Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., part 1 of 5
March 1, 1969
THE LEHIGH COAL AND NAVIGATION CO. SETTLED MINERS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN PANTHER VALLEY/MAUCH CHUNK REGIONBy the early 1800s many new portions of the county [of Carbon, Penna.] and been opened up to settlers and companies in search of timber and coal. The new strides in the region opened up almost inaccessible corners, dispelling some of the natural and Indian gloom that had hung over the county.
It would be pure conjecture to attempt to estimate the length of time it would have taken Carbon County to become a settle portion of Pennsylvania had it not been for the inception of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, and its consequent establishment of such enduring towns as Mauch Chunk, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Lansford, and Tamaqua.
It has been previously noted that farmers were wary of returning to the Carbon County region because of the Indian massacres in Gnadenhutten and New Gnadenhutten in 1755 and 1756. The memories of those infamous incidents played heavily on the minds of would-be settlers in the Bethlehem-Easton area, so that a mere trickle of settlers dared to venture into the region to take up their livelihood by tilling the fertile lands.
The farmers did come, though, and began spreading along the western side of the Lehigh River, into Lizard Creek and Mahoning Valley.
The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. commenced its major operations to the north in 1818, but by that time some hardy pioneer-farmers had already settled to the north of them in Quakake Valley, in what is now Packer Township. To the west of Packer Township additional coal deposits were discovered and mined by numerous companies over the years.
To the north of what is now Packer Township, in what today is Lehigh Township, the mountains were ripe with valuable timber, and in 1826 the district began to become over-run with families who were employed at the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. The timber was taken out and made into boats and barges, on which coal was transported down the Lehigh River.
The county was not all good timber land suitable for settling, though. At that time the areas that are today Penn Forest and Kidder Township were known as the "Shades of Death," because of their vast reaches of valuable pine and hemlock timber, and their almost impassable swamps and bogs which, in its own way, was a natural wonder, when taking into consideration the fact that the land is mountainous and the settled water should have run off centuries before any pioneers ventured into that desolate area. Later pioneers did manage to conquer the unnatural land, though, and the area became known as the "Pine Swamps," a name that is still in use by many local residents.
Most of the major invasion of the Pine Swamps was begun in 1838, when large timbering companies established settlements there in order to take out the valuable wood products. After the companies stripped the land of its aged timber they left to denude other virgin forests, and left a handful of pioneers who had been there before them, and a few timbermen who saw farming possibilities in the newly-cleared land. Generally, though, the land was left pretty much to itself after the companies moved out.
The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., however, was not as hit-and-run oriented as were the timber companies, for the natural resources they lusted after were buried as far below the tree roots as the hemlocks were above ground.
The coal company credits its inception into the area to two men, Josiah White and Erskine Hazard, who were described by early county historians as follows: "They were, to be sure, not in the common sense pioneers of this region, but in another sense they were the princes among the pioneers, the pioneers of an era of tremendous activity and marvelous advancement." Some people would have disagreed.
>We shall deal more thoroughly with the founding of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. when we begin the study of the Mauch Chunk Township's development. It would be of value, however, to gain an overview of the coal development in the county during the early 1800s.
Josiah White merged companies in 1820, forming the LC&NCo., and succeeded in moving some anthracite to Philadelphia. His project for extracting coal from Carbon County saw success that year to the tune of 365 tons shipped downriver.
White, along with Hazard and Hauto (another early developer), obtained a lease to the coal lands in Mauch Chunk Township. They saw the difficulty of trying to ship their product overland, and applied to the Legislature for authorization to improve navigation facilities in the Lehigh River: a project which other developers before them had found virtually impossible.
They presented their case before the Legislature very simply: We have as an object of the project the transportation of our coal to markets, and we would wish to attempt to find a cheap way to make the Lehigh River navigable.
The Legislature passed the act of March 20, 1818, which incorporated the LC&NCo., with their tongues in cheeks, being quite confident that the company would ruin itself, failing to make the Lehigh River capable of adhering to their needs. "We gave these gentlemen the opportunity of ruining themselves, as many members of the Legislature predicted would be the result of their undertaking," one member of that body is quoted as saying.
The object of the company was to use both tried and untried methods of getting one hundred barrels (or 10 tons) of coal down the river every three days.
White and the Legislature made outlines of the company's objectives, and had a pamphlet published in Philadelphia entitled "A Compendious View of the Law Authorizing the Improvement of the River Lehigh," which would probably correspond to one of our comprehensive plans today.
