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Remember: APL:Lehigh Parkway Part Two- Robin Hood

Thursday, May 21, 2009

APL:Lehigh Parkway Part Two- Robin Hood

Visiting the Parkway today, I took what I am going to call the main loop of the park. We started at the main bridge by the old WPA staircase. Immediately at the parking lot are the remnants of what looks like an old spring house.

If you were playing disc golf, the first hole is actually over the old stone structures that I assume belong to the old spring house and aquifer. Further down in a marshland, an old stone bridge sits which I assume again was part of this spring house set up. (It would be nice to see some signage here that would explain what in fact it was)

As we began to walk the gravel park path my friend Matt noticed this to the left of us:

There was no signage to indicate a trail but the path was pretty well manicured in most parts (a bit of last fall and some fallen trees make a few parts dicey) and a very enjoyable little hike.

The woodland trail ends near Earl’s Bridge.

It is also near what is left of an old boat launch. I have seen and walked on the stairs many times over the course of my life but I had no idea what they were (you can barely tell they are even there); until I read this post on Molovinsky’s blog.

The Parkway runs its course in the deep shadow of Allentown’s history. During the sixties the Parkway (Robin Hood) was a hangout for hippies and featured concerts. I know Deep Purple played there.

Eventually, the crowds of people were banned and slowly over time the park was closed to automobile traffic. My dad used to drive through there all the time when I was a kid.

Even farther back, a proposed railroad was to be built where the Parkway is. The last vestiges of this railroad are present in the lime kilns:

and in a disintegrating wooden bridge on one of the parks far edges, past Earl’s bridge. There were far more kilns at one time but they were dismantled and rebuilt as the regal stone staircase and wall by the main entrance of the Parkway as a WPA project in the 1930’s.

I spent a significant time doing research trying to glean some Parkway history out of a lot of books but until this afternoon I could find nothing. After what was my thousandth different worded Google search I stumbled across a railroad message board that the one and only Frank Whelan posted on in 2002. That information about the railroad is fully explained by him in this post.
It is a shame that the city has yet put some sort of signage around these Allentonian landmarks. They do have great signage for the fitness walk and for each activity:

I imagine that the majority of people my age and younger will never have a clue as to what most of these structures were or why they are in the park. For as great a park as the Parkway is, and it is a great park, it could really benefit from a greater historical perspective. I still have no idea what most of the spring edifices were and I can’t find much information out about Bogart’s Bridge.

The living history in the Parkway needs no markers. During my excursion today I was able to see hawks, blue jays, many assorted songbirds and a few floating mallards and their vibrant color and sound let me know exactly who they were. The May apples littering the wooded areas, the intoxicatingly sweet honeysuckle, and various early blooming wildflowers let me know they were there as well. Trying to take a picture of the main structure of the remaining lime kilns, a large garter snake was pointed out at my feet and he certainly made his presence known as I ran away, screaming. I didn’t think I was afraid of snakes but hearing my friend Matt yell “SNAKE!”, caused a pretty intense fear reaction…




Yellow Iris (Yellow Flag):

I hope that as plans for park revitalization and renovation move forward; that some forward thinking city official with a perspective of Allentown’s history moves to get some markers and preservation acts moving for the history that is being neglected in the Parkway.

This is only part two of my journey into the Parkway and a third part should be following tomorrow. There is a lot left to see down there.



Blogger Sarina said...

Nice photos. The parkway is gorgeous, and it's my favorite park in the LV.

May 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM  
OpenID nosferatu318 said...

Btw is the picture at the top of your page from the train tracks in Vera Cruz? I really recognize that view but i can't quite figure it out.

May 21, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

The picture at the top of the page was taken just past the city limits of Allentown in South Whitehall Township.

May 21, 2009 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Thanks for taking us along on a walk with you! Can't wait to see the park in the fall - it's lovely.

May 21, 2009 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew, there never was a spring house, but that pipe was hidden by a flat walk across stone., then there were a series of small stone lined ponds and the little stone bridge, before emptying into the creek. my plans to publicize my meeting next saturday, may 30, Faith Baptist Church, have been hampered by a "frozen shoulder" last year a high school student contacted me looking for info on the local WPA, there is none. Union Carbine Gas works and Reicherd Rendering were both serviced by the rail spur line. I ask those interested in saving at least the memories of these landmarks to join me next saturday. thanks

May 22, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Thank you for the information Micheal. It is really hard to find any.

May 23, 2009 at 10:27 AM  

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