Capturing the essence of Carbon County Pennsylvania's history.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Mount Pisgah and the Switchback Railroad - My Sunday Hike
I simply love this area. Its rich history makes for a beautiful place to live and play. And with warmer air and higher light, what better place to take a late winter's hike, as I did today. (Check out my YouTube video from opposing mountain...Mount Pisgah plane is quite visible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJGSv-d947M .)
When you reflect on the importance of this area in fueling America’s industrial revolution, on the backs and ingenuity of Josiah White, Erskine Hazard and later, Asa Packer, you learn to appreciate this place we live even more. To take in some of the same views they did, you can perhaps have a little inspiration of your own.
One amazing piece of our history is The Switchback Railroad. It was one of a kind. Not only was it key in delivering coal, but it also became our nation’s second biggest tourist attraction behind Niagara Falls. It is also said to be the first man-made contrivance to excede 55 miles per hour and has been cited as the inspiration for the rollercoaster.
President Uylsses S Grant and Thomas Edison were said to have traveled here to ride it. Today, expert mountain bikers ride it for some of the same thrills as years ago.
Empty coal cars were pulled up the Mt Pisgah plane. Cresting the top, they would traverse this trestle as they began their descent down the other side to reach the base of Mt. Jefferson at Summit Hill. Again the cars are pulled atop another plane, that of Mt Jefferson, then filled with their cargo and sent down the eight mile gravity journey to Mauch Chunk. There, coal was sent down chutes over what is today Route 209, and filled the awaiting Canal Boats on the Lehigh Canal. Later, Packer’s Lehigh Valley Railroad took over the bulk of the coal transport.
(Pictures: Above, Mt Pisgah trestle long ago, Below: the same site today)
Mt Pisgah is one of the key vistas of Carbon County. A must for anyone visiting our county. You gotta love this place!
Check out these sites for more of a flavor of the history and character of Carbon County: