Course of Swabia Creek
|Name origin: "Swabia" derives from the birthplace of many of the area's early settlers. "Swope" is an anglicization of "Schwab" (a person from Swabia).|
|Watershed||Little Lehigh Creek|
|- right||Mountain Creek, Indian Creek|
|Primary source||Primary (west) branch|
|- location||Rittenhouse Gap|
|Secondary source||East branch|
|- location||Hensingersville Dam|
|- elevation||843 ft (257 m)|
|Additional source||Headwater of Mountain Creek|
|- location||Upper Milford Township|
|Source confluence||West and east branches|
|- elevation||433 ft (132 m)|
|Mouth||Little Lehigh Creek|
|- location||Macungie, Pennsylvania|
|- elevation||351 ft (107 m)|
|Basin||12.37 sq mi (32 km2)|
The primary (west) branch of Swabia Creek begins in the Bear Creek Ski and Recreation Area, near Rittenhouse Gap in Longswamp Township, Berks County. Two other tributary streams, unnamed, also begin in Berks County. The east branch begins with numerous seeps and rivulets feeding into Hensingersville Dam in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County. Two tributaries, Mountain Creek and an unnamed stream, begin in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County. All streams begin on the South Mountain ridge, although surface and ground waters enter from Lock Ridge.
A tributary of the west branch flows past the village of Red Lion and joins the primary branch and another tributary in the village of Maple Grove. The west branch of Swabia Creek then runs along the Lock Ridge south face. The east branch passes through Hensingersville Dam. The east and west branches connect in Hensingersville. Swabia creek then runs north to Alburtis through Lock Ridge Park. The creek turns east, running roughly parallel to railroad tracks.
Upper alluvial plain
Three intermittent runs feed Swabia Creek in the upper alluvial plain between Alburtis and Macungie. Each starts on South Mountain, flows north, and, after crossing Mountain Road, roughly parallels an historic road. The western two pass through "The Hills at Lock Ridge" (also known as "The Reserves at Annandale") development. The Schoeneck Road run provides the back boundary line for houses located on Seip Road and Knerr Drive. The Orchard Road run was relocated and channelized immediately west of Orchard Road. The Gehman Road run passes the Allen Organ headquarters and Mack Trucks assembly plant. After Gehman Road, Swabia Creek enters Macungie. In Macungie, Swabia creek is joined by Mountain Creek.
Mountain Creek starts in Upper Milford Township, behind a South Mountain promontory known locally as "Macungie Mountain". The creek flows past Reimert Memorial Bird Haven and then various springs in the Macungie watershed before entering Macungie at Kalmbach Park. Mountain Creek flows along the west side of Memorial Park before joining Swabia Creek.
Lower alluvial plain
After receiving Mountain Creek, Swabia Creek turns northeast. Indian Creek, a final intermittent brook, joins Swabia Creek just downstream of Brookside Country Club after meandering past a large group of petroleum tank farms and is fed, in part, from Brinker Pond. After receiving Indian Creek, Swabia Creek joins Little Lehigh Creek. The majority of Swabia Creek's route is in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, with some sources beginning in Berks County and Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.
The Swabia Creek watershed includes Mountain Creek. Mountain Creek joins Swabia Creek in Macungie. Mountain Creek and adjacent springs have historically provided water to Macungie.
South Mountain and Lock Ridge expose the region's pre-Cambrian, metamorphic basement rock, primarily granitic Byram gneiss with some hornblendic gneiss. Immediately above the village of Maple Grove and similarly along the north face of South Mountain, the descending Swabia Creek branches and tributaries encounter a band of quartzite, variously referred to as Hardyston quartzite and Potsdam sandstone. Skolithos fossils can be found embedded in this quartzite along Lock Ridge. After Maple Grove, the west branch flows along a depression created by a fault where the ancient crystalline gneiss of Lock Ridge erupts through the Leithsville formation. The Leithsville formation is composed of dolostone with shale and chert and is sometimes referred to as Tomstown dolomite. The same progression in surface geology (gneiss, quartzite, dolostone) occurs for the east branch and Mountain Creek. Swabia Creek mostly passes through Leithsville formation from Lock Ridge through Alburtis to Macungie. In the lower alluvial plain after Macungie, the Leithsville formation submerges under the Allentown formation, which contains limestone mixed with dolostone. The Leithsville, Allentown, and nearby Epler formations are all part of the Kittatinny supergroup.