Some of the highpoints of the pamphlet were:
"The city of Philadelphia can be supplied with coal which is ascertained to be twenty percent purer than any of the same species which has come to this market from any other source and at a reasonable price."
"A market will be opened for an immense body of timber which is now so completely locked up as not to be considered worth stealing, owing to the expense that would attend getting it to market. (The company fulfilled this stipulation by building their barges or "arks" from the county timber, filling them with coal, shipping them down the river to Philadelphia, selling the coal, and then taking apart the arks and selling the timber that they were made from, filling buckets with the nails that had held them together and bringing the buckets back to the county to be reused, as nails and metal products were very scarce and expensive at the time.)
"When the first Grand section of the river is improved (which can be done in a few months) the land carriage to the Susquehanna at Berwick will be only thirty miles over a turnpike now made which will immediately command the trade of that river and turn it to Philadelphia. When the second grand section is finished the portage will be reduced to only ten or twelve miles by a railroad contemplated to be made on excellent ground. By the Susquehanna and Lehigh the western counties of New York will be nearer in point of expense to Philadelphia than to Albany, and consequently a large portion of the produce, which now goes down the North River, may be calculated on for the supply of Philadelphia.
"The New York Grand Canal, when completed, will bring the produce from the shores of Lake Erie. This produce can come from the point where the canal crosses Seneca River to Philadelphia in nearly half the time and consequently at half the expense that it can go by canal and North River to New York."
The proposed operation was not as simple and uncomplicated as the pamphlet would lead one to believe. The principal purpose of the pamphlet was to enthuse the people of Philadelphia into subscribing to stock in the company. The expected influence was only partially successful, though.
(Some confusion might have resulted from the constant references to the consolidation of the two companies. To break it down, it is as follows: The leading figures in both the Lehigh Coal Company and in the Navigation Company were White, Hazard, and Hauto. On Oct. 31, 1818, the Lehigh Coal Company was incorporated. Hauto was bought out by his two partners in March of 1820, and on April 21, 1820, the two companies were consolidated under the title of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., under the direction of White and Hazard.)
Hazard's plan for the navigation of the Lehigh River was as follows: "We shall improve the navigation of the river by contracting the channels tunnel fashion, to bring the whole flow of water at each of the falls to as narrow a compass as the law would allow, by throwing up the round river stones into low walls not higher than we wanted to raise the water for the required depth of fifteen or eighteen inches by the natural flow, to make artificial freshlets to supply the deficiency; that is, by making ponds of water of as many acres as we could get, and letting it off periodically, say once in three days. I supposed we could gather water enough to secure the required quantity, and thus secure a regular descending navigation. The plan for locks and gates for letting out the freshlet in a proper manner was left for the present to be devised in due times if found necessary."
Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., part 2 of 5
March 8, 1969
THE LEHIGH RIVER FALLS VICTIM TO THE WILES OF THE LEHIGH COAL & NAVIGATION CO. AND OFFERS ITSELF TO TRANSPORTATION-BUT NOT WILLINGLY
The artificial freshlets alluded to were effected by constructing dams in the neighborhood of Mauch Chunk, in which were placed peculiarly-constructed sluice-gates invented 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 flow of the river, the sluice-gates were let down, and the boats which were lying in the pools above passed down with the artificial flood.
Eighteen-nineteen saw 12 of White's dams under construction. The job had been further complicated, thought, by having to make wing dams to make sure that the dams were protected from ice-freshlets. The project had absorbed the capital of the company, but had, in the process, proven that sluices and dams were not unfeasible between Mauch Chunk and Easton.
The spring of 1820 caused the injuring of several of the dams when the ice flows broke up. This made it necessary for White to look for additional funds to rebuild the damaged dams and sluiceways. The before-mentioned merger of the coal and navigation companies was thus precipitated.
One of the conditions of the merger was that an additional $20,000 worth of stock was subscribed for, three-fourths of which was taken by White and Hazard.
The newly-raised capital was enough to repair the damage caused by the spring thaw and the same year saw 365 tons of hard coal being sent down the river to Philadelphia, which glutted the market, it having been unexpected by the buying and selling complex there. The coal was hard to dispose of, but was finally netted out to buyers. The company received $21 a ton for its efforts. The victory was not in the $7,665 the company realized, but in the fact that an outlet had been found for the thousands and thousands of tons that remained.
The end of 1820 saw the company again in a situation where all of its capital was expended and the job was not completely done.
