Beaver Meadows Borough
Beaver Meadows Borough Hall is located at 117 Church Street, Beaver Meadows PA 18216; phone: 570-455-7841.
While being next to the youngest borough in Carbon County, Beaver Meadow nevertheless enjoys the distinction of being the oldest town in the upper end of the county. It is located centrally in Banks Township, of which it formed a part prior to its organization as a borough in 1897. A number of citizens, headed by J. M. Stauffer, who was then a prominent resident here, made an effort to secure the incorporation of the town in 1896, but the grand jury acted adversely on their petition, and a charter was not granted until the following year. Mr. Stauffer became the first chief burgess. Beaver Meadow is maintained by the surrounding coal operations of Coxe Brothers & Company, the mines of the A. S. VanWickle Estate, at Coleraine, a little more than a mile distant, and the workings of the Evans Colliery Company.
The town is situated on the Beaver Meadow division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, about six miles from Weatherly, and four from Hazleton. It lies approximately fourteen hundred feet above sea level, while Beaver creek flows sluggishly past it, parallel to the railroad tracks. Its name was derived from the circumstance that the smooth and glossy beaver once lived and toiled in the meadows along the creek.
The land on which the town is built was warranted in 1787 to Patrick and Mary Keene, and later it came into the possession of Nathan Beach, who sold five hundred acres to Judge Joseph Barnes, of Philadelphia, in 1830. It was of logs, and was kept as a tavern. There was a tollgate at the foot of the Spring mountain, kept by a man named Green.
On April 10, 1826, William H. Wilson removed, with his family, to the place and became the landlord of the tavern. The next arrival was James Lamison, who built a house which he, in 1831, occupied as a tavern. In 1833 came N. K. Penrose, a member of the family to which United States Senator Boies Penrose, of Pennsylvania, belongs. He became the agent of the property of Judge Barnes, and built the large frame building at the eastern end of the town, later known as the "Cornishmen's Home." Upon its completion it was occupied by William H. Wilson as a tavern. Later it became the property of James Gowan, father of Franklin B. Gowan, who became famous as the able and aggressive president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company and its subsidiary coal and iron company. This building was also for a time used as a store, being owned by William T. Carter and others. It was for many years one of the landmarks of Beaver Meadow, and was finally torn down in 1910. Much of the timber it contained was used in erecting new dwelling houses, while some of it was sawed into proper length for mine ties.
One of the early residents of Beaver Meadow was Henry Brenckman, a native of Germany. He had become skilled in the art of brewing beer and had acquired the trade of a cooper in the Fatherland. Upon locating in Beaver Meadow he erected a small brewery, probably the first in Carbon county. He personally made the barrels which contained the output of his plant, and kept a tavern. His death occurred in 1860.
The early growth and prosperity of Beaver Meadow resulted from the operations of the Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal Company, the Beaver Meadow Mines, where coal was first produced in Banks township, being situated about a mile west of the town. The railroad to the mines was finished and opened for transportation in the fall of 1836. The machine, blacksmith and car shops of the company were located at Beaver Meadow. The first master mechanic of the shops was Hopkin Thomas, a Welsh immigrant, and one of the pioneer inventors of the Lehigh Valley. Through one of his inventions anthracite coal was first made available as fuel for the use of locomotives. He also invented and successfully used the chilled cast-iron car wheel, as well as the most improved and successful mine pumps and machinery of the day. Under the supervision of Mr. Thomas, a ten-wheel locomotive, said to have been the first of its kind built in this country, and named the "Nonpareil," was constructed at Beaver Meadow. The shops were removed to Weatherly in 1842.
In 1848, N. R. Penrose erected a foundry here, which he conducted for a short time, then disposing of the property to S. W. and B. W. Hudson. In 1859, B. W. Hudson purchased the interest of his brother and continued the business until 1865. Much of the iron work used in constructing the Mahanoy division of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was turned out from this foundry.
After the retirement of B. W. Hudson, the shops passed into the ownership of the Spring Mountain Coal Company, and were torn down in 1868 and removed to Jeanesville. These shops formed the nucleus of the Jeanesville Iron Works, since established at Hazleton, constituting one of the largest industries of that city. Beaver Meadow was already quite a village before Hazleton was born, and the people of the last named place once did their trading here. The only coal operation within the borough limits is the Number 4 slope of Coxe Brothers & Company, which was sunk by Jonah Rees, about 1867. It was for a time abandoned, but during the eighties it was sunk to the basin by Coxe Brothers & Company. It is from the foot of this slope that the drainage tunnel through the Spring mountain to Quakake Valley is driven. A post office was established here in 1830, with William H. Wilson in charge. The second postmaster was A. G. Brodhead, who, in turn, was succeeded by Mr. Wilson. The present incumbent is Robert Trezise. The first school in the place was kept by Miss Lydia Bidlack, and was opened about the year 1835. A later teacher who served for many years was Thomas McCurly. There are now five graded schools in the town, all being housed in one building.
A Presbyterian church was here organized about 1838, largely through the influence of A. H. Van Cleve, who was then superintendent of the Beaver Meadow shops. The edifice in which this congregation worshiped occupied the site on which the hall of the Patriotic Order of Sons of America now stands. The removal of the shops to Weatherly affected the congregation, and it declined. The Methodists subsequently conducted services in the church, and upon the erection of a new building by that denomination, in 1874, the adherents of the German Reformed faith found a meeting place in the old edifice for a time.