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Remember: The Canal Parks: Northampton

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Canal Parks: Northampton

Taking the advantage of an unseasonably warm (mid-forties) December afternoon with no precipitation, I hurriedly made my way to the Northampton Canal park yesterday upon waking. The Lehigh Canal had as much historical impact in this area as did the Bethlehem Steel (You can read about it here), and now, years after the industries that used the canal to rise to importance have faded; the history is preserved in a series of parks connected by the D+L towpath.

This Canal Park is located about 4 towpath trodden miles from the Canal Park in Hanover Township. The D+L trail saunters in under a high bridge and meets the Northampton Canal Park over the mingling of the Hokendaqua Creek and the Lehigh River. As it enters the park, the towpath looks as it does in Hanover Township. It is surrounded by young trees and a mostly empty Lehigh Canal.

The Canal itself disappears in Northampton and where it was, this park now exists. There is still a reminder here and there of what once was a bustling waterway of industry.

The Northampton Canal Park is about 2 miles long. It runs alongside the Lehigh River with a paved trail, buffeted from Northampton itself by ball fields, occasional playgrounds, and exercise equipment.

This ribbon of park is unique even in the briefest observation. With the wild river on one side and the typical recreational aspect of a city park on the other, depending on the angle of eyesight, it would be hard to determine whether one was standing on a trail of wilderness or on a trail of recreational managed wildlife.

Of the four Canal Parks I have visited on Remember, the experience at each one has been completely different. Here in Northampton, I felt the greatest connection to the Lehigh River especially without the Lehigh Canal present inside the park.

The park ends at a small dam in the River near another bridge.

A D+L towpath trail head signals the journey ahead that will take the trail out of the cement belt and into coal country.

While visiting the park, I must tell you of a rather unique experience, the likes of which I have yet to be witness to anywhere else. As I walked down the park’s path, I saw a group of Canadian Geese meandering about in one of the baseball fields.

They paid little attention to me as I passed and I climbed down the bank of the river to meet the water. There was another group of geese there, and these fellows seemed rather bothered by my presence and immediately fled into the swollen waters of the river. As they began moving swiftly with the river’s current, one of the geese began honking wildly. I turned to listen and heard a response from one of the geese in the ball field. I climbed back up to the park path listening to an increasingly frantic call and response from the two geese that were now separated by the angry river. Getting back on to the path, I saw the geese from the ball field rapidly waddling ahead of me towards the river.

The call and response continued loudly and seemingly worriedly. The geese from the ball field made their way in the Lehigh, stopping to take a drink first.

A few minutes later and the call and response ceased. I walked back towards the parking lot and turned to see the geese reunited, bobbing in the swift water, silently. I suppose, that briefly, I was lucky to hear the Goose Music of Aldo Leopold in the Northampton Canal Park.

“If, then, we can live without goose music, we may as well do away with stars, or sunsets, or Iliads. But the point is that we would be fools to do away with any of them.” –Aldo Leopold

See Also:
Canal Park (Allentown): Complete Park Log
Sand Island Park
Canal Park: Hanover Township

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Blogger michael molovinsky said...

nice post, am somewhat familiar with that area. interesting that their sign says "no bikes", apparently the spandex coalition has yet to exert themselves there.

December 28, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger LVCI said...

At the North end of this is are DO NOT ENTER signs.. so we did :-)

The bike ride we took on May 11, 2001 was not part of Canal Park and as of 2001 was not actually developed for bike riding.

Perhaps one day it will connect to Walnutport's canal area through Laurys Station, Pennsylavnia but for now it remains privately owned and has Private Property signs posted.

Here's a slide show video I made (4:04 Minutes)

December 28, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come the trash and junk wasn't removed from the Lehigh Canal before it was filled with water again. Talk about dropping the ball. Duh!

December 29, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No dogs? Count me out. Why walk along the trail if you can't take your well trained dog? What bullshit.

December 31, 2009 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and that whole thing about not cleaning up the Lehigh Canal in Allentown, major bummer! An insult to the whole reigon. These are the people you trust to give you a smart trails network? Good luck down there in Atown. Nice work on your blog.

December 31, 2009 at 9:08 PM  

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