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Palmerton Area Historical Society meeting is prelude to slide show at Memorial Park

  • Paul Carpenito
    Paul Carpenito
Published October 20. 2009 05:00PM

George Ashman reported at the Oct. 12 meeting of the Palmerton Area Historical Society that it had been a good month for acquisitions. Still to come was a tall clock from Horsehead Industries.

Membership applications will be going out with the newsletter to save money. The Web site is up and running at The pictures on the site are outstanding, said secretary Betsy Burnhauser.

She reminded members that two anniversaries are coming up: the 20th for the historical society and the fifth for the Heritage Center. The society is looking for ways to emphasize the society, not history.

Paul Carpenito of the Phillipsburg Railway Historians presented a slide show of trains and scenery from the area of the Lehigh Gap to Penn Haven Junction. The Junction is six miles north along the trail to White Haven from the southern trailhead of the Lehigh Gorge rail-trail. His normal show is all trains but for the society he substituted some slides with scenery.

Many of the pictures had an early view and a recent one. Often trees grew to be in the way and the more recent shots are not as good as the earlier ones.

He said trains are his main thing. He began with a sunset near Klecknersville and then there was a train in front of the Osprey House at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

Carpenito first saw Palmerton in 1967 when he was riding the Chestnut Ridge Railway.

I'd love to live here when I grow up," he thought. Well, he said he never grew up but he does live in Palmerton.

There was a crew change area in Lehighton and that is documented.

Jim Thorpe was little more than a ghost town at one time, though the Jersey Central still had a presence until 1977.

It was George Hart who restored rail to the town.

The Lehigh Gorge is good for leaf watching, said Carpenito. The leaves often change color there as much as two weeks after they have changed other places.

He has climbed the slope in Penn Haven where coal was brought to be loaded on trains. One of the slides was a view from the top, but that is grown in with trees now.

Yesterday's views are not possible today," he said.

He enjoys biking and tries to get to Coalport north of Jim Thorpe at daybreak. In 2006 he was taking pictures at Penn Haven at the exact moment when summer began.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources paints scenery on signal boxes, a practice Carpenito approves of.

One of the largest canal locks is along the trail - as tall as a three-story building, he said.

The trail through the Gorge makes the area accessible for people to enjoy.

He said it is possible to see where the railroad lines are being restored, and if you've been there before you can find those places.

There is little to see where the Hotel Wahneta once stood - a resort reached by train. The site can be seen when looking from a tunnel near the parking lot of the Lehigh Gorge State Park outside Jim Thorpe. A trail was created along the falls of Lehigh Gorge as part of the resort. It was for the use of visitors to the hotel. There was a park area with much of the stonework still in place across the railroad tracks.

The Chestnut Ridge railbus, fondly remembered by some members of the society, has been restored by the Lehigh Valley National Historical Society. It needed a home and, when none was available in Palmerton, it was taken to the Phillipsburg Railway Historians and is at home just across the river in New Jersey.

Carpenito invited the society to visit as a group. The railbus cannot be used to give rides due to insurance considerations.

I get awed by nature," Carpenito said. He also had slides of some of the wildlife he met during his excursions.

That was absolutely marvelous, Paul," said Burnhauser.

On Nov. 1 the Carbon Model Railroad Society will be holding its train meet at Memorial Hall, Jim Thorpe, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That will be followed at 5 p.m. with a slide show focusing on trains with little of the scenery shown to the historical society.

There is no charge for the evening program.

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