Dec 16, 2011

The Dinosaurs of Sumner Avenue

Up to the early 1950's, Allentown was heated by coal, and much of it came from Sumner Avenue. Sumner was a unique street, because it was served by the West End Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The spur route ran along Sumner, until it crossed Tilghman at 17th Street, and then looped back East along Liberty Street, ending at 12th. Coal trucks would elevate up, and the coal would be pushed down chutes into the basement coal bins, usually under the front porches of the row houses. Several times a day coal would need to be shoveled into the boiler or furnace. By the early 1970's, although most of the coal yards were closed for over a decade, the machines of that industry still stood on Sumner Avenue. Eventually, they took a short trip to one of the scrap yards which are still on the avenue, but not before I photographed them.

photocredit: molovinsky


Anonymous said...

Used to live close to these businesses. The seed company and coal business plus the large coal
company up near 17th Street. Your photos are very good and always entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I can clearly recall the old days. Between November and March, the sound of coal being delivered. There was a distictive sound as the coal went from the delivery truck, down the metal chute, into the basements of so many Lehigh Valley homes.