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Lost town of Lausanne Landing

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    Water pours over into Jeans Run from an old concrete wall. The wall may have been used as a dam or used to hold water. Old pipes also populate the area that may have been used to move water.
Published November 05. 2016 09:02AM

Tucked between Weatherly and Jim Thorpe lies the lost town of Lausanne Landing.

Some may know of Lausanne Township, which was created in 1808 when Penn Township was divided into East Penn, West Penn and Lausanne.

At one time, Lausanne Township contained Rockport, Weatherly, Clifton, Penn Haven and Buck Mountain.

The township became smaller and smaller as portions of it were set off for Mauch Chunk in 1827, Banks in 1842, Packer in 1847 and Weatherly in 1863. The largest portion was relinquished to Lehigh Township in 1875.

Now the township is 6 miles in length and 2½ miles in breadth.

Little known today is that there was a town called Lausanne Landing.

“The village was established in 1805 as a tavern and toll gate on the newly constructed Lehigh & Susquehanna Turnpike,” said Jack Sterling, local historian. “This was before Mauch Chunk or Nesquehoning was founded, and this was the last settlement on the Lehigh beyond the villages of Lehighton and Weissport.”

Lausanne Landing was well-known for the Landing Tavern, a popular resting place for travelers, hunters, coal prospectors and more. The tavern served as both a halfway station for travelers and as a toll gate on the Lehigh and Susquehanna Turnpike.

The tavern had several owners throughout its existence, with Abram Klotz as the first known owner. The most notable is John Rothermel, the father of the famous American painter, Peter F. Rothermel.

Jacob Buss, the last owner of the Landing Tavern, closed shop in 1872 and took over Nesquehoning’s Miner’s Hotel.

According to Sterling, the town was used to build boats, which were “basically rafts with sides on them.”

The barges were early attempts to get coal down the Lehigh River. Unfortunately, many of those boats crashed in the rough waters of the Lehigh River and the coal was lost in the river.

The town started to see growth when it established a post office. Isaac A. Chapman left record that he was postmaster.

“Rode to Lehighton to take oath before Justice (John) Pryor as Postmaster at Lausanne,” Chapman wrote in a journal under the date Aug. 5, 1817.

Josiah White, the owner of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, had planned to buy the town of Lausanne Landing. The land was prime real estate at the time, but White decided against the purchase because of the high price the landowner wanted.

White had drawn up plans to build the town of Lausanne Landing. His plan included street names, housing plots and a bridge to go over the Lehigh River to get to the town. He also planned future turnpike roads through Lausanne Landing.

The land was up for a public sale in 1830 after the sale with White fell through.

“It is at the commencement of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Turnpike road; and is in the immediate vicinity of Mauch Chunk,” reads the public sale flier. “A tavern, at all times frequented … with stables, a store and dwelling house, with a sawmill, are on the premises which will be offered for sale.”

Unfortunately the placement of Lausanne had set it up for failure. The town was located where the Nesquehoning Creek fed the Lehigh River and flooded often.

Another downfall was the toll gate in Lausanne. Many people did not want to pay and bypassed the town altogether.

“The reason the town came into the being in the first place, the turnpike was adversely affected by the newer modes of transportation, and after a few years the turnpike road over the Broad Mountain was abandoned,” Sterling said.

Before the village was founded, the Union Saw Mill existed on the grounds of Lausanne. The sawmill, located at the mouth of the Nesquehoning Creek, was started in 1786 by Jacob Weiss.

Floods from the Lehigh River, railroad yard expansions and the creation of settling ponds to clean the water from Lausanne Tunnel have decimated the town. Excavation sites have been started on the land, but have since been abandoned.

Remnants of what is speculated to be part of the Union Saw Mill still stand today.

The buildings were not part of the town of Lausanne but contribute to the great history of the town that never was.

A structure still stands with the door frame noticeable among the rubble of loose stones that have fallen in after hundreds of years of neglect. Two stone pillars stand on either side of the Jeans Run that could have been a bridge across the creek.

Other walls and foundations can be found around that area. There is no explanation of what the purpose of these buildings were, but one fact is for sure: if walls could talk, they would tell incredible stories of history.

The most astonishing fact is that these walls, foundations and buildings still stand despite the snow, wind and rain that has been thrown at them.

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