Historic Sites and Landmarks In Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley’s historic Moravian Bethlehem, a tentative for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, draws both U.S. and international visitors as it has provided a unique, historically rich, and culturally significant way of life for over 300 years. Hundreds of thousands of visitors each year tour the city, SteelStacks™, and the historic sites found throughout.
Explore Bethlehem’s Colonial roots at Burnside Plantation, a 6.5-acre farm and living history museum that was a centerpiece of the city’s Moravian community in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include a 1748 farmhouse, picturesque apple orchards, and a rare High Horse-Powered wheel—an early manufacturing device. Really an attraction in and of itself, the Hoover Mason Trestle overlooking SteelStacks™, is an elevated 1/3-mile walkway built along the railway that once hauled iron ore to Bethlehem Steel’s blast furnaces. The cantilevered structure is part-museum, highlighting the site’s steelmaking history, and part-attraction with dramatic entrances, a Wi-Fi-guided walking tour, benches, landscaping, and a photo op with the rusted-out furnaces— one of Pennsylvania’s most unique urban strolls.
You can actually touch – and ring – a replica of the Liberty Bell that rests at the Liberty Bell Museum in Zion’s Reformed United Church of Christ in Allentown. The site was not only where America’s most famous symbol of freedom was hidden during the Revolutionary War, but it also served as a refuge during Indian raids, a hospital, and a meeting place for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Down the street from the Bell’s hiding spot and adjacent to the PPL Corporation headquarters is a building in place of what was once the height of opulence, Hess’s Department Store. There’s also the story of silk and in Catasauqua the first commercially successful anthracite coal-powered iron furnace in America. It’s no wonder the Lehigh County Historical Society (located within the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum) is dubbed one of the largest historical societies in Pennsylvania with the impressive collection they maintain. More than 35,000 historical artifacts, 80,000 vintage photographs, and 3-million+ documents facilitate research on genealogy, maps, newspapers, photographs, county records, and so much more.
While these sites form a triple crown for history lovers, the region offers much more for anyone fascinated by glimpses of the challenges, culture, and quirks of colonial and industrial life.