Many limonite mines were located in the upper and lower Swabian valleys and the upper alluvial plain. Many of these mines were operated by the Thomas Iron Company. Several magnetite and hematite mines were situated near the upper portion of the east branch. The iron ore was located near the surface in shale present in interfaces between the various formations. Limestone quarries are found in the lower alluvial plain. Gneiss quarries are found on Lock Ridge and near Hensingersville. A site where Indians quarried jasper is found near the upper portion of Mountain Creek. Soils in the alluvial plain from Alburtis to Little Lehigh Creek are silt loams, such as Lindside and Melvin series.
Many freshwater forested wetlands, emergent wetlands, and ponds found along Swabia Creek are listed in the National Wetlands Inventory. The wetlands are listed as temporarily flooded palustrine systems containing broad-leaved deciduous forest, shrubland, or reeds. The Macungie watershed, through which Mountain Creek flows, contains Northern Appalachian circumneutral seeps natural community which can support diverse threatened or endangered plants. South Mountain is generally dominated by tulip tree, sweet birch, red oak, and silky dogwood. Common undergrowth includes jewelweed, bulrush, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, and fox grape. Native plants growing in the alluvial plain include vervain, jewelweed, boneset, lobelia (including cardinal flower), sedges, aster, Joe-Pye weed, dwarf bluestar, black eyed susan, golden ragwort, goldenrod, red swamp mallow, redtwig dogwood and river birch, and dogwood. Common introduced plants in the alluvial plain include oxeye daisy. Invasive plants in the alluvial plain, removed during restoration, include Japanese knotweed, Japanese hops, purple loosestrife, and reed canary grass.
Permanent avian residents of Reimert Memorial Bird Haven, near the Mountain Creek headwater, include red-bellied, downy, and hairy woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice (commonly called "warblers"), northern cardinals, blue jays, and non-native house finches. Common migrant birds include dark-eyed juncos, American robins, song sparrows, mourning doves, American goldfinches, purple finches, northern flickers, and hermit thrushes.
In August 2005, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection performed a geomorphic assessment and found that agricultural sedimentation and urban runoff were impairing water quality, degrading aquatic habitat, destabilizing the channel and banks, and causing other negative impacts. The department placed Swabia Creek on its Integrated List of impaired waterways. The assessment recommended implementing specific best management practices, including establishing native vegetation and use of natural stream channel design, to improve habitat quality and floodplain function. The department granted funds to The Wildlands Conservancy to improve stream and wetlands conditions.
The upper Swabian valleys are located in the Pennsylvania Highlands as defined by the federal Highlands Conservation Act of 2004. This designation may result in development of a conservation greenway that includes large portions of the Swabia Creek watershed. The Macungie Watershed, which is drained by Mountain Creek, is listed as an "Area of Statewide Significance" (and by The Nature Conservancy as a priority level 1) and the surrounding areas along South Mountain are listed as "Very High Conservation Priority".
Macungie and Alburtis Boroughs and Lower Macungie Township have developed plans for a 3-mile greenway and trail extending from Alburtis to Macungie, parallel to Swabia Creek but south of the Norfolk Southern tracks. A proposed spur would extend from Macungie along Mountain Creek to the Pennsylvania Highlands Greenway atop South Mountain.
When Europeans arrived, the inhabitants were most likely Lenape. As the name of the creek suggests, many early European settlers in the vicinity were from Swabia (German: Schwaben). The abundance of iron ore attracted early surface miners, then larger furnace owners and finally the Catasauqua and Fogelsville Railroad was constructed primarily to transport ore from the Swabian valley to the furnaces. A well-regarded inn in Maple Grove operates in a building existing since around 1783.
