternoon of the third of July, 1778.
Near this point reposes the bloody rock around which, on
the evening of that ill-fated day, was formed the fatal ring of
savages, where the Indian queen of the Senecas, with death-mall
and battle-ax, dashed out the brains of the unresisting captives.
The debris of Forty Fort, the first fort built on the north
side of the Susquehanna by the Connecticut emigrants, in 1769,
is found a short distance down the river from this rock.
The Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad, while it is a valuable
auxiliary to the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, in
whose interests it is operated, enjoyed all the advantages of
travel between central Pennsylvania and the Lackawanna Valley
until the Lehigh and Susquehanna and the Lehigh Valley railroads,
bounding over the mountain with the celerity and speed of a deer,
alienated a portion of the trade and travel.
Having the advantage of collieries with an aggregate yearly
capacity of a million tons of coal, threading its way along the
green belt of the Susquehanna over rich beds of iron ore, worked
in Danville by ingenious artificers who have adopted science as
their patron, it will ever stand prominent among the railroads
of the country.
While the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, with
its greater length of thirty-three miles, carried 187,583 passengers
during the year 1867, the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg transported
269,564an excess of 81, 981 persons.
No railroad in the country of its length, lined with scenery
always exhilarating, would better repay the visit of a few days
in summer or autumn, than will this. It is, in fact, all picturesque,
while portions of it are really magnificent. Thundering along
the border of the river and the canal, at a rate of thirty miles
an hour, a glimpse is now caught and then lost, of old gray mountain
crags and glens, covered with forest just as it grewof sleepy
islands, dreaming in the half-pausing streamof long, narrow
meadows, stretched along with sights of verdure and sounds of
life, and now and then a light cascade, tuned by the late rains,
comes leaping down rock after rock, like a ribbon floating in
the air! How the waters whiten as they come through the tree-tops
with silver shout from precipice to precipice in the bosom of
some rock, cool and fair-lipped! The scenery is especially grand
at Nanticokethe once wild camp-place of the Nanticokeswhere
Wyoming Valley terminates, and where the noble river, wrapped
up in the majesty of mountains, glides along as languidly as when
the red man in his narrow craft shot over the ripple.
Mr. James Archibald, life-long in his earnest devotion to the
interests of the Lackawanna Valley, is president of the road.
SKETCH OF THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE LEHIGH AND SUSQUEHANNA
This road, running from Providence to Easton, a distance of
120 miles, threads a section of country surpassed by no other
in the State for the grandeur of its scenery or the interest of
When the Indian civilizers first began to fraternize with the
sachems of the Lehigh at Fort Allen or Gnadenhutten (now Weissport)
in 1746, all knowledge of anthracite coal was so limited, that
the word "coal" was noted upon but a single map within
the Province of Pennsylvania. The casual discovery of coal, half
a century later, near this settlement, gave fetal life to the
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, and a prominence to the history
of this region not otherwise enjoyed.
At the confluence of the Ma-ha-noy (the loud, laughing stream
of the Indian) with the Lehigh, this fort was located, eighteen
miles above Bethlehem, forty miles by the warriors' trail from
Teedyuscung's plantation at Wyoming. It was the first attempt
of the whites to carry civilization into the provincial acquisitions
of Penn above the Blue Mountain. Why a region so rough in its
general exterior should have been chosen for a sheltering place,
can be accounted for upon no other theory than that the gray rock
here bordering the Lehigh, took the place in memory of the Elbe
in their fatherland emerging from the crags of the Alps.
This place, often visited by sachem and chief, whom the missionaries
first conciliated, then endeavored to Christianize, "numbered
500 souls in 1752." [Miner's Wyoming,
p. 41] Braddock's defeat, two years later, opened the forest
for the uplifted tomahawk. Some of the Six Nations, exchanging
wampum and whiffs of the calumet with their Moravian brothers,
danced the war-dance before Vaudreuil, Governor of New France
(New York State). " We will try the hatchet of our fathers
on the English," said the chiefs at Niagara, "and see
if it cuts well." [Vaudreuil to the Minister,
July 13, 1757.]
