Click here to download a printable Field Guide to the Log Cabin Trail.
Click here to download the Driving Directions to the Log Cabin Trail.
This Field Guide to the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail enables students and educators, history buffs, historians, tourists, photographers, and others to visit and sometimes photograph some of our remaining log cabins and houses. Many are located in parks or on other public property. For purposes of the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail, “log cabin” is used generically to include all log buildings including log houses and other structures.
We especially encourage educators in Lehigh County and adjacent areas to make full use of the trail on field trips and in their classrooms. It is an important and fascinating new resource which teachers can use to expose students at all educational levels to log buildings and learn about the roles they played (and still play in some cases) in our history.
Log houses of the pre-Civil War era are one or two storied buildings, most often four-sided, that utilize an ancient European-based tradition of horizontal logs dressed or left in the round that appear one on top of the other. Distinctive corner notching of several kinds were used where logs of adjacent walls join, reflecting either specific cultural origins or origins of particular builders. In these houses are exhibited various floor plans that, in general, depend on their era of construction.
Log cabins and houses were among the first buildings constructed in the eighteenth century by European immigrants (especially Germans from about 1730 onward) arriving in what are now Lower and Upper Milford Townships, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Today most of these charming structures are gone. But a moderate number of authentic eighteenth and nineteenth century log structures remain in Lehigh County (nearly 100 now are known)—far more than the dozen known publicly when work began on this log cabin trail project in late May 2007. One reason that so many log buildings are preserved in Lehigh County is because many of these buildings were/are covered with siding which helped protect and preserve the logs.
These remaining buildings range in age from the 1734 Shelter House on South Mountain behind Emmaus to numerous log houses from the nineteenth century scattered throughout Lehigh County. Dates provided for some buildings included on the log cabin trail are estimates based on best available information and inspection of each building.
Some of the log buildings are owned, preserved, and maintained by non-profit organizations, others by municipalities, and still others by private persons. These surviving log buildings give us fascinating insights into how our ancestors lived. They also allow us better to appreciate our current life style, and compare it with the simpler ways people in Lehigh County lived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
A building with a dagger (†) behind its name is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Log houses included on this tour, when marked with an asterisk (*), are privately owned and occupied. They are not open to the public, except once per year when some participate in an “Open House” celebration. Otherwise, they are accessible only as drive-by buildings. Please respect the privacy of the people living in these buildings. Do not park near, or walk on, the private property on which they are located.
The log buildings selected for inclusion on the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail are scattered widely throughout the county. This sometimes makes it awkward to travel from one building to another. Therefore, for the convenience of visitors driving to the various buildings, we divided the trail into three sections. Each contains its own driving route or loop. In a few cases, a driving route unavoidably passes a log building not included on the log cabin trail. Please pass by these privately owned buildings; do not disturb their owners.
The trail begins with the Southern Section, then moves north to the Central Section, continues into the Northern Section and the Blue Mountain (Kittatinny Ridge) forming the northern border of Lehigh County, then returns to three buildings in the northwestern part of the Central Section where the trail ends.
During part of the eighteenth century the Blue Mountain (Kittatinny Ridge) formed the northern edge of the American frontier. In several locations, from 1753-1763, settlers living on the “Frontier of America” in Pennsylvania were attacked by Native Americans resulting in some settlers being killed, tortured, and/or captured.
In 1755, for example, 56 settlers were killed and 10 taken prisoner by Native Americans in today’s Albany Township (Berks County), and Lynn and Heidelberg Townships (Lehigh County). The attacks were rooted in unfair land dealings perpetrated on the Native Americans by the sons of William Penn via the Walking Purchase (1736), land use conflicts during the French and Indian War (1753-1763), and incidents such as the refusal of one colonial settler to provide food for Native Americans needing provisions.
As a result of the hostilities, a series of forts were constructed approximately every 20 miles apart along the mountain between the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River to provide shelter and safety to frontier settlers in times of Native American unrest. Three of these forts were located within (or close to) Lehigh County—Fort Everett just south of the mountain in Lynn Township, Fort Franklin just north of the mountain in Schuylkill County, and Fort Lehigh overlooking the north entrance to Lehigh Gap in Carbon County.
Some parts of the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail, in the Central Section, are routed along part of our county’s delightful covered bridge tour which adds further historic charm and educational value as one explores the log cabin trail.
Finally, please keep in mind these cautions about photography. All log buildings on the Lehigh County Log Cabin Trail located in public parks may be photographed on the outside as may all of our covered bridges. Privately owned buildings marked by an asterisk (*) as drive-by buildings, however, should not be photographed. Please respect the privacy of the people owning, and in some instances living in, these log structures!
Use links at the top of this page to view the entire trail or individual sections of it. The entire field guide can be downloaded from the front page of this site.
Last Updated: Jan. 29, 2010