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Shenandoah is a borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States, located in the anthracite-mining region approximately 200 miles (320 km) west of New York City and 108 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It is distinct from Shenandoah Heights, which is part of West Mahanoy Township immediately to the north.
The area that became Shenandoah was first settled by a farmer named Peter Kehley in 1835 where he cleared a patch of land at the center of the valley and built a log cabin. Peter Kehley maintained his farm for about 20 years in total isolation. He sold his claim to the Philadelphia Land Company, which in anticipation of the opening of coal mines in the area, laid out the town in 1862.
Booming growth occurred during the Civil War years caused by the development and opening of several anthracite coal mines. The area was incorporated as a borough in 1866 and was a famous hotbed of activity during the era of the Molly Maguires in the 1870s.
After the original influx of English, Welsh, Irish, and German immigrants a large influx of people from central, eastern and southern European countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Italy occurred in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century. By 1920, the town had a population of nearly 30,000 residents. The community was hard hit by the decline of the anthracite coal industry after World War II and heavy emigration by coal miners occurred in order to find work elsewhere.
In Schuylkill County Court, January 1902, those interested filed their petition for retail, wholesale, bottling or brewing licenses at the Office of the Clerk of the Court. Shenandoah was represented with bars and breweries. This coal town offered more bars per thousand people than any other location in the world.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station served as the main passenger terminal in Shenandoah, but because of the coal industry, it was not the only railroad to service Shenandoah.
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