Travels Through North America, during the years 1825 and 1826
By His Highness,
Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach
After dinner I took a ride with Dr. Stickel, in order to examine a new lock, lately established on the river Lehigh. Within a few years they have opened important coal works, about thirty miles from this place, at Mauch Chunk, on the other side of the Blue Mountains ; these mines furnish Philadelphia and the neighborhood with the well-known Lehigh coals, which are much better than the English coals. These coals were formerly shipped in light boats near the pit, and floated down the Lehigh into the Delaware to Philadelphia, and the boats were then broke to pieces and sold, on account of the falls and strong current of the Lehigh, which prevented their return. As even the navigation down the river was frequently obstructed on account of low water, and encumbered with difficulties, the company owning the mines, made a dam in the river, through which canals pass with locks, by means of which they have improved the navigation.
In the vicinity of the Lehigh, there are many limestone rocks; these they explode, partly for the purpose of having heavy stones, which are thrown on the dams, partly for burning them to lime. The burned lime is not only used for building, but also as manure for the fields.
We returned from the locks to Bethlehem by another road; on account of their distance from the coal pits, these locks are called the thirty-seven mile locks. We passed through a well cultivated valley, wherein is situated a place called Butstown, settled by Germans, and consisting of a few neat brick buildings. Thence the road passed through an oak-wood, which appeared to be in very good order, and belonged to the brotherhood. In the evening I went with Mr. Seidel to a concert, which the amateurs of the town gave. In the town-school is a room appropriated for these concerts, which take place weekly. The orchestra consisted of eleven musicians, all of whom were mechanics of Bethlehem, who very successfully practiced this art as amateurs. The greatest part of the religious service of the brotherhood consists of music; for this reason music constitutes a principal part of their education. The music was fine beyond all expectation; I heard very good male and female singers; amongst others were Mr. Seidel and one of the young female ushers of the boarding-school, Miss Humphreys. Finally, the good Bishop Huffel had the politeness to amuse us, to our great gratification, by performing fancy pieces of his own on the piano. After the concert I remained a few hours with Mr. Seidel, his wife is a German by birth; moreover, I made acquaintance with a preacher, Mr. Frueauf, a native of Dietendorf, near Gotha; he married a sister of Mr. von Schweinitz, and lives on his income; I found in him a friendly old gentleman, who was rejoiced to meet a countryman. Moreover it was no trifling gratification to me, to have conversed this whole day in German, and to hear that language spoken in purity, which is hardly ever the case in other parts of America.