Historical Markers
Biery's Port Historical Marker
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Biery's Port

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
Corner Race and Lehigh Streets, Catasauqua

Dedication Date:
April 24, 1988

Behind the Marker

Walking along Race and Lehigh streets in Biery's Port today, we can step back into the past and experience some of the character of a growing town in the mid-19th century Lehigh Valley. Biery's Port was poised for a bright future as it came to participate in the transformations inspired by Pennsylvania anthracite: canals to transport it and iron furnaces fueled by it.

As its historical marker denotes, Biery's Port was originally centered around a grist mill, reflecting its agricultural economy. In the 1830s, the small community was little more than a handful of stone dwellings–two taverns, a Presbyterian Church and some other homes–clustered near a chain bridge operated by the Biery Brothers, Frederick and Henry. The brothers, who owned practically everything in the village, charged 37.5 cents per carriage as a toll. When markerDavid Thomas arrived in 1839 to build an iron furnace, he described the area and its people in a letter.

"We live in a fertile country where every sort of grain, vegetable and fruit is abundantly grown. The climate is very healthy; and the weather has been hitherto very good. The people are hospitable and kind, chiefly from German origin. There is much of that language spoken here which I am learning very fast. The children can talk it better than I can."
The town of Catasauqua, PA as it appeared in 1852, the year before it was incorporated.
Catasauqua, PA, 1852.

It attracted many others too. With one of the locks of the Lehigh canal located one mile south and markerCrane Iron Works one mile to the north, it became a popular stop for canal users and home for many Crane employees.

As was common in early nineteenth century towns, people's homes in Biery's Port were located beside businesses and not far from small factories and other forms of industrial activity on the Lehigh River. Most of the buildings are made of wood or brick, are two stories tall and are of the architectural styles of Federal or Greek Revival vernacular. As the population grew, residents soon adopted the name Craneville for their community, but eventually became frustrated by misplaced mail intended for Craneville, New Jersey. After considering the name "Sideropolis"–Greek for Iron City–they settled on an Indian word, Catasauqua, a term meaning "dry ground" and the name of the local creek.
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