Log Cabin Trail

Log Cabin Trail

History buffs can experience the Lehigh Valley’s landscape rich with its significant log cabin buildings

by Mary Beth Schwartz
Photo by Keith Brinker

As a child, I enjoyed watching the Ingalls family in their simple cabin on the prairie. Pa playing his fiddle. Ma cooking over a fire in the kitchen. Laura and Mary doing their homework at the table. My love of the Little House on the Prairie television show soon evolved to reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series of children’s books. Today, I still watch reruns of Little House, and a through a recent fabulous discovery – the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail – I can still enjoy simple cabin life.

The idea of the trail originated with Donald S. Heintzelman, a noted author of over 20 books, an ornithologist with extensive study in hawk migration, and wildlife photographer. He, along with a committee of 12 members, established the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail. According to Steve Long, Lehigh County Log Cabin Committee Member, The Shelter House Society Member, and Hivel Und Dahl Preservation Society Member, this self-guided tour of 22 log cabins, dating from 1700 to late 1800s, is divided into three sections – Southern, Central, and Northern. Each section has its own driving route and takes a few hours to complete. The entire tour can take up an entire day. Some parts of the trail, in the Central Section, are routed along part of the Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour, including Bogert’s Bridge, Manasses Guth Bridge, Geiger’s Covered Bridge, and Rex’s Covered Bridge. “This historic tourism and education resource is available to the public, educators and visitors to Lehigh County. The trail is unique in Pennsylvania, and apparently the entire nation,” Long says.

The trail is unique in Pennsylvania, and apparently the entire nation

According to Bruce Mordaunt, Lehigh County Log Cabin Committee Member, President of Hivel Und Dahl Preservation Society, and resident of a log house, the recent version of the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail brochure can be downloaded from Discover Lehigh Valley’s Website, discoverlehighvalley.com. The trail’s Website, www.lehighcountylogcabintrail.org, has the Field Guide to the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail, features, information and photographs on several topics related to old log buildings. “When we researched for the tour, we discovered over 100 cabins in Lehigh County that are still in use. We hand selected 22 for the tour. Some of the log buildings are owned, preserved, and maintained by non-profit organizations, others by municipalities, and still others by private persons,”
Mordaunt says.

As part of the Hivel Und Dahl Preservation Society, Mordaunt and Long are working to stabilize and preserve Cabin #4, the Schubert-Graber Log Cabin, circa late 1700s. Located along Powder Valley Road, the cabin is thought to be the oldest building in Upper Milford Township. It is built on a stone foundation, and the four walls were built at different times using fine clay, lime, straw, wood shavings, and crushed anthracite coal. “Most cabins are made up of horizontal logs with notches on the ends. Schubert-Graber has a vertical post on each corner and then the horizontal logs are mortise and tenon notched into the corner posts. Another unusual feature is the lack of evidence of either a stairway from the ground floor to the first floor, or a fireplace or chimney,” Mordaunt says.

The Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail begins at Exit 60 of I-78, just south of Allentown and includes roughly the southern one-third of the county. It includes Lower Milford, Upper Saucon, and Upper Milford Townships, along with villages and towns including Limeport and Emmaus.

The Southern Section has six log buildings included on the trail:

Cabin #1 is the Carlin Log House, circa 1850.

Cabin #2 is the Miller Log House, circa 18th century.

Cabin #3 is the Peter Rothenberger Log House, circa 1830-1850.

Cabin #4 is the Schubert-Graber Log Cabin, circa late 1700s.

Cabin #5 is the Pennsylvania Avenue Log House, circa 1798. This log building is one of three in the Borough of Emmaus.

Cabin #6 is Shelter House, circa 1734. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is a gem of an historic site. It also is the oldest surviving, continually inhabited building in Lehigh County. Tours are available on Emmaus Heritage Days and the first weekend of December. They also can be scheduled by appointment by calling The Shelter House Society at 610.965.9258.

The Central Section of the trail, according to the brochure, includes the City of Allentown, Lower Macungie, North Whitehall, Lowhill, and Weisenberg Townships, and villages and towns, including Breinigsville, Wescosville, and Schnecksville.

The Central Section features these log buildings:

Cabin #7 is Hunter’s Cabin, circa 1739-1741. It is adjacent to Bogert’s Bridge. Hunter’s Cabin is one of three log structures preserved in the City of Allentown’s park system. (There are four within the City of Allentown.)

Cabin #8 is the Henry Bortz Log House, circa 1792. The building is maintained by the Lower Macungie Township Historical Society, which holds special events annually.

Cabin #9 is the Lynford Lardner Log Cabin, circa 1746-1750. It is located in Trexler Park in the west end of Allentown.

Cabin #10 is the Balliet Log House, circa 1790-1820.

Cabin #11 is the Schneck Log House, circa 1798. It is owned by the Upper Lehigh
Historical Society.

Cabin #12 is the Wright Log House, circa 19th century.

The Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail’s Northern Section, includes the townships of Lynn, Heidelberg and Washington, and various villages and towns including Wanamakers, New Tripoli, Slatedale and Slatington. There are seven log buildings in this section:

Cabin #13 is the Remaley House House, circa 1842. It is the only remaining log building
in Slatington.

Cabin #14 is the German Log House, circa 1840s. The building is one of two log structures remaining in Slatedale.

Cabin #15 is the Bellis Log House, circa 1750. It is near Lehigh Furnace Gap in
Washington Township.

Cabin #16 is the Zeisloff Log House, circa 1738-1748. On special occasions, such as Pioneer Days and Pioneer Christmas Open House, visitors may go inside.

Cabin #17 is Fort Everett, circa 1756. According to the Log Cabin brochure, “This fort and its stockade wall, now (but not originally) adjacent to the Zeisloff Log House, is rebuilt with the intent of simulating the approximate appearance of the original fort that was located near the former American frontier along the base of the Blue Mountain or Kittatinny Ridge in Colonial times. The fort was one of a series that were built during the period 1753-1758 along the south and north bases of the Blue Mountain (Kittatinny Ridge) between the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River. Benjamin Franklin was charged with the task of having the fortifications built, and he visited and inspected them. It took Franklin’s men approximately seven days to build the original fort.”

Cabin #18 is the Stanley Log House, circa mid-1700s. It predates the American Revolution.

Cabin #19 is the Frederick Leaser Log Cabin, circa pre-1755. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the Revolutionary War, Leaser was a Pennsylvania German farmer who helped to save the Liberty Bell.

The final leg of the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail returns to the Central Section for three log buildings, two in Weisenberg Township and one near Breinigsville .

Cabin #20 is the Milot Log House, circa 18th century.

Cabin #21 is the Adam Bair Log Cabin, circa 1753.

Cabin #22 is Kline Log Cabin, circa 1752.

Once you have tackled the 22 cabins of the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail, plan on visiting some of the log cabins in Northampton County. There is no official trail, but here are a few to consider. #1: The 1740 Gray Cottage in Nazareth. It is the oldest existing building erected by the Moravians in North America. It is owned by the Moravian Historical Society, and on the National Register of Historic Places. #2: Frace Log Cabin, circa 1766. It is located in Forks Township Community Park. Tours are held during Forks Township Community Days and on December 8 during Christmas in the Cabin. #3: Siegfried Log Cabin, circa 1785, is located on the western end of Main Street in Bath. It is leased by the Governor Wolf Historical Society. It is open during the Christmas House Tour on December 7.

When visiting these cabins, always keep in mind that they are historic treasures. Please follow the rules about touring, access to the cabins, and photography.

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