The obliteration of the village, with the death or expulsion
of its inmates, January 1, 1756, attested the trial of both fire-brand
After a lump of coal found near Mauch Chunk, in 1791, by Ginther,
had been analyzed and pronounced as such by the savans
of Philadelphia, the following persons, Messrs. Hillegas, Cist,
Weiss, Henry, and others, associated themselves together, without
charter or corporation, as the "Lehigh Coal Mine Company,"
for the purpose of transporting coal to Philadelphia, in 1792.
They purchased land, cut a narrow road for the passage of a wagon
from the mine to the river, and sent a few bushels of anthracite
coal to Philadelphia in canoes or "dug-outs." None could
be sold; little given away. Col. Weiss, the original owner of
the land, spent an entire summer in diffusing huge saddle-bags
of coal through the smithshops of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton,
and other places, From motives of personal friendship, a few persons
were induced to give it a trial, with very indifferent success.
Under the sanction of legislative enactment, some $20,000 was
expended to prepare tire Lehigh for navigation. No chore coal,
however, was carried down the stream until 1805, when William
Turnbull, by the aid of an ark, floated some 200 or 300 bushels
to Philadelphia. As the coal extinguished rather than improved
the lire, the great body of citizens refused to buy or make further
attempt to burn it, or be imposed upon by the black stuff.
Messrs. Rowland and Butland were the next to lease the mines,
The success of Jesse Fell, of Wilkes Barre, in 1808, of burning
coal in a common grate, led two of the representative men of the
day, Charles Miner and Jacob Cist, to lease the Ginther mine in
1814, with a view of shipping coal to Philadelphia.
On the 9th of August of this year, the first ark-load of coal
started from Mauch Chunk. "The stream," writes Miner,
"wild, full of rocks, and the imperfect channel crooked,
in less than eighty rods from the place of starting the ark struck
on a ledge, and broke a hole in her bow. The lads stripped themselves
nearly naked, to stop the rush of water with their clothes. At
dusk they were at Easton, fifty miles."
The impetuous character of the river, untamed by art, and the
absence of any demand for coal, induced these pioneers to retire
from the Mauch, Chunk coal-mines. "This effort of ours,"
says Charles Miner, "might be regarded as the acorn, from
which has sprung the mighty oak of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation
In 1817, three energetic gentlemen, Josiah White, George F.
A. Hauto, and Erskine Hazard, profiting by each preceding failure,
originated the plan of floating coal down the inky, turbulent
current from Mauch Chunk to the Delaware by the aid of slackened
From Mauch Chunk to Stoddartsville, not a single cabin rose
in the wilderness; the abandoned warrior's trail alone intervened.
In 1818, the Legislature of Pennsylvania empowered these gentlemen
as the "Lehigh Navigation Company," "to improve
the navigation of the river Lehigh" by constructing wing-dams
and channel walls along the more rapid and shallow portion of
the stream, so as to narrow and contract the current for practical
purposes. In October, 1818, "The Lehigh Coal Company"
built a road from the Lehigh to the old Ginther mine on Summit
Arks of coal were carried down in the spring freshet; in the
summer months when water was low, bear-dams were constructed from
treetops and stones, "in the neighborhood of Mauch Chunk,
in which were placed sluice-gates of peculiar construction, invented
for the purpose by Josiah White, by means of which the water
could be retained in the pool above until required for use. When
the dam became full, and the water had run over it long enough
for the river below the dam to acquire the depth of the ordinary
overflow of the river, the sluice-gates were let down, and the
boats which were lying in tile pools above, passed down with the
artificial flood." [Henry's "Lehigh
valley."] Some 100 tons of coal thus found its way
down the Lehigh in 1818.
The partial success of a plan alike novel and unreliable, led
to a more systematic slack-water navigation from Mauch Chunk to
Easton, forty-five miles.
The people of Philadelphia, educated reluctantly in the use
and art of anthracite, finding this avenue from the coal-mines
inadequate to the demands of commerce, lent a hand to calm the
swift waters of the Lehigh for coal traffic. The Legislature of
the State, influenced by men able to bring greater political influence
to bear than this sterile region could then offer, granted to
Messrs. White, Hauto, and Hazard, the privilege of improving the
navigation of the Lehigh as far as White Haven; reserving, however,
the right of compelling the company to make a continuous
slack-water navigation to Stoddartsville, a sprightly lumbering
village, fifteen miles farther up the stream.
