Last Friday, Northern Lehigh Future Focus (NLFF) and the Borough of Slatington held two press conferences—one to unveil five interpretive panels along the Slate Heritage Trail and a second to dedicate two kiosks at the Slatington Trailhead of the D&L Trail. All of the signs had been produced in partnership with the D&L, who paid half the cost of the signs with a DCNR grant and offered technical support for writing and designing the signs. The Slatington signage joins over 500 signs produced by the D&L through our Visually Speaking signage program.
Robert Stettner of Northern Lehigh Future Focus dedicates the new signage.
The five interpretive signs along the Slate Heritage Trail had been in the works for a few years. Nick Sander, then a Kutztown history major, and Dave Altrichter, a local historian, did most of the preliminary research and writing of the text a couple of years ago but nothing more was done with the materials, and the signs were put on hold. Within the last year, NLFF, a local community group, spearheaded the effort to see them through to completion. As a result, Marilyn and Buddy Kaul, with whom the D&L has worked on signage related to the Walnutport Canal, began supplying historical images and text ideas to Amey Senape—our historic resource specialist. Amey helped compile the materials, rework the text to fit word limits and layout requirements, and usher the signs through the production process. Friday’s unveiling, therefore, was the culmination of a long process that involved the D&L, NLFF, the Northern Lehigh Historical Society, and the Borough of Slatington. The result is an attractive series of signs that interpret Slatington’s rich community and industrial history.
Nick Sander unveils one of the interpretive signs he helped author.
The kiosks at the trailhead had followed a more typical path between conception and completion. Two of the panels—Exploring the Corridor and From Rails to Trails—came from the D&L and explain the basics of the D&L and the process of converting old rail beds to trails. The third panel was designed by Northern Lehigh Future Focus and features a detailed regional map that shows trail connections and former railroad lines. The larger kiosk also includes a bulletin case for trail and community information. These two kiosks are only the latest edition to a popular trailhead. Located at the intersection of the Slate Heritage and D&L trails, the trailhead is within walking or riding distance of most Slatington and Walnutport residents. When the trail section between Slatington and Laurys Station is completed by Lehigh County and the D&L, the Slatington Trailhead will serve as a prime spot for launching long distance hikes and bikes to the north and south.
Silas Chamberlin, Gary Fedorcha, and Dale Freudenberger pose in front of one of the new kiosks.
As part of my remarks at the press conferences, I noted that Slatington is a model for how a community can embrace trails to improve the lives of residents and attract visitors. With two multi-use trails in town, the Appalachian Trail a mile or so to the north, Lehigh Gap Nature Center’s nearby footpaths, and the Walnutport section of the D&L Trail across the river, Slatington is becoming a regional destination for people who want high-quality trail experiences. Now the trail experiences of residents and visitors alike will be enriched by the new signage.
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