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The History of Lehighton

In 1746, Moravian pioneers settled in an area between the Mahoning Creek and the Lehigh River. In 1754 the Moravians moved to the east side of the Lehigh River and New Gnaden Huetten was established. After a massacre in 1755, New Gnaden Huetten was abandoned by surviving pioneers.
In 1756 Benjamin Franklin, the Commander for defense, arrived with over 200 men in force to the deserted and devastated New Gnaden Huetten settlement where his men proceeded to build the Fort Allen (the present site of the original Franklin Well). Settlers began to establish homes in and around the fertile land of the Gnaden Huetten area.

In 1742 the first school opened, organized by the Moravians in the Gnaden Huetten settlement. Informal church services were held in the early 1800’s with the first formal chapel built in 1816. After that many faiths began to meet in the area making Lehighton the "city of churches."

In 1784 Col. Jacob Weiss arrived from Philadelphia and purchased 700 acres between what is now Parryville and Long Run. In 1792 Col. Weiss and William Henry, a surveyor from Philadelphia then planned the town of Lehighton west of the Lehigh River. The new town was named after the Lehigh River which is derived from the Indian word "Lecla" or left fork of the river.

In 1805 the first wooden bridge was built over the Lehigh River between Lehighton and Weissport. Other replacement bridges followed after being destroyed by floods.

The first post office opened in 1812, followed by the establishment of taverns, a general store, a furniture store and a bank.

In 1827, the Lehigh Canal was dug by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co. and transportation of goods to Philadelphia and points south became feasible. Forty years later the Lehigh Valley Railroad was extended from Easton to Mauch Chunk, changing the popular mode of transportation from canal to rail.

The Borough of Lehighton was incorporated in 1866. In 1867 industries such as the Lehighton Stove Works, Obert’s Packing House and the Central Carriage Works moved into the Lehighton area. Later the Rolling Mills came as well as the Lehigh Valley Energy-Wheel Co., the Fort Allen Foundry, the Baer Co. and the Lehigh Wagon Co. The first newspaper was started in 1872 and the town’s first fire company established in 1874.

The Lehighton area has survived Indian attacks in the mid 1700’s and many devastating floods whose raging waters on occasion destroyed lives, homes and businesses. In 1955 the Francis E. Walter Dam was built up river to protect the Lehighton area from future destruction.

The mid 1900’s brought the creation of a Community Library and the Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital. The PA Turnpike Northeast Extension Mahoning Interchange was built linking the Lehighton area to other large metropolitan areas. Many civic organizations formed to support the town as the community began to grow both in population and in new businesses.

Material Copyright © 2013 Lehighton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Page last updated: November 9, 2013.