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Slatedale banners depict quarrying history of village

Published July 03. 2010 09:00AM

Since it was a major producer of roofing slates in its heyday, the village of Slatedale couldn't be more aptly named.

Over a century-and-a-half after its inception, banners will dress up its Main Street in an effort to remind residents of the town's past slate industry.

Northern Lehigh Future Focus will hold a news conference and banner unveiling on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the front lawn of the Salem United Methodist Church, 4019 Main Street, Slatedale.

The press conference and unveiling will introduce the new Slatedale banners, which will be hung on light poles throughout the village. In the event of inclement weather, the press conference/unveiling will be held inside the church.

Designed by former Kutztown University Communication Design student Sean Allison, the banners are based on Slatedale's slate industry and its Victorian architecture, according to Robert Stettner, member of NLFF.

"The banners were designed with Slatedale's slate heritage and Victorian architecture in mind," Stettner said. "The banners will serve as a constant reminder to residents and visitors that Slatedale is a historic slate quarrying village, which played a major role in the area's slate industry."

The 12 30" X 48"double-sided banners that will adorn the light poles depict a large Victorian House below a slate bank and derricks, and include writing which says "Slatedale A Historic Slate Quarrying Village, est. 1856".

Funding for the banners was made possible through a grant from the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and a local Adopt a Banner Program held in Washington Township. Additional monies were secured from the township and NLFF.

The township will maintain the banners, which will be displayed from spring through fall. The NLFF coordinated the banner project.

George and Nelson Larbar came to the area and opened the first slate quarry in Slatedale, the Locke Quarry, in 1848.

Hard slate was found to be the best for roofing shingles. Slatedale had an abundance of this hard type of slate, thus many slate quarries were opened and the village grew and prospered in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Crescent Slate Company was known for the manufacture of the federal government roofing slate. The slate roof on Independence Hall in Philadelphia and many other government buildings comes from Slatedale. An extension of the Lehigh Valley Railroad from Slatington to Slatedale opened in 1870, making it easier for the western slate quarries to ship their products to market.

Today, only the Penn Big Bed Slate Quarry remains in operation. It still produces roofing slates, and a variety of other slate products such as blackboards, mantels, turkey calls, and slate flooring.

In April, NLFF unveiled new Main Street banners to be hung on light poles on the new General Morgan Bridge in Slatington.

Funding for those bridge banners was made possible with a Street Amenities Grant from Lehigh County. Those banners were designed by local artist Patrick Bechtel of Slatington, and are based on old school slates.

The 16 24-inch-by-18-inch double sided banners depict a school slate, as well as the writing on the "slate portion" with the words "Slatington established in 1864," the year of Slatington's inception. Also, the words "Blackboard capital of America" are included, which is a nod to Slatington's one time distinction of producing more school slates and blackboards at the height of the local slate industry than anywhere in the country.

Previous banners were erected along Main Street in 2004, in recognition of Slatington's National Register Historic District, and to welcome people to the borough.

The NLFF is a Slatington based community visioning group serving the Northern Lehigh area. For further information regarding the press conference and banner unveiling, contact Stettner @ 610-767-7626 or

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