It was 1791. A farmer looking for a new millstone stumbled over a shiny, hard black rock. Curious to find out what it was, he took it to a local blacksmith and behold, it burned. Such was the simple, accidental beginning for a force that fueled the American Industrial Revolution, changing the lives of millions and millions of people and forever rendering the United States a different place.
Stone coal they called it. The hard, black anthracite coal, so dense that it requires a special air enhanced process to burn. But when it does burn, white hot, the heat was enough to fuel iron furnaces, industrial production, and mass manufacturing. So vast was the result that the United States Congress declared Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, “the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.”
On this journey, you’ll learn the fascinating story of how a unique combination of people, places and resources laid the foundation for the way Americans live today. It was a revolution driven by exceptional people. Hard working, innovative people. People looking for better lives. People seeking religious freedom. People who just believed that they could change their own and everyone else’s world if they just worked at it hard enough. Starting in Bethlehem, seat of the original Moravian settlement, you’ll be making your way to Scranton and Jim Thorpe, before beginning the trip down the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, following the same route the coal did as it was transported to markets in Philadelphia. Along the way, enjoy destination distinctive accommodations and incredible cuisine as you experience the best Lehigh Valley has to offer, along with such important history found nowhere else in America.
Today, you’ll begin the story of Lehigh Valley where it all started. Historic Bethlehem was settled in 1741 by Moravians looking for a place where they could prosper and live the life they believed was right. Plan to arrive in time to slide by the Sayre Mansion to let them know you’re in town before stopping at the Bethlehem Visitors Center which begins introducing you to the story of the area as soon as you walk in. The attached 1810 Federal Johann Sebastian Goundie House displaying revolving exhibits, represents a transitional period in Bethlehem architecture moving from the stone of the original communal settlements to the more private, urbane later structures.
This afternoon we’ve arranged for you to take the Historic Walking Tour past 20 historic stops led by a very knowledgeable guide in period dress. You’ll learn about the Moravian community that evolved beyond the first German settlers into a very diverse religious group. For the first 20 years, the community operated under a General Economy where everyone contributed to the common good, and in return received housing, food, clothing and medical care. The arrangement also served as a training ground for the trade craftsmen who later settled in other areas in Pennsylvania.
We recommend dinner downtown this evening at the Apollo Grill or Bethlehem Brew Works before retiring to your accommodations at the Sayre Mansion.
Accommodations: Sayre Mansion
After enjoying your breakfast at Sayre Mansion today, you can be off to tour some of the historic sites in downtown Bethlehem you went past yesterday. We recommend starting at the Moravian Museum located in the 1741 Gemeinhaus (community house) which served as the residence, school, church, hospital and workplace for the earliest settlers. Some 80 residents lived here while the other permanent structures were being constructed. While you tour, you will learn the story of the immense determination, hard work and convictions which brought the Moravian community from a settlement carved out of the wilderness to a thriving city within itself.
From there, it’s a short stroll to the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, recently expanded to 5,000 square feet. It is Pennsylvania’s only museum devoted to the decorative arts and one of only 15 in the United States with a collection in the same genre. The Kemerer features portraits, landscapes, 19th century furniture, jewels, china, silver, an extensive collection of Pennsylvania German textiles and priceless Bohemian glass.
We suggest lunch at the Moravian Bookstore Deli before exploring the Colonial Industrial Quarter, America’s first industrial park. The Quarter was the center of commerce and industry for the early Moravians who tanned leather, crafted pottery and produced iron work and other useful items. The 1761 Tannery and the 1762 Waterworks are both National Historic Landmarks. After watching the workmen ply their craft, visit the 1761 Smithy and watch the blacksmith at work. Enjoy one of Bethlehem’s many restaurants this evening followed by an evening theater or musical performance (schedule permitting) before retiring.
Accommodations: Sayre Mansion
This morning, you’ll be headed to Scranton in the northern part of the coal region where three quarters of the world’s anthracite coal deposits were located within 500 square miles. The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum includes an actual coal mine, plus exhibits illustrating how families of the miners lived, along with other integral aspects of mining life. Plan to take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour to experience life underground yourself. Across town, you can visit the Scranton Iron Furnaces which used stone coal to pour as much as 125,000 tons of molten pig iron a year.
