Lehigh Gap, Pennsylvania

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Exposure of the Shawangunk Formation at Lehigh Gap, facing north, 2006

The Lehigh Gap, located in Lower Towamensing Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, is a water gap formed by the Lehigh River where it cuts through Blue Mountain in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. The gap allows easy travel between Carbon County to the north and Lehigh and Northampton counties to the south of the mountain. One of the more distinctive features of the gap is Devil's Pulpit, a rock formation that reminds hikers of a pulpit. Lehigh Gap is also the name of a village also known as Weider's Crossing and located at the south end of the gap in Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

Travel[edit]

Pennsylvania Route 248 runs directly through the gap, connecting the Lehigh Valley metro area to the smaller Carbon County boroughs of Palmerton, Bowmanstown and Lehighton. State Routes 873 and 145 connect to Route 248 just south of the gap.

Besides vehicular travel, the gap also provides a crossing through the mountain for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian Thru-hikers call this Dante's inferno because it is a very exposed rock scramble. The Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor Trail also intersects Lehigh Gap.

Railroads[edit]

Three railroad companies once had trackage through the Lehigh Gap. The Lehigh & New England Railroad used to have a bridge crossing the Lehigh River within the gap. The bridge was abandoned in 1961, but its foundations on each side of the river are still visible as are telegraph poles. The bridge was torn down in 1967.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad had its mainline on the south side of the Lehigh River. It was abandoned and removed by Conrail in 1984.

The Central Railroad of New Jersey had its mainline on the north side of the Lehigh River. It is currently owned by Norfolk Southern Railway and also used by Canadian Pacific Railway.

Lehigh Gap Nature Center[edit]

In 2002, the Wildlife Information Center, since renamed the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, purchased more than 750 acres (3.0 km2) near Lehigh Gap. Their goal is to restore the wildlife along Blue Mountain. From 1898 to 1980, the Palmerton Zinc plant emitted sulfur dioxide at rates of up to 3,600 pounds per hour, killing plant life and animal habitats. Twenty years later, a noticeable lack of tree density remains on the Palmerton side of the gap.[1]

The Lehigh Gap Nature Center currently includes The Osprey House on the Slatington side of the river. The nature center works closely with colleges and universities on various wildlife-oriented research projects. The center also sponsors a club for young naturalists. The nature center is home to several miles of hiking trails, open to the public from dawn to dusk.

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Coordinates: 40°46′36″N 75°36′30″W / 40.77667°N 75.60833°W / 40.77667; -75.60833