2022 TONY IMHOFF MEMORIES
The first house in Catasauqua was probably the house where Schlegel’s Cleaners (120 Race St.) is now located. This was built by a contractor from Salisbury Township for a fellow by the name of Wilson. This was about 1760. Wilson owned the pond that stood where the Firemen’s Training Field is today (on Race Street). The dam breast was about even with Railroad Street.
The original roads at the time were Race Street, called that because a mill race ran along the street where the Dery Mill Apartments now stand. It crossed the lawn of the house at Race and Lehigh and fed the water wheel that ran the flour mill and sawmill. Howertown Road originally ran in a line to Railroad and Race. A road from Bethlehem ran from Bath Avenue across 10th Street, up the hill, across 3rd and Bridge Street and ended at the Lehigh River at the stone house of Faust, which stood at Front and Arch Streets, (Faust was one of the original four farmers). So you see there were Race Street, Howertown Road and Faust Lane. This is what existed when Frederick Biery came to the area in 1805. A road ran south, probably on what was later dug for the canal, to Rohn’s farm and Rittersville.
Before Front Street was laid out and the canal and railroad built, the land was on a gradual hill to the Lehigh River. In prehistoric times the riverbed covered as far as Front Street. Last year (1995) a boring was made at the west side of Race Street between the canal bridge and railroad and showed the rock bottom to be 40 feet below the ground surface.
An old stone arched bridge is built across the Catasauqua Creek at Race Street. No one seems to know when it was built but the date 1820 has been suggested. On the north corner of the bridge along the creek a spring house was built at one time. Water flowed, probably through an underground wooden pipe down Race Street towards the canal. Several houses, including Schlegel’s, the other stone houses between Front and the canal received their water from the source. I remember in the 1920’s a water trough stood behind two small barns that stood along the canal tow path just south of the canal bridge. This water trough was fed by a continuous flowing pipe that was connected to the water supply. When the Race Street sewer line was laid in 1955 a pump was continuously running so the workers could lay the pipeline.
The pond on Race Street I spoke of fed the mill and also could be used for irrigating the pasture lands. Before the canal and railroad was built, the canal building in 1829 and the Central Railroad about 1865, the land was on a gradual slope to the river. An early deed for the mill pond stated it took over night to fill the pone, on a Sunday the water could be used to irrigate the meadow lands, but the wickets must be closed in the evening so that ample water would be available to run the mill on Monday.
A small stone house stood on the south side of the mill dam. This was used as a schoolhouse to teach the Biery, Deily and some nearby children. A teacher was provided by Hanover Township