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charters and connections, uniting like mountain rills with larger streams, this great work was enlarged until it has become a thoroughfare for coal tonnage and for general transportation of freight and passengers from New York city to the far West and Northwest.
It is not many years since the valley of Wyoming was likened to that happy vale in the kingdom of 'Amhara, surrounded on every side by mountains, in which "Rasselas, prince of Abyssinia, was confined in a private palace, with the other sons and daughters of Abyssinian royalty, till the order of succession should call him to the throne." Col. William L. Stone, in the preface to his pleasant book, The Poetry and History of Wyoming, published in 1841, says: "The happy valley to which the illustrious author of Rasselas introduced his reader in the opening of that charming fiction was not much more secluded from the world than is the valley of Wyoming. Situated in the interior of the country, remote from the great thoroughfares of travel, either for business or in the idle chase of pleasure, and walled on every hand by mountains lofty and wild, and over which long and rugged roads must be traveled to reach it, Wyoming is rarely visited, except from stern necessity. And yet the imagination of Johnson has not pictured so lovely a spot in the vale of Amhara as Wyoming." Col. Stoue had a rough journey over the mountains in the stage coaches, comfortable as they were to the mountaineers, as those who read the notes of his visit in 1839 will remember. But he had the full benefit of the glorious vision which bursts upon the traveler who, after a tedious day's ride from the Delaware, over Pocono and through the "Shades of Death," reaches the summit of the mountains bordering the valley on the east.
Sweet vale of Wyoming! whose Gertrude was once embalmed in every heart of cultivated Europe by the pen of Campbell, now deemed worthy of mention in modern guide books. Has the romance departed from it with the retiring red man? and even the Gertrude of Halleck, seen on the next field, with
Love darting eyes and tresses like the morn,
Without a shoe or stocking, hoeing corn,
been driven out by flying trains of cars crossing its center on tracks leading north and south, east and west, from Baltimore to Boston, from New York to Niagara, and from Philadelphia to Saratoga and to Portland?
A mile east from the main road leading from Wilkes-Barre to Carbondale—not far from Providence Corners, then often called Razorville from the sharpness of its tavern keeper or of the winds which, sweeping the mountain gorges, occasionally blew his house and his sign post over—in a quiet nook on Roaring brook lay "Slocum Hollow," named from its proprietor, one of a large, respectable and influential family of the valley, who had there his farm and mill, and it may be a small furnace. Mr. William Henry, a gentleman of experience in ores and metals, came through Cobb's gap from the iron lands of New Jersey on a prospecting tour, and finding iron ores and coal convenient began the manufacture of pig iron, the power of the stream furnishing blast for his furnace. George W. Scranton with his Yankee brothers had migrated from Connecticut and settled at Oxford, N. J., when young, and there engaged in the iron business. He visited Slocum Hollow and, like Mr. Henry, whose daughter he had married, also became interested in these ore and coal beds; and soon perceived with prophetic eye what capital, energy and enterprise combined might produce from this wilderness. Of commanding presence, strong will and persuasive manner, with but a common-school education, his perceptions of business and of character were quick and clear. He went to New York and laid his plans before the money kings, and soon had capital at his locomotive wheels captive in the beech woods. The dam on Roaring brook was first too small and then too large. Then the furnaces became too large, and the steam engine had power enough to provide blast for several furnaces; but as it is the coal trade and not iron that is the subject of this sketch, each reader will visit Scranton and note the result for his own satisfaction.
At the Delaware Water gap the railroad from Scranton united with the Warren railroad, by which it reached the Central railroad of New Jersey at Junction in 1856, together forming the highway for Scranton coal to tide at New York. The Central railroad, feeling too independent with its immense tonnage, by insisting on terms of renewal of contract, drove both the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and the Lehigh Valley railroads from it; the one to the Morris & Essex road, which was continued to Easton, crossing it at Washington, N. J., and the Lehigh Valley constructing a new line from Phillipsburg to Elizabeth alongside of and in direct competition with the Central, which was compelled to join fortunes with the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company and the Lehigh and Susquehanna road of the Navigation company to gain its coal tonnage. It was short-sighted policy all round and led to disaster, but served ultimately to greatly increase the coal trade.
