Lehighton PA Information and Local History
Lehighton is a history-rich borough located in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. It is close to the city of Philadelphia, or about 86 miles north by west. Known in the past as a prosperous and rich community due to early industries brought about by water resources from the Lehigh River, Lehighton is unique in a way that it has transformed and changed its image time and time again. For one, the existence of a repair facility and regional operations of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, most of the people in the area became workers for the said company. But after World War II, there was a major railroad and industry restructuring program which resulted to heavy job losses.
It’s also kind of interesting to know that once in the 1940s, Lehighton’s population reached 7,000, in comparison to a recent census (2000) where the population was listed at slightly over 5,000. However, this decline doesn’t deny the fact that Lehighton is still the most populous borough in the entire Carbon County. It likewise is the business hub of the county.
A Look at Lehighton’s History
Just like many towns and areas in Carbon County, Lehighton attributes its look and character to its rich German ancestry. The town’s humble beginnings started when Moravian Brethren Society began converting the native Delaware Indians to Christianity. By the year 1746, the same Moravian group was able to organize a mission and called it Gnaden Huetten. This settlement eventually became what is now Lehighton.
At first, the Moravians and Delaware Indians were living peacefully and ideally coexisted in the settlement. However, the mission was surprisingly attacked in 1755, where ten people were killed. But what was more significant was that the buildings built for the new settlement were all burned to the ground. So the new settlers left and escaped to nearby Bethlehem. Forts were later built in order to prevent future attacks.
The Lehigh River is an important part of the borough’s history. It was the primary source of water power for the developing industries in the region in the 19th century. The area where Lehighton, PA stands now was thriving with silk and lace mills. Eventually, car shops were built, stone works, foundries, shirt factory, and even a meat-packing house.
In 1794, a war veteran named Jacob Weiss, along with a gun maker named William Henry II owned majority of the land in the original Lehighton area. The name “Lehighton” was eventually coined in recognition of the Lehigh River and its importance to the entire region. The settlement then served as vital rest stop for road travelers from Berwick to Easton. But Lehighton never really took a huge step forward in development, at least not until the building of the Lehigh Canal more than thirty years later. Also, the building of the Lehigh Valley Railroad paved the way for people to start migrating in the area. Likewise, the new railroad gave traders and businessmen the opportunity to be able to conveniently get their products to bigger and major markets. By 1866, Lehighton was incorporated as a Borough of Carbon County.