Carbon County

Boroughs and Townships


The following time line gives the order and date of creation of the subdivisions of Carbon County


1.      1752 Northampton County was erected out of Bucks County.  At that time, all of Northampton north of the Blue Mountains was known as the Towamensing District, “Towamensing” being an Indian word for “wilderness”.   The Moravians, who established the first white settlement, knew the region north of the mountains as “St. Anthony’s Wilderness”.

2.       1768 The district was divided into Towamensing Twp. on the east bank of the Lehigh River and Penn Twp. on the west bank. 

3.      1808 Lausanne Twp. was erected out of the upper section of Penn Twp.  Penn was further divided into East and West Penn, with West Penn being in newly formed Schuylkill County. 

4.      1818 Mauch Chunk founded.  Josiah White and Erskine Hazard travel from Philadelphia up into the Lehigh River wilderness with a crew of 18 men from White’s wire rope factory at the falls of the Schuylkill River to begin work on river improvements.  White and Hazard had formed the Lehigh Coal Co. and the Lehigh Navigation Co., the first to mine the coal, the second to get it to market.  Work began on the river at the mouth of the Mauch Chunk Creek on the Lehigh, thus founding the town.  These two companies would merge into the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. in a few years. 

5.      1827 On August 23, Mauch Chunk Twp. was formed out of the northern part of E. Penn Twp. and a small section of southern Lausanne Twp.  Mauch Chunk Twp. included the villages that would later be the boroughs of Mauch Chunk, Summit Hill and Nesquehoning.  Lansford also lay within the Twp., but at the time of its formation there was no village of Lansford. 

6.      1840 In November, the township of Lower Towamensing was set off from that of Towamensing.  It lay along the Lehigh River and included the villages of Lehigh Gap and Millport.  Lehigh Gap is now gone, and Millport later became Aquashicola (ah-kwa-shik′-ola).  Today Palmerton lies between these two sites. 

7.      1842 In January Banks Twp. was erected out of the north western part of Lausanne Twp. Coal was its main reason for growth, and the village of Beaver Meadows was its center of population.  Later that same year, Mahoning Twp. was erected out of the upper part of East Penn Twp.  The village of Lehighton, along the Lehigh River, was it’s main center of population.  Other villages included New Mahoning, Centre (Normal) Square, Dolonsburg and Burlington.  The latter two later became Packerton.

8.      1843 In this year Carbon County was formed out of Northampton & Monroe counties.  Penn Forest (including Kidder) had been part of Monroe County (which also had been set off from Northampton Co.).  With the addition of Penn Forest Twp. the new county included part of the Shades of Death Pine Swamp, which later became known as the Pocono Mountains resort area.

9.      1847 The township of Packer was set off from Lausanne Twp.  The first white settlers in this region were Daniel Heil and George Klees, who arrived in the 1790s.   Heil, and possibly Klees, had been members of the Ben Salem Church in E. Penn Twp., the (future) county’s first church.  Packer’s first church congregation was established in 1811, later becoming St. Matthew’s Church.  The makeup of the early settlers was almost entirely German.  Some were Pennsylvania Deutsche families; others were descended from Hessian mercenaries who stayed in America after the Revolution.  One notable exception to this was the family of Capt. David Steward, who was of Scottish background. 

10.  1849 On March 7, Kidder Twp. was created out of the northern section of Penn Forest Twp.  It was named for Judge Luther Kidder, who was at that time on the bench. 

11.  1850 On January 26 the village of Mauch Chunk incorporated, becoming the first borough in the county.  Founded in 1818 by Josiah White and company as a center for his river improvements and as a base for shipping his coal to market, the borough had grown rapidly having over 2500 residents by 1850.  Lying on the west bank of the Lehigh River, it originally included the east bank below Ruddle’s Run, including the Lehigh Canal and attendant industries. 

