"Trees one after another were... constantly heard falling. In a century, the noble forests around should exist no more."
John J. Audubon
In the woods next to the river are the ruins of the Lehigh Tannery and a village named Lehigh Tannery. Over 100 families lived here. Two railroads ran through town. An ice house, steam saw mill, hotel and school clung to the river's edge.
Bark from the valley's giant hemlocks was the ingredient essential to the town's success. Hemlock bark provided the tannic acid used to cure as many as 50,000 hides a year, making this the second largest tannery in America during this era.
The river and the forest paid an enormous price for the Tannery's good fortune. Wastes dumped into the river turned it black. Logging created a landscape littered with the debris of abandoned trees cut only for their bark. In 1875, an uncontrollable fire ignited and swept across the forest floor, engulfing and forever destroying the Tannery.
Only decades before, naturalist and artist John James Audubon visited here and sketched a variety of native birds. He sadly noted the deforestation in his journal.
Today, industry is largely gone. Instead, rejuvenated forests again shelter native birds and welcome modern-day Audubons.