They had run into a problem at one spot along the waterway, at "the slates" (above Allentown), where the channel and wing walls were made over the smooth surface of slate ledges rising within a few inches of the surface of the water. It was impossible there from the nature of the ground to make the wing walls remain tight enough to keep the water at the required height, and it became evident that a solid dam must be built by which the water could be raised to a sufficient height to bury the ledges completely and permanently.
Additional subscriptions to the stock were only secured by a sacrifice on the part of White/Hazard, who transferred as a bonus to those who would subscribe an amount of the stock held by them, equal to twenty percent of the new subscription.
The new monies allowed them to build the dam at "the slates," and the year 1821 saw the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. shipping 1,073 tons of coal to Philadelphia.
An uneasiness among the stockholders with regards to their personal liabilities led to the incorporation of the company in February of 1822. In that year there was some degree of new confidence engendered by the chartering of the company and the subscription in the amount of $85,000 was realized. The output showed the renewed confidence, and 2,240 tons of hard coal were sent downriver to Philadelphia.
The descending navigation of the Lehigh River was inspected in 1822, and on January 17, 1823 license was obtained from the Governor to take toll upon it. The company chose not to charge any, though, until four years later.
It might be wise, at this point, to dwell a moment on the means of shipping the coal that was employed.
The boats used in the descending navigation system were commonly called "arks." These arks were large square-cornered boxes from sixteen to eighteen feet long. On the first attempts at passing them through the dams and sluices two of the arks were hooked together by hinges, so that they would bend up and down during their passing. As the men became more adept at their work they added more and more arks until they had a sort of ark-train that measured some 180 feet long.
They were linked together almost like the cars in a train, and the steering was done with long oars and sweeps-much like upon any river raft. It is recorded that "machinery was devised for jointing and putting together the planks of which these boats were made, and the hands became so expert that five men would put one of the sections together and launch it in forty-five minutes."
These arks were used on the Lehigh River until 1831, when the Delaware division of the Pennsylvania Canal was partially finished.
In the last year of this sort of operation some 40,966 tons of coal were sent downriver. Should all of the arks that had to be used be put together, end to end, they would have formed a train some 13 miles long.
None of these arks that were sent down to Philadelphia were brought back, as we have mentioned in the last episode. Instead, the boats were taken apart after the coal was sold and the lumber was, in its turn, sold to merchants there. The nails, spikes, and hinges were put in buckets and brought back up to Mauch Chunk, where they were used again. The men who were employed in piloting the arks down to Philadelphia were accustomed to walking back for the first two or three years, but later rough wagons were operated back and forth by some of the tavern keepers along the way for small compensation.
The descending navigation operation of the Lehigh River was the first permanent operation of its kind ever recorded. It is documented, though, that in the expedition of 1779 under Gen. Sullivan, Gen. James Clinton successfully made use of the expedient to extradite his division of the army from some difficulty on the east branch of the Susquehanna and erected a temporary dam across the outlet of Otsego Lake which accumulated water enough to float them when left off and carry them down the river.
After operating like this for some years it became evident that the coal fields would have to close down if they were totally dependent on the supply of timber in the area, because its constant use in building barges to carry the coal down to Philadelphia was stripping the area of its growth.
It was decided that the thing that was needed was a communication by water with the pine forests about 16 miles above Mauch Chunk, on the upper sections of the Lehigh.
The difficulty occurred when the developers tried to use the river, for at that section it had a fall of about 300 feet over a very rough, rocky bed, with shores that forbad transit, and where horses had been brought down to the water only two places above Lausanne. The transport of all the tools and provisions for the new operation had to be done by building a rather circuitous and rough road through the wilderness, and then had to build a boat for each load that had to be sent down to the place where the hands were at work by the channels which had previously been prepared.
Before this method of transporting the vehicles down to Mauch Chunk was employed they had tried floating the planks down singly, but they had arrived too bruised and broken in the process to be of any use. They tried sending them down just as they were forested, in whole logs, hoping that the bark covering them would protect them, but these became jammed and many of them arrived at Mauch Chun, found different freshlets than those that they were expected to take, and were lost.
Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., part 3 of 5
March 15, 1969
THE LEHIGH RIVER IS REFINED AND SOPHISTICATED; ALTHOUGH STEAMBOAT TRAVEL FAILS, OTHER MEANS ARE FOUND AND SUCCEED AND COAL KEEPS FLOWING
These problems were solved in 1823 when channels were constructed along the river. The work necessitated a rise in capital stock of $96,000, making the total amount subscribed $500,000.
