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Nearby towns - Upper Lehigh
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This is an early 20th century view of Upper Lehigh. The mansions of the mine owners and bosses were located at this end. The photographer was standing on Main Street, looking westward from in front of the company store. Doctor Neale's home would have been on the photographer's left, not shown in the photo. Thank you to Ed Sharp for the notes on his annotated copy of this view.
Another view of Upper Lehigh from the same period. The photographer is standing on the same spot or close to the same spot from which the previous view was photographed, but now facing east. The Presbyterian Church is on the left, and if you were standing on this spot, the coal breaker would be off to your right. Thanks again to Ed Sharp for the notes on his annotated copy of this view.
Here is the Upper Lehigh Coal Company breaker. As early as 1873, the date of the map shown below, it was supported by a machine shop, a mine reservoir, and a railroad track complex that would enable coal to be shipped. Note that the map shows slopes no. 1 and 2 mined by this breaker.
Here's a view of the Upper Lehigh company store. This building was later acquired by Mr. Boyko and became the Boyko Dance Hall, site of many wedding parties and other celebrations. The building later burned down and only a few traces can be seen today.
This photo postcard shows the Upper Lehigh Presbyterian church. It's a great view showing the building in very good condition, nicely fenced and landscaped, with some parishioners standing near the front door. This church was attended by the mine owners and bosses. There was also a Welsh Baptist church in town. The miners from other ethnic groups traveled to Freeland, usually on foot, to attend other churches.
Here's the map of Upper Lehigh that appears in D. G. Beers' Atlas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (1873). It's a wonderfully detailed view of a carefully laid out company town, complete with hotel, store, two churches, two schools, steam saw mill, reservoirs, water works, and of course the coal breaker. Note the train tracks. The map is accompanied by business listings and shows the Foster/Butler townships border dividing the town. Note that the Upper Lehigh Coal Company owns all of the homes except for those at the west end of town. This was true up until the late 1920s when the homes were offered for sale.
This photo of one of the Upper Lehigh coal strippings comes to us courtesy of the Freeland Historical Society. Strippings like this are a familiar sight to anyone who grew up in the area.
From Nadine Heckler: "My aunt Esther is 91. She says that when she started going to the UL school it only had 2 rooms and that the building that was across the street (where the honor roll eventually went) was where the 7th and 8th graders went. Then they added the 3rd room / addition to the UL school and that's when the other building was used for just activities. The activities building was eventually torn down due to its condition. My Aunt Gwenie, who is 88, says the foundation of that building is still there and that's where they put the honor roll." Here is the photocopied photo of the Upper Lehigh school that Nadine sent.
This is another photo of the same Upper Lehigh school, courtesy of the Freeland Historical Society. It's my understanding that there was also another school at the end of town.
This article about the North Basin by George Dreisbach was published in 1967. At far left, Ed Merrick has kindly send me another copy of the beginning of the article to replace what was torn away from the first column of the copy I had (center image). Thank you, Ed! At the end of the article George Dreisbach mentions deaths by lightning strike and includes that of George Berta, which happened in Upper Lehigh, not at the North Basin. George Berta was my grandmother's brother. Although Mr. Dreisbach wrote that it happened west of Upper Lehigh, the story passed down through our family was that it happened near home and that my grandmother was watching out the window for him to come home and actually saw the lightning strike hit him. Tragedy was never far away for those miners and their families.
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