Jun 16, 2014

History of Lehigh County, Wehr Dam

Wehr Dam figures predominately in the history of Lehigh County, particularly in South Whitehall's history. William Wehr was born in 1871 and worked at H. Leh and Company in Allentown. While there he attended the American Business College in the evenings, graduating in 1894. By 1903 he began working at Sieger Mill, and purchased it in 1905. He remodeled the operation with the most modern rolling equipment, and soon the renamed Wehr Mill was producing his famous White Rose Flour. The concrete mill dam, considered the best constructed in the area, still delights residents of Lehigh Valley, and ties them to our agricultural and milling history.

photograph by Cyber X Ref


Publius said...

Mike, I respect your admiration for Lehigh County park land, but, I'm not sure that an effort to save dangerous low head dams is the best use of resources. Wehr's dam, in particular, is in bad shape and would have to be rebuilt at substantial cost to tax payers. Even without the cost, it represents a danger at high water (I'm an experienced whitewater paddler and I stay clear of dams like this at all cost---note the deaths in Easton two weeks ago). And, having slack warm water behind the dam really does degrade the upstream creek ecology. Unless there is a very compelling reason not to, rivers should run free.

I agree history and natural beauty is important, but I'm not sure that this dam adds much to either. Perhaps you could work with commissioners to put up a kiosk once the dam is removed explaining the history of the area.

michael molovinsky said...

publius, i have only contempt for the notion of replacing an icon with a sign. that suggestion was made for the former robin hood dam in the parkway, which was only 14 inches high. contrary to your spin, this dam adds very much to the history, and it's beauty speaks for itself.

Publius said...

Yeah, a safety argument at the Robin Hood dam is a little overwrought. But, this dam is large enough to create powerful eddy currents and undercurrents at high water. If you don't believe me, I'll let you borrow a kayak next heavy rain, but, I wouldn't recommend it. Remember how two weeks ago a kayaker was killed in Easton at that dam? These things do happen.

And, I'm not sure an impounded warm water lake is really more beautiful than a free flowing river. That's just a matter of perspective.

Finally, a kiosk would certainly provide more historical context than is already there---which is nothing. I seriously doubt your average Wehr's dam user knows much about mill ponds and early grain milling operations.

It is not like removing this dam changes the use of the park. You will still have a beautiful river and great fishing spots. You just lose a dangerous eyesore that harms river ecology.

michael molovinsky said...

publius, i'm hosting your last comment here, i don't debate anonymous people, start your own blog. i suggest that you not take a kayak or barrel over the dam. the dam is neither dangerous or an eyesore, it's beauty has provided tranquility to many generations.