The year 1825 saw 28,393 tons of anthracite being shipped down the Lehigh River from Mauch Chunk, the central distributing point.
The company soon saw that it could not keep pace with the demands of the market, though, if it had to build a new ark for each load of coal that was to be shipped down to the Philadelphia market. The new pine forests had been opened further up the Lehigh River was being whittled away at a rate of 400 acres per year, which meant, of course, that it would soon disappear and the company would be without a means of securing more lumber for the construction of its barges.
The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company saw that without an ascending navigation system on the river they would be ruined by competition from Schuylkill mining interests, who had such a system on their outlet.
White and Hazard came forth with a plan that was both brilliant and adventurous in one stroke. They decided it might well be feasible to incorporate steamboats into their operations.
Toward that end they began constructing a new type of lock for one mile downriver from Mauch Chunk The locks were 130 feet long and 30 feet wide and would safely accommodate a steamboat carrying 150 tons of coal. The locks were a completely new innovation, and adapted perfectly to steamboat navigations.
The operation was very similar to that employed in the sluice-gates in the dams for making artificial freshlets, being raised and let down by the application or removal of a hydrostatic pressure below them. The locks were tested and they performed excellently, being able to fill in three minutes, not withstanding their size, which was half the time of the same process in the regular locks of the day.
The company then made application to the Legislature for improvement of the river Delaware. According to this plan, however, the authorities had their own plans for the Delaware-they had in mind to turn it into a canal. This, of course, ended the steamboat-on-the-Lehigh plan, probably setting the Delaware River back some two decades in transportation progress and sealing off what could well have been an exceptionally colorful alternate history for the Carbon-Schuylkill-Northampton-Luzerne-Columbia counties.
Definite plans for the construction of the canal from Mauch Chunk to Easton were finalized in 1827-the canal was to be done by means of slack water navigation, and the company engaged Canvass White to engineer the project. Mr. White was a gentleman and an engineer of some character and flair, and had been responsible for the famous Erie Canal of New York.
Canvass White suggested that a canal of normal proportions be undertaken-one that would accommodate boats of 25 tons.
Josiah White and Erskine Hazard, however, saw it differently, and since their company was financing the project, their objections were of some consequence. They contended that the same number of men could handle a much larger boat through the canal. The only extra cost, they said, might be an extra horse to pull the larger boats, and some extra capital to make the locks wider.
Canvass White made two estimates. One of these was for the canal that he had suggested: 40 feet wide, the other for the one suggested by White and Hazard: 60 feet.
It was found that the estimates differed in some $30,000. The larger canal would allow them to ship much more coal with must less expense, so the extra $30,000 was assumed to be a much better investment in the long run.
The dimensions were fixed at 60 feet wide, five feet deep, and with locks 100 feet long, adopted to boats of 120 tons.
The work was at once laid out and let to contractors, who commenced their operations about mid-summer. The engineer corps, under Canvass White, was composed as follows: On the upper division, commencing one mile below Mauch Chunk, Isaac A. Chapman, of Wilkesbarre, and W. Milner Roberts and Solomon W. Roberts, of Philadelphia; on the middle division were Anthony B. Warford, of New York, Benjamin Ayerigg, of New Jersey, and Ashbell Welch; on the lower division were John Hopkins and George E. Hoffman, both of New York, and William K. Huffnagle, of Philadelphia. Edward Miller of Philadelphia, soon afterwards joined the corps.
Instructions were given the chief engineer by the company to make canals in lieu of river improvements only when they would be cheaper and more effective. His report stated that "the length of the canal would be thirty-four and three-fourths miles, and ten miles of pools with tow-paths the whole distance, and the estimate of the expense seven hundred and eighty-one thousand three-hundred and three dollars."
"The improved navigation," says the author of the memoir of Josiah White, "was commenced in 1827, and vigorously prosecuted and completed in two years." Commissioners were appointed by the Governor in June, 1829, who reported on the third of the following month that the work was completed, according to law, as far as Mauch Chunk. "We are, indeed, surprised," they said, "to find a new canal forty-five feet wide at the top, calculated for five feet of water, stand as well as this has done. Whenever there is any danger to be apprehended to the bank, from the rise of water in the river, the bank of the canal is protected by good stone-walls. The locks are composed of good stone laid in hydraulic cement. Notwithstanding the size of the locks, everything being new, and the gate-keepers inexperienced, the average time of passing the locks was about five minutes. There are forty-five lift locks, in the number of six, seven, eight and nine feet fall, all of twenty-two feet by one hundred feet, except the four upper ones, near Mauch Chunk, which are thirty feet by one hundred and thirty feet, overcoming a fall of three hundred and sixty and eight-seven one-hundredths feet in a distance of forty-six and three-fourths miles, and there are also six grand-locks. The dams are eight in number, they are built of timber and stone in a very substantial manner, with stone abutments, and of the following heights: five, thirteen, eight, sixteen, twelve, six, seven and one-half, and ten feet from surface to surface. On the whole the work appears to have been constructed with a view to service and durability, and the corporation, in our opinion, is entitled to much commendations for the promptness and energy displayed in the prosecution and completion of this great public improvement."
Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., part 4 of 5
March 22, 1969
THE LEHIGH CANAL IS FINISHED, BUT THE DELAWARE PORTION IS DELAYED THREE YEARS, PUTTING A CRIMP IN COAL EXPORT AND ALLOWING POTTSVILLE TO DEVELOP ITSELF INTO A CITY
The attitude of the area toward the company has changed overnight with the success of the system of locks on the river. The problematical factor of the hard-to-get coal fields had been negated by the success, and the people who had given the company a free hand in its operations, feeling that it would ruin itself with the impossible scheme, now saw themselves as fools for having put no restraints on the company, and fools, too, for not having put their own money into the project.
There was special animosity among competitors to the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. They saw the victory of the enterprising company, and they saw the attitude of the people toward the company that had tamed the Leigh River, and they did not like the looks of it, and felt that their own interests were threatened by the rapid progress of the LC&N Co.
As a result they began taking steps to head off further progress by pulling strings in Harrisburg in an attempt to hold up completion of the company's proposed network of developmental transportation and coal refining.
An application to the Legislature for a change in their charter was denied them, and they consequently had to go to loans to go ahead with their work. The loans were not long in coming, for with their successes to speak for them, the people who would have previously hesitated to invest a dollar in the project were suddenly anxious to get in on a piece of the action.
The problems of the company were by no means over, though, for the Delaware division of the canal was not finished until three years after their own Lehigh portion was, which caused the loss of eight dividends and compelled the LC&NCo. to use temporary boats which were very expensively moved on the Lehigh Canal.
This not only hampered the increase of the company's coal business, but turned the attention of the people who were desirous of entering into the coal business toward the Schuylkill coal areas, thereby causing Pottsville to spring up virtually overnight. From that point, the Schuylkill producers pretty much controlled the market with its own coal, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., being the only producer of Carbon County coal, going with a minimum of new markets for its output.
In the meantime, in order to increase the speed and the efficiency of their company, White and Hazard constructed the Switchback Gravity Railroad between the Summit Mines and the Lehigh River at Mauch Chunk. In 1831 the company constructed a similar railroad line from Nesquehoning and the landing. The rails of the initial railroad were made of wood, with flat pieces of sheet metal tacked down to the top of them. The operation was very crude, but the method was so successful that the rail line was made much more sophisticated as the years passed.
As the time at which the original act of the Legislature required the navigational improvement to be completed in Stoddartsville was now approaching, and the attention of the public was attracted to the Second or Beaver Meadow coal region, it became necessary to look to the commencement of that work. It was evident that the descending navigation by artificial freshlets would not be satisfactory to the Legislature, who had reserved the right of compelling the construction of a complete slack water navigation.
The extraordinary fall in the upper section of the Lehigh rendered its improvement by locks of the ordinary lift impracticable, as the locks would have been too close together, and would have caused so much detention in their use, as to render the navigation too expensive to be available to the public. The plan of high lifts was proposed by the managers as one that would overcome this difficulty, and in 1835, Edwin A. Douglas was appointed as engineer to carry it into execution.
The work as high as the mouth of the Quakake was put under contract in June 1835, and from thence to White Haven in October of the same year. The descending navigation above Wright's Creek was also put under contract in the same year.
On the 13th of March, 1837, the Legislature passed an act authorizing the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company to construct a railroad to connect the North Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal with the slack-water navigation of the Lehigh, and increasing their capital to one million six hundred thousand dollars, at the same time repealing so much of the former act as required or provided for the completion of a slack-water between Wright's Creek (near White Haven) and Stoddartsvilkle. This act was accepted by the stockholders of the company on May 10, 1837.
