The Lehigh River, a once wild and scenic river, became stagnant when it was dammed in the early 1800s to allow shipment of anthracite coal on the Lehigh Canal System.
The canal opened in 1827 and by 1855, it was on its way to technologic obsolescence through the introduction of a competitor, the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
The Lehigh Canal persisted until about 1930 with some coal dirt continuing to be hauled to the New Jersey Zinc Company in Palmerton. A 1942 flood permanently closed the Lehigh Canal and subsequent floods began destroying the dams. In 1964, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company began selling its canal properties to municipalities along the right-of-way. In 1965, Gov. William Scranton revoked the 143-year-old legislation that had given the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company control of the Lehigh River.