Carbon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 65,249. Its county seat is Jim Thorpe, founded in 1818 as Mauch Chunk, a company town of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company (LC&N) as it built a wagon road nine miles to their coal mine at today's Summit Hill, and constructed the Lehigh Canal navigations. In 1827, that wagon road became the nation's second operating railroad, the Summit Hill & Mauch Chunk Railroad which is regarded as the world's first roller coaster, which became its main function between 1873–1931. The area around Mauch Chunk was known as the "Switzerland of America", the long wide slack water pool above the Lehigh's upper dam being surrounded by Mauch Chunk Ridge, Bear Mountain, Pisgah Ridge, Mount Pisgah, Nesquehoning Ridge, Broad Mountain and their various prominences and summits. Another railroad first, the first railway to operate steam locomotives as traction engines and prime movers in the United States was the Beaver Meadows Railroad, which connected from mines west of Beaver Meadows and Weatherly on the opposite side of Broad Mountain along a water path through the Lehigh Gorge at Penn Haven Junction (once supporting five railroads) to the Lehigh Canal opposite Lehighton.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 387 square miles (1,000 km²), of which 381 square miles (990 km²) is land and 5.9 square miles (15 km²) (1.5%) is water. Blue Mountain forms the southern boundary of Carbon. The northeast area of the county is located in the Pocono Mountains and the northwest area includes portions of Broad and Spring mountains. It is drained by the Lehigh River except for a small area in western Packer Township and the borough of Lansford that are drained by the Still Creek and Panther Creek, respectively, into the Little Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River, and the Audenried area in the northwest corner that drains into the Susquehanna River via the Catawissa Creek. The Lehigh cuts a gorge between Jim Thorpe and White Haven which hosts the Lehigh Gorge State Park.
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,802 people, 23,701 households, and 16,424 families residing in the county. The population density was 154 people per square mile (60/km²). There were 30,492 housing units at an average density of 80 per square mile (31/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.82% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 1.46% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 29.4% were of German, 10.1% Irish, 9.2% Italian, 7.9% American, 6.6% Slovak, 6.0% Polish and 5.8% Ukrainian ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 23,701 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.80% were married couples living together, 9.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.70% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.93.
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