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Banks Township

Banks Township Hall is located at 3-5 Maple Street, Tresckow PA 18254; phone: 570-454-8291.

Beginnings

The earliest settlement in Banks township was made in that portion which was in 1897 set off to form the borough of Beaver Meadow. The township was contained within the territory of Lausanne until January, 1842, when it was separately organized, being named in honor of Judge Banks, then on the bench of Northampton County, of which Carbon formed a part until 1843.

The township is about ten miles in length, from east to west, and approximately two miles in width. Its territory comprises the top of the Spring mountain, varying between fourteen and sixteen hundred feet above sea level.

Beaver creek has its source near Jeanesville, flowing eastwardly till it reaches Hazle Creek, on the verge of Lausanne township. Hazle creek rises in the northeastern portion of the township and flows southeastwardly. The two streams meet at Hazle Creek Junction, forming Black creek, which descends the mountainside very rapidly on its turbulent way to the Lehigh.

The principal railroads in the township are the Beaver Meadow and Hazleton divisions of the Lehigh Valley. The Philadelphia and Beading Railroad and the Central Railroad of New Jersey also touch the western portion of the township, while the line of the Lehigh Traction Company passes through Jeanesville, Yorktown and Audenried on its way between Hazleton and McAdoo.

Banks township owes its settlement and development wholly to the underlying coal deposits, scarcely any of its soil being arable. The mining and shipping of coal being the only industry of importance, the township has a large foreign population.

Nathan Beach, of Salem, Snyder County, found coal in the township in 1812. The discovery was made near the point where the Leviston station of the Lehigh Valley Railroad now stands. A mine or quarry was opened by Beach in 1813 where Cuyle's stripping is now situated. The first coal produced here was hauled in wagons to Berwick and Bloomsburg, where it was used for blacksmithing purposes. As the nature of anthracite became better understood and the demand increased, the product of this mine was hauled over the Lehigh and Susquehanna turnpike to the landing on the Lehigh, from which point it was shipped to Philadelphia in "arks," commanding eight dollars per ton. Mr. Beach, being called upon to defend the title to his land, in 1829, won the suit, and soon thereafter sold five hundred acres to Judge Joseph Barnes, of Philadelphia.

The Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company, soon after its organization, purchased two hundred acres of land, located where coal had been first discovered, and these workings became known as the Beaver Meadow Mines. This property was leased to A. H. VanCleve & Company in 1841, and was operated by that firm until 1846. William Milnes & Company then worked the mines for about a year. The firm of Hamberger & Company then leased them and continued operations until 1850, after which the mines were abandoned until 1881, when they were leased to Coxe Brothers & Company. The property is now controlled by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company.

Coleraine colliery, now owned and operated by the A. S. VanWickle Estate, was the second to be opened in the township. Operations were begun soon after the opening of the Beaver Meadow Railroad. The firm of Rich & Cleaver held the first lease. They were succeeded by Ratcliffe & Johnson, whose rights were purchased in 1862 by William Carter & Son. After some years, the property was sold to William T. Carter, his father, the senior member of the firm, declining to join in the purchase because he believed that most of the available coal had been exhausted. William T. Carter died in 1893, and that his faith in Coleraine colliery was not misplaced is attested by the fact that its output during the years of his ownership had made him a multi-millionaire.

Upon his death the property was sold to A. S. VanWickle for a much larger sum than the elder Carter had considered excessive twenty-five years before. Mr. VanWickle was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun he was carrying, in 1898, since which time operations have been carried on in the name of the A. S. VanWickle Estate. Approximately 300,000 tons of coal per year have been produced by this colliery since 1893. The principal work now, however, consists in "robbing pillars." There are 366 acres in the tract.

It is interesting to observe that the coal miner in Banks township, like the proverbial "Star of the Empire," held his way to the westward.

  1. Brenckman, Fred, History of Carbon County Pennsylvania, James J. Nungesser, Publisher, 1913, Harrisburg
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