The Anthracite Iron Furnaces of Alburtis

As it stands today, the ruin of Lock Ridge Furnace at Alburtis, in Lehigh County, looks more akin to a misplaced Norman fortress than a nine­teenth century anthracite iron furnace. The partially re­stored walls, reinforced by heavy metal bolts, give the venerable Pennsylvania structure a false touch of the medieval. The productive history of the anthracite iron furnaces began in December 1866...
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The All-Too-Youthful Proletarians: Breaker Boys of the Anthracite Coal Region in the Early 1900s

Many Pennsylvanians have long forgotten one of the state’s major claims to national prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-the anthra­cite coal industry. In those years, clean-burning anthracite heated more homes in the northeastern United States than any other fuel, and a 1,700 square-mile area in northeast Pennsyl­vania produced almost all of the nation’s...
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Columbia County is Diversity

From the time of the earliest settlements during the Revolu­tionary War era to the present day, Columbia County has been three sepa­rate neighborhoods-the southern re­gion (Catawissa and Centralia); the northern area (Benton and Millville) and the north bank of the Susquehanna River (Bloomsburg and Berwick). They are distinguishable by varied physical environments, ethnic origins and social...
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A Culture of Sharing: Family and Community in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Region, 1900-1940

Prior to the establishment of widespread governmental assis­tance programs such as social se­curity and various other forms of social services, the working people of industri­al America devised their own means of survival and support. Drawing on the resources of family members and neigh­bors, ordinary individuals created tight­ly-knit communities in which limited in­comes, food and emotions were...
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Preserving Pieces of Pennsylvania’s Past: An Inside Look at the Building of the Commonwealth’s Collections

Associations between butterflies and buttons, Conestoga wagons and cannon, sculpture and arrowheads, or fossils and founder William Penn’s original Charter may seem tenuous, even obscure and, perhaps, nonsensical. But a relationship does exist: they are among the one and a half million objects and thirty thousand cubic feet of manuscripts, records, maps and photographs in the custody and...
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A Most Deadly Business

During the early morning hours of December 5, 1885, John Lynot labored hundreds of feet underground in the stale air of his “breast,” a black chamber in the coal seam the size of a small room, preparing an explosive charge. An anthracite miner for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, Lynot earned eighty-five cents for each two ton mine car he filled. Finding the weakest point...
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Schuylkill County: Built on Coal

The history of Schuylkill County is inextricably bound to the story – and drama – of the great anthracite industry in the United States. Despite nearly two centuries of active mining, the county’s 783 square miles still boast the largest accessible reserves of hard coal known in the world. Its lives and lifestyles have been quasi-fictionalized by two of the county’s best...
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The Molly Maguires: Fighting for Justice

Early on the morning of Wednesday. Septem­ber 1, 1875, a young English-born mine foreman started from his Schuylkill County residence to the Shenandoah coal colliery where he was employed. A gunshot pierced the air. Scrambling for cover behind a neighbor’s house, he was met by another assassin who drew his revolver and fired. Struck in the groin, the young man staggered blindly and fell to...
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Northampton County: From Frontier Farms to Urban Industries – and Beyond

Sweeping across southcentral Pennsyl­vania lies the Great Valley and nestled in its northeastern corner is mod­ern Northampton County. Bordered on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by South Mountain and the piedmont, and on the west by the valley of the Lehigh River, the three hundred and seventy-two square mile re­gion is one of gently rolling hills and wooded valleys, with...
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Wayne County: A History Deep and Clear

The Land of Lakes, it might best be called. Its sweeping verdant valleys and velvety golden meadows harbor dozens of picturesque settlements – and more than a hundred natural and artificial lakes. Its resorts teem with summer colonists – primarily expatriate New Yorkers escap­ing the stifling heat of Manhat­tan in August – and recall a less frenzied era when there seemed to be...
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