The 18th Century village that was called Dorneyville, unlike other ancient crossroad hamlets in the Lehigh Valley, is not just a cluster of old buildings frozen in time. Instead, it continues to evolve, alive and bustling with activity and
pulsing with traffic.

“It’s flourishing,” says Jon A. Hammer, who has served as township manager for the past two years. Dorneyville’s busy-ness has a lot to do with its location at the intersection of Cedar Crest and Hamilton boulevards, and its proximity to Interstates 78 and 476 as well as Route 309,
Hammer said.

The King George Inn, now closed – with faithful diners hanging onto hopes of a rebirth – was built at what is now Cedar Crest and Hamilton in 1756 by Peter Dorney. That was a time when more animals than people occupied the territory. Cedar Crest, then called the Buffalo Trail, was a branch of the Old Warrior’s Trail that ran from the north over the mountains roughly along today’s Route 22. It’s always been a commercial hub, of sorts, but now it’s brimming with business.

The Dorneyville Crossroads Settlement was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The King George Inn, known first as Dorney’s Tavern, served as an inn or tavern under various names for 257 years until Clifford McDermott shut its doors in August 2012 after his 42-year run as owner. The Inn had always been a lively place and a convenient resting point for generations of travelers. It remained in the hands of the Dorney family until 1871.

The founding family had also erected three other buildings at the intersection’s corners – one for each of four Dorney brothers. A fifth house belonged to the Yeager family whose property eventually became the Cedar Crest College campus, according to “The Dutchman Remembers,” a typewritten manuscript prepared by Oliver C. Dorney 35 years ago and now on file in the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown. Dorney described the original buildings as “fine.”

Now, much of Dorneyville’s “happening” status is certainly due to the proximity of Dorney Park and the community of homes and businesses that has grown up around it. The park has its roots in a fish hatchery established by Solomon Dorney in 1860. His Fish Weir and Summer Resort included eight trout ponds and several picnic groves along the banks of Cedar Creek. Within a decade Dorney had added small playground games and rides, refreshment stands, and eventually a hotel and restaurant to accommodate the crowds.

This was the era when amusement parks were cropping up all over the East Coast and soon the park had a scenic railway, a cable ride, a circular swing and a Ferris wheel. In 1899, the Allentown-Kutztown Traction Co., owned by C.A. Dorney, Solomon’s brother, built a double-track trolley between the two towns with a stop at Dorney Park. The company bought the park two years later.

Then, as ownership changed hands several time, the park added a carousel, a casino, a pool hall and roller-skating rink. A new ride, the Zephyr, designed to entice visitors, created excitement during the Great Deression and rescued the park from closure.

Wildwater Kingdom with its exciting rides and pools added a whole new watery dimension to the park when it opened in 1985. Later came Dinosaurs Alive! with its 40-foot animatronic creatures hiding along wooded pathways, much to the delight of park-goers, especially small boys who seem to bond with the prehistoric animals.

The amusement park, continuing to update and re-invent itself with bigger and better ventures, thrives and drives economy in the Dorneyville neighborhood.  “It’s iconic. When people think of South Whitehall Township, I think Dorney Park is the first thing that comes to mind,” says Hammer.  Opening day this year is May 3.

For a little piece of history, visitors can stop by Haines Mill Museum and listen to the clatter of belts, grain buckets and rollers. The original mill was erected in 1760. Then, in 1909, after a fire left nothing but the outside walls, the mill had to be rebuilt. In 1956 the mill ceased operations. It wasn’t until The Lehigh County Commissioners bought Haines Mill in 1972 that it was restored as a working grist mill museum. The museum, located at 3600 Dorney Park Road, is run by the Lehigh County Historical Society.

Four hotels within a mile of Dorneyville, and the restored Historic Benner Mansion, Allentown’s first bed and breakfast, which is within two miles of the park, number park visitors among their guests. Nearby restaurants, both old and new, also serve the public and add to the township’s coffers.

The busy Dorneyville Shopping Center, a mix of retail stores, businesses and restaurants covers about eight acres.


BounceU ( has to be the jumping-est place in the Dorneyville Shopping Center. With its bounce stadium and private party rooms, it truly offers non-stop excitement for kids and it basically takes the pain out of party-planning chores that usually fall to adults. The party-planners at the franchise do it all, giving busy parents a break and an opportunity to enjoy the fun at the party and during open bounces. BounceU also provides a great setting for
fund-raising events.


The Chicken Lounge (610.439.1707), a bar and grill tucked away in the Dorneyville Shopping Center, has been operating since 1970 and it’s a favorite of locals, the kind of place that keeps folks coming back, even after 40 years.  Its name is far from accurate and was supposedly taken from its original carpeting which bore a pattern resembling chicken wire. Apparently it also once had chicken pictures on the wall, but the décor has now been seriously updated.  The restaurant has no web site but it’s extensive menu is pictured on  Diners like its casual air and its plain good food, such as wings, nachos and grilled potato pancakes.

It’s also a great place to go for late-night drinks. It has an interesting, fully stocked round bar, in the center of the dining room and all cooking is performed inside that.  The Chicken Lounge also offers an extensive take-out menu.

Pistachio Bar & Grille (, which is situated in the nearby Shops at Cedar Point is a trendy, upscale restaurant fairly reeling with bright colors. Even its martinis come in primary colors and in great variety. Pistachio’s is known for its great luncheon salads, some of which can be modified to lower calories and carbohydrates, and especially for its enormous menu with a distinctly Mediterranean influence. It also features lots of seafood. This dining place, too, is a favorite of those locals who want to escape to a pricier level of dining without leaving the neighborhood. In addition to an amazing martini menu Pistachio’s offers a giant array of food for dining-in or take-out patrons.

It’s a good place for business meetings as well as special enough for date nights.  For those who prefer al fresco dining, a small patio offers that pleasure in warmer weather.

Haines Bros. Flour Mill photo by Jim Miller compliments of

King George Inn photo by Ryan Hulvat

Zephyr photo provided by  Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

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