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Our Lady Lehigh

By Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development, CCEDC

Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development, CCEDC
Kathy Henderson

Carbon County has a jewel in the Lehigh River.  From the days of the Lenni Lanape Indians to the present, the Lehigh River has provided not just economic vitality and transportation but sustenance to those that live beside her, navigate her waters and enjoy her beauty.  

For thousands of years the Lehigh has flowed through Lehigh Gorge and Carbon County continuing south to merge with the Delaware River.  The Lenni Lenape Indians named the river – Lechewuekink which means “where there are forks”. 

Josiah White harnessed the waters of the Lehigh with canals to move goods to markets in Philadelphia.  History records this is what helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Towns sprung up along the river and the area grew.  It was reported there were more millionaires living on Broadway in Jim Thorpe than in the entire country at the time. 

More recently companies guiding whitewater rafting and kayaking trips have become very successful and provide not just jobs but also a way of life.  This industry has helped tourism become one of the biggest economic drivers for Carbon. Visitors come from as close by as the Lehigh Valley and as far away as other countries. Our Ski areas also are tied to the river.  Some pull water directly from the Lehigh to make snow while others draw from the river’s tributaries.  

Now Pennsylvania as a member of the Delaware River Water Basin Commission is being asked to agree to a change to the operations of the F.E. Walter Dam which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and oversees the whitewater releases.  

As stewards of our county’s natural resources, we must all work together to protect those resources for our future.  Not just for the outdoor industry but for any potential businesses that may require fresh water to operate and most importantly for our future generations to use and enjoy. 

It is imperative that we speak up and make our concerns heard now to our state legislators and to the governor.  Gov. Wolf is a voting member of the DRWBC and needs to know our concerns about the study that is being proposed and its potential effect on our county.  The legislators need to hear from you so they know your concerns and can work towards a resolution. Please reach out to them and make your voices heard.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease. In this instance we need lots of squeaky wheels.  

If you need help in contacting your legislator, please feel free to reach out to CCEDC for that information or go online to Rep. Doyle Heffley at www.repdoyleheffley.com ; Sen. John Yudichak’s website at www.senatoryudichak.com , and Governor Wolf’s website at www.governor.pa.gov .  

Since this is also at the federal level, reach out to Cong. Dan Meuser’s office at www.meuser.house.gov. and Senator Bob Casey at www.casey.senate.gov

Together we can make a difference and help to protect the legacy of our Lady Lehigh for generations to come.