Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cautionary note: The name forms 'Lehigh Coal and Navigation' vs. 'Lehigh Coal & Navigation' both occur in the legal and historical records of both eras. Convention on Wikipedia is LC&N for company affairs before the 1967 collapse of railroad revenues took the original company into bankruptcy and LCAN (and links to this page) for the New Company's activities.
The Old LC&N Company opened up and had a hand in building or financing the majority of the 'works of man' from virgin frontiers now seen on bottom half of this 1890s USGS topographical map, including directly building or helping finance many railroads.
Note the lack of any modern road network—lacking automobiles, motoring clubs connecting towns to one another were not yet formed so political forces hadn't yet begun turning county tracks and dirt & gravel toll roads into paved roads.
Just off the map is Mauch Chunk (today's Jim Thorpe, PA) below the shadow of Mount Pisgah at the end of Pisgah Ridge shown above at map bottom right. This area is just below the loop of the Lehigh Gorge show along the right bottom third edge.
The lost community of transient workers that pioneered the area in years long expeditions, Lausanne Landing and in 1805, the toll booth of the Lausanne-Nescopeck Turnpike were situated in the low flats near the mouth of Nesquehoning Creek (about 1/3rd the way up the map right side). To the west, nearly 15 miles across the map lies Tamaqua which also connects via water gaps of the Schuylkill Valley to the plains below the Blue Mountain escarpments. Tamaqua is located literally just off the lower left corner of this map. It follows the majority of the coal lands of the new LCAN lie along the bottom third of this map—the Panther Creek Valley. LC&N also had owned other coal deposits north of the E-to-W line of the Nesquehoning

The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company (LCAN) (1988–2010) was an modern-day anthracite coal mining company headquartered in Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania,[2] U.S. which acquired many of the 'Old Company' (LC&N) properties and re-launched the Lehigh Coal Companies brand in 1988. The LCAN ran strip mining operations in the Panther Creek Valley east of Lansford along U.S. Route 209; with vast properties dominating the coal areas of Tamaqua, Coaldale, and Lansford. These properties are largely the same real estate assets as were acquired in the Panther Creek Valley by the predecessors: the haphazard Lehigh Coal Mine Company (1792-1822) and the builders of the Lehigh Canal and first American blast furnaces, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company (Old Company, LC&N), which spearheaded the U.S. Industrial revolution. The new company was incorporated in 1988[3] acquiring LC&N assets after bankruptcy proceedings, taking the name of the original.

Background[edit]

The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company was a prominent coal mining and transportation infrastructure company first established in 1822 after four years of successfully delivering regular shipments of anthracite coal to the docks of Philadelphia via their pioneering Lehigh Canal. In the merger of "The Lehigh Coal Mining Company" and the "Lehigh Navigation Company", both of which operated in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania between 1818-1822, the lease on the land rights of the Lehigh Coal Mine Company was ended with a subsidiary acquisition purchase by stock swap — and these lands once owned were used to open up the whole Northeastern Pennsylvania 1800s frontier area (Tamaqua, Coaldale}, Lansford, Summit Hill, Nesquehoning, and Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania—among other company towns outside the 14 miles (23 km) long strip[4] in which the LCAN 'New Company' operated.[5]) The remaining 8,000-acre anthracite-rich tract between Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua originally owned by the Lehigh Coal Mine Company is arguably the richest vein of high quality anthracite known in the world with the possible exception of the valley floor deposits of the Wyoming Valley, but without a River above leaking into shafts, far easier to mine. Like most commercially feasible coal mines today in the USA, the ongoing mining operations use mountain top mining (strip mining) techniques.

Quick history. In 1791, Philip Ginter discovered "stone coal" near what is now Summit Hill, opening up the purchase of the 8,000-acre anthracite-rich tract between Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua by the Lehigh Coal Mine Company. Unsuccessful at developing the mining and transport of the coal, the lands were leased, then acquired by Josiah White's Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company.

— Al Zagofsky, Lehigh Anthracite resurrects LC&N's coal operations, Times News, Saturday, June 1, 2013[6]

Brand history[edit]

Through the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, LC&N mined the tract in Summit Hill, Nesquehoning, Lansford, Coaldale and Tamaqua. In the 1960s, LC&N ceased its operations. The coal lands were acquired by the Fazio Brothers. Bethlehem Steel bought it in 1974 and ran it until 1989. In 1989, James Curran bought the property and reestablished the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company brand. By 2008, the new LC&N's plans for expansion put them into debt as sales plummeted during the recession, and they became bankrupt.