The Lehigh Coal and Lehigh Navigation Company were consolidated
in the spring of 1820. During this year 365 tons of coal, lowered
down the Lehigh in arks by some fifty dams, found its way to a
tardy market. A few years later, 400 acres of land was stripped
of its stately pines annually for the construction of the necessary
arks: these were manipulated into building material in Philadelphia,
while the iron was returned to Mauch Chunk for repeated use. This
destruction of wood, now seriously felt, and the waste of time
in building boats for a single trip, subsequently led to a more
practical method of navigation.
The slack-water (canal) navigation was opened to Mauch Chunk
simultaneously with the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, eastward
from the Lackawanna Valley, in 1829, to White Haven, in 1835.
As the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, already embarrassed
by the expensive dams they had built, could see no benefit to
accrue by the extension of their works to Stoddartsville, it asked
to be released from this particular part of the agreement, through
the same body that had so ungraciously imposed it. Objections
and remonstrances poured into the Legislature from Stoddartsville
and from almost every township in the county of Luzerne. Andrew
Beaumont, representing the expression and interests of Wyoming
Valley, with a strength and ingenuity for which he was ever remarkable,
interposed means to frustrate the wishes of the company. The matter
was finally compromised; the Navigation Company agreeing to erect
a single dam on the stream above Port Jenkins, and carry channel
walls and wing-dams from pool to pool for the passage of rafts
and logs from Stoddartsville, and build a gravity railroad over
the mountain from White Haven to Wilkes Barre. The Legislature
now withdrew or repealed so much of the former act as required
the completion of the slack-water navigation to Stoddartsville.
The valley of Wyoming ramifying with competing railways, gained
its first one by this scramble with a company with which its relations,
have subsequently become pleasant and profitable. This railroad
was begun in 1837.
A stream, rapid and treacherous as the Lehigh, passing for
miles through a mere fissure of vertical rock, bore restraint
with deceitful demeanor. Danger concentrated in every dam. A sudden
snow-thaw forced an infuriated volume down the Lehigh, January
8, 1839, at the expense of the company and their employees; on
the same day of the month in 1841, another thaw released the snow
from the mountain and swelled the torrent with loss of life and
property; the freshet, however, of 1862, resistless and unparalleled
in the extent of its ravages upon life and property, appalled
and smothered with a single wave every lock-house and its inmates,
every dam, boat, or bridge, attempting to interrupt its passage.
About 300 persons living along the river perished in that cold,
dark, memorable night.
The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, with but little left
but the bare stream exulting over its liberation, actuated by
humane and practical impulses as well as the wishes of the Lehigh
Valley inhabitants, who everywhere opposed the reconstruction
of the dams because of their danger, made the Lehigh a safer companion
by constructing along its berme bank, or the debris of
the canal, a locomotive railroad. While the immense forest around
White Haven, slashed into by the lumberman without regard to economy
or foresight, annually assured the road considerable traffic,
the gravity railway from Wilkes Barre, terminating here, could
not fairly compete with other routes diverging to the sea-board
from northern Pennsylvania.
LEHIGH AND SUSQUEHANNA RAILROAD.Report of coal shipped
south, for week ending Dec. 31, 1868:
New England Coal Co
Parish & Thomas
New Jersey Coal Co
Lehigh Luzerne Coal Co
Lehigh & Susquehanna Coal Co
Germania Coal Co
Franklin Coal Co
Wilkes Bane C. & I. Co
Union Coal Co
Mineral Spring Coal Co
H. B. Hillman & Son
Bowkley, Price & Co
Wyoming Coal & T. Co
J. H. Swoyer
Everhart Coal Co
Morris & Essex Mut. Coal Co
Shawnee Coal Co
Delaware & Hudson Canal Co
Pine Ridge Coal Co
Consumers' Coal Co
Albrighton Roberts & Co
Total Wyoming Region
Total Mauch Chunk
Total Upper Lehigh
Corresponding week last year
Years of reconnaissance of the interposing mountain enabled
the engineers to descend with a, locomotive into the plains of
Wyoming triumphantly, as the Jewish ruler of old came down from
the sacred mount.
