There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Pottsville’s history is tied to anthracite coal like a twisted pretzel braid. Its beginnings with the black diamond date to 1790 and the whimsical legend of a careless hunter named Necho Allen. Seems he fell asleep one night at the base of the Broad Mountain and woke to the sight of a large fire. His campfire had ignited an outcropping of coal. By 1795, an anthracite fired iron furnace was established on the Schuylkill River. In 1806, John Pott purchased the furnace and then founded the city of Pottsville. The site of Pottsville was originally located in Chester County. Subsequently Pottsville became part of Lancaster County, then Berks and ultimately in 1811 Schuylkill County. The borough of Pottsville became Schuylkill County’s seat in 1851 and developed into its only city.
Construction of the Schuylkill Canal, which ran a distance of 108 miles along the Upper Schuylkill River, was completed to Port Carbon by 1828 to transport the coal to larger markets. The canal spurred the development of more anthracite mines, and before long, the anthracite production in and around Pottsville was largely impacting America’s Industrial Revolution. The nine counties in northeast Pennsylvania contain 97% of the country’s anthracite coal reserves (the type of coal with the highest heating value, containing 86-97% carbon) and by 1854 half of all coal produced in America was Pennsylvania anthracite.
The growth of mine-related industries produced a population surge as immigrants came to work in the mines. The population doubled between 1820 and 1840. This led to the development of businesses, churches, and schools. Other industries grew up to support the mines. One was the Phillips Van Heusen company which was founded in 1881 when Moses Phillips and his wife Endel began sewing shirts by hand and selling them from pushcarts to the local coal miners.
During the 1870s, Pottsville’s began its greatest period of prosperity, an era that would last until the Great Depression. In the 1920s Pottsville even fielded one of the most powerful professional football teams in the country. After winning the championship of the Anthracite League comprised of Pennsylvania mining town teams in 1924, the Pottstown Maroons (supposedly named for the color of their jerseys) joined the National Football League in 1925. They won their first game against Buffalo 28-0 and finished the season 9-1-1 and beat the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL championship game 21-7. The title was later taken away, however, when the team played a college all-star team and so the Pottsville Maroons were stripped from the NFL record books. The franchise left for Boston in 1929.
The region survived the Depression because of the demand for coal and the Works Project Administration that created jobs through the construction of City Hall and the old Post Office. After World War II, however, recession in the mines struck the region hard. Hundreds moved as mines shut down and construction of a bypass routed traffic away from the downtown. Our walking tour will get off that bypass and begin at City Hall, the last major building constructed in downtown Pottsville...