Smokestacks and Black Diamonds: A History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania

Smokestacks and Black Diamonds: A History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania

          Smokestacks and Black Diamonds: A History of Carbon County, Pennsylvania by Joan Campion.  Copyright 1997. 300 pages of photos and exceptional historical documentation.

          It is hard to imagine a place more closely bound to the history of the Industrial Revolution than Carbon County, Pennsylvania. Indeed, it might be said to be the crucible of the American Industrial Revolution. For nowhere was better anthracite found than here. The first Fossil fuel to be heavily exploited, anthracite became essential to the nation’s economy. It fueled iron furnaces and provided the impetus for railroad networks. It heated houses, powered industries, and fueled steamships. The cheap iron that was produced in hitherto unimaginable quantities with this plentiful fuel hurtled American into the Industrial Revolution. Demographics changed as immigrants poured into the nation and as families moved from farms to towns and new, different kinds of jobs. A cash economy developed. Agriculture and home life changed as new implements were invented. The stamp of destiny was on Carbon County from the moment Philip Ginder, a miller from the Mahoning Valley discovered anthracite on Sharp Mountain in 1791.

          Smokestacks and Black Diamonds tells some of the best-known and some of the lease-known stories of the time when Carbon County was one of the most important regions in America. Joan Campion and contributing authors Vince Hydro, Michael Knies, Lance Metz and Rita Plotnicki have traced the history of the county from it’s frontier days to the present. George Harvan, the preeminent photographer of Pennsylvania’s anthracite region, has contributed a chapter of his most memorable work. Stories of miners and immigrants, the Molly Maguires, the company towns of Mauch Chunk and Palmerton, Glen Onoko in “The Switzerland of America,” letters home from soldiers in nineteenth-century wars, the rivalry between Mauch Chunk and Lehighton to become the county seat- these are but a few of the topics presented in this fascinating book. Numerous photographs enhance the text.

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