COMMERCE | Monroe County Historic Photo Album

Lumber and agriculture in the summer, ice in the winter, tourists year-round to enjoy the beauty — from natural resources grew Monroe County’s first industries.

Sawmills turned timber into lumber. Bark suitable for tanning hides prompted tannery construction in Barrett Township, Stroudsburg and other sites. Grist mills ground agricultural crops.

Bricks were made from Kunkletown to East Stroudsburg. Evergreens became Christmas trees and holiday decorations, while elsewhere on the mountain, huckleberries, chestnuts, hickory nuts, and maple syrup were harvested. Quarrying operations yielded flagstone, building stone, slate and sand. Ice houses on Saylor’s Lake, Trout Lake, Mountain Spring Lake, Lake Naomi, Stillwater Lake, Pocono Lake and lakes at Tobyhanna thrived until electricity made the need to refrigerate with ice obsolete. Water from Ross Commons Springs, long appreciated for its curative properties, was being bottled by 1888 for sale throughout the East.

With the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing began in earnest in the late 1900s, and Monroe County companies put the area’s healthy wood supply to use in making clothespins, shoe pegs, window sashes, brooms, matches, barrel hoops, baskets, pulp and paper, piano stools and other needs. Waste leather scraps from tanning were combined with tanite to make solid emery wheels.

Mills and factories prompted development of other businesses to repair and service their iron tools and machinery. As the population grew, so did the need for retail shops and shopping districts to supply goods ranging from foods to clothing to gift items for tourists. Shopping districts thrived in Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg and other areas with large varieties to offer consumers. Retailing innovations included the chain store, and in 1911 Stroudsburg became the site of the first of J.J. Newberry’s nationwide chain of “5 and 10 cent stores.”

* Update: Newberry’s closed in 1997 after 86 years in business.