The whole work of the navigation required by the acts of the Legislature was completed, and the Governor's commission given to the inspectors to examine the last of it on March 19, 1838. The commissioners appointed Samuel Breck, N. Beach and Owen Rice, made their report, showing a highly satisfactory condition, on the 12th of June following. The descending navigation from Stoddartsville with 'beartrap' locks to connect with the ascending navigation at White Haven made a continuous line of communication and traffic from the headwaters of the Lehigh to Easton on the Delaware, and from thence by the Delaware Canal to tidewater at Bristol, a distance of one hundred and forty-four miles.
&The original plan in the minds of the organizers of the works was to connect their navigation at White Haven, on the Lehigh, by canal with the Susquehanna River at Berwick, along the valley of Nescopeck Creek, by railroad with Wilkes-Barre on the same river. The early law authorizing the canal was revived in 1834, and the route was surveyed and estimates made by E.A. Douglass in 1836. But as the fall to be overcome both ways was so great (one thousand and thirty-eight feet), and water scarce on the mountains, the idea was abandoned.
Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., part 5 of 5
March 29, 1969
THE LEHIGH COAL & NAVIGATION COMPANY FACE A MYRAID OF DIFFICULTIES, OVERCOME SOME, PUT OFF OTHERS, AND TAKE A FEW LOWS FOR THE WORST BUT STILL PRODUCE
The company, in desperation, decided to go ahead with the railroad connection, forgetting about the canal hookups, and making it totally rail. The process is described as such: "In 1887 it was determined by the company to proceed with the construction of the railroad, and it was put under contract the same year, after a very thorough examination of the country by Mr. Douglass, in order to ascertain the best location for it through the very rough and mountainous country over which it was to pass between the two rivers (the Lehigh at Mauch Chunk and the Susquehanna at Berwick). To build this road required some very bold engineering, including a tunnel one thousand seven hundred and forty-three feet long, and three inclined planes from the top of the mountain down through "Solomon's Gap" into the valley of the Susquehanna. These three planes were very substantially built. The loaded coal-cars were drawn upon their tracks by powerful stationary engines, and then taken over the railroad to the Lehigh, where their contents were transferred to boats. The height the coal was raised was about one thousand feet, and the planes were respectively four thousand eight hundred and ninety-four, three thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, and four thousand three hundred and sixty-one feet in length. On the first the grade being about five feet to the hundred, on the second, eight and six-tenths feet, and on the third, nine feet. This road and its tunnel (nearly one-third of a mile in length), the planes and heavy machinery were finally completed and put in use, after some delay in consequence of the damage to the canal by the freshlets of 1841, and answered all of the purposes intended. It was a work unprecedented at the time in the United States."
It might be interesting at this point, before we go into some discussion of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, to examine the total output of the LC&NCo. In this way we can well see the type of growth that the company enjoyed, even through difficulties that were strewn in its path. (The figures below are the number of tons of hard coal shipped out of Carbon County in the corresponding year.)
The Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad came into existence through the enterprise of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., and as a logical result of that corporation's progressiveness and the increased demand for transportation down the valley. The immediate cause of its construction, however, was a disaster. The great flood of the 4th and 5th of June, 1862, resulted in the almost complete destruction of the company's costly improvements on the Upper Lehigh. A heavy and continuous rain, which commenced on the afternoon of the 3rd and fell with more or less intensity until one o'clock on the morning of the 5th, effected a rapid rise in the Lehigh and its tributary streams above Mauch Chunk.
Many of the mill-dams upon them gave way, and the freshlet on that part of the river became so great on the afternoon of the 4th as to cause the booms placed near White Haven to give way. This in turn caused a casting adrift of a large quantity of saw-logs and other timber to pursue an almost resistless course down the stream. Many of the dams and guard-banks of the LC&NCo.'s canal, unable to withstand the combined accumulation of water and logs, yielding to their force.
It was thought by many that Dam No. 4, near White Haven, was the first torn away, and that the water and lumber thus let loose, gathering force as they pursued their downward career, partly carried away or seriously injured most of the dams and locks between White Haven and Mauch Chunk.
In some instances locks were entirely swept away, leaving no vestige, and parts of the canal so completely destroyed one would not suspect that one ever existed there. The breaking of Dam #4 occurred about nightfall, and no doubt the greater number of those broken followed as soon as the great wave suddenly let loose reached them, though some of them did not give way until much later in the night.
[As a result of the flooding of the dams and locks, it was decided that a railroad built above the banks of the Lehigh would offer more chance of successful navigation of the Lehigh Gorge and beyond, and that decision was correct. Trains continue to use the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks to this day.]