We recommend lunch at Coney Island Lunch before touring Steamtown, the premier museum devoted to locomotives and other railroading lore spread over 40 acres of former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad rail yards. Steamtown’s collection includes freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance right of way equipment from several historic railroads. To get the whole story, you can take a walking tour with a Park Ranger to learn about Railroad Yards: Now and Then, the Locomotive Shop and more. Steamtown also includes a portion of a Roundhouse, the Visitor Center, a Theater, History Museum and Technology Museum. And of course, you have to ride the train. Nearby, the Electric City Trolley Museum features the first electric street cars in the United States. It is housed in a restored silk mill, where the wives of the miners worked while their men were in the mines.
We recommend dinner at Carmen’s in the restored Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel before retiring here for the evening.
Accommodations: Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel
Leaving Scranton this morning, you’ll be on your way to Eckley Miner’s Village to experience a typical “coal patch” town. Constructed by mining companies as cheaply and quickly as possible to provide housing for workers, these highly stratified towns had company stores, schools, and churches used by groups of miners depending on their station in the mining hierarchy. Eckley is so well preserved and authentic that it served as the backdrop for Paramount’s 1960 movie The Molly Maguires, inspired by the sensational labor strife in the region that occurred in the 1900s.
The same Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company that constructed the Lehigh Canal also opened the #9 Mine in Lansford which attracted the original settlers to the area. Today the museum offers a browse through a “family attic” with the largest collection of tools, photographs, and other intriguing items related to early miners in the area. Plan to ride the rail 1,600 feet into the mountain to experience the 900 foot deep mine, underground muleway and once perilous workplace where miners dug out stone coal. If it’s time for lunch before or after your tour, we recommend Kelly’s Irish Pub. While here, you may also want to take a quick tour past the first house of worship for which the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company provided a scrap of land and wood to build, plus the many other houses of worship built by the Welch, English, Scots, Russians, Poles, Slovaks, Irish, and Germans who settled in the community.
From Lansford you can follow the Panther Valley Anthracite Tour and Molly Maguire tour on your way to Jim Thorpe. Accommodations at the Inn at Jim Thorpe put you right in the middle of this quaint mountain village. Enjoy dinner at one of the many downtown restaurants, including the Broadway Grille & Pub.
Accommodations: Inn at Jim Thorpe
If you didn't have a chance to take the historic walking tour in Jim Thorpe yesterday, set out this morning between savoring breakfast and your Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad excursion. This charming little mountain town is home to eight National Historic Landmarks, 20 art galleries and incredibly quaint streets lined with Victorian buildings. The original headquarters of the Lehigh Navigation and Coal Company sits prominently in the middle of town. The town grew as the transfer and transportation hub for coal being shipped down river on the Lehigh Canal. The Old Carbon County Jail held the Molly Maguires, the Irish miners organization who fought for better working conditions, while they were awaiting trial.
Your trip on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad takes you into the back country and lush mountains where the coal was mined. On the 16-mile, narrated, round trip, you will ride the former mainline of the Jersey Central Lines. The line swings onto the former Lehigh Valley main line before passing Glen Onoko and from there the train follows the winding Lehigh River, rounding curve after curve until it reaches Old Penn Haven. Back in Jim Thorpe, we recommend lunch at Bear Appetit before moving on to tour the Asa Packer Mansion, built by the founder of both the Lehigh Canal Navigation Company and Lehigh University.
Packer’s 1861 Italianate villa, perched high on a hill, looms over the historic district. The house has been preserved as it would have been when the family lived in it, complete with original furnishings. We recommend dinner at Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse before retiring for the evening.
Accommodations: Inn at Jim Thorpe
Leaving Jim Thorpe today, you will begin making your way south on the same route the coal took to market. Starting just above Jim Thorpe, over 50 locks were installed in the hand-dug channel to compensate for the changes in elevation from top to bottom as the coal made its way to Easton, where the Lehigh Canal joined the Delaware Canal. Even though floods destroyed most of the canal in 1942, a four and a half mile section and Lock 23 was restored in 1953. During the canal era, Walnutport was a boat repair center and a stopping point for the crews. The 1828 Locktender’s House is one of only two remaining original structures that dotted the original canal.
From there, you can travel south along the canal until you reach its termination point in Easton. The Walking Tour of Easton takes you past the 1754 Bachmann Tavern, the oldest building in the city, visited by both George Washington and Ben Franklin. Other highlights of the tour include St. John’s Church constructed in 1832 and the Jacob Nicholas House, one of the few other remaining Revolutionary War structures here.
We recommend lunch at Maxim’s 22 before touring the National Canal Museum in Hugh Moore Park. Be sure to take the mule-drawn Josiah White II Canal Boat to get a feel of what it was like to ply the canal in its heyday. After touring the park, check into your accommodations at the Lafayette Inn. We recommend Porters' Pub, an absolute Easton institution, for dinner.
