A Historical Driving Tour for the northern half of Towamensing Township

For a complete list of all the identified historical sites in Towamensing Township contact the Township Historical Commission. The meetings of the Commission are open to the public, and are held on the second Wednesday of the month at the Municipal Building on Stable Road.

This is a driving tour only. Please do not bother the owners of these sites. Two of the stops are open to the public, but the rest are privately held. Mileage is cumulative. Remember that odometers can be slightly different. The tour starts at the Kibler School, and there are 15 stops.

0.0 miles: Kibler School at 6495 Pohopoco Drive (1). The school is maintained by the Kibler School Committee of the Palmerton Area Historical Society, and it is open to the public on Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 1 to 3 p.m. Built in 1898, Kibler was one of nine such schools in the Township. In 1955 a new consolidated school was completed, and the one-room school houses were closed. Kibler School was moved from the corner of Pohopoco Drive and Penn Forest Road to its present location in 1995. Head east toward Kresgeville.

0.5: The Chemical Building (2). The chemical building, the Wild Creek Reservoir, and the intake tower were a New Deal WPA project to supply the city of Bethlehem with water. The intake tower and reservoir overlook were closed to the public after the 9/11 attack, but, if the gate is open, you can drive to the front of the chemical building, where at one time chlorine was added to the water supply. The building is an example of New Deal architectural style. Continue east.

1.0: Reuben Haydt Barn and Farmhouse at 7665 Pohopoco Drive (3). The “bank barn” is the most typical barn style used by Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in this area. The barns generally had a ramp--the bank--built up on one side of the barn, allowing wagons to drive directly on to the second floor. The center door opened on to a thresh floor, with a hay mow on one side and a straw mow on the other. Animals were kept on the bottom floor, which made it easy for the farmer to throw hay and straw down from the mow. Continue.

1.9: Turn right on Koch Road. The farmhouse on your left at 1290 Koch Road (4) was built in 1887 and was recently used as a bed and breakfast. Although the barn burned years ago, you can still see the poultry house, hog house, and corn crib. Continue on Koch Road.

2.6: Koch Road Bridge (5). You can park near the bridge and walk down to Pohopoco Creek for a better look. This arched one-lane bridge, built in 1916, is slated for replacement, although the Township Historical Commission would like to preserve it as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. A plaque on the bridge lists some of the County officers when the bridge was built, but be careful of traffic if you walk on the bridge. The Pohopoco Creek enters Beltzville Lake about 1/4 mile downstream from the bridge. Continue on Koch Road to Route 209.

3.2: Right on 209

3.4: Right on Trachsville Hill Road. At the bottom of the hill you will cross the upper reaches of Beltzville Lake.

4.1: The remnants of a slate quarry (6) are to the right next to the small stream, although it is more visible in the winter when the leaves have fallen. The Township had at least two slate quarries, and you can hike to a Franklin Township quarry on Sawmill Trail. Slate north of the Blue Mountain was of poor quality, although two quarries did produce slate for a number of years in Lower Towamensing Township. Continue on Trachsville Hill Road.

4.4: The Eva and David “Babe” Haydt farmhouse at 1010 Trachsville Hill Road (7). The house was built in 1872. This farm included the fields beyond the house, which have been developed since the advent of Beltzville State Park. Mr. Haydt’s farm supported a large family, and many of his descendants live in the immediate area, including two sons who live on Trachsville Hill Road. Continue.

4.7: At the stop sign, turn left on Pohopoco.

6.0: At the top of the hill turn right on Station Street.

6.3: Veer right on Lovitt Road. Bethlehem Municipal Water Authority land is on your right, and at the top of the hill you can see the fence that surrounds most of the watershed.

7.6: Veer right on Owl Creek Road.

7.9: Graver’s Orchards and farm stand (8). Mr. Graver’s farm is one of five in the Township enrolled in the Penna. Farmland Preservation Program, and he is one of only three farmers in the Township who make their living farming. Farming was the dominant economic activity in the Township into the 1960s, and it remains an important part of the economy.

8.2: Graver’s bank barn at 865 Owl Creek Road (9). This is one of the older barns in the Township, built, we believe, in the 1880s. Part of the foundation is missing on the east side. Bank barns are disappearing in the Township as agriculture has declined. The barns are expensive to maintain, often have slate roofs, and make lousy garages and storage sheds, so they are frequently allowed to deteriorate or are torn down.

8.6: Otto barn at 865 Owl Creek Road (10). In the 1940s and 1950s many farmers turned to raising chickens. Whenever you see a bank barn with rows of windows, that barn has been converted to a chicken house. The Otto barn is an example.

9.3: Stay left at the intersection with Hemlock Street. A short distance later Owl Creek Road becomes Pine Run Road. Continue straight on--do not turn right.

9.8: The Smith Farm on Pine Run Road (11). Most of the farmers in this area were Pennsylvania Germans, usually called Pennsylvania Dutch, from the word “Deutsch.” A typical farm had a large farmhouse, bank barn, pig pen, chicken house, butcher house, corn crib, and blacksmith shop. Farmers grew wheat, oats, rye, corn, potatoes, and hay. Most farmers had a cow or two for their own milk, chickens for eggs and meat, pigs that were butchered in the winter, and a vegetable garden for canning. Many farms also had apple, cherry, pear, and peach trees, and often some woodland for lumber and firewood. The Smith Farmhouse was built in 1874.
10.9: Right on Pohopoco. Almost immediately turn left into Beltzville State Park. Continue toward the lake. Turn right at the 2nd road and then left into the parking lot. Drive toward the lake. On your right will be Bucks Covered Bridge (12), built in the 1880s. You can park and walk to the bridge. This bridge originally spanned the Pohopoco Creek (called Big Creek by most of the area residents) about two miles upstream. The Army Corps planned to burn it, but after protests from local citizens, it was moved here instead. Return to Pohopoco Drive.

11.3: Right on Pohopoco Drive. (The 11.3 may vary; depending on how much driving you did around the parking lot.)

12.1: After you cross the bridge over Pine Run Cove, take the first left on Deer Lane.

12.3: Pine Run School (13). After the one-room schools were decommissioned in 1955, they reverted to the farm families who originally owned the land on which the school was built. Pine Run School is now used to store equipment, hence the doors on the east side. Cars have run into the school twice, but Mr. Stout, the owner, has now put up a barrier to protect the school. The school was built about the same time as Kibler School on your first stop. Continue on Deer Lane.

13.4: Christman barn at 1255 Deer Lane (14). This barn, like the Otto Barn, was converted for chickens. As far as we know, Mahlon Christman has the only commercial chicken operation in the Township. His son also raises pheasants for sale to hunting clubs. If you look on the right side of the road you can see the enclosure for the pheasants.

13:4: Turn right on Lakeside.

13.6: The Rex house at 520 Lakeside (15). A well-maintained farmhouse built in 1887. Continue on Lakeside.

14.1: Left on Pohopoco Drive.

14.4: The Johnson farmhouse at 5255 Pohopoco Drive (16). The Johnson Farm was among the first to be subdivided. In most township subdivisions the original farmhouse was retained. This is one of the few houses in the Township that predates the Civil War. It was built in 1847.

14.9: The small bridge at 5735 Pohopoco Drive (17) on your left was part of the original road that ran along the valley from Harrity. The owners, George and Janet Green, are maintaining it. Continue.

15.2: If you look to fields on your left, you can see a new crop of houses being planted on excellent farmland.

15.7: You should be back at Kibler School.

We hope you have enjoyed the tour. You may also take a historical tour of southern Towamensing. Contact the Towamensing Township Historical Commission for a copy

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