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Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Trolley cars were once a regular feature of Carbondale. This photo from the 1880s shows a crowded trolley car on Main Street.

At the beginning of the 19th century, when Northeast Pennsylvania was first being settled, places like Philadelphia and New York had already been bustling cities for a century or more. But while the recorded history of our area is shorter, it is no less fascinating.

One of the places where that history begins is Carbondale, which was among the earliest settlements in the region. So there's plenty to talk about in the new book "Carbondale," by resident James J. Racht. The book is part of Arcadia Publishing's ongoing "Images of America" series. Other installments have looked at Scranton and Lake Ariel, among many others.

Racht encountered another book in the series a few years, and "I thought this type of book was a terrific way to learn a lot about a town in fairly concise and very enjoyable format" he said. "I felt that my adopted hometown of Carbondale would be a perfect subject. I set to work in putting the book together with the assistance of The Carbondale Historical Society and its director, S. Robert Powell. The CHS provided the vast majority of the photos and I acquired additional images from other organizations and individuals."

Putting the book together took Racht, the president and co-founder of ICON technologies, a computer engineering firm in Mayfield, about a year, but it was clearly a labor of love.

"I've been interested in history my entire life," he said.

Among his favorite photos in the collection is a view of Carbondale taken from a hill overlooking the city in the 1860s.

"It's the oldest photo I have ever seen of the city and it illustrates how the city and the nation have evolved over the centuries. I would love to take a modern photo from the same spot and compare the two side by side. This would be a very striking comparison."

Racht said he hopes his book will help solidify the city's place in the history of America.

"I think most people will be surprised by the important role that Carbondale played in the Industrial Revolution and in the growth of the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Carbondale truly played an absolutely critical role," he said.

You can buy "Carbondale" on line at