Walnutport and Slatington lie on opposite sides of the Lehigh River, south of Lehigh Water Gap. Walnutport, in Northampton County, was a collection of a few homes and only one street prior to the opening of the Lehigh Canal in 1829. The canal brought more people and businesses to the community. By 1874 Walnutport had one school, four hotels, an office for the Twin City Slate Quarry, a depot for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, a dry goods and grocery store, a canal boat repair business and a locktender’s house at Lock 23. South of town were locktender’s houses at Lock 24 and Lock 25, which was located a short distance north of Lockport.

Slatington, in Lehigh County, was a growing community of approximately 400 people in 1855. The inhabitants were primarily Welsh immigrants who worked in slate quarries and factories of the Lehigh Slate Company, which planned the community in 1851. Slatington became the center of the region’s slate industry. In its heyday, slate was used for everything from durable roofing shingles to chalk boards in schools. The Lehigh Slate Company’s quarries, in and around Slatington, were among the largest in the United States and furnished some of the country’s highest quality slate.  In 1873, there were eight large slate companies employing 600 men.

But a large portion of Slatington’s growth and success is also directly tied to the opening of the Lehigh Canal, and the ease of shipping that resulted. The town further blossomed when the Lehigh Valley Railroad opened in 1856.