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State canal buffs to tour Lower Lehigh Navigation

  • AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS In this file photo members of the D&L Trail Tenders erect a sign as they ready for the opening of the Lehigh Canal Park in Weissport in 2007.
    AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS In this file photo members of the D&L Trail Tenders erect a sign as they ready for the opening of the Lehigh Canal Park in Weissport in 2007.
Published April 14. 2011 05:01PM

The Pennsylvania Canal Society is coming to Carbon County for its 2011 Spring Field Trip. From Friday evening, April 29 through Sunday, May 1, the society hosts presentations and tours of the Lower Division of the Lehigh Navigation and the early industries that developed along the corridor.

At the Hampton Inn in Lehighton on Friday evening, Dennis Scholl, will begin with a presentation on the Delaware & Lehigh trail system, and maintenance of the Lehigh Navigation towpath by the Lehigh Trail Tenders volunteer organization. Scholl is the outreach coordinator with the D&L National Heritage Corridor.

This will be followed with a slide show of historic photographs from the collection of canal researcher Wouter deNie, presented by canal historians Gordon Perry and Bill Lampert.

On Saturday, the society will hold a bus tour to visit lock ruins, dam ruins and points of historical interest along the Lower Division of Lehigh Navigation. Starting from Jim Thorpe, they will follow the canal southward.

The tour will include: Rickert's Coal Yard in Weissport, intact cold cellars at locktender houses along the canal, the Walnutport Locktender's Museum, Mauser Mill in Treichlers, Laurys Station, Biery's Port, Deily Coal Yard, the historic Catasauqua silk mills, and the cement kilns at Northampton, which provided cement for the Panama Canal.

The field trip continues to the only ice house in Pennsylvania where canal ice was floated into the warehouse for storage, Canal Boat #249, the only surviving Lehigh Coal & Navigation canal boat, and the ruins of the locks, dams, mills and locktender houses that once were part of the navigation system.

Saturday's tour concludes at the Freemansburg locktender's house complex, which includes a mule barn and grist mill, and where amateur archaeologists will discuss their excavation of the mill site. Charlie Derr will guide a tour of the site, where the movie, "A Farmer Takes a Wife," was filmed.

On Saturday evening, John Miller hosts a Lehigh Canal presentation, to be followed by the film, "The Bridge that Spanned the World," a movie depicting the industrial revolution in the Severn River Valley in England, and its spread to the Lehigh Valley.

The spring field trip concludes on Sunday with a morning board meeting, and an optional afternoon walking tour led by members of the Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association that includes the Silk Mills, the Crane Iron Works, and Puddlers Row.

The Pennsylvania Canal Society, founded in 1966, is a nonprofit educational organization incorporated in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to preserve the rich canal heritage in Pennsylvania, to promote the preservation and restoration of existing canal sites, to encourage canal research, and to make available to the public materials on canals, their operation and history.

The society, in cooperation with Hugh Moore Park, helps to maintain the National Canal Museum in Easton, which also has the society's research library and archives. Twice each year, the society conducts weekend field trips to canal sites in or near Pennsylvania. Society members are available to speak, present illustrated lectures, and conduct guided tours of canal sites.

To participate in the Pennsylvania Canal Society's 2011 Spring Field Trip, download a form from, or call Bill Lampert at (215) 262-5506. Reservations are required by April 20.

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