BY TONY IMHOF 1/12/97
Coal in Catasauqua – In the 1920’s there were several coal dealers in town. Along Lehigh Street below Race Street Dan Milson had his yard. Coal was delivered by canal boat or by coal cars on a siding serviced by Central Railroad of New Jersey. Above Pine Street Wint Company was also served by Central Railroad. At the foot of Wood Street, Catasauqua coal and ice was served by a spur from the Lehigh and New England Railroad.
Dan Milson told me he was the first oil dealer in Catasauqua. He had a small building along the L&N siding, south of the Catasauqua Creek, just east of Lehigh Street. The oil was delivered in barrels and was probably kerosene or coal oil as it was called in those days.
George Deily’s coal yard at Union Street was filled by canal boats. He carried the largest supply of all sizes of anthracite coal. Each boat load carried 90 to 100 ton of coal. The boats usually arrived in the afternoon, each half of the canal boat was turned around facing north. The mules were fed and bedded down in Deily’s barn.
The coal yard contained two high poles with arms set at 45 degrees, with pulley and ropes that carried a large steel bucket. The arms would be swung out over the canal boats, the bucket removed and a filled bucket attached, lifted clear and swung over the coal piles, a trip rope unlatched and dumped the bucket. The raising and swinging was performed by two horses that walked back and forth between the poles. Three workers were needed to unload. One walked the horses back and forth and two were in the hold of the canal boat filling and changing buckets.
The unloading started about 4 a.m. along with a shouting in Pennsylvania Dutch. The workers consisted of George’s regulars, Pres Searfass, Ed Hoch, Ed Cambell and George Oldt. They were hard working men who when they weren’t unloading coal drove and delivered coal with horse and wagon. When they couldn’t keep up with deliveries, Ed Oldt would send the Desmond brothers to help. Ed Oldt ran the local Livery Stable. In winter sleigh runners replaced the wheels on the wagons. The other coal dealers used motor trucks for delivery.