Lansford Borough Hall is located at 26 East Patterson Street, Lansford PA 18232; phone: 570-645-3900.
Lansford, the most populous town in Carbon County, is situated in the heart of the richest anthracite coal district in the world. It is located in the Panther Creek Valley, on the line of Schuylkill County, nearly midway between Mauch Chunk and Tamaqua, and is reached by the Central Eailroad of New Jersey. It bears the middle name of Asa Lansford Foster, who was born in Massachusetts, and who was prominently connected with the development of the mining industry of the Lehigh region. He was the leading spirit in the formation of the Buck Mountain Coal Company, and drove one of the first tunnels in the Panther Creek Valley, being one of the foremost authorities on the geology of the coal regions. His death occurred in 1868, in the seventy-first year of his age. An appropriate memorial marks his resting place in the cemetery at Mauch Chunk.
Lansford had its beginnings in two mining hamlets, known as Ashton and Storm Hill, and grew up as new operations were begun by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, which owns the mines through this valley. Storm Hill was so designated because a house built in the vicinity by a man named Peter Fisher blew over in a severe storm.
Planes were built from the valley to the mountain top at Summit Hill, whence the coal was transported to Mauch Chunk over the Switchback Railroad. The first coal was carried up these planes in 1846, but it was not until a few years later that the tunnels in the valley produced much coal.
The growing importance of the new mines, the building of the Nesquehoning Valley Railroad, early in the sixties, the driving of the tunnel through the mountain between Hanto and this place, furnishing easy access to the outside world, all contributed to the rapid growth of Lansford and operated to draw life away from the parent town of Summit Hill.
During 1870-71, the construction and repair shops and the offices of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company were removed from Summit Hill to Lansford, further emphasizing the tendency alluded to.
Land in the beginning was cheap, and lots were then sold for one hundred dollars which today, in some instances, are valued at more than twenty thousand dollars. Some of the early residents of the place, realizing its possibilities and discounting the future, amassed snug fortunes through this tremendous increase in the value of real estate.
Those who first located here were principally of the Welsh, Irish and Scotch nationalities; but in later years, as in other towns of the coal regions, representatives of the countries of southern Europe have pressed in with increasing numbers.
During the early days the stores here were conducted by the company, giving little scope to individual enterprise in this direction. With the abandonment of the company stores, however, numerous and varied business establishments sprang up. Among the first to enter the field were : Albert J. Thomas, J. C. Edwards, C. C. Edwards, A. M. Neumiller, Charles Kline, Reese Watkins, Howell Evans, John Quinn, D. E. Davis, D. J. Mathew, D. E. Hughes, William Y. Evans, and E. Warren & Company. Some of these are still among the prominent business men of the town.
The post office here was established on December 1, 1873, under the name of Ashton, with Thomas W. Williams as postmaster. It was thus designated until early in 1877, when the town was incorporated as a borough and the name changed to Lansford. Prior to this Lansford formed a part of Mauch Chunk township. The place is divided into three wards, named East, Middle and West, respectively.
Since 1897 the post office has been in charge of Nathan Tanner, a veteran of the Civil war. This office was designated as a postal savings bank during the summer of 1911. Free delivery of the mail was inaugurated in the fall of 1912.
As in other respects, the schools of the town were controlled by the township authorities until 1877. The first school building to be put up under the authority of the borough was erected in the Middle ward in 1879. It is still in use, and is known as the "high school" building. Two buildings have since been erected in the East ward, and one in the West ward.
The schools were but partially graded until 1878, when L. Huber was appointed to the principal ship. He was followed by A. G. C. Smith, now superintendent of the schools of Delaware county. The position of borough superintendent of schools was created in 1003, with A. A. Killian as the incumbent. Two years later he was succeeded by E. E. Kuntz, the present superintendent. Under the requirements of the state department of public instruction, the high school of the place was raised to the first class in 1903. A good library is maintained in connection with the school, and the physical and chemical departments are fairly well equipped. The parochial schools of St. Michael's (Slovak) Catholic church were opened in 1906. They are at present taught by seven Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Several hundred children are in attendance.