A similarly named, but otherwise unrelated, Schwaben Creek runs through and gives its name to part of Washington and Upper Mahanoy Townships, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles west of Swabia Creek. This Schwaben Creek (or possibly a similarly named creek in Pine Grove Township, Schuylkill County) appears to be that forming the north boundary of the Mahantongo region.
Swabia Creek is also commonly referred to as Swope Creek. The U.S. Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names decided that the official reference is "Swabia Creek", while recognizing "Swabian Creek", "Swamp Run" and "Swope Creek" as variant names. The names "Swabia Creek" and "Swope Creek" both derive from the fact that many early settlers in the area are from the Swabia region of Germany. "Swope" and "Swabian" are synonyms. In Bavaria, Swope (or "Swab") means a person who lives or lived in Swabia. Swope derives from the Germanic spelling, Schwaben, and ultimately the Latin name for the German tribe, Suebi.
- The Wildlands Conservancy (Emmaus, PA)
- Indian Jasper Quarries historic marker
- "Little Lehigh Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan" (PDF). Coldwater Heritage Partnership. October 2007. Discusses positive and negative aspects of creek conservation in Little Lehigh watershed
- 2010 census map depicting portion of Berks County with Swabia Creek
- 2010 Boundary and Annexation Survey, Lehigh County
- Photos of Lauer's Mill on Swabia Creek, Lehigh County
- Photo of Swabia Creek Bridge at Lock Ridge Park, Alburtis
- Photo of Swabia Creek in Alburtis
- Upper Milford Township Park, Recreation, Open Space, and Environmental Plan (PDF), Old Zionsville, PA: Upper Milford Township, 5 Feb 2004, p. 49, retrieved 14 Sep 2011,
Swabia Creek - A branch of Swabia Creek begins in Upper Milford Township west of Route 100, near Macungie Borough. Mountain Creek - The headwaters of Mountain Creek, which filters through Lower Macungie Township and Macungie Borough, starts in the western edge of Upper Milford, near Sweetwood Drive. This watershed provided drinking water for Macungie Borough residents. A large parcel of woodland is currently owned by the Borough to protect this resource. Mountain Creek spills into Swabia Creek which then connects to the Little Lehigh Creek. Mountain Creek is not specifically state designated; however, it is a tributary to Swabia Creek.
- Arnold, Charles D. (17 Apr 2008), written at Camp Hill, PA, C.C. Johnson & Malhotra, P.C., ed., Hydrologic and Hydraulic Report for SR 3001, Section 01B over Swabia Creek (PDF), Allentown, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, p. 7, retrieved 15 Sep 2011,
The drainage area [of the west branch] is approximately 2.54 sq. miles. The land within the watershed is approximately 40% forest with a mixture of low density residential, farmland and pasture. The watershed ranges in elevation from 423 feet up to 1120 ft.The SR 3001 crossing is just upstream of the confluence of east and west branches.
- "Fish Passage Decision Support System". U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serve. Retrieved 28 August 2011.Indicates that Hensingersville Dam (barrier id #38_23490) is listed in the National Inventory of Dams as for recreation purposes, on the east branch of Swope Creek, and in the Lehigh watershed.
- D'Invilliers, Edward Vincent (1883). "Rivers and Streams". The Geology of The South Mountain Belt of Berks County. Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, Report of Progress. II. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Board of Commissioners of Geological Survey. p. 25.
About one and one half miles N. E. of Centreville, Lehigh County, the Little Lehigh receives the Swope Creek, which, rising in Rittenhouse Gap, Long Swamp township, flows N. E. past Maple Grove, back of Lock Ridge, and enters the valley close to the furnace of that name, one half mile east of Alburtis. This stream receives many additions from the innumerable rivulets on north flank of South Mountains, south of Millerstown, Lehigh county, before flowing into the Little Lehigh Creek as above mentioned.
