Carbon County, Pennsylvania

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Carbon County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Carbon County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
Founded March 13, 1843
Named for Coal deposits
Seat Jim Thorpe
Largest borough Lehighton
 • Total 387 sq mi (1,002 km2)
 • Land 381 sq mi (987 km2)
 • Water 5.9 sq mi (15 km2), 1.5%
 • (2010) 65,249
 • Density 171/sq mi (66/km²)
Congressional districts 11th, 17th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Designated June 13, 1982[1]

Carbon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 65,249.[2] Its county seat is Jim Thorpe.[3]

Carbon County is included in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. It is considered part of the state's Coal Region, though the eastern and northeastern sections are considered part of the Pocono Mountains. Some consider lower Carbon County, including Palmerton and Lehighton areas, as part of the Lehigh Valley.


Carbon County was created on March 13, 1843 from parts of Northampton and Monroe Counties and was named for the extensive deposits of coal in the region.

The first settlement in Carbon County was the Moravian mission Gnadenhutten, established in 1745. Deeply moved by the deplorable state of the Leni Lenape Indians in America, twelve Moravian missionaries left their home in Herrnhut Germany and traveled by sea to the wilderness of Pennsylvania, a place known for religious tolerance under the auspices of Count Zinzendorf. Located where Lehighton now stands, Gnadenhutten exemplified communal simplicity. Home to hundreds of Lenni Lenape (Delaware) and Mahican Indians. The mission was a scene of quiet, humble and unobtrusive heroism and the Indians' shelter. Although the wilderness of Carbon County was quite treacherous, the Moravians traveled in the wilds of Carbon County undaunted. By 1752, increased hostility put Gnadenhutten at risk for attack, but the missionaries' pious good works did not go unnoticed. The frankness and earnestness of the simple Moravians had won respect with the many tribes of Pennsylvania Indians, and they lived without incident until 1755.[4]

Carbon County is the location of the trials and executions of the controversial Molly Maguires, an Irish secret society that had been accused of terrorizing the region.

Carbon County has a rich history. Some interesting people have passed through her mountains, including the Moravian mystic Count Zinzendorf, Benjamin Gilbert, John James Audubon, Benjamin Franklin, and many more.

Blessed with a unique geography, Carbon County dazzled the adventurous travelers of the Victorian era, just as it attracts adventurers today. Aesthetically not much has changed of this unique landscape; written in 1877, the following passage is still valid today: "Such rough and tumble experience, climbing mountains, falling over rocks, exploring wild ravines, diving into coal mines, and riding on every description of conveyance which it has entered into the mind of man to run on." Home of the Lehigh Gorge State Park, Carbon County is an ideal place for hikers, cyclists, history buffs and adventurers.[4]


The Lehigh River and a parking lot in Lehigh Gorge State Park.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 387 square miles (1,000 km2), of which 381 square miles (990 km2) is land and 5.9 square miles (15 km2) (1.5%) is water.[5] Blue Mountain forms the southern boundary of Carbon. The northeast area of the county is located in the Pocono Mountains and the northwest area includes portions of Broad Mountain and Spring Mountain. It is drained by the Lehigh River except for a small area in western Packer Township and the borough of Lansford that are drained by the Still Creek and Panther Creek, respectively, into the Little Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River, and the Audenried area in the northwest corner that drains into the Susquehanna River via the Catawissa Creek. The Lehigh cuts a gorge between Jim Thorpe and White Haven which hosts the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 15,686
1860 21,033 34.1%
1870 28,144 33.8%
1880 31,923 13.4%
1890 38,624 21.0%
1900 44,510 15.2%
1910 52,846 18.7%
1920 62,565 18.4%
1930 63,380 1.3%
1940 61,735 −2.6%
1950 57,558 −6.8%
1960 52,889 −8.1%
1970 50,573 −4.4%
1980 53,285 5.4%
1990 56,846 6.7%
2000 58,802 3.4%
2010 65,249 11.0%
Est. 2014 64,441 [6] −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[2]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 58,802 people, 23,701 households, and 16,424 families residing in the county. The population density was 154 people per square mile (60/km²). There were 30,492 housing units at an average density of 80 per square mile (31/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.82% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 29.4% were of German, 10.1% Irish, 9.2% Italian, 7.9% American, 6.6% Slovak, 6.0% Polish and 5.8% Pennsylvania German ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 23,701 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.80% were married couples living together, 9.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.70% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.20% under the age of 18, 6.90% from 18 to 24, 28.30% from 25 to 44, 24.20% from 45 to 64, and 18.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 94.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.30 males.

Law and government[edit]

As of November 2008, there are 39,591 registered voters in Carbon County [1].

Carbon County is one of the most politically competitive counties in Pennsylvania. Republicans hold the commissioner majority while Democrats hold all county row offices. Al Gore carried it in 2000, and in 2004, Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry 49.99% to 48.81% or a margin of 296 votes.[12]

In 2008 it voted for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain by a close margin of 49.77% to 47.90% (507 votes.)[13] The other three statewide winners (Rob McCord for Treasurer, Jack Wagner for Auditor General, and Tom Corbett for Attorney General) also carried Carbon. [2] In 2012 Mitt Romney carried Carbon in the Presidential election.

County commissioners[edit]

  • Wayne Nothstein, Chairman, Republican
  • Thomas Gerhard, Republican
  • William O'Gurek, Democratic

State Senate[edit]

State House of Representatives[edit]

United States House of Representatives[edit]

United States Senate[edit]


Map of Carbon County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

Community, junior and technical colleges[edit]

Public school districts[edit]

  • There are 11 public cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania that are available for free statewide, to children K-12. See: Education in Pennsylvania.


Mauch Chunk Lake is a county-run park that offers swimming, camping, hiking and cross country skiing in the winter. There are three Pennsylvania state parks in Carbon County.


Map of Carbon County, Pennsylvania with Municipal Labels showing Boroughs (red), Townships (white), and Census-designated places (blue).

Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in the case of Bloomsburg, a town. The following boroughs and townships are located in Carbon County:



Census-designated places[edit]

Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.

Former communities[edit]

  • Big Creek Valley
  • Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania
  • East Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers Search" (Searchable database). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b Rebecca M. Rabenold-Finsel, Carbon County: Postcard History (South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing 2004), 9.
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 24, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°55′N 75°42′W / 40.92°N 75.70°W / 40.92; -75.70