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Old 06-07-2014, 08:06 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna.
11,341 posts, read 6,752,664 times
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There is quite a bit more human presence in the Lehigh River gorge between Jim Thorpe (to some of us it will always be Mauch Chunk -- civic boosterism aside) and White Haven since interest in hiking, whitewater and all the other activities picked up some years ago. But you have to do a little research to learn that there was once a small community of permanent residents at the confluence of the Lehigh and appropriately-named Black Creek.

The first coal mining in what came to be called the Central or Hazleton anthracite fields was at Beaver Meadow, on the boundary between Luzerne and Carbon Counties. The Lehigh Canal System, financed largely by Nicholas Biddle and engineered by Josiah White, provided low-cost transport to the south of "Chunk", but north of there, efforts to develop canals were more prone to disruptions due to flooding and a limited supply of "slack water" once the route diverged from the river. So, as at Pottsville to the south, primitive railroads, often used in conjunction with stationary steam "donkey" engines and inclined planes, covered the last few miles to the mines.

Thus the little town of Penn Haven was conceived; as evidenced by the attached link, it was never a commercial center, never had access to an all-weather highway any form. but it served its purpose. It was apparently a pretty good place to go hunting whitetails in the fall, and at one time, the Railway Post Office network used it as a link between the railroads serving the Lehigh region and the Pennsylvania System at Nescopeck, via Hazleton

Last Man at Penn Haven Junction | Times News Online

I first heard of Penn Haven while in my early teens; a career-educator relative was serving as the school district's Superintendent, or Supervising Principal in the town of Weatherly, about five miles upstream, and due to a lifelong railroading interest, once I learned that the railroad's signal tower was still in operation, a friend and I decided to walk in one Sunday evening. But we turned out to have taken on more than we bargained for and had to turn back. The tower became superfluous due to the consolidation of operations on the lines involved, and closed the following winter, so I never got another chance to visit it while in operation.

And later on, I was to learn of yet another of the sometimes-embellished tales of "Penn Haven Junction"; the timber rattlesnake (Crotaulus Horridus) is still not too hard to find in the rockier and less-cultivated regions of rural Pennsylvania, and there was apparently a den of the venomous critters within very short range of the tower. Somehow or other, one of the reptiles would occasionally slip through a crack in the tower's foundation -- apparently lured by the warmth of the coal-fired furnace in the basement. After a couple of the "ops" on duty got an unpleasant suprise (none, to my knowledge, were ever actually bitten) the railroad simply installed a smaller stove on the ground floor, and closed off the basement.

That was Penn Haven -- a little bit of both Twin Peaks and Lake Wobegon.

Last edited by 2nd trick op; 06-07-2014 at 08:56 PM..
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:48 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
13,548 posts, read 8,598,708 times
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Nice story. I am always intrigued by the history of small towns and the people who lived in them. Being a rider, it gives me an excuse to to visit them.
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Old 06-08-2014, 05:28 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
5,408 posts, read 9,539,606 times
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Thanks for posting this. I owned a home in Carbon County for a few years and between the small towns and the industrial history, found it an intriguing place. When I would ride my bike along the trail from White Haven, that was where I usually turned around because of the lack of shade. Never realized that there had been a community there but it makes sense, given the importance of the transportation line.
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:43 AM
 
Location: Montco PA
2,023 posts, read 3,995,097 times
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Thanks. Whenever I bike the trail I stop and read the signs with the brief history of Penn Haven. It must have been an interesting place.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:10 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
13,548 posts, read 8,598,708 times
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Is there train service to Penn Haven today? Does the town even exist anymore?
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Old 06-09-2014, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna.
11,341 posts, read 6,752,664 times
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Penn Haven lost its last scheduled passenger service in the winter of 1960-61, when the Lehigh Valley abandoned all passenger operations, but there is a tourist-based service operating from the former Central of New Jersey station in Jim Thorpe, now serving as a bank and located across the street from the former Lehigh Coal and Navigation Building. The service operates on summer weekends and, while Diesel rather than steam-powered (steam operation has become so expensive due to repair and liability costs that the fare is steeper than taxi rates) is well patronized.

Penn Haven hasn't seen a regular human presence since the tower closed in the winter of 1965-66(and was quickly razed). But we night get an answer as to the date of the last residents' departure in the second installment of the article linked above.

And as an aside, there was both an "Old Penn Haven" and the community cited in this thread; this was likely due to a rebuilding of the coal-carrying system which led to the community's establishment in the first place, but the details are likely scattered all over the 'Net, as well as other sources.
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Old 06-09-2014, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
13,548 posts, read 8,598,708 times
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I have seen the train station at Jim Thorpe but had no idea where it went. So, what is there when you get there? Buildings, streets? I hope there is more there than Centralia.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:35 AM
 
4,201 posts, read 9,280,263 times
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Most PA "ghost towns" have less there than Centralia.
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Old 06-10-2014, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Montco PA
2,023 posts, read 3,995,097 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
Most PA "ghost towns" have less there than Centralia.
Right. Nothing at Penn Haven but a historical sign.
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
13,548 posts, read 8,598,708 times
Reputation: 11133
Even Pompei has something left. You mean there are no signs that anyone ever lived there?
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