12.  1851 On January 2 Franklin Twp. was erected out of Towamensing (or Upper Towamensing) Twp.  Weissport was its main village, located along the east bank of the Lehigh River and the Lehigh Canal.  

13.  1854 East Mauch Chunk was originally known as “The Kettle”, with its habitation lying along the Kettle Creek, later known as Ruddle’s Run.  The site of the Jim Thorpe Market is where the original village was situated.  At the same time Mauch Chunk was incorporating, the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co. began clearing land on the bluff overlooking the Kettle, setting off plots and laying out streets.  The LC&N designated this new, planned community as East Mauch Chunk.  It grew rapidly, and in January of 1854 became the second incorporated borough in the county.  Like Mauch Chunk, it was carved out of Mauch Chunk Twp.  After its incorporation, the parts of Mauch Chunk on the east bank of the Lehigh were ceded to East Mauch Chunk, with the Lehigh River marking the boundary between the two boroughs for the next 100 years. 

14.  1863 Weatherly became the third borough in the county, carved from Lausanne Twp.  It was originally settled by Benjamin Romig in 1825 when he erected a saw mill and dwelling along the Black Creek, the village becoming known by that name, “Black Creek”.  In 1848 when the village was about to get its own post office, David Weatherly, who had resided in the village from about the mid 1840s, came forth with a proposition.  He pledged to supply the village with a town clock if they changed the name from Black Creek to Weatherly in his honor.  Weatherly was a clock maker himself, and sat on the board of the Beaver Meadow Railroad.  The town fathers accepted the proposition and when the post office was set up, the village officially became known as “Weatherly”.  However, David Weatherly did not keep up his end of the bargain, never donating the town clock promised, possibly due to ill health.  He shortly moved back to Philadelphia, where he died a few years later.  The shops of the Beaver Meadow Railroad were located here in 1842, this railroad later becoming part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.  Weatherly boomed as a railroad town until the end of the 19th century, when the rail shops began to phase out.  The town struggled for several years, but the town fathers managed to bring in new industry. 

15.  1866 Lehighton becomes the fourth borough in Carbon County.  Original white settlement in the area can be traced back to the Moravian settlement of Gnadenhutten, founded in 1746.  This settlement was destroyed in the Gnadenhutten Massacre of 1755, after which the Moravian’s moved their settlement to the east side of the Lehigh at present day Weissport. 

16.  1867 On June 3, Weissport becomes the fifth incorporated borough in the county.  White settlement of this site dates back to 1754, when the Moravian colony of New Gnadenhutten was started.  Following the massacre of 1755, Benjamin Franklin trekked to the area and with his militiamen constructed Fort Franklin, the well of which still exists.  Colonel Jacob Weiss, namesake of the town, first settled at the site in 1782.  He became involved in early anthracite mining, but was never successful due to difficulty in getting the coal to market.  When Josiah White had the Lehigh Canal constructed, Weissport became a canal town complete with a large boat yard. 

17.  1874 On December 15, Parryville incorporated, being set off from Franklin Twp.  First settled about 1770 by Peter Frantz, the village grew slowly.  When the Lehigh Canal came through in the 1820s, growth increased and in the 1836 it became the southern end of the Beaver Meadows Railroad.  Coal was brought down the Black Creek and Lehigh River Valley to Parryville where it was transferred to canal barges.  After the flood of 1841 these wharves were relocated in East Mauch Chunk.  In 1855 the Carbon Iron Co. was formed, situated along the Lehigh River with access to the canal and newly built Lehigh Valley Railroad. 

18.  1875 Lehigh Twp. was set off from Lausanne Twp.  Old Lausanne Twp. once covered a vast area.  Over the years, it was divided and divided again until only a small portion remained.  Lehigh Twp. lay along the west bank of the Lehigh River, from Glen Onoko north to the Luzerne Co. border.  Nearly all of it remains very rural, the tiny village of Rockport near the Lehigh River its only concentration of population. 

