A Historic Timeline of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, comprised on Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon and Luzerne counties in eastern Pennsylvania, is rich in history and culture that dates back hundreds of year. The Lehigh and Delaware canals played a very important role in shaping the area and forming it into what we know and see today. Below is a historic timeline showing the progression through the years.
Founding of Durham Furnace in Bucks County. The furnace produced pig and bar iron and during the Ameri- can Revolution cannons, ballshot, and other military equipment for George Washington’s army.
Philip Ginder discovers anthracite
coal on Sharp Mountain in Carbon County, later called Summit Hill. Ginder’s discovery became folk legend that was carried down through story and song.
Josiah White and Erskine Hazard form
the Lehigh Coal Company and the Lehigh Navigation Company and gain navigational rights on the Lehigh River from the Common- wealth of Pennsylvania.
An open cut coal pit known as “The Old
Mine” - in the Summit Hill area - was started by White and Hazard. This mine was located in the area of the “Mammoth Vein,” the most important coal deposit of the day.
White’s bear trap lock system allows coal
arks to navigate the Lehigh River and enter the Delaware River at Easton. The one-way system lasted until 1826; construction of the Le- high Canal began in 1827.
The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company
opens the Gravity Railroad, link- ing coal mines at Summit Hill to the Lehigh River at Mauch Chunk. The gravity railway lasted 100 years as a carrier of coal and tourists.
The Lehigh Canal, a two-way navigational
system owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, opens between Mauch Chunk and Easton, a distance of 46 miles. The canal was completed in two years.
The Abbott Street area of Easton be-
comes first industrial park in the United States, using water power from the Lehigh Canal. By 1840, over 1,000 men were employed at 12 industrial sites.
The Delaware Canal and Morris Canal
connect with the Lehigh Navigation (completed in 1829) at Easton. The three-canal system carried anthracite to the Philadelphia and New York markets.
The Upper Grand section of the Lehigh
Navigation is built from Mauch Chunk to White Haven. With 20 dams and 29 locks, this
waterway overcame a difference in elevation of more than 600 feet.
The American Industrial Revolution
begins with the first large-scale production of iron using anthracite coal and local iron ore, at the Lehigh Crane Iron Works in what is now Catasauqua.
Slate quarrying be- gins rapid growth
with the founding of Bangor by Welsh immigrant Robert Jones. The “Slate Belt” extends through central Northampton County from Slatington to Bangor.
The peak year of anthracite coal
transport on the Lehigh and Delaware canals; 1.3 million tons of anthracite are delivered from northern mines. The Lehigh Valley Railroad opens late in the year.
The Great Flood of June 3-5, the Lehigh
River region’s worst-ever natural disaster, destroys the Upper Grand section, the upper Lehigh lumber- ing industry, and much of the Lehigh Canal.
The Bethlehem Iron Company begins
production of iron railroad rails at its South Bethlehem location. Bethlehem Iron Company was the predecessor of the Bethlehem Steel Company.
Fire at the Avondale Mine near Plymouth,
Luzerne County, kills 110 miners. In response, Pennsylvania
enacts the first mine safety laws in the United States, but the di- saster spurs mine union activity.
David O. Saylor pro- duces the first port-
land cement in North America at Coplay. During the next 20 years, the Lehigh District becomes the leading cement producing area in the United States.
The Grundy Worsted Mills are established
in Bristol to manufacture woolen garments and rugs. The Mills be- come Bucks County’s largest in- dustrial employer and Bristol the county’s manufacturing center.
The Adelaide Silk Mill, a subsidiary of
Phoenix Silk Company of Peterson, New Jersey, opens in Allentown.
By 1913, eastern Pennsylvania is the world’s leading silk producing area.
Anthracite coal miners strike for
163 days, cutting off the United States’ main energy source. Miners win a 10 per cent pay raise and a nine-hour day, and union member- ship surges around the country.
Charles Schwab and Joseph Wharton form
Bethlehem Steel Company from Bethlehem Iron. “The Steel” produces armor plate and large naval guns and introduces wide- flange structural beams in 1908.
Anthracite coal output falls drastically from
a peak of 96 million tons in 1917 as miners strike for more than five months. The industry does not re- cover as the United Staes increases its use of oil and other fuels.
The Delaware Canal closes. In 1939, an act
is approved which permanently transfers the canal to the owner- ship of the Commonwealth of Penn- sylvania. The canal becomes Theodore Roosevelt State Park.
The last mule-drawn boat on the Lehigh
Navigation makes its final trip
in the spring. Soon afterwards, a flash flood destroys “great sec- tions” of the Lehigh Navigation.
A decision is made not to rebuild.
Download the slideshow:
Canal Museum Timeline: 1727-1832 (12 MB)
Canal Museum Timeline: 1834-1869 (7 MB)
Canal Museum Timeline: 1875-1942 (9 MB)