In early days Cobb's gap on the east and Liggett's gap on the west smiled at each other over Providence and the Capoose meadows, a little north and east of Hyde Park and Slocum Hollow, both the prospective courses of possible grade for such small locomotives as were then constructed. Col. Scranton loved to tell of the look of incredulity which met his assertion that the time would come when the coal trade by these routes would reach hundreds of thousands of tons, and require so many locomotives—not one-third the number employed when he told it. Upon the completion of his line to New York Col. Scranton attended a meeting in Philadelphia for the first time to consult upon the prospects of the trade for the coming«season. The estimated increase was about 400,000 tons. Mr. Scranton suggested in behalf of his company, just entering business, that a fair share of the prospective increase, at least at eastern points, should be conceded to it. Without vanity, he was a proud man, and met the uncalled-for assumption that with the heavy grades of his road through Cobb's gap he would not be likely to unsettle the trade with surplus of coal with a quiet determination to let them see what could be done; and their estimated increase was far exceeded, with a decided reduction in prices.
The northern division of the road, through Liggett's gap, joined the Erie railroad at Great Bend in 1851.
Col. Scranton represented this district in the thirty-sixth congress. Re-elected to the thirty-seventh congress, he died in Scranton, March 24, 1861, aged fifty years, mourned by hosts of friends who honored and loved him.
Slocum Hollow became Scrantonia, then Scranton, its forges and furnaces illuminating the night, and the sounds of its hammers and rolling mills making vocal the air with their music. Now the seat of justice of the new county of Lackawanna, it remains a fitting monument to the memory of its founder.
Among the oldest of the operators was Ario Pardee, of Hazleton. In the list of operators A. Pardee & Co., Pardee Sons & Co., C. Pardee & Co., Pardee Brothers & Co., G. B. Markle & Co., Coxe Brothers & Co., J. Leisenring &Co., Linderman, Skeer & Co., all became widely known.
The Hazleton district is geologically the eastern middle basin, and in the coal trade is the Lehigh district. In this district are the Grew Mountains, Black Creek, Hazleton and Beaver Meadow mining districts.
Demand and Supply.—It will be noted by the intelligent observer of the coal trade as it has passed into history that with the opening of every new line for coal transportation to competitive markets they have been overstocked, and prices reduced below the point of fair profit, until the demand grew to meet the supply. Increasing consumption secured better prices, with failure of adequate supply and larger profits, until new mines were opened and increased transportation, furnished by the completion of new lines of roads or canals, repeated the experience.
Through all the depression the consumption of anthracite coal fell little, if any, below 20.000,000 tons per annum. As the demand for manufacturing purposes failed new markets were found, and notwithstanding hard times and many reverses the termination of each decade has registered a substantial increase. In 1830 the total amount of anthracite sold was 174,734 tons; in 1840, 364,384; in 1850, 3,358, 890; in 1860, 8,513,123; in 1870, 15,848,899; in 1879, 26,142,089.
The increased trade was not wholly occasioned by the revival of manufacturing industries. The demand for domestic sizes of anthracite throughout the western States has been rapidly increasing, chiefly supplied from this region. The sales of the Delaware & Hudson Canal company in the West reached nearly half a million of tons in 1879. The Lehigh Valley railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad company, with more direct communication over their main lines, must have equaled if not largely exceeded it. A revolution in this western trade was effected in the use of box cars of through freight lines for transportation of anthracite, the cars upon reaching their destination being swept out and loaded with grain in bulk for eastern markets or for exportation. With full loads each way transportation is so cheapened that anthracite is being used all through the West in competition with the bituminous coals which underlie any of the farms of those who use it.
An important question presents itself: Are the anthracite coal fields approaching the maximum of production?
More than thirty years ago gentlemen conversant with the subject estimated the limit of anthracite production at from 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 tons per annum. But a very important change in the trade must be taken into the account since those estimates were made. Thirty years ago the size known as chestnut coal was not marketable. At auction sales in New York years ago that size commanded the highest price in the market. Then pea coal and other sizes smaller than chestnut could not be sold at cost of mining.
