40°40’33″N 75°36’59″W
ZIP CODE: 18078

Long golden sunsets gleam across stretches of cornfields, while shadows deepen behind the softly rolling hills. The air is still, but the mechanical buzz of four-wheelers can be heard nearby, and every house dotting the bucolic countryside seems to have a barn or old work truck out back. This is Schnecksville, a small unincorporated village of North Whitehall Township.

In 1766, German immigrant Adam Schneck was the first to settle in Schnecksville; and in 1840, his son Daniel became the founder of the village, following the passage of a treaty that allowed the sale of lands previously held by Native Americans. In the following years of development, the village became home to laborers, including wheelwrights and brick makers, as well as the popular Trexler Farms Orchards.

Today, people often move to Schnecksville to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Many make the relatively quick commute into Allentown for work. But once back home, they’re able to take a deep breath, smell the acres of freshly-tilled earth, and appreciate a simpler landscape and lifestyle.

That’s not to say there’s nothing going on in Schnecksville—far from it. There’s a steady stream of visitors (at least 200,000 a year) spending money as they travel to and from the village’s main attractions: The Trexler Nature Preserve and the Lehigh Valley Zoo. This has helped create a more vibrant community and allowed some of the village’s lesser known attractions to get the attention they deserve.

The Main Attractions

The Lehigh Valley Zoo

The 29-acre Lehigh Valley Zoo located on the Trexler Nature Preserve has 65 exhibits, 130 different species of animals, and more than 340 individual animals from North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Conservation efforts, both at the local and global level, are part of the zoo’s mission.

“We focus on local, national, and international species for conservation efforts,”  says Pete Fox, vice president of marketing and operations at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Locally, they focus on the spotted turtle. Nationally, the Mexican gray wolf. Internationally, the African black-footed penguin. Additionally, the zoo donates to Giraffe Conservation Fund, Sahara Conservation Fund, and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.

But that’s not all. “We acquire animals from other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” says Fox. “Animals such as our Mexican gray wolves, scimitar horned oryx, Masai giraffe, and African black-footed penguins are a part of Species Survival Plans, which are programs used to maintain and grow the zoo population with goals of releasing some animals back into the wild.”

The zoo’s most unusual resident, the scimitar horned oryx, has been determined to be extinct in the wild due to loss of habitat and over-hunting in the late 1980s. “Efforts to reintroduce the scimitar horned oryx back into its native range of Chad are currently underway, with approximately 40 of the animals now released,” says Fox.

So, what else should you see at the zoo? If you’re interested in something cold blooded and scaly, the Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Center houses species like West African dwarf crocodile, eastern hellbender, eyelash viper, and poison dart frogs. If something tall, cute, and slightly goofy is more your style, then head over to see Murphy and Tatu—the zoo’s two Masai giraffes—at the recently opened St. Luke’s Giraffe Barn, Giraffe Exhibit, and Kiannala Giraffe Feeding Deck.

Asked what animals and exhibits are the most popular among visitors, Fox says it’s a three-way tie between the penguins, giraffes, and sloths. “All are very popular in their own way,” he answers, diplomatically.

Three new things in store for the future: Fox reveals that the zoo is looking to bring in an Aldabra tortoise, one of the oldest animals to roam the earth; the slumbering bobcat may soon be out-felined by a much larger kitty; and plans for a tiger exhibit are well within reach.

10 Top Things to Do at the Zoo

· Feed the giraffes
· Feed the penguins
· Feed the lorikeets
· Witness real life wolf feeds
· Attend Sloth Days
· Listen to Otter Talks
· Watch the Wonders of Wildlife show
· Attend Brew at the Zoo
· Take part in Boo at the Zoo
· Watch the Winter Light Specular

For a full list of events and exhibits, visit  5150 Game Preserve Rd. 610.799.4171

The Trexler Nature Preserve

The Trexler Game Preserve (now the Trexler Nature Preserve) was established by philanthropist Gen. Harry C. Trexler in the early 1900s to save the American bison, elk, and whitetail deer from extinction. Today, the 1,100-acre wildlife protection area is still home to these animals, and much of it is crisscrossed with more than 20 miles of scenic nature trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

This idyllic landscape provides a beautiful vista for photography, painting, and other artistic reflections. It’s also great for fishing in the well-stocked Jordan Creek, where trout season is just beginning (there’s even an area designed for use by children and handicapped people along the creek). Archery and hunting areas exist on the North Range, and activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, and camping for scout troops are allowed, depending on the weather. Recent focus in the Preserve has been in fighting an invasive plant species called autumn olive from the North Range and converting the area back to native grasses and habitats.

Because it’s a public property, the park is open from dawn until dusk every day of the year and is completely free to the public. “It’s a wonderful place to get out and enjoy nature. It’s really right in the backyard of everybody in Lehigh County,” says Robert Stiffler, Lehigh County Director of Parks.

For more information, visit . 4935 Orchard Rd. 610.871.0281

Other Things to Do & Places to Eat

The Schneck House is an unadorned two-story log cabin on a piece of land once owned by Thomas and John Penn. The property is bordered by a prototypical wooden fence, and a small goat barn nuzzles up next to the house, which is stocked with a handful of authentic 19th Century artifacts. Several Eagle Scout projects have helped enhance and repair parts of the site. The Schneck House plays host to holiday events, and educational tours and other programs for youngsters are encouraged.  5118 Shawnee Blvd 610.799.2387

The annual Schnecksville Fair will be held this June 19-24, hosted by the Schnecksville Volunteer Fire Co. Attractions include a 4-H petting barnyard, a tinsmithing show, and antique tractors.  4550 Old Packhouse Road 610.799.3457

Geiger’s Covered Bridge is located near the village of Weidasville and spans the Jordan Creek. The structure was built in 1858 and has stone abuts and a double wooden floor. Geiger’s is 120 feet long with a water pipe running through it from which water was once pumped from the creek to a nearby farm. Lehigh County maintains this bridge.

Villa Rosa offers a broad and imaginative array of Italian cuisine and pizzas. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with classic desserts. You may even meet the ladies from the local high school’s class of ’59, who have met here every month for years.  4804 Route 309 610.799.2411

Located in a 19th century-style two-story stone hotel, Slider’s Pub has a wraparound bar and a small dining area, and offers classic pub fare, great hot and cold sandwiches, and a few Asian sides such as dumplings and kimchi.  4650 Route 309 610.769.4004

Schnecksville Diner offers the standard array of American breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods for passersby. It opens bright and early at 6 a.m.  4527 Route 309 610.799.2511

Because You Live Here® introduces readers to a Lehigh Valley neighborhood or local point of interest and its history. This offers both lifelong residents and newcomers a chance to discover the hidden treasures our market has to offer.

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