19.  1876 On July 1, Lansford was created out of Mauch Chunk Twp., formed by merging the villages of Ashton and Storm Hill.  The former patch town of Andrewsville is now included in the borough.  The area was first settled in the 1820s, but growth was very slow for the next 50 years.  But the population exploded after incorporation, doubling from 2 to 4 thousand between 1880 and 1890.  At its peak in the late 1920s, nearly 10000 people called Lansford home. 

20.  1889 On January 14, Summit Hill was created out of Mauch Chunk Twp.  The village can trace its roots back to 1791 when Philip Ginter discovered coal there, but permanent settlement didn’t happen until shortly after the start of activities by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co. in 1818. 

21.  1897 Beaver Meadows (until 1937 known as Beaver Meadow) was created out of a portion of Banks Twp.  This settlement can be traced back to 1804, when the Lehigh & Susquehanna Turnpike passed through.  This route, from the village of Lausanne Landing on the Lehigh to Berwick on the Susquehanna, was a busy route for commerce.  The village got its greatest boost in 1832 when the Beaver Meadow Railroad was established and its shops constructed here.  This was one of America’s first railroads.  The BMRR’s master mechanic Hopkin Thomas supervised these shops, one of the centers of early railroad engine design and inovation.  In 1842 these shops were moved to Weatherly, after which Beaver Meadows suffered a decline.  But the coal mining operations grew and guaranteed the village a future. 

22.  1912 Founded in 1898, Palmerton incorporated October 14, 1912.  It was founded as a company town for the New Jersey Zinc Co.  Two vast smelting plants were located here, one on the west side along the Lehigh River and canal, the other along the east side in the Aquashicola Valley.  Workers from all over moved into the new town, and by 1930 it’s population peaked at around 7600.  The plants thrived through most of the 20th century and the two railroads ran special trains to get the workers to and from work.  By the late 70s the industry began to decline, and by 1990 the West Plant along the Lehigh had closed.  Some operations continue at the East Plant

23.  1913 Attempts to incorporate the village of Bowmanstown began as early as 1892, the village having been founded in the 1820s as a canal town.  On November 29, 1913 the village incorporated and a month later the first borough elections were held.  Besides the canal, ochre mines on the nearby Stony Ridge supplied a large pigment processing plant in the town.  At the time of incorporation the nearby New Jersey Zinc works supplied lots of employment.

24.  1954 In this year, Carbon’s two earliest boroughs, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, merged to create the new borough of Jim Thorpe.  Named for the great Native American athlete, the circumstances have often been misconstrued.  Thorpe’s wife wanted a burial place that would honor him properly.  A native of Oklahoma, that state had promised to build such a memorial, but at the last minute the governor vetoed the bill and the plan fell through.  Meanwhile, the Mauch Chunks were suffering through the post WW 2 recession and the decline of the coal and railroad industries.  Newspaperman Joe Boyle began a “Nickel a Week” fund, money to be used to spur development and new industry for the towns.  Joe learned of the situation concerning Thorpe’s burial, and when Mrs. Thorpe was visiting Philadelphia, he persuaded her to visit his town.  One thing led to another and eventually it was decided that the great athlete would be buried in the town and given a proper memorial.  The “Nickel a Week” fund provided much of the money for his burial and monument.  This plan also cleared up some of the problems with merging the two towns.  One of those problems was what to name the merged town, and the burial of Jim Thorpe solved that question.  Plans for merging the two Chunks date as far back as the 1890s.  The only compensation received by Mrs. Thorpe and her family (to my knowledge) was the compensation of knowing her husband would receive a proper burial and an appropriate monument. 

25.  1960s Nesquehoning is the most recent incorporated borough, although it is one of the earliest communities in the county.  Founded around 1820 as a mining town, the mines are now gone but in recent years new industries have located in the town.  With its incorporation around 1962 or 63, the dissolution of old Mauch Chunk Twp. came about.


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 Jack Sterling