“Your Future Depends on Yourself”: Asa Packer as the Self-Made Man

Nineteenth-century literature abounds with stories of men who rose from humble circumstances to great wealth by virtue of their own diligence, perseverance, and courage. Several of the most famous such works, novels written by Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-1899), became best-sellers because the American public relished his stories about plucky boys achieving their goals against all odds. In his first...
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Life After the Mines Closed

Pennsylvania’s hard coal region, stretching northeast from Tower City, in western Schuylkill County, to Carbondale, in the upper reaches of Lackawanna County, covers five hundred square miles. The region depended almost entirely on the mining of anthracite for a century and a half, beginning with the development of commercial mining operations in the 1820s. Ninety-five percent of the...
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Mt. Pisgah Plane

In 1827, the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company opened the Mauch Chunk Railroad — later known as the Switchback Gravity Railroad — in Carbon County to efficiently transport anthracite over a precipitous distance of nine miles from mining operations on the top of Sharp Mountain at Summit Hill to the Lehigh River below at Mauch Chunk (renamed Jim Thorpe in 1953). The nation’s second oldest...
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