Nestled in the Saucon Valley, southeast of Bethlehem, the borough of Hellertown is a charming blend of historic Victorian buildings and contemporary architecture.

Settled in the mid-18th century, Hellertown is named for Christopher Heller, one of the borough’s earliest residents. He and his six sons immigrated to the New World from Amsterdam in the fall of 1738. In 1746, Christopher’s second son, Simon, received a land grant along the Saucon Creek from Thomas and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn. Simon built a sawmill and a gristmill on the 200-acre tract, creating what is known today as the Heller-Wagner Gristmill, one of the oldest landmarks in Hellertown.

Throughout the first half of the 19th century, Hellertown’s growth was slow. By 1820 the borough was home to less than twenty families and was comprised of only about one dozen dwellings, the gristmill, two stores and three taverns. The second half of the century, however, saw a tremendous population boom thanks to the establishment of the Saucon Iron Company in 1866.  By the mid-1870s, the Saucon Iron Company employed 350 workers and was producing approximately 10,000 tons of pig iron per year.

Today, Hellertown is home to approximately 6,000 residents and boasts its own share of hometown celebrities. Olympic sprinter Allen Woodring was born in the borough in February of 1898. Although he initially failed to qualify for the 1920 Olympic games after placing fifth in the US trials, American officials decided to place him on the team – a decision that paid off when Woodring captured gold in the 200-meter dash.  Throughout the 1960s, iconic author Kurt Vonnegut frequently visited the borough while writing his masterpiece novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Hellertown resident Bernard O’Hare was a lifelong friend of Vonnegut’s and had served with him in the army during World War II. O’Hare, a scout with the 106th Infantry Division, was assigned as the young Vonnegut’s partner through the army’s buddy system, in which soldiers were paired off in twos to watch out for one another.

After fighting side-by-side in the bitter Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, O’Hare and Vonnegut were captured by the Germans and held as POWs in Dresden, Germany. There, they endured the Allied firebombing of the city – an experience that would later inspire Vonnegut to write Slaughterhouse-Five. After the war, O’Hare returned home to Hellertown where Vonnegut would often visit him to discuss their wartime experiences and sort through difficult memories. Vonnegut would eventually dedicate the book to O’Hare’s wife, Mary, who encouraged him to avoid writing a story that glorified war, but rather convey the confusion and innocence he and her husband experienced as young soldiers.

More recently, Hellertown-native Glenn Hetrick has risen to fame as an acclaimed Hollywood special effects makeup artist/designer. Hetrick has worked on television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, The X-Files and Madmen, as well as films such as The Hunger Games. He has also designed custom items for Lady Gaga and is currently one of the judges on the hit SyFy series Face Off in which aspiring special effects artists compete against one another.

A Walk Down Main Street

Hellertown’s charming Main Street is the heart of its business district.  Stroll down the street and enjoy the many shops and restaurants, including:

DiMaio’s Italian Restaurant, located at 27 Main Street in the Shoppes at Hellertown, is a family-owned eatery serving cooked-to-order Italian dishes in a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere.

Pondelek’s Florist and Gifts, at 1310 Main Street, offers the kind of personalized service, quality and creativity that makes it one of Lehigh Valley’s premier florist.  In addition to creating beautiful fresh bouquets,

Pondelek’s also offers a large inventory of tropical plants, European dish gardens, dried floral arrangements, silk arrangements and gourmet fruit baskets.

The Braveheart Highland Pub, at 430 Main Street, is a charmingly authentic Scottish pub. The menu includes genuine Scottish fare, such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, while its bar features Scottish Ale, Guinness, Harp, Boddington’s and, of course, a wide selection of Scotch.

Neighbor’s Home and Garden Center, at 38 Main Street, is a family-run business providing the best quality choices for lawn and garden supplies, patio furniture, nursery products, pet supplies, grills and power equipment.

Barry Bartakovits Custom Pools, at 19 Main Street, has 35 years of experience creating top-quality residential and commercial pools and spas. Specializing in unique custom-built concrete pools, Barry Bartakovits can accommodate all requests and work within your budget to create the pool of your dreams.

Star Hellertown Pre-Owned Superstore, conveniently located just off route 78 at 1730 Main Street, stocks a wide selection of quality pre-owned vehicles including GM Certified pre-owned cars.

Things To Do

If you’re feeling adventurous, explore the natural beauty of Lost River Caverns located at 726 Durham Street just off Main Street. The five cavern chambers are filled with a magnificent array of stalactites, stalagmites, fluorescent minerals and crystal formations. Opened as a tourist attraction in 1930, the cave was first discovered in 1883 when a limestone quarry operation was digging in the area and accidently created the entrance. Since then, the cave has seen use as a ballroom in the late 1800s, a hiding place for bootleggers during Prohibition, and has been the site of more than 80 wedding in its “Crystal Chapel.”

After completing the family-friendly guided tour of the cave, which lasts approximately 45 minutes, be sure to visit the Gilman Museum. Located on the property, the Gilman Museum houses a collection of rare fossils, gemstones, minerals, assorted paleoanthropological items and a large private collection of antique weapons dating back to the 17th century.

If you’re more in the mood for a calm, relaxing day out, visit the Water Street Park located along West Water Street, approximately two blocks west of Main Street. Open daily from dawn to dusk, the park offers a variety of trails, playground equipment and pavilions suitable for all ages.  From May through November the park also hosts the Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local farmers, businesses and artisans sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to artisanal baked goods, jams, pasture-raised meats, dairy products, handmade body lotions and more.

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about Hellertown’s past, stop by the historic Heller-Wagner Grist Mill Tract located at 150 West Walnut Street. The gristmill and surrounding buildings have been restored by the Hellertown Historical Society and are now open to the public. Visitors can tour the gristmill and view the mill’s mechanisms before walking upstairs to explore a variety of displays depicting life in the borough from the earliest years. The barn, located across Walnut Street from the gristmill, also houses a variety of displays including agricultural machinery, woodworking tools, blacksmithing tools and more.

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