There are eight large transporting companies dividing the anthracite coal lands. They are the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad company, the Lehigh Valley Railroad company, the Central Railroad company of New Jersey, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad company, the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, the Pennsylvania Coal company and the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad company; the railroad companies operating under charters incorporating coal companies controlled by them. There are few properties of any profitable size yet remaining not directly or indirectly at the mercy of these large corporations.
The prices paid for coal lands in the northern or Wyoming coal field when the trade was small were very low, often less than $ 100 an acre for those in choice positions but yet undeveloped. The farmer who owned a large tract, from a few acres of which he succeeded in gathering a frugal subsistence with hard labor, felt rich if he could sell 400 acres for $20 or $30 an acre and buy a much better farm in the growing West for half the money. Much of course depended on the prospects of early development of the coal and the opening of ways to market. Few of them had much faith in the coal, which had never done any good to the neighborhood; and they only valued the surface as yielding fair returns for labor bestowed. With few wants, the farmer out of debt was rich.
The Pennsylvania Coal company purchased the greater part of its best lands forty years ago, at prices ranging from $75 to $200 per acre, farms and all. When the last farms were secured, probably $300 per acre was paid to close and connect the surveys. Some years after, for small tracts from which they could take the coal through improvements already made, $1,000 per acre was reported as the price paid, which would be cheaper to the company taking the coal out at once than $200 when the coal lay untouched by the miner's pick or drill.
What in common parlance may be called the Hazleton district, is as distinct from the coal fields in the valley as if they were separated by States, instead of simply passing over or onto the range of mountains that occupy the south part of the county. Coal here was not discovered until 1826, and a mine was only opened in 1836. This field is in the southeast part of the county and approaches near the Lehigh river. The coal is harder on the uplands than in the valley, and is esteemed by some as of a superior quality. The veins lie with a deep dip toward the center, and mining is carried on by slopes, sometimes at a sharp angle, by sinking a shaft in the center of the dip, the miners would simply work to the surface at each side. Mostly however, they commence at the outcrop and work their way at a steep pitch. The main working here is of the Mammoth vein, while in some of the mines the Wharton and Parlor are worked in connection with the Mammoth. All the mines here are by slopes and drifts, and the pitch varies so much that in no two places is it practically the same. At the Drifton mine the cars are run in and carry out the coal, passing under the hill a mile and a half. The problem of drainage of the mines is being solved by opening tunnels.
Eastern Middle Coal Fields are so distinct from those of the valley that they deserve a separate paragraph. The capital town of this important industry is Hazleton, crowning the high mountainous region of the southern portion of the county.
For some years after mining had commenced in the Wyoming valley there were no veins known to exist on the uplands. Coal was discovered near the city of Hazleton in 1826. John Charles, a hunter, in digging for aground hog, found coal in what is now the city of Hazleton, and from this fact was formed the Hazleton Coal company. This is the current story and does well enough for a beginning.
Ario Pardee.—The Hazleton Coal company was incorporated March 18, 1836. This may be fixed as the actual commencement of the opening of the rich mining district in the south part of the county. We extract from an affidavit of the late Ario Pardee the following as the best possible history of the rise of this industry in this part of Luzerne:
"The first operations in the Hazleton district were commenced in 1837, on property then owned by the Hazleton Coal company. I was their engineer and superintendent until 1840. Then in connection with Robert Miner and William Hunt, formed the company — Pardee, Miner & Co, to mine coal and transport it to Penn Haven, to load on boats. This continued three years, Miner and Hunt having left the firm, when J. Gillingham Fell became partner. In 1842 we undertook to market the coal; we took part and marketed it. The Hazleton company marketed the rest, paying us a fixed sum on their part of the coal. This continued until 1844; then we made an arrangement to pay them a royalty, which continued as long as the Hazleton company existed and after it was merged and became the Lehigh Valley's property."
