Evening Cruises on the Lehigh Canal, with dinner and history!

July 11th, 2014

Spend a pleasant summer evening cruising on the Lehigh Canal aboard the Josiah White II, listening to songs and stories about life on the canal while enjoying a delicious Victorian-style picnic dinner. The first of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor’s “Conversations on the Canal” begin on July 26 with a two and a half hour trip to Hugh Moore Park’s Lock 47, the only working lift lock remaining on the Lehigh Canal.

As we float serenely down the canal, towed by the lovable mules George and Hank, history will come alive through the songs and stories of canal life and lore by canal historian Rich Pawling. In addition, the National Canal Museum’s archivist, Martha Capwell Fox, will recount the history and national significance of the Lehigh and Delaware canals, as well as explain what is happening as the Josiah White is lowered and then raised in Lock 47, which is also known as the Abbott Street lock.

The dinner menu will feature picnic foods from the nineteenth century, prepared by The Culinary Experience of Hellertown, voted the Lehigh Valley’s best caterer of 2014 by Lehigh Valley Magazine. The ride aboard a canal boat is smooth and silent—we’ll have breaks in the entertainment and interpretative talks to allow us to listen to the quiet of the natural surroundings of Hugh Moore Park.

The cost for this event is $39 per person or $75 dollars for couples. Two other “Conversations on the Canal” evening lock rides are currently scheduled, for August 23 and September 27, and a Saturday afternoon lock ride is tentatively scheduled for October. For information on reservations and tickets, please contact Loretta Susen at Loretta@delawareandlehigh.org or 610.923.3548 Ext: 221

An “X” Marks the Spot

June 25th, 2014

The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L Trail) is known for its beautiful pathways that offer scenic views of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, wildflowers, birds, and other wildlife. While most people use the trail for activities such as hiking, biking and running, there are some individuals that use it as ground for their treasure hunts.

Geocaching has become very popular within the past few years, especially along the Lehigh River in the Lehigh Valley. Instead of the old fashioned treasure map that has an “X” to mark the spot of a treasure location, people use geocaching.com to log GPS coordinates where their treasures are hidden.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
This is an activity that anyone can participate in and it only has a few rules: If you take something from the cache, you have to leave something of equal or greater value. After you find the cache, write about your find in the logbook that is with it and log your experience at www.geocaching.com.
If you have always wanted to go on a real-life treasure hunt, you might want to give Geocaching a try this summer.

Native Plant Gardening in the Lehigh Valley

June 17th, 2014

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is passionate about preserving the environment, sharing the culture of our region and positively impacting our communities. Hence we are pleased to introduce 2014’s first guest blogger and a key D&L partner. Dan Kunkle is the Executive Director of Lehigh Gap Nature Center. He is largely responsible for the directing the regeneration of Lehigh Gap and creating the new Conservation Landscaping Program being applied throughout the region.

Guest Blog written by:
Dan Kunkle, Executive Director of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center

Lehigh Gap Nature Center has taken an ongoing effort to promote native plant gardening and landscaping with native plants and turned it into a major project for the Nature Center. The Conservation Landscaping Program, as we are calling it, had its roots in the habitat gardens project around the Osprey House and expands our Rare Plant Garden Network as well.

The idea for the major project was initiated when Bernie Story, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) spoke with LGNC Director Dan Kunkle and invited him to apply for a grant for a conservation project that would involve other conservation entities in the Lehigh Valley. A successful application provided a $20,000 grant that has been leveraged into over $82,000 for year one of the planned five-year project. Included in that leveraging was a $15,000 mini-grant from the Lehigh Valley Greenway Conservation Landscape, a project administered by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.

It also included a grant from the Rider Pool Foundation to work on gardens in the city of Allentown, and funding to enable us to hire Kate Brandes as the part-time project manager.

Collaborators in the Conservation Landscaping Program steering committee include Moravian and Muhlenberg College faculty members, D&L Heritage Corridor/Lehigh Valley Greenway, Nurture Nature Center, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Wildlands Conservancy, and Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

So far in year one of the program, three projects have been completed. In May, we implemented phase one of our Allentown Urban Gardens Project when we replaced 21 front yard lawns on North 7th Street in Allentown with native plant gardens. This project is designed to beautify this heavily traveled gateway to the city and create habitat for native bees and a corridor for pollinators, such as butterflies. We also supported workshops and a native plant sale in Bethlehem by providing workshop participants with vouchers to help purchase native plants.

