Lehigh County Turns 200
The county has produced many other achievers of note whose accomplishments hardly need to be recounted in detail here.

George Taylor, an ironmaster who lived in Easton and Catasauqua, signed the Declaration of Independence. Gen. Harry Trexler, an industrialist and conservationist born in 1854, helped preserve the American buffalo by establishing a game preserve. He also made sure big portions of the county were set aside as parks and left a financial trust that continues to fund civic and charitable causes.

Lee Iacocca, born in Allentown to Italian immigrants, did for Chrysler what Trexler did for the buffalo. As chairman, he saved the car company from extinction and became a national celebrity in the process -- the quintessential American businessman who came from humble beginnings and thrived on the virtues of leadership and decisiveness.

J.I. Rodale was one of the founding fathers of the organic farming and healthy living movements in America. In 1930 he started Emmaus-based Rodale Inc., which has grown into the world's leading health and wellness company.

Other county personalities aren't as well known or remembered, but ought to be.

Anna Mae Hays was born in Buffalo in 1920 but ended up in Allentown with her Salvation Army parents and attended the Allentown General Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1941 and, the following year, enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

She spent World War II in India, saw service during the Korean War and rose through the ranks until -- on June 11, 1970 -- she became the first woman promoted to the rank of general in the Army.

Elsie Singmaster, born in Schuylkill Haven in 1879, spent portions of her childhood in Macungie and Allentown. A sort of distaff John O'Hara, she was a chronicler of small-town Pennsylvania life, with stories and novels notable for their portrayal of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Unlike O'Hara, a Pottsville native who often wrote of drunks, lechers and social climbers, Singmaster was keen on Victorian values of faith and family. Both writers, sadly, have largely faded from the literary firmament.

You may not know the name Robert F. Hunsicker, but you surely know his product. In 1936, he began marketing dog food he made in the bathtub in his Allentown home. He called the company Allen Products and the dog food "Alpo."

So there you have it. Lehigh County has a place in history as secure as any. Not that its history is entirely auspicious. After all, the ancestors of the brown marmorated stink bugs that have been spreading through the nation for the past decade or so are believed to have disembarked in Allentown from an overseas shipment.

In the main, though, Lehigh County -- its people, places and past -- is a place worthy of study and acclaim.

You can start at the heritage museum, which houses Brig. Gen. Hays' uniform, Hering's diploma and other papers, several of Singmaster's books and untold other treasures.

But don't stop there. Head into that paradoxical landscape and take a close-up look. See the covered bridges, one-room schoolhouses, cemeteries, churches.

Go to Jasper Park in Upper Milford Township, where Lenape Indians for centuries quarried jasper for tools and weapons. Visit Coplay and see the castle-like arrangement of cement kilns in Saylor Park. Explore the ruins of the iron furnace complex at Lock Ridge Park in Alburtis.

By virtue of their age, these are haunting places. But they aren't the remnants of a lost past. They are the foundation blocks of a living present.

Here's to another 200 years, and many more.