[ Main ] Educator's Guide
Outreach Initiatives
[ Site Map ]
Geology | Lehigh River Watershed Explorations | Weather | Environmental Issues | Data Collection Activities

When exploration of the Lehigh River first began, the lumbering industry was extremely prominent in the area. In order to build the first arks that traveled down the river, it was necessary to cut down trees. Before the canal was built, these arks were destroyed once they reached their destination because they could not be sent back upstream. Lumber was still needed later in order to build the canal boats that would operate on the Lehigh Navigation. It was also used for various other things such as homes and mine props. In order to get this lumber, a large number of trees needed to be cut down. The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company owned the land surrounding the canal and leased it out to lumbering companies, not realizing that this would eventually help lead to the canal’s downfall.

Lumbering was extremely detrimental to the environment and contributed to floods that destroyed the Lehigh Navigation on various occasions. The Lehigh Gorge and the area located above it had been heavily involved in the lumbering business. By 1860, the area above the Lehigh Gorge had been almost cleared of all trees. In 1862, rain began to fall in the area for a prolonged time. The runoff could not be absorbed by the bare slopes of the mountain and caused the Lehigh River to rise to 27 feet above its normal level. The dams on the canal could not maintain this enormous amount of water and a tidal wave swept down the Navigation. Logs were also used to hold up the dams, and these were swept away as the dams burst. The water and logs led to the destruction of the entire Lehigh Canal. Only the section from Mauch Chunk to Easton was rebuilt (Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museum).


The Basics of the Lehigh River | Early Life along the Lehigh River | The Canal | Cities on the Lehigh River | Industry

Curricular Activities | Lehigh River Photojournal | Water Quality | GIS | History | River Exploration | Fast Facts
LEO EnviroSci Inquiry is brought to you by the Lehigh Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University.
Copyright ©2000-2011 Lehigh Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University. All rights reserved.