The History of Coaldale, PA. (1827)

by, David Kuchta

Article is researched from a reprint of Joseph Henry Zerbey, History of Pottsville and Schuylkill County and from the Republican Paper, March 1-12, 1934.

The beginning of Coaldale (Coal Dale) dates back to the year 1827, when John Moser and his wife settled there. Moser was born on May 24, 1805, in Tamaqua and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Burkart Moser, the original settlers of Tamaqua. Upon arriving at Coaldale, John Moser built a log cabin on the north side of what was known as the Manila Grove Park. At present, the Coaldale Hospital is located on this very site. After building the cabin, Moser cleared the land for the purpose of raising products for his own use. His principal occupation was hauling coal and timber to Tamaqua. This he continued until about 1887 when he vacated his farm due to the fact that a coal company possessed his land and began the building of a breaker for the purpose of preparing coal. This breaker was known as the Number 12 and was owned by the Lehigh Navigation & Coal Co. He made his next home with his grandson John Barrett and during his stay with his grandson he went into the dairy business.

In the year 1888, he was appointed as the first tax collector of Rahn Township, Coaldale at that time being a part of the township. At that time it was the duty of the tax collector to go to the homes of the taxpayers to collect the taxes. Along with his dairy he kept this tax collector position until his death in 1895. He was interred in St. John's Lutheran Cemetery in Tamaqua, which was the first cemetery in the vicinity and is now know as Dutch Hill. John Moser had four daughters; and holds the distinction of being the father of the first white child born in Coaldale. Before becoming a borough, Coaldale belonged to Rahn Township. At that time it included the area of Coal Dale, Owl Creek, Number Eleven, and Seek. In 1906, the prominent men of Coaldale held a meeting for the purpose of organizing a borough. The borough was organized in June of 1906, and Dr. C. C. Gallagher was elected the first Chief Burgess. Rahn Township at that time was almost exclusively coal lands although some attempts had been made at farming in the Owl Creek Valley. This township was greatly reduced in size, population and importance by the incorporation of the Borough of Coaldale.

Rahn Township included Coaldale, Tamaqua and Seek Villages. Coal was mined in this township as early as 1858, but up to 1860 the output was small. Chas. F. Shoener and Wm. Carter purchased the Greenwood Breaker property and commenced extensive developments. Mr. Shoener soon bought his partner's interest and invested a million dollars in perfecting the improvements, which subsequently became very valuable. During the first year the property yielded an income of $50,000 a month. It was then sold. The breaker was burned in 1874 and in 1878 the Lehigh Navigation and Coal Co. purchased this property. The villages formerly in Rahn Township were; Bull Run, which is now included in Coaldale as one of its streets and Gearytown, which is now Miner St. and Greenwood St. Centreville was located on the south side of Coaldale but had been abandoned because it was under mined. Most of all the buildings of the mining villages were principally frame. The first houses were erected during 1864 in what was known as Bugtown, which is located along the main highway directly below the Coaldale State Hospital. Two years later, houses were built at old Coaldale, which was located on the eastern part, now the eastward.

New Coaldale, which is now the middle ward, was begun in about 1849. New Coaldale or New Wales began to attract attention in 1868 and buildings were erected on the line between Schuylkill and Carbon Counties in 1870. Gearytown was named in honor of Governor John W. Geary. Its first dwelling was erected in 1866 and was occupied by Richard Boyd. The village of Coaldale had a population of 1,849 in 1890. Before the advent of the railroads, stagecoaches were the principal means of transportation. On these coaches they transported food as well as passengers. A stagecoach ran through town twice daily, and the fee for people riding on this coach was fifty cents from Coaldale to Tamaqua. After the stagecoach went out of existence, the streetcar came into use. In the fall of 1897 the road opened from Lansford to Mauch Chunk, and later it extended from Lansford to Tamaqua then to Middleport. The first dirt road that passed through Coaldale was built between the years of 1815 to 1819. This road started at Dutch Hill (Tamaqua) and came east along the side of the mountain at No.10 Colliery and passed through what is now the No. 10 Culm Bank. It then turned south and branched out, one part going up through No. 11 and it passed by the mouth of the tunnel and then went up over the mountain into Owl Creek.

Another road also led from what is now Second St. in Coaldale, formerly called Thompson Street, continued south to its connection with the Tamaqua-Summit Hill stage coach road and continued over the mountain into Owl Creek Valley. Another trail, which was used to a great extent is still in existence (1934). It started from the old Moser's Farm, situated at the base of the Broad Mountain directly north of what is now Railroad St. and continued to the No.12 and over the Mountain into Greenwood. The first railroads built through Coaldale were those for the accommodation of the coal trade. The cars were drawn by horses, usually in a forty-inch gauge track. The rails were made of four by six-inch rod timber. The ties were notched to receive the rails. The notches were 2 inches wider than the rail and wooden keys were used to maintain the proper gauge and prevent the rails from spreading. There was a flat iron bar from one half inch to two and a half inches wide on top of the rail to obviate the wearing of the wood by the friction of the car wheels and contribute to the ease of draft. Lateral roads of this character were established at an early date to connect the mine with those which conveyed the coal to the canal. They continued to the year 1934 as auxiliaries to the steam railroads.

The route of this railroad that first ran through Coaldale started at Spring Tunnel. From Spring Tunnel it continued to the east of Centreville (Skin Town). It then ran into Carbon County to a small village called Sayersville. (No. 3 Area or No. 9 Mine Shaft) From this point it continued northward into what is now called No. 7. (Lansford) There was also a railroad, which carried coal from one of the premier mines called Foster's Tunnel. This railroad started from Foster's Tunnel, continued up Kline's plane, which is now called the first plane, and met the first railroad at Spring Tunnel. The Nesquehoning Railroad was chartered April 12, 1861. The line was built from Carbon County through Coaldale to Tamaqua and radiated to coal lands in the vicinity. It was leased and operated the Lehigh Coal Co. who subsequently leased it to the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey.

Note: Centreville is the corredt spelling.