If there is grandeur in the bold outlines of precipice and
forest in the coal-fields of Pennsylvania, then the scenery along
the entire road is truly exhilarating, while the view in ascending
or descending the slope between Penobscot and Wilkes Barre is
singularly beautiful and unique. The broad expanse of Wyoming
Valley, with her dozen villages sleeping quietly in her bosom:the
Susquehanna making a low bow and bend around Campbell's Ledge
at the head of the valley, dividing the rich bottom for twenty
miles before it gathers in a measure of its beauty and retires
from the eye at Nanticoke, and the green farms, dotted here and
there with quaint homesteads telling their story of strife and
skirmish in olden time, all make up a landscape rarely offered
to the eye of the traveler.
Steel rails, stretched over a great portion of the road,
impart a degree of security that must popularize it as a great
thoroughfare. In fact, the same far-seeing sagacity that this
pioneer company carried into the Lehigh Valley a quarter of a
century ago, to secure and develop anthracite, has led them to
make a railroad in such an excellent and thorough manner as to
be a marvel among American railroads, reflecting equal credit
upon the engineers and managers who matured this great enterprise.
John Leisenring, Esq., of Mauch Chunk, ably filled the united
position of superintendent and engineer of this road until the
summer of 1888. John P. Ilsley, a gentleman who enjoyed high consideration
as the superintendent of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg for many
years, succeeds Mr. Leisenring in the superintendency of this
HON. GEORGE W. SCRANTON.
Col. George W. Scranton was too
universally known and beloved throughout the country to be overlooked
in a work aiming to do justice to men who have gained glory by
carrying reformation and development to the valley of which it
treats. The following biographical sketch of Colonel Scranton,
prepared especially for this volume, is from the able pen of Rev.
Dr. GEORGE PECK:
Col. Scranton descended from John Scranton, who was
one of the colony who settled in New Haven in 1638. The Scranton
family was distinguished in the French and Revolutionary wars,
some of them as privates and others as commissioned officers.
Col. Scranton was born in Madison, Ct., May 11, 1811. At an early
period in life, he exhibited extraordinary qualities both of intellect
and heart. His opportunities for an education were embraced within
the privileges of the common school and two years' training in
In 1828, he came to Belvidere, N. J., and the first employment
he obtained was that of a teamster, for which he received eight
dollars per month. His great industry and general good conduct
excited the attention of business men, and he was soon employed
as a clerk in the store of Judge Kinney, where his great business
tact and winning management not long after gained him the position
of a partner in the concern.
On the 21st of January, 1835, Mr. Scranton was married to Miss
Jane Hiles, of Belvidere. After his marriage, he engaged in farming,
in which business he continued until 1839. At this time Mr. Scranton,
in partnership with his brother Selden, purchased the lease and
stock of Oxford Furnace, N. J., and, contrary to the predictions
and fears of their friends, they succeeded in the business, and
maintained their credit through the season of embarrassment to
business which followed the terrible crash of 1837.
In 1839, Mr. William Henry, being impressed with the advantages
of the manufacture of iron in the Lackawanna Valley, purchased
a large tract, including what was called Slocum Hollow, or what
is now the site of the city of Scranton. It contained "the
old red house," two other small dwellings, and a stone mill.
With the exception of a few acres of cultivated land, the tract
was covered with timber, a dense undergrowth, and a perfect tangle
The attention of the Scranton brothers was attracted to this
place, and, Mr. Henry not being able to comply with the conditions
of his purchase, they, in connection with other parties, in May,
1840, entered into a contract for the property.
The practicability of smelting ore by the agency of anthracite
coal, as yet was hardly established by successful experiment.
Two furnaces only now produced iron through heat generated by
anthracite, and that under embarrassments and in limited quantities.
