The legacy of Slatington's Asher Boyer lives on through the completion of the Lehigh Valley portion of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
State, Lehigh County, and borough officials dedicated a 6.2-mile trail of the D&L National Heritage Corridor at a ceremony Monday at the new Slatington Trailhead.
The new section of the trail runs from Main Street in Slatington south to Laury's Station. It follows the former Lehigh Valley railroad bed, and is one of several key stretches needed to complete the 165-mile trail from Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, to Bristol, Lower Bucks County.
Elissa GarofaloThorne, heritage development specialist, D&L National Heritage Corridor, said the Northern Lehigh area is blessed with various nonprofit organizations such as Northern Lehigh Future Focus and the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce.
"This stretch of trail has been embraced by the community," Thorne said. "It's being used on a daily basis."
Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham said the stretch – known as the Asher Boyer Trail – was named after the Slatington youth who helped create it while a Boy Scout. Asher passed away in 2004.
"This particular trail has a special meaning for all of us," Cunningham said. "We know that Asher's up there smiling at us for completing his work."
U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent said it was "very appropriate" the county decided to dedicate a good portion of the ceremony to Asher.
"I'm really pleased we're dedicating this 6.2-mile portion," Dent said. "It is a critical stretch for this trail, and I'm extremely excited about this."
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretary Richard Allan said the dedication marked a "momentous occasion."
"This is one of the leading trail-building communities, if not the best, in the state," Allan said. "This is about providing a higher quality of life in the Lehigh Valley."
Allen Sachse, executive director of the D&L National Heritage Corridor, said that in 1993, the D&L Heritage Corridor released its plan to the public, at which time it said it would put a trail together from Bristol to Wilkes-Barre.
"I never thought it would happen," Sachse said. "Things are starting to happen now."
After the ceremony, Allan and Debra Boyer said Asher would be pleased to see how the Slatington trail turned out.
"It's tough; we're awful proud," Allan Boyer said. "He was just a great kid."
Debra said Asher "did so many different things."
The Lehigh County project includes the construction of the Slatington Trailhead, and a second trailhead at Cove Road in North Whitehall Township.
The project was supported by Slatington, Washington Township, North Whitehall Township and Whitehall Township.
The new portion of the trail parallels the Lehigh River through a scenic portion of Lehigh County that includes high cliffs and forests.
Major funding for the project was provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Lehigh County's Green Futures Fund. The D&L National Heritage Corridor, Lehigh Valley Greenways, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Lehigh County Department of Community and Economic Development also provided funding.
The county received a $265,000 matching grant from DCNR to construct the new section, while local sources made up the balance.
The D&L Marathon/Half Marathon will utilize the new trail for its 26.2-mile course on Oct. 23.
The D&L National and State Heritage Corridor fosters stewardship of historical, cultural, and natural resources along the early canal and railroad systems that carried anthracite coal from mine to market in eastern Pennsylvania.