The first attempt to light the streets by means of electricity was made directly by the borough, but the service was unsatisfactory, while the cost was excessive, as is commonly the case under municipal management. On nights when the moon shone, there were no lights at all, while at other times they were turned off at midnight. Yet the cost of each light per year was one hundred and fifty dollars.
After some years, the community grew impatient with this state of affairs, and disposed of its plant to the Panther Valley Heat, Power and Electric Light Company for ten thousand dollars. This company was chartered on February 20, 1893, and has since given the town good service at reasonable rates. Under its management incandescent lights were installed in the homes and business establishments of Lansford, and charges were based on the quantity of electricity furnished, as indicated by a meter. During the first ten years street lights, which were now kept burning during the whole of each night, were supplied at the rate of one hundred dollars each by the year. At the expiration of this period the price was reduced to ninety-five dollars for each light.
By extending its system to other towns in the Panther Creek Valley, the company has been enabled to give still cheaper service, and is now providing street lights at an annual cost of sixty-five dollars each. George M. Davies is the president of the company. From the beginning Lansford has been supplied with water by the Panther Valley Water Company which is controlled by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.
The town is protected from fire by the American Fire Company, organized in 1887, but not incorporated until 1894.
In 1894 a brick building costing twelve thousand dollars was erected by the borough. This is the home of the fire department and the meeting place of town council.
The municipality has always been liberal in its support of the fire department, which is well organized and equipped with modern apparatus.
The sewer system has been extended from time to time in keeping with the growth of the town. Much of the revenue required in the making of municipal improvements has been derived from taxing the underground wealth, a source of income which but few towns have.
The mammoth vein here is in some instances three hundred feet thick, while shafts have been sunk to the depth of a thousand feet without reaching the basin, or the bottom of the coal.
By extending its system to other towns in the Panther Creek Valley, the company has been enabled to give still cheaper service, and is now providing street lights at an annual cost of sixty-five dollars each. George M. Davies is the president of the company. From the beginning Lansford has been supplied with water by the Panther Valley Water Company which is controlled by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. The town is protected from fire by the American Fire Company, organized in 1887, but not incorporated until 1894. In 1894 a brick building costing twelve thousand dollars was erected by the borough. This is the home of the fire department and the meeting place of town council. The municipality has always been liberal in its support of the fire department, which is well organized and equipped with modern apparatus.
The sewer system has been extended from time to time in keeping with the growth of the town. Much of the revenue required in the making of municipal improvements has been derived from taxing the underground wealth, a source of income which but few towns have. The mammoth vein here is in some instances three hundred feet thick, while shafts have been sunk to the depth of a thousand feet without reaching the basin, or the bottom of the coal.
The Panther Valley Building and Loan Association, now performing useful service, was organized in 1903. The Miners' Bank, which had previously existed at Summit Hill, was removed to Lansford in 1880, and was the first monetary institution in the place. The bank failed in 1883.
The First National Bank of Lansford was chartered in 1899. Its capital in the beginning was fifty thousand dollars, which was doubled in 1909. The bank now has deposits of over a million dollars, and has a large surplus fund. The present building was erected in 1904. A. J. Thomas has been the president of the institution from the start, while W. H. Kohler and C. Fred Kline have served as cashiers.
The Citizens' National Bank was chartered in 1903, having a capital of fifty thousand dollars. It did business in rented quarters until 1909, when a splendid building, costing forty thousand dollars was built and occupied. A surplus of over thirty thousand dollars has been earned by the bank. T. J. Nusbaum and M. A. Whetstone originally served as president and cashier, respectively. Andrew Brislin is now the president, while W. J. Davis is cashier.
A number of private bankers, dealing principally with foreigners, also do a thriving business, while a dime savings bank has recently been established. The Carbon Telephone Company, having numerous subscribers in Lansford, Summit Hill and Coal Dale, had its inception nearly twenty years ago. Originally it was termed the Summit Hill and Lansford Telephone Company. The present company, the stock of which is held locally, was formed in 1899. William Schneider was the first president. The company's lines connect with those of the Consolidated and the American Union telephone companies.