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Old Coal King: 1940

Old Coal King: 1940

August 1940. "Carbon County, Pennsylvania. Houses and colliery from a street in Lansford." More specifically, the Old Company's Lehigh Navigation Coal Co. Lansford Colliery. Medium format acetate negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

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Sure is Clean

My impressions are that almost anything having to do with coal production is dirty and dusty. This building sure looks clean and tidy. Actually quite attractive.

Don't mine the mess

This is not a mine -- the mines were scattered in the hills around here. LC&N had a network of 42-inch-gauge tramways that delivered the coal to this breaker. The shelf on the rear hillside is where the tramways delivered the raw anthracite, being hoisted up the ramps partly visible behind the top of the breaker.

Using a "sand flotation" method, the raw coal was mixed with sand in a cone shaped vessel, causing the heavier stone and slate debris to sink to the bottom, and allowing the coal to rise to the top of the cone and over the sides. The coal was then washed and graded and loaded into railcars for the trip to market, while the stone waste was removed and hauled to the dump.

Photos in "Lehigh & New England" by Ed Crist and John Krause (1980) show what appears to be the same breaker in the 1950s from the hillside at the rear, except they say it is LC&N's largest breaker, No. 6. (Mr. Krause should know, as he took the photos.) This also is where I got my information.

No nothin' about coal

Why is that building so big? What went on in there?

Thanks for coming out, Jack Delano

I was born in Lansford. I had moved away by the age of 7 or so, but in many ways never left. It's fallen on hard times, but people hardly notice. As a coal patch town, its aspirations were always somewhat limited. On the other hand, they barely noticed the Great Depression, basically for the same reason. By the late '60s this thing was derelict and you could climb all over it. When visiting my grandparents I sometimes did. Lansford is home to the Hauto train tunnel, also derelict, and with some interesting stories attached to it.

Dark Mode

An early example.

Utilitarian equals ugly?

Not back then, obviously. I have seen photos of much uglier (which were also newer) collieries. I am just wondering. Is that a shaft head or a breaker?

But fancy having to clean all those windows. Not to mention with all that coal dust around.

The Navigation

The Lehigh Coal Mine Company (1793) was leased to the Lehigh Coal Company in 1818 and merged with the Lehigh Navigation Company in 1820, being formally incorporated as Lehigh Coal and Navigation in 1822. LC&N built a canal along the Lehigh River from White Haven to Easton, finishing it in 1829. By 1871 LC&N owned a railroad along the same route. Gradually, LC&N leased its railroad properties to other railroads and concentrated on anthracite mining. In 1940 though, Lansford Colliery was served by LC&N-owned Lehigh & New England Railroad.

In the early 1970's, LC&N sold its last colliery, the nearby Greenwood breaker, to Bethlehem Steel and went out of business. Not what you'd call a fly-by-night outfit.

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