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Exercising their historical interest

Area residents gathered May 18 for a historical walk on the D&L Rail Trail.

The walk was hosted by the D&L Rails-to-Trails Committee, a nonprofit set up to maintain the D&L Trail and promote local events on the old canal and railroad route. The group has hosted events before, including an interpretative bike ride last October, but this was the committee's first attempt at holding a walk.

Nancy Thatcher, president of the D&L Rails-to-Trails Committee, explained she wanted more residents to be able to come out.

"Not everyone rides a bike," she said.

Thatcher laid out the future plans for the trail which, eventually, will span 165 miles from Bristol to Wilkes-Barre.

The trail is nearly complete, passing through a few state parks along the way. However, a few short stretches need maintenance, or need features such as a pedestrian bridge before they can be considered complete.

On a more local level, Thatcher and her group are anticipating fixing up Lock 25. An Eagle Scout candidate recently made some picnic tables at the location as part of his project. Thatcher would like to tear down and clean out the old, ruined remains of a mule barn near the site and turn it into a nice area for families to picnic.

The Trailtender group also takes care of the landscaping and controlling invasive species on the trail. After members complete their work on the mule barn, they would like to make signs to point out local, historical points of interest, Thathcer said.

While the walk on Saturday was fun, it was also educational. Various members of the committee spoke about the local history of Laurys Station and Treichlers Bridge and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. They distributed information on the environment of Lehigh County, with volunteer Don Eckhart explaining the local geology.

The group stopped periodically to examine an invasive species. Committee members explained why these plants are dangerous to the environment and how to properly remove them.

The group also pointed out historical areas, such as the old cement phone booths placed throughout the trail. They explained that the 3,000 pound cement "huts" were considered cutting-edge technology when they were created, a fact that resonated ironically as the group stood around snapping pictures with digital cameras and cellphones.

When asked why they chose to come out to the walk, participants said they love the trail and walk on it regularly, so they decided to learn more about the history of the area.

"We've walked this trail a lot, but never this far down," said participants John and Sara Kisthardt.