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"Summit Hill" - a must read for local history buffs

Published October 26. 2009 05:00PM

The book "Summit Hill" by new Summit Hill author Lee Mantz is a compendium of postcards and photographs that relate the early local history of the hilltop community. From its introduction that includes the short history of the borough through the last page the book contains more than a hundred images and captions that describe the early days of Summit Hill.

Mantz spent hours researching information and background on the photographs and ephemera depicted in the book and the anecdotal captions tell the story behind the pictures. The book opens with an overview of the town, its layout and the patch towns that comprised it in the early days and how they evolved over the years. There are photographs of the park and different areas of what was to become the borough.

In the next chapter, Mantz has included several photographs of various street views from the late 1800s through the early 1900s giving the reader not only a pictorial trip through the town but also relating valuable tidbits of information about its history.

The next few chapters discuss many of the main parts of all small towns during the coal mining heyday including local businesses, schools and churches. The chapter on businesses not only includes pictures but also postcards and advertising ephemera from local shops. The school chapter has photographs of the buildings and many of local sports teams and group photographs. Where possible Mantz has identified as many persons as he could.

No book on Summit Hill's history would be complete without mentioning the Switchback and Mantz has included several postcards, rare photographs and views of the historic railroad along with timetables and postcards of the first rollercoaster in America and the number two tourist attraction of the late 19th century. Another unique tourist attraction from the period was the burning mine. Summit Hill's strip mine caught fire in 1859 and lasted for more than 80 years. Mantz has several photographs of the inadvertent tourist attraction as well as the attempts over the years to extinguish it.

He also includes several photographs on mining as it took place in the borough and the surrounding area including photographs of area mine tunnels, the dumping stations in Mauch Chunk as well as the planes used to transport coal up the mountain.

Rounding out this wonderful volume are several assorted photographs that Mantz could not fit into other chapters as well as pictures of other local towns including Coaldale and Lansford.

This book is an excellent and long overdue addition to the history books about Summit Hill and its collection of unusual and rare photographs from Mantz's collection, the Summit Hill Historical Society and other private collectors make this book a hidden treasure. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the local history of the town where anthracite was discovered and the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.

Mantz will be holding several book signings in the area including official launch at the Summit Hill Historical Society Museum at 12 E. Ludlow St in Summit Hill on Nov. 1st at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Waldenbooks at the Laurel Mall, Hazleton on Saturday, Nov. 7th at 1 p.m., Mauch Chunk Museum at 14-16 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe at 10 a.m. on November 14th and Sellers Books and Fine Arts at 101 Broadway in Jim Thorpe on Sunday November 15th.

Available at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665.

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