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The Early Days of Summit Hill, Pennsylvania and the Mauch Chunk, Summit Hill, and Switchback Railroad

Welcome to

A historical look at Summit Hill Pennsylvania through pictures and postcards.

Updated September 24, 2009

It has been a dream of mine to bring the early history of Summit Hill 'to life' in the form of a book. I have finally done so and the book will be available on October 26, 2009. The image above shows the back and front cover. If anyone is interested in ordering a book please email me:


I have scanned and added many new pictures to all the Summit Hill sites. I have been doing more than scanning. Most of the pictures on this site are 100 to 140 years old. With that, there's spotting and fading and I have been spending time digitally 'cleaning' them. I believe all the pictures are worth saving because these photographers - Jos. Brown, A.M. Allen, M.A. Kleckner, Purviance, G.F.Gates, C.H. Stoudt, and many more unknown - took the time, when photography was in its infancy, to capture these images for generations to see. There may be 8 views of Mt. Jefferson, but each is unique, a mere second of time caught on film, and all 8 worthy of viewing. So please visit all the sites I created and look at each picture as if it were a work of art. To me, that's what they are. Thanks for visiting!

To date, besides this page, I updated the STREETVIEWS, SCHOOLSCHURCHES, BUSINESSES, EARLY BUILDINGS, and MINING pages. I have just finished theSwitch-Back page! I went all out today adding the remaining pictures that were on my hard-drive- including more of Mt. Jefferson and many views of Mt. Pisgah. But, I am by no means done. This is always a work in progress.

So, enjoy your tour and please be sure to visit all the links below. Thanks!

With so many pictures, I have separated '' into different webpages. This page contains birdseye views of town and of Ludlow Park. Click on the links below to see more of historical Summit Hill.

There is a guest book, located at the bottom of this page. Please feel free to sign it, leave comments, or add any info to this site. You may also e-mail me at:

The Summit Hill Historical Society/Switch-Back RR Museum is open on Fridays 4pm-7pm or by appointment. If you have any questions about the museum, want to set up an appointment, or join the Historical Society, you can email the museum at:
SHHS Museum

------ Welcome to Historical Summit Hill ------

The Early Days of Summit Hill

Summit Hill was a town born from the discovery of coal. In 1791 a hunter, Philip Ginter, discovered coal on Sharpe Mountain. He was not the first to find this 'stone coal', anthracite, but this find led directly to the formation of the anthracite industry. In 1820, the first shipment of coal was shipped to Philadelphia, via the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. Because there was a boycott on English coal, stemming from the War of 1812, this proved to be the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. In the mid 1820s, five houses were built, including the the first two story house. 10 years later, Lehigh Coal and Navigation began to build houses for the employees and Summit Hill began to look like a town. By 1850, lots were being sold to individuals and the first coal breaker was built. In the mid 1870s, the charter for the Diligence Fire Company was drawn, street lights were installed, the Water Company was incorporated, and the Switchback, being needed less and less for coal hauling, began carrying passengers for the 18 mile round trip between Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill. In 1889, after being part of Mauch Chuck Township, Summit Hill became incorporated on January 14 as a borough.


This is one of the earliest pictures of town, taken from a Zellner stereoview that dates to the mid to late 1870s.

Here is a picture taken from the mountain sometime around 1900. The building to the right of middle is about where the Ginder field bleachers are located.

Here are birdseye views of town that were taken from the area of the water tower looking north. The homes in the foreground are on West Vernon St. and the culm bank is where the Ginter School and field were later built. These are pre-1908 pictures of town as the Armory is visible in the picture on the left.

Another early picture that was taken from the culm bank as seen in the above photo. This photo was taken in the 1880s.

Here is a view of the Presbyterian Cemetery in a photo taken from the Lincoln School building.

Visit Jack Sterling's partial listing of the burials at the Presbyterian Cemetery. Maybe someone can help with birth and death dates of relatives buried there.

A view of Andrewsville. This little village was built around the No. 6 breaker.