This affidavit, made by Mr. Pardee in a trial cause in court, is very authentic history, by the man above all other men acquainted with as well as a moving factor in developing the mines at Hazleton. This gentleman must necessarily go into permanent history in connection with the creating of an industry that has resulted in the proud little city of Hazleton and the rich immediately surrounding country. With great propriety Mr. Pardee has been called "the father" of the coal trade of southern Luzerne county. He was a trained engineer, mineralogist, botanist and a lover of nature, who cast his life here by a fortuitous circumstance, and happily possessed those qualities of intelligence, of foresight for the future and a tenacity of purpose that could not be turned aside by any obstacle; and so he struggled on when others grew faint and weary and met and overcome all adversity and crowned his life and his adopted county with a work that is now a factor in the movements of our civilization. He was no common man, as the results of his life are a demonstration. Of a quiet and retiring nature, known only by his immediate neighbors as "the silent man," but had always a smooth and pleasant intercourse with his friends, yet of a resolute purpose, the kind that builds nations—never destroying them. His fortune and life-work for years hung in the balance between success and failure; his close friends feared utter failure and ruin, but he never wavered. When he had demonstrated that coal of finest quality could be here mined, the battle was only well begun. Without transportation the finest coal in the world at the mouth of the mine was only rubbish. He pushed everything to a final solution and a masterful victory. Results of men's lives are the telling points in history as well as in eulogy. The numerous great breakers dotting every hillside; the 300,000 people, the many boroughs, villages, mining towns and the bright little queen city of Hazleton can all say, or it can well be said for them, he was the foster father. '' The silent man," who was as unassuming as he was silent and a personal force in the cause of developing the resources of the country in coal, lumber and iron that has had few equals and no superiors. From his home to his workshop and from his workshop to his home, this silent man came and went for more than fifty years. This clockwork routine went on from day to day, from year to year; his first few neighbors here grew old and passed away and children born grew to lusty life and the frosts of winters settled on their heads and they had seen their neighbor thus quietly go and come and come and go, and if the stranger to the place, attracted by the striking personality, would ask, they could all readily answer: "Why, that is Ario Pardee," and most generally with this brief answer their sum total of him was added up. They knew him perhaps as a rich man; a man who gave many men employment, who, they supposed or had heard indistinctly, gave sometimes large sums in charity. So conspicuous a figure, so long here, so material a factor in every movement in this end of Luzerne county and yet, more than his mere presence, little was known of him by his nearest neighbors. The incidents of his inner life were as unknown to the people generally of Hazleton as they were to the frozen Jakuts of northern Siberia. So much was this the case, that when death had so suddenly carried him away, as he was away from home in Florida and there had preceded no word of his illness, that the neighbors who had known him so long, realized that of him they knew so little, and then they said again and again he was "the silent man."
By the kindness of his son, Calvin Pardee, we can here give a copy of a letter that is a most invaluable contribution, and so far as is now known, pretty much all of the authentic facts concerning him now attainable, as follows:
Hazleton, April 6, 1876.
Dh. W. C. Catteix,
Dear Sir: You have often expressed a desire to have from me some personal particulars of my life; but really, on looking back over it, there seems such a lack of incidents that would interest anyone outside my own family, that it seems hardly worth taking up your time with the record. One thing, however, it will not weary you with its prolixity.
I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia county, N. Y., November 19, 1810, but my earliest recollections are of my father's farm in Stephentown, Rensselaer county, N. Y., a few miles north of New Lebanon Springs, where I led the usual life of a farmer's boy until my twentieth year. My education was limited to what I learned at my father's fireside and the ordinary district school, though fortunately I had, for a time, the advantage of an excellent teacher, in the Rev. Moses Hunter, a Presbyterian clergyman, who, to eke out a scanty salary, taught our district school two winters. I shall always remember him with feelings of the most kindly respect. I was then fifteen years old, and his teaching about finished my school education, though I was an industrious worker at my books in my leisure time at home.
In June, 1830, I made application, through my friend Edwin A. Douglass, for a situation under him and Canvass White, the chief engineer of the Canal company in the engineer corps of the Delaware & Raritan canal, in New Jersey, with good hopes of success, as Mr. Douglass was a townsman, and had known me from a child; but I was met with the, to me, disheartening news, that the company had decided to employ none but Jersey men in the subordinate positions. A day or two after I received another letter saying that if I came on at once I could have the position of rodman. You may well believe I lost no time, receiving the letter on Saturday and leaving home before daylight Monday morning—joining Mr. Douglass and his corps on the preliminary survey a few miles above Trenton. With him I remained until the canal was finally located, when I was stationed at Princeton with George Tyler Olmstfed,