The young company in which the Scranton brothers were the leading
spirits, was now to take a prominent part in a series of experiments
which were destined to contribute in no small degree to one of
the practical arts which has communicated a new and an undying
impulse to modern civilization.
The first experiment was made in 1841, and proved a failure;
the second was likewise unsuccessful, but in January, 1842, a
successful blast was made; others followed with increasing encouragement.
The practical difficulties in manufacturing iron by anthracite
were now considered as overcome, but the price that the triumph
had cost, few understood, and none would ever understand, so well
as George W. Scranton. He was the genius which presided over the
struggles of many months, and even years, of hope deferred and
of distrusting doubt which finally ended in complete success.
The scientific difficulties were no sooner overcome than financial
problems were to be encountered. They could make iron, but how
could they make it pay? The future city of Scranton was a straggling
assemblage of hut's, at a distance from every great market, and
without convenient outlet. These difficulties, with those arising
from want of funds, would have broken the spirits of ordinary
men, but our young adventurers, nothing daunted, resorted first
to one experiment and then to another, until they were able to
exclaim, with Archimedes, EurekaI have found it.
A bootless effort to manufacture bar-iron and convert it into
nails finally gave way to the project of a rolling-mill for the
manufacture of railroad iron.
The great address of Col. Scranton succeeded with the leading
men interested in the New York and Erie Railroad in making the
contract to furnish rails needed by the road, at a lower rate
than they could be procured elsewhere, upon the condition that
the directors of the road would advance funds to enable the Scranton's
and company to proceed with the business of making rails. This
arrangement untied the Gordian knot of the Scrantons' financial
Success in the iron business was not an occasion for Col. Scranton
to abate his energy in business. The manufacture of iron was but
one of his great business projectsit was but a part of a
great system, which, when fully carried out, was to reform the
entire business interests of this portion of the country, and
to change the whole face of society. His plan was to enlist capital
abroad, to concentrate it in the Lackawanna Valley, and then to
create outlets by railway east with North and South; and he lived
to see his project succeed.
Col. Scranton was not in the ordinary sense a politician, although
he was a thorough student of political economy. He had been an
old-line Whig, but for years had paid no attention to party politics.
There was one principle which he maintained against all opposers,
and that was, protection to home industry. Upon this issue
he was sent to Congress, in 1858, by a majority of 3,700, from
a district ordinarily polling 2,000 Democratic majority. He directed
himself incessantly to his favorite theme through the term, and
was elected a second time.
We are obliged to pass over a multitude of interesting incidents
in the life of Col. Scranton for want of space, and must now proceed
to a brief estimate of his character. In marking the character
of a great man, it will be found that it is only a few qualities
which distinguish them from other men and give them prominence.
Such is the fact with the great and good man of whom we are now
speaking. We begin with the great moral integrity of the man.
He was sincerehe was honesthis views were transparent.
When in Congress he could get the ear of the most ultra free-traders.
"Southern fire-eaters" would listen to his arguments
on protection and free labor. They would often say to him, "
Scranton, we can hear you talk, for we believe you are honest."
You might differ from his opinions, but you could not avoid believing
in the man. His zeal was that of conviction. His heart was upon
the surfaceit was "known and read of all men."
His energy was inexhaustible. He never yielded to discouragements,
or acknowledged a total defeat. He sometimes failed, but always
tried again; and, if necessary, again and again, and triumphed
at last. He often spent the night in concocting a scheme, and
early dawn found him upon the path of its execution. Due time
usually brought success, but delay never staggered him. He was
fastened to his purpose, like Prometheus to the rock, and there
he hung, until mountains of difficulty melted away, and the sun
of success illuminated his path. A man of less hope would have
been despondent where he was confident, and one of a weaker will
would have fainted when he was firm as a rock.
Another trait of character holds the highest position. Col.
Scranton had the rare faculty of impressing his own ideas upon
the minds of other men. This power depends upon an assemblage
of qualities. An honest expression is essential to it. This expression
means confidence. A sympathetic nature. His earliest sympathy
in return, and sympathy exercises a marvelous control over the
judgment. Draw a man into sympathy with your feelings and wishes,
and you can lead him wherever you please. Blandness of manner
is another attribute of this great power. A pleasant countenance,
a happy face, has more power than logic. Good conversational powers
is of the first importance in this enumeration. There must be
definiteness of view, lucidness of description, brevity in the
statement of facts, naturalness and beauty in the illustrations,
command of language, perfect ease in manner, and an expression
of confidence both in your cause and in your success. You must
never for a moment doubt the good sense and receptibility of the
party you would win over. All these attributes of character Col.
