Lehigh Gap

Oral History

Lehigh Water Gap is located at a point in the Blue Mountain (Kittatiny Ridge) where waters of the Lehigh River eroded a wide opening eons ago. Blue Mountain rises approximately 1,000 feet on both sides of the river. Lehigh Gap has provided a natural passing point through the mountain for thousands of years, first by Native Americans and later by European settlers, tourists, canal boats, railroads, and finally, automobiles.

The Lehigh Canal was built on the east side of the Lehigh River. Canal boats heading north from Walnutport exited the canal at Guard Lock 3 at the north end of Walnutport, where Dam 3 was built to create slack water in the river. Mules walked a towpath that followed the river bank through the Gap. Boats re-entered the canal at Lock 20, just below an aqueduct that crossed Aquashicola Creek.

North of Aquashicola Creek is Marshall’s Hill, a prominent landmark that commands a spectacular view of the river, mountains and gap.

The hill, once crowned with four large mansions, is composed of deep red shale. It was called Eddy’s Hill until 1881, when Elisha G. Marshall had a 14-room mansion built on its summit. Marshall was a Civil War colonel who led an artillery brigade during the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia in 1865. He was captured by the Confederates and promoted to brigadier general upon his release. Marshall lived several years at the home before separating from his wife and moving to upstate New York.