Click here for a post here at CultureCarbonCounty for a story and more pictures of the renovation efforts here in the past few years.
|Kemmerer Park has had its ups and downs. Here it is, May 2, 2014, at near peak perfection.|
From the late 1840s until the Hauto Railroad Tunnel was completed in 1872, what is today the park was at one time a dusty, noisy cog in the anthracite supply chain from mine to river. The Switchback Gravity Railroad deposited car after car of coal here onto a chute system that took the coal from a platform from a 200 foot terrace above the river. Here is where countless tons of coal were deposited into the Lehigh.
But the tunnel allowed direct rail access into the coal fields and circumvented the necessity of this wharf. In that year, a contemporary industrialist of Asa Packer, by the name of Mahlon S. Kemmerer took ownership of the property and built a fine mansion there (roughly where the basketball court is today, where the overarching coal chutes once passed over).
Mahlon had married Annie Leisenring, the daughter of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Companay superintendent John Leisenring. The Leisenrings and Kemmerers became two prominent families in the later part of the boom to strike Jim Thorpe. They amassed enough wealth for their future generations to enjoy and still profit from today.
|One of the flower urns as it looks today.|
|Urns from the Kemmerer estate of a slightly different variety.|
|Here is what it looked like just a few years ago. The park wasn't even this|
nice just five years ago. And now that it has reached a modern zenith, it
is hoped that its new beauty is here to stay.
However in the 1970s and 1980s it fell to great disrepair and there was talk of closing it down. Lately, revitalization efforts have centered around the restoration of the Kemmerer Carriage. It was in great disrepair, its roof was caving in. Through the efforts of the park committee and especially from John Drury's efforts of securing grants from the Kemmerer Family Foundation, the carriage house renovations have completed enough to allow for a full-time live-in caretaker there.
Maintenance of the pathways and over-growing foliage over the years fell to the volunteer efforts of Bob Handwerk. He and his family have owned the Harry Packer Mansion for quite some time now.
Enjoying a living moment, in this real-life Impressionistic painting is a true treat in life to be savored. My thanks to all of the above people for making this happen.