Palmerton is a borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is located in the coal region of the state. It is a part of lower Carbon County, which is considered part of the Lehigh Valley and the greater Allentown Metropolitan Area.
The population was 5,248 at the 2000 census.
Native Americans lived in the area that is now Palmerton for many years. Early European settlers established the villages of Hazard and Little Gap, which were part of Lower Towamensing Township. There was also an underground railroad station there.
In 1912, the New Jersey Zinc Company located a zinc smelting operation (what is now the West Plant) here, in order to take advantage of the anthracite coal being mined just north of Palmerton and the zinc mines in Franklin, New Jersey. The town was named after New Jersey Zinc's then-President, Stephen S. Palmer, though Palmer was reportedly not pleased with having his name on the town.
A second location, the East Plant, was established on the other side of town in 1911. Though other industries, such as several garment manufacturing shops, came to Palmerton, the zinc company was the major employer for most of the town's history. Much of the population was brought to the site, principally from Eastern Europe, in order to work in the zinc plants.
Palmerton was officially incorporated in 1912.
Zinc smelting was ended in 1980 due to a poor zinc market and environmental regulation. The West Plant was demolished in 2010. The East Plant continues to operate at reduced capacity, processing electric arc furnace dust into zinc calcine.
Palmerton once had a movie theater called the "Palm Theater," which now is the location of the highrise for Senior Citizens-The Palmer House-that sets on 360 Delaware Avenue.