"Gritty Coal Town on Blue Mountain" Tamaqua by atufft

Tamaqua Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 42 photos

History and Myth in Tamaqua

Tamaqua is definetly off the beaten path. I discovered it when driving my rig, just east of I-81, running south along PA 309 toward Fogelsville, Pa, where I had to make a delivery to a distributor. On my first pass through town, I was charmed by the city layout and architecture, but due to the narrow streets and thick blanket of snow, I couldn't spot a place to pull over for a walk around, even space along the rail yard was not to be found. So, I continued on to Fogelville for a Sunday midnight delivery, after which I gambled on an early morning return to Tamaqua. The vacant streets allowed me to back across a sidewalk into a parking space next to only gas station in the center of town. When I awoke in the morning, the town was bustling with Monday morning activity. I first walked along West Broadstreet (also US 209) in a slight uphill grade toward the town cemetary located on a hill high over the city. I trudged through open snow capturing my first overview of this old Pennsylvania coal mining town.

The First Town Building Still Stands

According to Wikipedia, the name Tamaqua is a Native American word that means "Land of the Beaver." Remarkably, the original log cabin built in 1799 by town father and German immigrant, Burkhardt Moser, still remains as a tribute to the pioneer origins of the town in this rugged corner of the Appalachian Mountains. Spurred by the discovery of hard anthracite coal, German, Irish, Cornish and Welsh immigrants came to the borough in the 1840's and 1850's, while Italians, Lithuanians, and Poles came beginning in the 1890's, creating new neighborhoods within town. The town became an important railroad center. The town's history includes several noteable facts, including being only the 3rd US city to have an electrical municipal lighting system, installed by Thomas Edison in 1885. Chris Fullmer, locally raised ballplayer, is said to have invented the catcher's mitt. Most famously though is the activity of the anarchist Irish group, the Molly Maguires, who allegedly killed police officer Benjamin Yost.

  • Last visit to Tamaqua: Dec 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 5, 2009
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Reviews (10)

Comments (7)

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    Enjoyable to read of your visit this pleasant OTBP town, Alan. That layer of snow with the blue skies really does make the photos sparkle! Found the Moser house interesting, quite remarkable for its preservation.

  • Camping_Girl's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2009 at 7:57 PM

    I really enjoyed this page, Alan. I love small town America.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    Enjoyed this visit to small town America. We've travelled in winter a lot in the US, those clear blue skies and snowy landscapes make for some great shots. leyle

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    Great new pages, with super photos. We don't get that blue sky here so much (pollution, I fear).

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Nice new page on this out of the way location with some great photos. Good to see the original cabin has been preserved.

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    Alan, nice page & very off the beaten path. Looks like a lot of the towns across the state where I grew up. Except for the scrapple of course. We leave that for the Eastern PA crowd.

  • Lhenne1's Profile Photo
    Feb 7, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    Hi Alan! Not often I hear of someone driving through Tamaqua. That's the neck of the woods I grew up in. I'm glad to hear your first experience with scrapple went well. I think people's typical reaction to scrapple is "What?" Great tips!

atufft

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