Oral History

Freemansburg became a thriving canal town after the Lehigh Canal opened in the summer of 1828. In addition to hosting a steady stream of canal traffic, the busy town of 600 people was the site of three boat-building businesses that produced 80 to 100 canal boats a year until the businesses ceased operating in 1870.

Named after Jacob Freeman, Freemansburg was a hub for local farmers who brought their grains to be made into flour at a large grist mill next to Lock 44. Freemansburg also was home to coal yards, a carriage factory, saw mill, a soap and candle factory, tinsmith, and other small businesses. An early fire company was built in 1855 across Main Street from the Freeman House, a tavern that was operated by Jacob Freeman as early as 1830.

The famous Walking Purchase of 1737 crossed the Lehigh River at Jones Island at the west end of Freemansburg.