Scranton possessed in an eminent degree.
The crowning glory of Col. Scranton's character was that he
was a true Christian. All who knew him acknowledged this. His
conversation and his manners were those of a true Christian gentleman.
He lived beloved, and died regretted by all. His great mental
labors undermined his naturally sound constitution, and in the
midst of his usefulness, and at the zenith of his fame, he was
called to his reward.
THE LEHIGH VALLEY RAILROAD.
A wild ridge of rock and forest twenty miles in width, cuts
off the Lehigh from the Lackawanna, and forms the line of demarkation
between the great northern anthracite coal-basin and the first
southern or Schuylkill coal district of Pennsylvania. For many
years it served the purposes of the hunter and the lumberman,
and frowned on daily intercourse between the people of the two
sections of country.
The first road to greet the Lehigh with an iron rail was the
Lehigh Valley Railroad. While it crosses but a mere edge of the
Lackawanna Valley whose commerce it aims to reach and partake,
it has, by its immense traffic and the admirable management of
its interests, formed for itself a character well known in the
two valleys it connects and traverses.
This great road, incorporated in
1846, under the name of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill, and
Susquehanna Railroad, languished for years simply because the
idea was generally accepted, that the rocky chasm, washed sometimes
rudely by the Lehigh, could be by no possible legislation or engineering
turned to any practical railroad account. A bare organization
of officers of the contemplated road existed from 1846 until 1851,
up until which time $444.37½ had been expended conjointly
in surveying the route and building a fraction of a mile of the
road merely for the protection of its charter. No distinctive
step toward smoothing the Lehigh ledges for a locomotive was undertaken
until those elements of a positive and substantial character,
which were introduced more especially by Hon. James M. Porter,
of Easton, and Hon. Asa Packer, of Mauch Chunk, began to be developed
In 1833, Asa Packer, a young, ambitious boy, born in Connecticut
in 1805, moved into Mauch Chunk from the sap-woods of Susquehanna
County, Pennsylvania, with a single jack-plane, hammer, handsaw,
and a suit of rustic homespun, as his whole inheritance. He had
neither friend nor acquaintance in the village, but being a man
of clear discernment, excelling in the art of industry and frugality,
distinguished for sobriety and sober sense, he devoted himself
zealously to various industrious pursuits, until he became well
known as one of the most efficient businessmen in the State, and
rose rapidly in tire confidence of the inhabitants of the Lehigh
Valley, whom he served on the bench and in two successive Congresses.
Such was the man whose earnest qualifications inspired this then
unpopular project with organic life and triumph, and whose liberality,
exercised in the broadest spirit, gave to the public an institution
of learning which will transmit the name of Packer down to all
"On the 31st of October, 1851," writes Mr. Henry,
in his interesting history of the Lehigh Valley, "Asa Packer
became the purchaser of a large amount of the stock which had
been subscribed, and commenced efforts to get additional stock
subscribed and the road constructed. 4n the 13th of September,
1852, Robert H. Sayre was appointed chief engineer for the construction
of the road; and on the 27th of November, 1852, Judge Packer submitted
a proposition for constructing the railroad from opposite Mauch
Chunk, where it would intersect the Beaver Meadow Railroad, to
the river Delaware at Easton, where it would intersect the New
Jersey Central Railroad and the Belvidere Delaware Railroad for
a consideration, to be paid in the stock and bonds of the company,
which was accepted by the stockholders, at a meeting in which
all the stockholders, representing 5,150 shares of stock; were
"On the 7th of January, 1853, the name of the company
was changed by act of Assembly to that of the Lehigh Valley Railroad
Company, and on the 10th of that month, James M. Porter was re-elected
president, John N. Hutchinson, secretary and treasurer, and John
N. Hutchinson, Wm. Hackett, Wm. H. Gatzner, Henry King, John T.
Johnston, and John O. Sterns, managers.
