An artist’s view of the village of Shamokin in 1851

In 1851, an artist from Philadelphia made his way into the anthracite coal fields of Eastern Pennsylvania. James Fuller Queen wasn’t yet the popular artist he’d become during the 1860s – he was yet honing his eye for the budding industrial landscapes in the Keystone State.

James Fuller Queen, (LOC)

During his 1851 expedition, he made numerous sketches in the vicinity of Shamokin and Mount Carmel in Northumberland County. These sketches document communities that grew out of the Pennsylvania wilderness as people poured into the Coal Region in search of fortunes made on the increasingly valuable anthracite veins running beneath the area.

Many of these sketches are preserved by the Library of Congress and have been made accessible online.

This sketch, made during Queen’s 1851 visit to the Coal Region, shows Shamokin as it appeared in this early era from the Mount Carmel Road.

Shamokin at this time was at a major transition moment. The town had been laid out in 1835 and became rapidly populated by newcomers. By 1850, however, the old railroad had become worn out and small mining operations had begun to peter out. This left the town in shabby condition when Queen arrived. This can be seen in Queen’s sketches. The town was on the verge of a rebirth in the early 1850s. New mining techniques and steam locomotives on the railroads ushered in a prosperous era in the years following Queen’s depiction of Shamokin.
Shamokin, Pennsylvania in 1851

Featured Image: Shamokin, PA in 1851 by James Fuller Queen.

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