It was probably along the Indian trail known as the Minsi Trail, which extended from Philadelphia to the mouth of the Saucon Creek and on to Nazareth and the Appalachian Trail, that the first small group of Moravians traveled. They established a community in Nazareth, and from there they began other settlements. On December 22, 1740, a few of these Moravians walked south through the woods to the Monocacy Creek and felled a tree at a spot suitable for a new settlement. It was at the Christmas Eve Vigil, 1741, that Count Zinzendorf named that community "Bethlehem."
The Moravian Trail covers the historic areas of Bethlehem and continues on to Hellertown. It is in Hellertown that the Durham Trail begins. It extends from Hellertown to the Durham locks on the Delaware Canal.
The Moravian Trail takes you back to the days prior to the Revolution. You will see the Moravian Community as it existed at that time. You will also see the site where the Marquis de Lafayette convalesced after a battlefield wound received at the Battle of Brandywine.
The creek is called the Monocacy (a Delaware or Lenni Lenape name meaning "stream with many bends"). The creek was home to many native Americans and early settlers and provided an abundance of fresh water food including mussels, clams, and fish. It is the only existing stream of its type and size with a native trout population running through a city the size of Bethlehem. It is noted as one of the most important environmentally safe creeks left in the continental United States.
The Monocacy Creek was a favorite Indian fishing spot. The name "Monocacy" was corrupted from the Indian Menagassi or Menakessi, signifying "a stream with many bends." The Bethlehem area as known as Menagachsink or "at the bending of the creek." The Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians inhabited the area before the settlement by the White Man.
Hellertown was named for the brothers Christopher and Simon Heller. They emigrated from Germany and settled the area in 1740. Before entering the town, you pass over another stream whose name is derived from an Indian word. Saucon Creek comes from the Lenni Lenape word Sakunk meaning "that place where a small stream empties into a large river." Saucon Creek flows into the Lehigh River
Sites along the trail:
Illich's Mill Park
Burnside Plantation - 1748
Bethlehem Historic Industrial Area
Luckenback Mill - 1869
Unknown Soldier of Bethlehem
The Sun Inn - 1758
George Frederick Beckel House
John Sebastian Gounde House (Built about 1810, it is one of the earliest brick structures in Bethlehem, and is an example of the Federal architectural influence which displaced the Germanic tradition of the 18th century)
Horsefield House (Gave Bethlehem it's first General Store.)
Das Schnitzhaus - 1746 (Used for drying fruits, particularly apples ("schnitz" in German).)
Single Sisters House
Bell House - 1746
Das Gemeinhaus - 1741
Central Moravian Church - 1803 (It's congregation started in 1741)
Nain House (In this house lived the Delaware Indians who were converted to Christianity by the Moravians.)
Single Brethren's House (Used as a hospital during the Revolutionary War.)
Tannery - 1761
Reading Railroad Station
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Michael Heller's Farmstead - 1750
Last Updated: 07/01/2013
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