I have long collected Towanda on postcards. The first postcard that I believe was published is credited to the Towanda Businessman’s Association and was undoubtedly like a Chamber of Commerce postcard used as a promo. The golden age of postcards is well represented with the main publishers being Towanda business establishments such as Boyle’s Book Store, H.L. Holcombe, Rubrights and Barney Loewus. Among them, Boyle’s Book Store appears to be the most prolific and probably includes postcards credited only to the national manufacturer such as A.C. Bosselman or Paul C. Koeber.

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Pennsylvania State College / Pennsylvania State University Postcards

Penn State is well represented on postcards although the majority features specific classroom buildings and dormitories or Penn State icons such as the Nittany Lion Shrine, Old Main and Beaver Stadium.  Postcards produced prior to 1954 are imprinted for the Pennsylvania State College; postcards produced after 1954 reflect the change to university status and the resulting name change.  Publishers identified by name are the major players in the Penn State story; other smaller firms or individual names may be found in the checklist.

The earliest postcards are non-divided backs and were mainly published by merchants in State College and Bellefonte.  They were followed in turn by a far greater number of divided back format postcards by local merchants including The Athletic Store, the latter using multiple national printing houses for production purposes.  One series printed for The Athletic Store by Commercial Color Card Co. in their CommercialChrome format saw an identical set appear bearing an imprint for J.A. Gardner Importing in nearby Tyrone.  Gardner’s series bear CommercialChrome production numbers; most but not all of The Athletic Store series do not.

The white border era saw a great reduction in number of postcards produced with only The Athletic Store remaining active.  The coming of the linen era saw a renewed interest in postcards produced with numbered sets issued by E.C. Kropp of Milwaukee, Ramsey Mebane of Wilkes-Barre, J.P. Walmer of Harrisburg and the Progressive News Agency located in State College itself.  A fifth numbered set also exists without publisher imprint and resembles postcards of the Progressive News Agency but subject content for specific numbers do not match.  Identity of the publishing company remains unknown to me.

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Mauch Chunk and Environs

Mauch Chunk, located in Carbon County surrounded by mountain ridges, was originally founded in 1818 and soon thrived due to rich deposits of anthracite coal found in the area.  The town became a major shipping point for anthracite coal bound for Philadelphia and New York markets via canal boats.  The major coal deposits were located to the west above the town.  As roads were primitive and wagon transport not cost effective, a gravity railroad was built from Summit Hill to Mauch Chunk (12 miles).  Loaded cars were coasted downhill via rail all the way to the coal loading chutes on the Lehigh Canal at Mauch Chunk and mules then used to tow the empty cars back to Summit Hill for re-loading.  As technology and innovation advanced two inclined planes were built on a return track that allowed cars to be towed up the inclines by cable and then coasted using downhill slopes to reach Summit Hill thus eliminating the need for mules.

Mauch Chunk was also often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its many mountain ridges and scenic vistas.  The town soon became a tourist mecca and the inclined railway did double duty as a tourist ride attraction.  Often called America’s first roller coaster, the cars with brakes and a conductor, reached an unheard of speed of 60 mph on its final downhill run providing the thrill of a lifetime for tourists used to moving at the speed of a horse or wagon on a primitive road or trail.  The coming of railroads in the area eventually spelled the end of the inclined railway for coal transport but the tourist use survived another half century before total abandonment.

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