There are many ways to become involved in Heritage Tourism and the National Heritage Areas (NHAs) in particular. The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) and St. Luke's University Health Network in eastern Pennsylvania are encouraging residents, and visitors alike, to get healthy with their joint "Get Your Tail on the Trail" program during the latter half of 2013.
The 165 Mile Challenge is a challenge to log 165 miles of biking, walking or running over the the last six months of 2013. Part of the challenge, of course, is to get you out onto to trails along the corridor to both get the exercise but also to visit and participate in the sites along the way.
The D&L NHA is a 165-mile corridor in eastern Pennsylvania. "Canals and roads transported lumber, anthracite coal, slate, iron and steel from mountain to market, fueling America's industrial revolution in the region." The 165-mile trail, mostly completed, runs from northeast of Philadelphia, through Easton and Allentown, to Wilkes-Barre.
Click on the "Get Your Tail on the Trail" link to see the challenge, download a flyer to learn more, register to participate, and see the Trail Tracker.
The many D&L sites and events occur along the 165-mile corridor, of course, so you will want to plan your time and commitment accordingly. Let's look at a few you might want to focus on.
There are thirty five town in three regions along the corridor, range from very large to very small with everything in between. Each is full of historical and cultural, as well as natural sites to enjoy and in which to participate.
In the northern region, the town that caught my eye was Jim Thorpe, established in 1818, and later renamed after the legendary Native American athlete. Here you can visit the home of Asa Packer, founder or Lehigh University or tour the Old Carbon County Jail, once occupied by the Molly Maguires.
Walnutport is in the central region and is a canal town. You can get a visual lesson in how canals and locks once functioned. The Locktender's House serves as a museum you will not want to miss. The third Sunday of each October the town hosts the annual Walnutport Canal Festival.
Bristol serves as the southern terminus of the D&L Trail and was first settled by Europeans in 1681. The last portion of the Delaware Canal flowed through the town, through a lagoon and into the basin near Bristol Marsh. Bristol is the oldest town in Bucks County and the third oldest in Pennsylvania. The Delaware Riverfront resembles a New England seaport. The Grundy Museum is located in the heart of Bristol.
Allentown, near the middle of the 165-mile corridor, is a striving metropolis whose roots started with the iron industry. It became a major area of commerce as early as the 1830's and the Lehigh Valley is seen as a birthplace of America's industrial revolution. Today, leading attractions include the Allentown Art Museum, the Museum of Indian Culture and Allentown's Canal Park with easy access to the D&L Trail.
Wilkes-Barre is part of the Wyoming Valley. It is framed by the Pocono Mountains to the east and the Endless Mountains to the west. The majestic Susquehanna River flows through the center. You will want to visit the Luzerne County Historical Society Museum on Franklin Street as well as the F.M. Kirby Center and the Luzerne County Courthouse, an impressive architectural masterpiece.
Even if you are not in eastern Pennsylvania, I can see this challenge applied in many other local communities. How about yours?