A newly revised book released Thursday uses a combination of stories and photos to illustrate the rich history of Tamaqua.

The updated and expanded "Iron Steps Illustrated History of Tamaqua, Pa.," is available to the public for the first time in 15 years thanks to the author and the Tamaqua Historical Society.

"Iron Steps" was originally published in 1995, but has been expanded to include results of new research, discoveries and additional stories which have surfaced over the past decade and a half, says the author, Donald R. Serfass of Tamaqua.

"It's an altogether new book. It has many chapters of easy reading that weave a fascinating look at the town and its place in history, plus over 140 priceless early images. It's a written Tamaqua history, with all of the fascinating stories in a single book."

The book contains several stories with national significance, including pictures and accounts of the most-talked about events of Tamaqua's past: the Tamaqua man experts now believe survived or escaped Custer's Last Stand; the tale of the 1860s Tamaqua barber who tried to warn President Lincoln of his impending assassination; the Tamaqua minister accidentally shot during the Battle of Gettysburg; the building of the nation's first commercial railroad to haul coal using a steam engine; the story of the restoration of the 1874 Tamaqua train station; the story of how one area resident created the nation's first fish hatchery; the Great Flood of 1850; the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Tamaqua; and many other unusual stories.

The 164-page paperback is being published and marketed by Amazon, the world's largest online bookstore, through its CreateSpace company.

The first shipment arrived Thursday. The book is now available to the public through the Tamaqua Historical Society at the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce, 114 W. Broad St. (570) 668-6899. All sales benefit the historical society's museum repairs and renovations.

The historical society will serve as the author's local distributor, offering wholesale discounts to civic groups and organizations that wish to sell the book as a fundraiser.

Nationally, the book is available at Amazon.com by entering the word Tamaqua into the search field at the Amazon Web site. It's also available at the https://www.createspace.com/3439790 Web address, or can be obtained from the author at ironstep@ptd.net.

In addition, the book can be obtained at mall bookstores nationwide under the ISBN number 145154765X.

A book signing will take place at Tamaqua Summerfest on Sunday, June 20, for those wishing to gift the book on Father's Day. A first, shorter edition of "Iron Steps" was written in 1994 and published a year later, but sold out within a year and has not been available since then.

"We're thrilled that Donnie was able to produce a written and illustrated Tamaqua history and make it available through the Tamaqua Historical Society, because we always get requests for it," says Linda Yulanavage, membership secretary.

The author was born in Pottsville and attended Tamaqua Area High School and Penn State University. He served as assistant production manager in the advertising/public relations department of Hess's Department Store, Allentown. He later was employed for 20 years as director, corporate communications, at Blue Cross of Lehigh Valley, Allentown, and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre.

He is past president of the society and past volunteer chairman of Downtown Tamaqua, Inc., and participated in the Penn Ambassador program of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Serfass is currently employed as managing editor - features, for the TIMES NEWS, Lehighton. Three of the book's chapters represent stories written by Serfass specifically for the daily newspaper. Those individual stories are being reprinted and presented in the book courtesy of the TIMES NEWS, a Pencor company.

At the TIMES NEWS, Serfass has been the recipient of countless state writing awards. In 2004, he was recognized at the Pa. Press Conference in State College as the only Pennsylvania journalist to receive five Associated Press awards in one year, a record that still stands. He has won awards in investigative reporting, column and feature writing, sports, general news and public service writing. He also has received many top tri-state honors at the Philadelphia Press Association.