A Photographic History of the New Jersey Zinc Friedensville Mines
New Jersey Zinc acquired the Friedensville Mines in 1899 and periodic exploratory drilling was carried on until 1940 when sufficient reserves were proved for development of a mine. Shaft sinking was started in 1947 and, due to the difficulty in managing the water flow into the mine, was not completed until 1952. Production began in 1958 and, by the late 1960s, the mine was producing about 64,000 tons of zinc concentrate each year. The concentrates were trucked to the Company's smelter in Palmerton, PA. The mine also produced from its mill tailings industrial and agricultural grades of limestone for commercial markets. The NJZ Friedensville Mine closed in 1983 and the property was purchased by the Stabler Land Company. In 2012 the Stabler estate transferred the property to Lehigh University.
From 1916 until 1958, the New Jersey Zinc Company published an employee oriented magazine known as ZINC. Many of the photographs shown below are from various articles in ZINC devoted to the early development of the Friedensville Mines. Additionally, Lehigh University Special Collections has accumulated an extensive collection of photographs related to the construction and operation of the Friedensville Mine. The gallery includes many photographs from this collection taken in the 1956-1958 period, during the construction of the mill building and during the early operation of the mine. We are also indebted to others indicated in the Acknowledgements section below for individual photographic contributions and interpretation of this tribute to New Jersey Zinc's Friedensville Mine.
The Wettest Mines in America
As in the 19th century mines, water intrusion was always the greatest challenge faced by the mining company and their staff in the 20th century. While the amount of water to be removed varied from time to time, in the late 1960s it averaged 18,000 gpm and in the 1970s 25,000 to 30,000 gpm and, on a few occasions, exceeded 44,000 gpm total pumping capacity. When these incursions occurred, the mine operators had 20 minutes to close the bulkhead doors which allowed the mine to flood while protecting the shaft and pumping stations. Over the life of the mine, dewatering pumps were added at three levels in the mine with the main station was on the 1520 level. While the 19th century solutions was The President, an immense single cylinder walking beam steam engine, in the 20th century batteries of state-of-the-art electric driven pumps was the method used to tackle water problems. The cost of coal to run the massive pump in the 19th century was a significant burden on the operating cost of the mine, in the 20th century, the Friedensville Mine was the largest single electricity customer of Pennsylvania Power and Light. The slide show below is dedicated to the water pumping system at the NJZ Friedensville Mines.
Friedensville Terrace Concurrently with the mine development, NJZ constructed local housing for mine employees and their families. The housing development was known as Friedensville Terrace and consisted of 25 Dutch Colonial style homes on two specially constructed streets a quarter mile from the mine entrance. The homes were gas heated with water supplied by the city of Bethlehem. The exteriors were colored green, buff, brown and slate. Inside, each home had five rooms and a bath with space for an additional room in the attic. Each had a one car garage attached. The homes were first occupied in September 1953. This residential area remains largely intact today.
Acknowledgements In addition to Lehigh University, special credit is owed to "Rusty" Taft for preserving many of these wonderful mine photographs and seeing that they were safely transferred to Lehigh Special Collections. Also, we are indebted to Ken Cox, Don Habersberger, Mike Kaas and Walt Toepfer - all New Jersey Zinc Company alumni - for providing additional photographs and assisting with documenting and properly captioning the images. A special "shout out" to Bob Lanning, the son of NJZ engineer Mayo Lanning, who has contributed greatly to our understanding of both the 19th century and 20th century mining through his photographs, childhood reminiscences, artwork and unsanctioned explorations! The New Jersey Zinc Company alumni note that H. B. (Jim) Wiles, the first manager to run the mining operations, was an essential force in the successful operation of one of the most challenging mines in the world,