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Palmerton Borough

Palmerton Borough Hall is located at 443 Delaware Avenue, Palmerton PA 18071; phone: 610-826-2505.

Beginnings [1]

Until the autumn of 1912 when the town was incorporated, it formed part of Lower Towamensing township.

It owes its existence and its many excellencies solely to the enterprise of the New Jersey Zinc Company of Pennsylvania, the works of which are located near here.

Its name is derived from Stephen S. Palmer, the president of the company.

The place is beautifully located near the western bank of the Lehigh within the northern shadows of the majestic Blue Ridge, commanding a view of the wild grandeur of the Lehigh Water Gap. The southern portion of the town borders on the Aquashicola creek.

This stream was thus named by the Delaware Indians, and in their tongue signified the place of fishing with bush-nets.

Palmerton is on the line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, being one hundred and ten miles distant from New York, and eighty-two miles from Philadelphia. Mauch Chunk lies ten miles to the northward.

The first white man to settle on the present town site of Palmerton was Nicholas Opplinger who in the year 1752 was appointed constable of Towamensing township.

It was on the farm of this German that Benjamin Franklin and his little army were quartered in January 1756 while en-route from Bethlehem to New Gnadenhutten (now Weissport) where they built Fort Allen.

One of the first steps taken by the New Jersey Zinc Company of Pennsylvania in locating its immense manufacturing establishment at Hazard, about a mile north of Palmerton, was the organization of the Palmer Land Company.

It was wisely decided that the works should be erected at some distance from the point where it was determined to build the town which would be necessary for the accommodation of its employees.

Horace Lentz, of Mauch Chunk, was appointed to the agency of this land company, and during the year beginning in September 1897, over four hundred acres were purchased.

Most of the land which was thus acquired by the company was under cultivation, while the improvements thereon consisted of the necessary farm buildings.

Those from whom the first purchases were made were: John Craig, William George, William H. Gruber, John Smith, Smith Brothers, and the estate of Charles Straup.

The company's holdings were augmented from time to time by additional purchases, and the present town site now comprises about five hundred acres.

The works at Hazard, which give employment to nearly two thousand men, were finished and placed in operation in the fall of 1899.

Over two hundred acres are covered by the plant which is operated day and night.

The finished products of this manufactory are oxide of zinc, spelter, and spiegeleisen.

Zinc ore, the raw material from which these are made, is obtained from mines of the New Jersey Zinc Company in Sussex county, New Jersey.

Palmerton was planned and plotted during the year 1899. An experienced engineer in the person of Harrison N. Blunt was now appointed as the agent of the land company. Most of the improvements which have since been made were carried forward under his immediate supervision.

Delaware avenue, the principal thoroughfare of the town, having a width of ninety feet and extending through the entire property from east to west, was the first laid out. Lehigh, Lafayette, and Columbia avenues followed in the order named.

Not only did the company wish its employees to live in neat, substantial homes, but it was willing to make it possible for them to own them. Virtually it has acted as a big building and loan association.

Under the plan devised in the beginning, and which is still in force, the company requires the applicant for a home to pay ten per cent of the price of the house and lot in advance, the company then erecting the house according to plans approved by him.

After the house is complete and occupied, monthly payments must be made, which are so graduated that in three years and seven months, thirty-five percent of the value of the premises shall have been deposited.

The purchaser then acquires title to the property, while the company takes a mortgage on the remaining sixty-five percent, due in five years, and bearing interest at the rate of four and four-tenths percent.

One of the beauty spots of Palmerton is that portion known as "The Reservation."

Here thirteen acres of land have been set aside by the zinc company as a place of residence for the local heads of its various departments.

In 1908 the company established a hospital which is open to the public. Three years later a large addition was built to it.

Palmerton's post-office was established in 1900. Prior to that date the office was located at Lehigh Gap. During 1911, the postal savings system of the government was extended to this place.

At the first borough election held in November 1912, Dr. John W. Luther was chosen to fill the office of chief burgess.

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