Accommodations: Lafayette Inn
We’re going to send you on a bit of a detour this morning so you can drive along more of the canal coming out of Easton before moving across the area to Catasauqua. This early 1800s town was made famous as the site of the nation’s first commercially successful anthracite blast furnace, which began operation in 1839. The George Taylor House, located in this historically delightful village, was one of the four homes in the region owned by Durham Furnace’s most prominent iron master. Biery’s Port Historic District along Mulberry and 2nd Streets, surrounded by Victorian homes, also reveals the remnants of Lock 36.
From there, you’ll be making your way to the Lock Ridge Iron Furnace. If it’s time for lunch along the way, we recommend Buca di Beppo or one of the restaurants at Lehigh Valley Mall. Construction of the furnace began in 1868 during the peak of the stone coal era and continued to operate until right after World War I, long after most other furnaces had succumbed to competition from modern equipment. The site was restored as a park and museum in the early 1970s and now includes the furnace room, engine room and cast room of Furnace No. 7; the former Weigh Master's House; the oil house; partial ruins of Furnace No. 8 and associated buildings; the carpenter's shop; the blacksmith shop; and the piers for the trestles which received railroad cars carrying materials.
After touring this extensive complex, it is time to drive out to Glasbern Inn to check into your accommodations for the evening. We highly recommend enjoying dinner at Glasbern, one of the premier restaurants in Lehigh Valley.
Accommodations: Glasbern Inn
Today can include several options depending on your time and inclination. Leaving Glasbern, we recommend, if there is time before departing the region, to travel first to Bethlehem to stroll through Burnside Plantation during the fresh morning and enjoy a private tour which we have arranged for you there. Dating from 1748, Burnside occupies 6 1/2 acres including a farmhouse, historic gardens, summer kitchen, bank barns and the only operational high-horse-powered water wheel in the country.
From there, you can travel back to Easton, where we have arranged for you to join Gateway Aviation on an air tour over Lehigh Valley. High above the valley, you can see things that are difficult to imagine from the ground. You will be amazed by the size and scope of the Allentown rail yards, which witness millions of tons of freight still passing through on a regular basis. From overhead, you can also see the full scope of the Bethlehem Steel complex, stretching four miles along the river bank.
Landing back in Easton, you can then decide whether to go north to take the Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge and Log Cabin Tour in Lehigh Valley or go south to continue the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor tour into Bucks County and Bristol.
After enjoying whichever you choose, we wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.
The Stone Coal Way 8 Days/7 Nights
You can enjoy several luxury accommodations while learning the complete history of this fascinating region.
Your package includes:
- Bethlehem Visitors Center
- 1810 Goundie House
- Guided 20 Stop Historic Walking Tour*
- Accommodations at Sayre Mansion*
- Moravian Museum*
- Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts*
- Colonial Industrial Quarter*
- 1761 Tannery*
- 1761 Smithy*
- 1762 Waterworks*
- Accommodations at Sayre Mansion*
- Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum*
- Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour*
- Steamtown National Historic Park*
- Steamtown Steam Train Excursion*
- Electric City Trolley Museum*
- Accommodations at Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel*
- Eckley’s Monier’s Village*
- Lansford #9 Mine Tour*
- Historic Church Driving Tour
- Panther Valley Anthracite/Molly Maguire Driving Tour
- Accommodations at the Inn at Jim Thorpe*
- Historic Walking Tour in Jim Thorpe
- Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad Excursion*
- Asa Packer Mansion*
- Accommodations at the Inn at Jim Thorpe*
- Walnutport Locktender’s House
- Historic Walking Tour of Easton
- National Canal Museum at Hugh Moore Park*
- Josiah White II Canal Boat Tour*
- Accommodations at Lafayette Inn*
- Delaware and Lehigh Canal Drive
- George Taylor House Tour*
- Biery’s Port Historic District/ Lock 36
- Lock Ridge Iron Furnace
- Accommodations at Glasbern Inn*
- Burnside Plantation Tour*
- Gateway Aviation Air Tour over the Lehigh Valley*
Option Inclusion / Add-Ons
- Evening Theater Performance
- Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour
- Lehigh Log Cabin Tour
- Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Bucks County
Prices starting at: $859 per person, double occupancy * Included in package cost
Packages available March through October, based on availability and seasonal rate fluctuations. Single, triple, quad and hotel only pricing available. Vouchers and complete directions provided for each trip. Air and car hire (trip cannot be completed without a car) booked by others. Package can be customized to suit client’s needs.
To Book Call: 877-485-8747 or E-mail: email@example.com