Ludlow Park

In 1913 Town Council asked LC&N for a plot of ground across from the Fire House to be used for a public park. The GAR Connor Post had been granted permission to place a flag pole on this plot (Picture above) but did not have the power to take over the land or erect a monument because they were not a permanent organization. The Company was willing to lease the land, including the GAR plot, to the town for $1 a year, though it was specified to be used only as a park. On February 2nd, 1914 a lease was accepted by councilmen George Thomas, Harry Houser, Robert Gormley, W. J. Price, Harry McMichael, Zello Davis, John Evans, and Frank Kerchner.

On July 4th, 1914 the Civil War Monument was officially dedicated. The monument was to arrive in three sections, but only the base and the bronze soldier arrived for the 4th. The base remained covered by bunting.
The picture below, snapped from the Eagle Hotel, was taken before the soldier was uncovered.

On September 5th the Park was officially dedicated.
This picture is of the Town Improvement Society which consisted of representatives of the various societies and organizations of town, the School Board, and Town Council. Board members of the Improvement Society: Henry Stoudt was president; Archie Reeves, vice-president; Daniel Wenner, treasurer; and Elmer McCready, secretary. J.B. Wariner, company engineer, planned the park, a monument was ordered and every one in town became involved in fundraising. O.E. Dermott gave $8.35 and Mr. Rockmaker turned in $15 from the movies. A benefit basketball game and dance was held at the Eagle Hotel and that totaled almost $41. The Town Regulars, captained by George Rose, defeated the Fire Company, captained by Bennie Garrett, 25-20. Saddler's Orchestra provided music between halves for the dance. Picture from SHHS Museum.
Click on the photo for a larger view and a list of names.

This picture, I believe are the town councilmen in 1914. There is no list of names on the picture, but the person second from left is Robert Gormley and the man holding the flag is Burgess (Mayor) Samuel Wehr. The other men on council were George Thomas, Harry Houser, Wm. J. Price, Harry McMichael, Zello Davis, John Evans, and Frank Kerchner. Picture from SHHS Museum.

This picture is similar to the top group photo except the Town Councilmen and Burgess Samuel Wehr are not in this one.

Below is a ticket you needed to view the unveiling of the Civil War Monument.

This is the center area of Ludlow Park as workers were preparing for the dedication. A gold urn now stands in this spot and was donated by Mrs. Andrew Breslin.

This view I made from an 8x10 glass negative I own. The picture was taken in 1916 or early 1917, showing the park a couple years after dedication. The future convent is near center, and as for the building next to the firehouse, I cannot read the lettering in the window. Anyone know what business was there in 1916-17?

This picture was taken about the same time as the picture above.

The park was named after Edwin Ludlow, vice-president of mining operations the 1910s. LC&N leased the land to the town for $1 a year based on the land being used as a park. It was being used for the company's mule stables and shops at the time. The park was purchased from LC&N in 1963.

Please click on the buttons below to view more pictures of Summit Hill.

Views of Front (Ludlow), Holland, White, Hazard, Chestnut, and Market Streets.

Pictures of the town Schools and Churches.

This page has pictures from soda bottles, Pharmacy bottles, and early Victorian Trade cards from stores.

View pictures of the Burning Mines and some of the equipment used.

Pictures of the Armory, SwitchBack Station, Eagle Hotel, Summit Inn, Post Office and early pictures of houses.

This page contains views of the SBRR from early streoviews as well as postcards, time schedules, tickets, and excursion passes.

This page has views of the Panther Creek Valley and also some 'general' mining views.

This page lists the graduating classes up to 1929 (I will be adding more) as well as a couple of graduation pictures.

If you have a website, or a list of surnames with your email address, pertaining to relatives that lived in the Panther Valley, email me and I will add the list to this page.

Some great sites to visit:

Click on the picture above to visit the Summit Hill Historical Society's website for membership information, fundraising projects, and the Museum.

Switch Back Homepage

Mauch Chunk Museum

Carbon County Genealogy and Historical Site

Coaldale High School Alumni Page

------ Hope you enjoyed your stay!------

The facts about Summit Hill on this page taken from: The History of Carbon County vol. I-IV, The Story of The Old Company (1941), Summit Hill Centennial Historic Dates and Facts sheet, and The Summit Hill Historical Society.

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