Feb 8, 2011

Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers


In this era of class warfare, while we worry that the rich are only paying 35% income tax, instead of 39%, let us be grateful that once upon a time we had the Robber Barons. In this era when we have to give a grant for some woman to open a small cookie shop on Hamilton Street, let us be grateful that men built railroads with private money. Let us be grateful that incredible feats of private enterprise built piers, bridges and trestles. Trains allowed us to move vast amounts of raw and finished materials across America. This network allowed us to protect ourselves during two World Wars, and provided the prosperity upon which we now rest.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks extended from their piers in New Jersey to the shores of Lake Erie. The Mile Long Pier in Jersey City was the scene of German sabotage in 1916. A train full of munitions, awaiting shipment to Europe, was blown up on July 30th of that year. In 1914, the railroad built the longest ore pier in the world, in Bayonne. The ore would come from Chile, through the new Panama Canal, for shipment to Bethlehem.

5 comments:

gary ledebur said...

MM: I will take the bait. One additional reason to be grateful for the robber barons is the contribution of Charles Schwab the early Bethlehem Steel magnate. Schwab had the keen knowledge to bring several hundred workers from San Juan and Ponce to work in The Steel. He knew that since they were from a warm climate they were ideally suited to work around the blast furnaces. Their grandchildren (now numbering in the thousands) thank you for fighting to give them the county run nursing care they so richly deserve.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i hope you don't mind me mixing some historical fact with your provocation. had you found my blog sooner, you would know that my maternal grandfather also came to work at the steel, from hungary. steel did encourage puerto ricans and mexicans. The mexican community here is mostly descended from that period. not so for the puerto ricans, most did not stay in the area. the current puerto rican demographic is from after the steel closed. i hope that the current demographic does get to avail themselves of existing county nursing homes, we all deserve it.

gary ledebur said...

MM: I think you have a prepaid package at Gracedale. I did not know about the Mexicans--Are there many in the valley?

michael molovinsky said...

there is a sizable community. the old guard from the steel days (1920's) are located mostly in south bethlehem and hellertown. the new wave, here from the migration in the west moving east, is scattered about.

Anonymous said...

The Mexicans are in Reading....by the millions.