According to summithillborough.com, Summit Hill, Pennsylvania was founded 1791 by a hunter named Philip Ginder when he discovered Anthracite coal on Sharp Mountain, now called Summit Hill. From 1973 to 1991, I called Summit Hill my home – until I departed for college and professional life. The town’s heyday, due to the mining of Anthracite coal, was in the opening decades of the 1900s. According to the U.S. Census, the town grew from 2816 in 1900 to 4209 in 1910 and to the peak of 5406 in 1940.
By the time my parents were in high school – in the ‘60s – the mining industry was more of an afterthought. Summit Hill’s population followed the jobs to Bethlehem Steel, the military and wherever jobs could be found. All of the small-town high schools consolidated in 1964 to become Panther Valley High School. By the time I was a kid, the town’s population was back below the mark set in 1910. Since 2000, the population has settled to around 3000 residents.
Why all of this talk of a small Pennsylvania Anthracite coal town 38.5 miles northwest of Allentown and 20 miles southeast of Hazleton? Well, after I mention that I grew up in a small town – with the 1991 high school graduating class of 75 between the towns of Summit Hill, Lansford, Nesquehoning and the aptly-named Coaldale – I’d qualify it with the fact that in Summit Hill, in it’s entire 225-year history, has never had an electric traffic light. Apparently, we remained ‘just small enough’.
During the boom years of Summit Hill, about 360 miles to the west in Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic lights were introduced. The date was August 5, 1914. Back in those days, drivers most likely endured road conditions even worse than those in present-day Baltimore and you may have encountered some horse ‘products’ at the stop. For 2016, that date is today. 102 years later, the electric traffic light is the place where you may look left or right and see people fiddling with their infotainment systems or worse, their phones. Better than horse ‘exhaust’? Debatable.
Now that we’re a few days into August, it’s time to tear into the dictionary. ‘August’ has a meaning of ‘being respected and impressive’. Since Saturday, March 31, 2012, it has been an honor to be in the presence of such august company. To come this far, our weekly assemblage has to be dominated by respected and impressive enthusiasts. Thank you for paving the way and setting the example for all of the enthusiasts that have come along over the years. You’re the coal in the fire, the fuel in the engine and the power to the lights of Hunt Valley Horsepower.
Let’s enjoy the warm weather – and streak of dry skies – while it lasts. See you down the road!