- D'Invilliers, Edward Vincent (1883). "Mountain Anticlinals". The Geology of The South Mountain Belt of Berks County. Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, Report of Progress. II. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Board of Commissioners of Geological Survey. p. 42.
The valley of the Swope Creek, a branch of the Little Lehigh, rising in Rittenhouse Gap, immediately south of the hill, is probably an overturned synclinal, showing everywhere south-east dips throughout the numerous iron mines in that district, and divided from the Siesholtzville Basin by the overturned anticlinal running south of Gardner and Red Lion Stations on the Catasauqua and Fogelsville RR, and parallel with the Long Swamp-Hereford line to the West Branch Perkiomen Creek. Here it is lost in the flats north-west of Huff's Church.
- Smith, Bryan (29 Dec 2003), Trail Master Plan, Macungie Area Regional Trail Network (PDF) (draft), Macungie, PA: Macungie Borough, pp. 16–17, retrieved 10 Sep 2011,
The Swabia Creek headwaters originate on South Mountain, near Red Lion and Maple Grove in Longswamp Township, Berks County. The creek flows north east along the eastern border of Alburtis Borough. From the Borough, the creek flows east, paralleling the Conrail line into the Borough of Macungie. Mountain Creek converges with the Swabia Creek in the Borough. The creek then flows north, northeast through Brookside Country Club and Lower Macungie Township until joining the Little Lehigh Creek.
- Smith, Bryan (29 Dec 2003), Trail Master Plan, Macungie Area Regional Trail Network (PDF) (draft), Macungie, PA: Macungie Borough, p. 17, retrieved 10 Sep 2011,
The [Mountain Creek] headwaters start in Upper Milford Township on South Mountain Ridge. Several small tributaries combine and cascades down the forested hillside on the Water Authority property before entering the Borough at Kalmbach Park. The creek flows through Kalmbach Park crossing under Cotton Alley where it forms the western edge of the Fire Co. Number 1 lands. At this point the creek is channelized, flowing under Hickory Lane, contininuing north under Main Street to Macungie Memorial Park. The stream is again unconfined as it forms the northern edge of Macungie Memorial Park. The creek continues under Lehigh Street and the Conrail line, before joining the Swabia Creek.
- Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, United States Bureau of Fisheries, 1900, p. 117, retrieved 2 Jan 2018
- Water resources inventory report: Act of July 25, 1913. 3. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Water Supply Commission. 1917. p. 28. Retrieved 28 Aug 2011."Swope Creek (or Swabian Creek)" has a drainage area of 12.4 square miles (32 km2) and drains into the Little Lehigh Creek and the Middle Delaware Sub-basin.
- Watershed Designations in Lehigh County, Allentown, PA: Lehigh County Conservation District, retrieved 9 Sep 2011,
- "Macungie, Lehigh County". Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Health, 1909. 1. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania. Dept. of Health. 1911. pp. 780–781. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
The supply is obtained from seven springs and a small run (Mountain Creek), about one and a quarter miles south of Macungie in Lower Macungie and Upper Milford townships. * * * The drainage area on the slope above the springs and creek is about one square mile in extent. It is partly cultivated land and partly covered with second growth timber. There are ten farmsteads and probably forty persons residing on this area above and a considerable distance from the springs, the nearest of which is about one-half mile. A number of dwellings, however, are very close to the small creek, which at times only is used as a source of supply. * * * About sixteen hundred feet north of Number One Spring and three hundred feet north of Number [*781] Six Spring, a small masonry dam is built across the creek from which a four inch pipe provided with a valve extends westward to a small masonry intake built over the four inch collecting main. * * * The present source of supply from numerous springs appears to be beyone suspicion, but the introduction of a surface supply from Mountain Creek which receives barnyard and household drainage is naturally suspicious and its use should be discouraged. It appears that the creek supply is used only when absolutely necessary and never immediately after or during a rain storm.
