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Lehigh Township

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Lehigh is the youngest of Wayne County’s twenty- two townships, having been established from a portion of Dreher Township on December 15, 1885. It is also the smallest township in the county containing 8, 217 acres. Its name comes from the Lehigh River that marks part of its northern boundary. There were no settlements in this area until the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad was constructed between 1840 and 1851 when a settlement was established at Sand Cut. Sand Cut took its name from the banks of sand that were created when the railroad bed was laid. The railroad provided greater access to the acres of virgin hemlock and businessmen, lumbermen and tanners flocked to the southwestern area of Wayne County.

In 1856 twenty-year old Jay Gould, who was to become a multimillionaire speculator, built a tannery with his partner Zaddock Pratt at Gouldsboro. For a time this was the largest tannery in America but it closed in 1861 due to unscrupulous business practices on the part of Gould but the village that bears his name continued to thrive.

In that same year that Gould opened his tannery, J. L. Simons constructed a large hotel at Gouldsboro. It was the first house, other than a few shanties, to be built in the area that would later become Lehigh Township. Simons also served as the first postmaster of the village, worked as a station agent and ran a stage line for several years. In 1862 William Wallace and Abram Coon built a store across from the Simons House and in 1863 another store was established near the lumber mills. Sawmills proliferated throughout the area and lumbering became the major industry.

A dwelling house in Gouldsboro was used as the first school in 1865 with Sarah A. Craft as the first teacher. A second school was built in 1870 near the present Lehigh Cemetery. The Grace Lutheran Church was organized by Rev. George Rhodes and the building was constructed in 1875-76.

Ice harvesting was a major industry and many ice houses were built in which piles of sawdust kept the ice cool. The houses were huge and one in particular covered about an acre of ground, had eleven storage rooms with a capacity of forty to fifty thousand tons of ice.

Today there are no operating farms in Lehigh Township. Most commercial land is in motels and hotels and campsites have grown considerably. State owned land accounts for 609 acres. Although Gouldsboro is in Wayne County the name is often used to refer to surrounding areas in the adjoining counties of Lackawanna and Monroe.