The earlier company, called "the Old Company"[1] had owned and operated an extensive system of coal mines in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties, two canals, the Lehigh Canal and the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal, the historic Mauch Chunk & Summit Hill Railway (MC&SH or Summit Hill and Mauch Chunk Railroad), the funicular railway called the Ashley Planes, and a railroad system, the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad (LH&S) into which they later merged the MC&SC gravity railroad and the Ashley Planes, which they connected to the Pennsylvania Canal docks at West Pittston, Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River and the Duryea yard before extending the LH&S through the Lehigh River Gorge past Mauch Chunk and Allentown to Easton, Pennsylvania. In the 1870s, the LH&S was leased to the Central Railroad of New Jersey), which extended the route into a Buffalo-NYC prestige line.[7][8] It also built the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway to move coal.

Through the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, LC&N mined the tract in Summit Hill, Nesquehoning, Lansford, Coaldale and Tamaqua. The coal lands were acquired by the Fazio Brothers. Bethlehem Steel bought it in 1974 and ran it until 1989. In 1989, James Curran bought the property and reestablished the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company brand. By 2008, the new LCAN's plans for expansion put them into debt as sales plummeted during the recession, and they became bankrupt.Lehigh Anthracite was formed in 2010 after Bruce Toll and Doug Topkis bought the 8,000-acre anthracite property following the bankruptcy of the reincarnated Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. Housing developer Bruce Toll and his son-in-law, investment manager Doug Topkis, had lent money to LC&N and with hopes to recover their investment, purchased LC&N's assets for $14.8 million.

— Al Zagofsky, Lehigh Anthracite resurrects LC&N's coal operations, Times News, Saturday, June 1, 2013[6]

Demise of the new company[edit]

In the mid-1960s, LC&N ceased its operations, and eventually the railroad revenues which had kept it awash in cash flow, failed with the crisis and collapse of U.S. railroads, leases held by leaseholders such as the Central Railroad of New Jersey (subsidiary: Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad), Lehigh and New England Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Railroad (and a few others being liquidated) with most mainlines being forced into Conrail. Today the mainline pioneered by the LC&N are still the mainstay of several key transportation corridors in Northeastern Pennsylvania and operated by Norfolk-Southern, Canadian National, or Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroads. Like other Pennsylvania mining companies, Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was criticized for polluting the environment,[9] and received several legal notices and fines. The LCAN company (re-branding) was founded by James J. Curran,[10] a Schuylkill County attorney. In 2004, the re-incarnated company was forced into bankruptcy by some of its creditors, and some of its land was at risk of being sold for back taxes.[11] In 2006, the company's operations were suspended unless Curran stepped aside and kept out of actual operations, citing a violation of a consent decree from previous complaints — for a management team satisfactory to mining and EPA authorities, so a new management team took over.[12] LCAN went bankrupt again in 2008 and was sold to creditors, who created Lehigh Anthracite, disestablishing the New Company.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Terminology used by various museum tour guides, esp. the No. 9 Mine and Museum in Coaldale.
  2. ^ https://www.corporations.state.pa.us/corp/soskb/Corp.asp?792797
  3. ^ Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau website: https://www.corporations.pa.us/corp/soskb/Corp.asp?792797
  4. ^ Approximate from USGS topo map, Jim Thorpe to West Tamaqua.
  5. ^ http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?uri=full=3100001~!140147!0&term=#focus
  6. ^ a b c Al Zagofsky (June 1, 2013), Lehigh Anthracite resurrects LC&N's coal operations, retrieved 1 December 2016 
  7. ^ National Canal Museum – The Lehigh Navigation System. Accessed 2008-09-18.
  8. ^ Lehigh & Susquehanna - NE Rails Accessed 2008-09-18.
  9. ^ Mailer, Tom (October 2, 2000). "Miners: anthracite coal bosses destroy the environment". The Militant. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  10. ^ Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau website
  11. ^ Parker, Chris (November 17, 2004). "U.S. agriculture department pays Pottsville, Pa., coal firm's back taxes.". The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa. via Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  12. ^ Parker, Chris (April 29, 2006). "Lehigh Coal mining restarts under new management.". Morning Call (Allentown, PA). Retrieved 2008-09-19.