|Here we see the barney car emerge from the pit. An "outrigger" was winched down|
onto the "cat step." This safety device is identical to the one adopted by
successive rollercoasters and gave both a distinctive clink-clink-clink sound as the cars
ascend the plane. At the base of Mt. Pisgah, the cars traveled 2,250 feet of inclined
plane and 664 feet of elevation. The engine house is at the top.
Jordan Cook is all smiles as he made many ventures this day, including some
new metal finds that may be parts of the former steamstacks of the engine house.
CLICK HERE - For the Spring 2011 Hike and a more complete history of the Switchback with rare photos.
The adventurers marveled at the view and the rich history of this forgotten place, which is perhaps the most important link in the early development of coal production that fueled our Industrial Revolution.
The 50-plus hikers even ventured out to the former Hacklebernie Tunnel that was first driven in 1824 by Josiah White himself in an attempt to bring a source of coal closer to the shipping terminus at Mauch Chunk and the Lehigh River.
|Here is one of the few pictures (albeit a drawing based on photos) that illustrates the entire 18-mile expanse of the|
Mauch Chunk Railroad, otherwise known as the "Switchback." You can see the dam on the Lehigh River, constructed
to create a "harbor" for canal boats to load up with coal. To the right of the river, just above the dam, you can see the
beginning of the Lehigh Canal as it circles the bottom of "Mauch Chunk" Mountain, so named by natives as "Land
of the Sleeping Bear." Though the "chutes" are not depicted here, you can see the red roofs of the Switchback
Station at the rightmost terminal arc. The great plane above that is the Mt Pisgah Plane and engine house. The
other plane is the Mt Jefferson plane and engine house that leads to Summit Hill. The straightaway from the base of
Mt Jefferson all the way to Mauch Chunk was originally a one-way "Stone Turnpike" in which the cars descended by
day and pulled back up empty by mules at night. The planes, engines, and "backtrack" were constructed for operation in 1846. The original "Stone Turnpike" was constructed over the winter of 1818-1819. The entire system runs at a steady four to six percent declination or four to six feet per running 100 feet. The one and only and entire model of the Switchback can be viewed at the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center, West Broadway, Jim Thorpe.
|Students gape at the view of the Lehigh Gorge - With all our recent rain, the|
Glen Onoko Falls were quite visible, a rare treat for this time of year.
The Lehigh River is approximately 1,000 feet below.
|Parents and students were eager to see the mine's entrance, defying the steep|
30 foot drop.
|Students were enthusiastic to find the entrance of the collapse tunnel, the first coal|
mine tunnel ever driven in North America.
|Everyone had a blast.|
|Students even were able to make 3 different GeoCache finds.|
A repeat of this hike is planned for April. Part 2 of the hike, the "downtrack" and downtown Jim Thorpe tour ending at the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center with its complete Switchback Railroad train display, is planned for early May for 3 evening tours. (See The 'Essential Jim Thorpe Tour' is our Spring hike, Part II of the Switchback tour.)
Related links on this website:
Spring Hike 2011(This post has many vintage photos of the SBRR), Josiah White's Genius, October 2010 Hike, PA Canal Society Visits Mt Pisgah, and My Sunday Hike.
Also, if you are looking for a comparable site in the area, I suggest you look into the Penn Haven Junction inclines of the Beaver Meadow Railroad above the Black Creek. In the "Virtual Lehigh Gorge" tour, about mid-way through, are pictures and some history of those dual inclines that once operated there.
CLICK HERE - For the Spring 2011 Hike with a more complete Switchback history and rare photos.