- Miller, Benjamin L. (1941). Lehigh County Pennsylvania Geology & Geography (Bulletin C 39). 4. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Geological Survey. p. 153. Retrieved 13 Sep 2011.
- "Mineral Resources Data System". Mineral Resources Program. U.S. Geological Survey. The watershed lies in the following USGS quarter grids: Manatawny NE (primary headwater), East Greenville NW (majority of Swabia Creek valley, Hensingersville dam, Mountain Creek headwater), East Greenville NE (small portion of upper Mountain Creek), Allentown West SW (Lock Ridge Park, upper alluvial plain), Allentown West SE (lower alluvial plain, lower Mountain Creek).
- Berg, T. M.; Edmunds, W. E.; Geyer, A. R. (1980). Miles, C. E., ed. Geologic Map of Pennsylvania (Map) (2 ed.). 1:250,000. 4. Cartography by J. G. Kuchinski. Pennsylvania Geological Survey. § Map 1, eastern half. Retrieved 19 Sep 2011.
- Berg, T. M.; Sevon, W. D.; Abel, Robin (1984). Rock types of Pennsylvania (Map) (2 ed.). 1:500,000. 4. Cartography by James H. Dolimpio. Pennsylvania Geological Survey. § Map 63. Retrieved 19 Sep 2011.
- Mercer, Henry C (1893). " Prehistoric Jasper Mines in the Lehigh Hills". Popular Science Monthly. Wikisource. pp. 662-673.
- Miller, Benjamin L. (1941). Lehigh County Pennsylvania Geology & Geography (Bulletin C 39). 4. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Geological Survey. p. 110. Retrieved 13 Sep 2011. See also geologic map.
- "Lehigh County". This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology. Harrisburg, PA: The State Museum of Pennsylvania. 8 Feb 2013. Retrieved 14 Dec 2014.
- Smith, Bryan (29 Dec 2003), Trail Master Plan, Macungie Area Regional Trail Network (PDF) (draft), Macungie, PA: Macungie Borough, p. 16, retrieved 10 Sep 2011,
Lindside (Ln) and Melvin (Mh) soils are found bordering Swabia Creek. These soil types are poorly drained, flat soils located in floodplains, making them more suited for open space, park and recreational use rather than development.
- Gallo, Jenine; Pearl, Kathy; Heffner, Wendy; Halma, J. Robert (August 1996). "Analysis of the Woody Vegetation and Avifauna of the Reimert Memorial Bird Haven" (PDF). Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. 70 (1): 9–14. ISSN 1044-6753. Retrieved 21 Jan 2017.
The dominant tree species were mixed oaks (black, red and scarlet), sweet birch and tulip-tree. While the Tulip-tree is the most valuable species on the property, the mixed oaks provide a majority of the cover. The understory is comprised predominantly of spicebush and red-panicled dogwood. A winter bird survey determined that mostly passerines and woodpeckers were either residing at or visiting the sanctuary.The article also references white ash, chestnut oak, "blackberry" (actually black raspberry), round-lobed hepatica, and spleenwort and other flora.
- Leaver, Mel (October 2013), "Swabia Creek Restoration Monitoring Report", The Brooksider, Macungie, PA: Brookside Country Club, p. 15, retrieved 13 Jun 2015
- "Wild Trout Waters (Naturally Reproducing) - June 2011" (PDF). Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 28 Aug 2011. Swabia Creek, Lehigh County, Tributary To Little Lehigh Creek, Wild Trout Limits: Headwaters dnst to mouth, Lower Limit Lat: 40.535557, Lower Limit Lon: -75.53833
- Upper Milford Township Park, Recreation, Open Space, and Environmental Plan (PDF), Old Zionsville, PA: Upper Milford Township, 5 Feb 2004, p. 49, retrieved 14 Sep 2011 Lists both Swabia and Mountain Creeks.
