South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

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South Whitehall Township
Dorneyville Crossroad Settlement
Location in Lehigh County
Location in Lehigh County
South Whitehall Twp is located in Pennsylvania
South Whitehall Twp
South Whitehall Twp
Location in Pennsylvania
South Whitehall Twp is located in the United States
South Whitehall Twp
South Whitehall Twp
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°36′56″N 75°33′01″W / 40.61556°N 75.55028°W / 40.61556; -75.55028Coordinates: 40°36′56″N 75°33′01″W / 40.61556°N 75.55028°W / 40.61556; -75.55028
CountryUnited States
 • Total17.25 sq mi (44.67 km2)
 • Land17.08 sq mi (44.23 km2)
 • Water0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
443 ft (135 m)
 • Total19,180
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,159.10/sq mi (447.53/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
18069, 18103, mainly 18104
Area code(s)610
FIPS code42-077-72632

South Whitehall Township is a township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is a suburb of Allentown, in the Lehigh Valley area of the state. The population of South Whitehall Township was 19,180 at the 2010 census.[2] It is home to the Lehigh Valley interchange of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Dorney Park.


The first settlers of the Lehigh Valley region were Germans who emigrated from earlier settlements along Perkiomen Creek. The earliest settlers arrived in the region over a 20-year period beginning in about 1732. The immigration of the Germans and other European natives, including Swiss and Huguenots, was aided by William Penn and his friends. The land lying south of South Mountain was given to William Penn in 1713 by the Lenni Lenape people. The land of Lehigh County lying between Blue Mountain and the Lehigh Mountains was given to Penn's sons by the Lenni Lenapes in 1732. Emigrants sought the fertile, limestone valley flanking rivers and streams such as Jordan Creek.

One of the earliest tracts of land purchased in the township was by Nicholas Kern, who bought property on December 3, 1735, and October 28, 1737. Some of this was sold to Lorenz Guth on February 27, 1739. Guth continued to buy land in the area of the Reformed Church property and also in the Guthsville area. By 1769 his holdings totaled 759 acres (3.07 km2). The Lorenz Guth house near Wehr's Dam still stands in excellent condition and is a fine example of colonial architecture.

Much of the history of South Whitehall can be traced to the Walbert-Guthsville region, and especially the two Jordan churches. The first ministration to the Lutherans in the township occurred in 1734 when Reverend John Casper Stoever baptized Margaret, the daughter of the John Lichtenwalners, on February 6. In 1736 a Reverend Schmidt preached occasionally to the Lutherans, and in 1739 Reverend John Justus Jacob Birkenstock became pastor of the Jordan Lutheran congregation. In 1845 it was noted that the centennial of the congregation was observed, which would indicate that the first building was erected in 1745. The first church building was of logs and stood near the north wall of the old burial ground. It was used jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations until about 1752 when the Reformed erected a building half a mile to the east, within sight of the current municipal building. The Lutherans built the present church in 1842–1843 at a cost of $3,581.24 (equivalent to $99,000 in 2020). It was renovated in 1868, and in 1886 a fine, shapely, slate-covered steeple, 138 feet (42 m) high, was erected.

Members of the Reformed (United Church of Christ) religion settled in the area as early as 1738, and baptisms of their children during the period of 1740 to 1752 are recorded in the Lutheran record book. In 1752 Lorenz Guth presented the Reformed with a 50-acre (20 ha) tract of land, and a log church was erected in six weeks. The second and present church building, with its 110-foot (34 m) steeple, was built in 1808. It stands as one of the oldest church buildings in the country, and is a fine example of the architecture of that period.

The early schools of the township were connected with the two Jordan churches for many years, possibly extending back to 1739. According to the Roberts history, the congregations were at first supplied not by pastors, but by teachers who used to read sermons on Sundays. Thus, it is possible that church-sponsored schools taught by the readers existed in the earliest days of the congregations.

The original name "Whitehall" dates to 1740 and encompasses the land now found in North Whitehall, South Whitehall, and Whitehall townships. Prior to the establishment of Northampton County in 1752, the area was part of Bucks County, and the land currently occupied by South Whitehall was known as "the back part of Macungie" on the "Heidelberg District". The name "Whitehall" is thought to be derived from one of two sources: either a place in England, or for a white house erected as a hunting lodge near Jordan and Cedar creeks.

