"The first workers' whistle [at Packerton Yard] sounded at 5 a.m. as a wakeup call while the second at 7 a.m. was the signal for the men to start work."
Thomas D. Eckhart
The History of Carbon County, v. III
When the Lehigh Canal was completed in Weissport in 1829, it sparked significant growth both there and in Lehighton. Soon after, in 1835, railroads began competing with the canal for transporting anthracite coal and other goods to major markets.
First came the Beaver Meadow Railroad, which constructed a single track from Beaver Meadows to Parryville. Twenty years later, the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) used this same railroad bed to extend its tracks from Mauch Chunk to Easton. In 1863, the LVRR established sprawling railroad repair shops and a large rail yard at nearby Packerton. The next year, its competitor Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, which later became part of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, also extended its line through Lehighton to Easton.
Already an important regional railroad hub, Lehighton Borough was incorporated in 1866. Many railroad employees lived in Lehighton, making this one of the most thriving Lehigh Valley communities. This economic success lasted until the 1960s when almost all railroad operations came to an end.
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· The Lehigh Valley Railroad's Black Diamond was said to be the handsomest train in the world. It was nicknamed "The Honeymoon Express" because it carried thousands of newlyweds to Niagara Falls.
· Lehigh Valley Railroad established the Packerton Yards in 1865. The two-mile-long yards were not only a coal and freight hub, but also where the LVRR's wooden coal cars were constructed. After coal cars began to be made of steel, the shops remained a major car repair and maintenance site.
· At its height, Packerton Yards employed over 2200 men, many of whom commuted on LVRR trains from as far away as Allentown.