- Arnold, Charles D. (17 Apr 2008), written at Camp Hill, PA, C.C. Johnson & Malhotra, P.C., ed., Hydrologic and Hydraulic Report for SR 3001, Section 01B over Swabia Creek (PDF), Allentown, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, p. 6, retrieved 15 Sep 2011,
Swabia Creek is a fairly narrow stream with continuous flow ranging from 10 to 16.5 feet in width at the bottom of banks. The streambed has stones of 6-9 inch diameter intermixed with smaller stones and silt. Small pools and sandy areas can be observed at various points at the base of the bank. Trees and shrubs grow to the edge of the stream and fallen branches can be observed over the width of the stream. Swabia Creek is stocked with trout and is classified as a HQ-CWF, High Quality Cold Water Fishery * * *. It is also on the Fish Commission wild trout waters list.
- Blangger, Tim (18 July 2008). "Bird haven in Macungie gives a welcome respite". The Morning Call. Allentown PA: tronc, Inc. Retrieved 21 Jan 2017.
- "$60,000 granted to upgrade Lower Macungie stream". The Morning Call. Allentown, PA. 8 Jan 2007. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
The Wildlands Conservancy was awarded a $60,000 state grant to improve the water and stream conditions of Swabia Creek, which runs along Brookside Country Club in Lower Macungie Township. Swabia Creek contains brown trout and is a tributary of the Little Lehigh Creek, a main source of drinking water for Allentown. In 2004, the state categorized the aquatic life in Swabia Creek as "impaired." An assessment the following year concluded that water quality, aquatic habitat, stream channel stability, stream bank stability and flood plain function need to be improved. The project will not only protect and enhance the portion of Swabia Creek at Brookside Country Club, but also downstream areas of the creek and the Little Lehigh.
- "Swabia Creek will get restoration from Wildlands Conservancy". Lehigh Valley Wild. Allentown, PA: The Morning Call. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 10 Sep 2011.
- 2010 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report - Streams, Category 5 Waterbodies, Pollutants Requiring a TMDL, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, p. 12, retrieved 13 Sep 2011
- 2008 Southwestern Lehigh County Area Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Plan (PDF), County of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, 2008, p. 32, retrieved 13 June 2015,
The site includes a fair to good quality Northern Appalachian Circumneutral Seeps Natural Community. The seeps have the potential to support several state plant species of special concern.
- CMX Engineering (June 2008), "Map 4 Watersheds, Natural Areas Inventory (NAI) Sites and 2005 Natural Resources" (PDF), 2008 Southwestern Lehigh County Area Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission
- Smith, Bryan (29 Dec 2003), Trail Master Plan, Macungie Area Regional Trail Network (PDF), Macungie, PA: Borough of Macungie, retrieved 14 Dec 2014
- Martin, Melanie A.; Mackey, Teresa; Berryman, David P. (24 May 2007), Kaiser, Michael N.; Rockwell, Susan L., eds., Lehigh Valley Greenways Plan (PDF), Allentown, PA: Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, p. 82, retrieved 14 Dec 2014
- "Feature Detail Report for: Swabia Creek". USGS. 2 Aug 1979. Retrieved 29 August 2011.GNIS ID 1193503
- Miller, Benjamin LeRoy (1941). "Toponymy" (PDF). Geology of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, Pennsylvania. 4. 1. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Geological Survey. p. 81.
Swabian Creek, Lower Macungie Township; for Swabia in southern Germany where many of the early settlers were born. In Davis’ atlas is called Swope Creek. Seems to be the stream called Swamp Run on a map drawn in 1759.
- Shuffelton, F (1993). A Mixed race: ethnicity in early America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0-19-507523-6. Retrieved 28 Aug 2011.
One Swabian was, in his own words, a Schwob, which was often rendered into English as 'a Swope.'
- Swope, G. E. (1896). History of the Swope family and their connections. 1678-1896. Madison, WI: Cochran Printers. p. 19. Retrieved 28 Aug 2011.
The Schwab (Swab) -- Americanized Swope -- name is one of the oldest in German history.