South Whitehall Township was established in 1810 by a petition to the Northampton County Court to divide former Whitehall Township into two areas, North Whitehall and South Whitehall. In 1812, Lehigh County was divided off from the original Northampton County, establishing South Whitehall Township within and nearly at the center of Lehigh County. At that time, according to historians, "...many prominent and influential men who lived in the vicinity of Guthsville exerted themselves to secure the selection of the village as the place best adapted for the county seat on account of its situation in the geographical center of the large area of territory to be erected into a separate county, but their efforts proved unavailing and the advocates of Allentown were successful." (The quotations from Roberts History published in 1914.)

Agriculture was the backbone of the economy of the township for many years. Much of the land today still is under cultivation. For more than a century at least six grain mills flourished on Jordan and Cedar creeks.

In the early 19th century iron ore was discovered at different places in the township, and mining operations were carried on from 1820 to 1890.

In 1867, the eastern portion of South Whitehall and the southeastern portion of North Whitehall were detached and formed into Whitehall Township.

In 1966, South Whitehall became a First Class Township.

Main entrance to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, in South Whitehall Township, 1950

The Dorneyville Crossroad Settlement, Haines Mill, Manasses Guth Covered Bridge, and Wehr Covered Bridge are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 17.3 square miles (44.7 km2), of which 17.1 square miles (44.2 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.98%, are water.[1] The township is located immediately west of Allentown and approximately 55 miles (89 km) northwest of Philadelphia. It is drained by Jordan Creek and Little Lehigh Creek into the Lehigh River.

South Whitehall has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) and is in hardiness zone 6b. Average monthly temperatures at Springhouse Middle School range from 28.6 °F (−1.9 °C) in January to 73.5 °F (23.1 °C) in July. [1]

South Whitehall's villages include Cetronia, Crackersport, Dorneyville (also in Salisbury Township), Greenawalds, Guthsville, Mechanicsville (also in North Whitehall), Meyersville (also in North Whitehall), Orefield (also in North Whitehall), Parkway Manor, Scherersville (also in Whitehall Township), Sterlingworth, Walbert, Wennersville, Westwood Heights, and Woodlawn.

Adjacent municipalities[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 19,180 people, 7,814 households, and 5,339 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,115.1 inhabitants per square mile (430.5/km2). There were 8,180 housing units at an average density of 475.6 per square mile (183.6/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 89.8% White, 2.8% African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.7% Asian, 1.3% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.7% of the population.[6]

There were 7,814 households, out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 24.827% of all households were made up of individuals, and 35.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the township the population was spread out, with 21.6% under the age of 20, 3.9% from 20 to 24, 20.8% from 25 to 44, 31.7% from 45 to 64, and 22% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $64,854, and the median income for a family was $78,629. Males had a median income of $55,047 versus $41,610 for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,274. About 2.6% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.73% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.[7]


Dorney Park's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters, in South Whitehall Township, 2006

South Whitehall Township is best known as the home of Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, a popular amusement park. It also hosts the Lehigh County Soccer Fields, which are accessible from Broadway east of Route 309.

Government and politics[edit]

South Whitehall is represented by State Senator Pat Browne in the 16th district and US Representative Susan Wild in the 7th district. State Representative Julie Harhart serves the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th wards in the 183rd district and State Representative Ryan Mackenzie serves the 3rd, 4th, and 5th wards in the 134th district. All of its legislators are Republican, with the exception of US Representative Wild who is a Democrat.

The township has the second highest tax rate of any township in Lehigh County.[citation needed]

Board of Commissioners[edit]

South Whitehall elects five at-large commissioners for four-year terms.

  • Christina "Tori" Morgan, President
  • Diane Kelly, Vice President
  • Michael Wolk, Asst. Secretary
  • Ben Long
  • Joe Setton


The township is served by the Parkland School District. Students in grades 9 through 12 attend Parkland High School, located on Cedar Crest Boulevard in the township. Both of the Middle Schools (Orefield and Springhouse) are in South Whitehall, as are Cetronia, Kratzer, and Parkway Manor Elementary Schools. Some of the township's students attend Kernsville Elementary just over the North Whitehall line, while others attend Ironton Elementary located in North Whitehall Township. Kratzer is located in Greenawalds. [2]


The Lehigh Valley interchange of Interstate 476 and U.S. Route 22 is in the western part of the township. Other north-to-south thoroughfares are Pennsylvania Route 309, Cedar Crest Boulevard, and Mauch Chunk Road, while other east-to-west thoroughfares are Walbert Avenue, Tilghman Street, Broadway, and Pennsylvania Route 222 (Hamilton Boulevard). LANTA serves multiple bus routes in South Whitehall connecting Allentown with its western and northern suburbs.


  1. ^ a b "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Aug 14, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Total Population: 2010 Census DEC Summary File 1 (P1), South Whitehall township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "Census 2020".
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2012.

External links[edit]