Slatington is a borough in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, located 20 miles north of Bethlehem, 62 miles south of Scranton, and 70 miles north of Philadelphia. Situated across from Walnutport on the west side of the Lehigh River, Slatington is at the northeast corner of Washington Township.
Before the first white settlers established homesteads in the area that later became Slatington, Lenni-Lenape natives inhabited the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, from the Lehigh River to the Delaware River. A trail they used along Trout Creek, a tributary of the Lehigh River, called “Warrior’s Path,” became a public road in 1761 and later became known as Route 873.
Farmer and miller Nicholas Kern was the first settler of European descent in what would become Slatington, establishing himself in 1737 and building a sawmill that provided boards and timber. In 1756, Benjamin Franklin reported to Governor Morris that he had procured boards and timber from Kern’s sawmill.
In the 19th century two Welshmen, who recognized its properties and importance from being used in Europe, discovered slate. A quarry was set up in 1845, and, in 1847, a factory was erected. In its heyday, slate was used for everything from durable roofing shingles to chalk boards in schools.
Slatington owes its name and existence to the slate industry, started in the 1840’s. A decade later, the beginnings of a village, called Liberty, grew near the Lehigh Valley Railroad, a covered wooden bridge, and a hotel. In 1864, the town was named Slatington and incorporated as a borough with Robert McDowell as its first mayor. My ancestor, Jesse Labar, moved to Slatington after his discharge from duty in 1862 during the Civil War. He worked as a slate dealer, insurance agent, and grocery store owner.
Historically, structural iron, knit goods, and silk were manufactured in Slatington, and there were abundant slate quarries in the area.
- Nicholas Kern was the first settler in the area which would become Slatington, taking up residence there by 1737.
The sons of William Penn finagled the Walking Purchase, resulting in the emigration of the indigent Native American population, called the Lenni Lenape.
- Nicholas Kern built a saw mill and a grist mill along Trout Creek.
- The French and Indian War started.
- The road today known as Route 873 was laid out along the Indian trail called Warrior’s Path.
- The Lehigh Canal was completed.
- A major flood whipped away many houses and businesses located along the Lehigh Canal.
- A covered wooden bridge was built over the Lehigh River.
- The Lehigh Valley Railroad was completed.
- A hotel was built near the railroad station.
- The Civil War started.
- The Court of Lehigh County granted a petition to incorporate the town of Slatington into a borough. The first mayor was Robert McDowell.
Please leave a comment if you have more events to add to this timeline!
These are from my postcard collection.
You may use these any way you like.
These are photographs that I bought on eBay, scanned, then donated to the Slatington Public Library.
External links to Slatington resources.