Hikers and bikers on the Slate Heritage Trail, Slatington, will learn more about the area they are passing through, thanks to a project of placing five wayside signs along the trail. The signs were unveiled on Aug. 27.
Nick Sander, son of Cindy and Joseph, needed a project to complete his summer internship at Kutztown University, where he was a history major. He is now a civics and world history teacher at Slatington High School.
Jody Nestor heard about the internship and approached Sander about doing the signs. She and David Altrichter, members of the Northern Lehigh Historical Society, worked with Sander as he developed the wording and pictures for the signs.
Bob Stettner and Dan Stevens, president, picked up the project for Future Focus and provided money, along with grants from the Delaware and Lehigh Corridor and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to have the signs made. The borough of Slatington installed them.
Stettner said it will provide a larger experience for the adventurers on the trail. He acknowledged Ted Kistler, president of the Northern Lehigh Historical society, and said previous projects of the Society included the covered bridge across Trout Creek, a rest room and the beginning of a second one, and that it is now working on a garden at the Bedbug Cave, so named because it was the site of a mattress factory. The cave portion of the name comes from the fact that there was an earlier quarry on the site that spread under the town.
Sander spent a summer internship reading and talking to local residents. Many of the materials came from Altrichter.
The historical signs telling of the many structures along the railroad cannot be overvalued, said Stettner.
The passenger trains that traveled the path that is now the trail brought students to Slatington High School "on the hill behind us." There were steps up to Main Street where the school was located.
The National School Slate Company made Slatington the "Blackboard Capital of the World."
Silas Chamberlin, a resources specialist from the Delaware and Lehigh, thanked the historical society and Future Focus for partnering with the D&L.
The Slate Heritage Trail and D&L are great community assets. Along with the Lehigh Gap Nature Center trails they provide a great walking opportunity, he said. Slatington as a community bought into the signage project.
When the DCNR provides grants it checks to see that it meets the needs of the community.
Marilyn and Everett Kaul sat down with the D&L people in Easton as the project was being planned.
"We look forward to working with you in the future," he concluded.
"On behalf of Future Focus and the historical society, I want to thank Nick (Sander) and the Slatington Borough crew for installing the signs," said Stettner.
"It thrills me that we've finally completed this project," said Altrichter. To Sander he added, "We were thrilled that you were smart enough to come here."
Sander said, "I was at the right place at the right time."