"Although the formal contract with Judge Packer for the
construction of the road was not signed until the 12th of February,
1853, yet he began the work immediately after the acceptance of
this offer, on the 27th of November, 1852, by commencing the deep
rock cut at Easton. The work was prosecuted with vigor by Judge
Packer himself, at some of the hardest cuts, and by subcontractors
at other places, until its completion, September, 1855.
" Judge Packer, in the construction of this road, encountered
great difficulties and embarrassments, from the rise in the price
of provisions and necessaries for the handsthe sickliness
of some of the seasons, the failure of subcontractors and the
necessary re-letting the work at advanced prices, and the difficulty
of raising money upon and disposing of the bonds of the company,
from the stringency of the money market; but, with an energy and
perseverance seldom met with, he worked through it all."
A trifle less than 15,000,000 tons of anthracite coal was the
entire shipment within the United States during the year 1867.
An aggregate of 4,088,537 tons of this amount was taken from the
Wyoming coal-basin, a portion of which, 2,080,156 tons, swelled
the tonnage of this young giant railroad. 2,603,102 tons of anthracite
found its may over the Lehigh Valley road during the year 1868,
being an increase of 522,956 tons.
Some idea from whence this road derives
its coal tonnage can be had by reference to the following report
for a single week.
LEHIGH VALLEY RAILROAD.Report of coal transported over
the above road for the week ending December 26, 1868.
FROM WYOMING REGION
Franklin Coal Co
Audenreid Imp. & C. Co
Lehigh & Susquehanna Coal Co
Germania Coal Co
Wilkes Barre C. & I. Co
Warrior Run Mining Co
Parrish & Thomas
New Jersey Coal Co
Union Coal Co
Wyoming Coal & Transportation Co
Newport Coal Company
Morris & Essex Mutual Coal Co
Everhart Coal Co
Plymouth Coal Co
H. B. Hillman & Son
Bowkley, Price & Co
Mineral Spring Coal Co
J. H. Swoyer
Linderman & Co
Washington Mutual Coal Co
Barclay Coal Co
Consumers' Coal Co
Harvey & Brother
Delaware & Hudson Coal Co
Ravine Colliery P. & E.
Butler, H. S. M.
Rough & Ready
A. McJ. Dewitt
Total Wyoming Region
Total Beaver Meadow Region
Total Hazleton Region
Total Upper Lehigh
Total Mahanoy Region
This road, originally intended to connect only Easton with
Mauch Chunk, now runs up the Susquehanna River to Waverly, New
York, passing through some of the most picturesque scenery in
the State. Emerging front the Lehigh ravine, it traverses the
entire length of Wyoming Valley, on the south bank of the river,
running within a stone's-throw of the celebrated Monocasy or "
Monockonock Island," crosses the Lackawanna at its mouth,
and leads its quiet way under a ledge familiar with tine sad,
heroic scenes of Wyoming so touchingly portrayed in Campbell's
Gertrude, then follows Gen. Sullivan's route and the old Indian
pathway from the Great Plains to the plantation of the dusky queen,
whose memory, cherished only to be despised, has been rendered
infamous forever. No part of this thoroughfare is destitute of
historical reminiscence or interest to the traveler.
It would be difficult, and probably impossible, to find a railroad
in Pennsylvania whose ramifications and feeders are more numerous
and important, along its entire length, than this. Forming one
of the strong links in the great chain of communication between
central and lower Pennsylvania and southern New York, it derives
additional consideration and strength from the many active railroad
tributaries swelling the volume of its traffic. Almost every valley
whose drainage fertilizes the Lehigh, rolls its tonnage and travel
into this road with a bounteous hand.
The Wyoming division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad opens a
new channel to internal commerce, and, in the earnest hands of
its superintendent, Robert A. Packer, Esq., maintains the same
character enjoyed by the older portion of the road, and, like
that, cultivates those relations which connect the anthracite
coal-basins of our State with the broad interests of the world
on terms of mutual usefulness and advantage.
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