Another project, which was completed in June was done in collaboration with C.F. Martin, Inc (better known as Martin Guitar) in Nazareth. At a prominent location in the front of the famous Martin facility in Nazareth, we installed more than 200 native shrubs and perennials and an interpretive sign, plus Martin added another section to the garden on their own. Many visitors to Martin Guitar will see these gardens and read the sign. Nurture Nature Center in Easton also received support for plants for their urban pollinator garden that was already in progress when we contacted them about our Conservation Landscaping Program.

In addition to these projects completed in spring, 2014, we have other projects lined up for autumn at Moravian College, Muhlenberg College, Trexler Park in Allentown, Circle of Season Charter School in Fogelsville, and at the community gardens at Jordan Meadows in Allentown. And this is just year one of what will hopefully be a five-year project. More workshops are being planned as well. If you know a school, business, corporate campus, municipal property, non-profit property, or other publicly visible space at which the owners are potentially interested in conservation landscaping, please have them contact Kate Brandes at kate@lgnc.org or call us at 610-760-8889.

A Perfect Spring Day Along the D&L

May 7th, 2013

Written by Jeremy Ebersole, National Park Service Northeast Region Heritage Areas Communications Coordinator

I was very privileged to spend a beautiful day last week getting my feet dirty and exploring the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor with Executive Director Elissa Garofalo.  We traversed about half the length of the Corridor from the small wooded town of White Haven in the north down to the bustling streets of Easton in the south, stopping to chat with friends from partner organizations, take in stretches of the D&L Trail, and enjoy the sights along the way.  What I saw throughout the day was not only incredibly interesting but a lot of fun as well.

Our first stop was in White Haven, a canal-meets-railroad town best known today for rails-to-trails hiking and great paddling opportunities.  These attributes are getting another leg up thanks to the construction of a new trailhead for the D&L Trail, which will provide improved access to and from the town and the shops and restaurants it provides to trail users.  And on a hot day along the trail, what a benefit it will be to be able to hop just a few blocks away to the brand new White Haven Area Community Library, It’s getting ready to open in the old Lehigh Valley Railroad Engine House thanks to initial support and assistance from D&L.

White Haven Community Library

As we headed south along the gorgeous drive to Jim Thorpe I heard the fascinating saga of this “Switzerland of America,” renamed in the 1950s to honor the man many call the world’s greatest athlete.  Just outside of town we visited the Lehigh Gorge trailhead and learned of the dedication and perseverance used to connect the D&L Trail to the town across the Nesquehoning Trestle over the Lehigh River thanks to an innovative “rail plus trail” scheme that takes trail users safely mere feet from the railroad.

Nesquehoning Trestle

After a quick photo stop at the lovely Lehigh Canal Park in Weissport and a delicious lunch stop at Lorenzo’s Pizza in Bowmanstown, I heard about the vast soil depletion of the Lehigh Gap area as a result of local zinc smelting and the subsequent ongoing effort to reestablish vegetation in the area.  After years of trial and error, I discovered at the nearby Lehigh Gap Nature Center, the struggles are certainly paying off with some attractive and healthy vistas.

Weissport Trailhead

Our final stop was at the headquarters of the D&L in Easton’s tranquil Hugh Moore Park, sharing a building with the National Canal Museum.  I arrived just a tad late and missed an Immersion Day, the annual spring-time educational program that will reach 2,000 students this season by using canal stories to meet a number of state education requirements.  I also got a quick glimpse of a few of the over 100,000 items in D&L’s archives.  From local history, to documents tracing the rise and fall of canals, to intriguing artifacts like old miner’s tags, this collection was impressive indeed.

Lehigh Gap Nature Center

The D&L is just one of 20 active National Heritage Areas in the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, stretching from Virginia to Maine, and almost 50 across the country.  All of these critical regions are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally-important landscape.  It is a grassroots, community-driven approach to the important work of heritage conservation and economic development through, in Elissa’s succinct words, “connecting, preserving, revitalizing, and celebrating.”  The Park Service provides technical, planning, and limited financial assistance to the heritage areas, and last week overlooking the Lehigh River and seeing the smiles on residents’ faces, I could not have been prouder of the work we’re doing together!

Check out Interactive Maps of D&L Heritage Marathon & Half-Marathon Routes

April 16th, 2013

The second annual Delaware & Lehigh Marathon & Half Marathon will be held on Sunday, November 3, 2013.

For more information or to register online, click here.