An Allentown Hiking Club History
by Barbara L. Wiemann
The Allentown Hiking Club was heavily involved with Appalachian Trail projects during the 1990s and devoted much time, efforts, and funds to those activities. The club also, of course, offered members a schedule of hikes, programs, and social activities designed to suit its membership. This chapter will highlight some of those non-AT maintenance events.
It was in January 1991 that AHC ended its nomadic postal existence. The club rented a mailbox for the first time, giving the club the permanent address (PO Box 1542) that we still have. Prior to this decision, the club address changed with each set of officers, sometimes delaying materials that went to outdated addresses.
In 1993 the Club was forced to raise dues to $5 per year. Up to that year, the Allentown Recreation Bureau had printed and mailed the club schedule as part of its mission to provide a diverse recreation program to city residents. Without this expense, the club had managed on dues of $2 per year. As a transition, the Bureau agreed to provide three schedules in 1993 and then two schedules in succeeding years.
The club meeting location at the Pioneer Center in downtown Allentown, with its lack of parking, was limiting attendance at monthly meetings. In 1996, after a search for a new site, the club relocated its meetings to the Lehigh County Senior Center, at 1633 Elm Street in Allentown. The new location featured a lighted parking lot, large meeting room, kitchen, a pubic address system, and storage space for the club library and archives. Use of the space was free as long as the club accepted Center members on hikes and activities (not a problem since club membership has never been required to participate in club activities).
As club activities expanded, AHC added a committee structure. In 1996 the club began a New Member Committee and developed its first membership brochure. In 1997, a Hospitality Committee to organize refreshments at each meeting, and an Entertainment Committee to schedule programs for monthly meetings were organized. The Publicity Committee was established in 1998. Keeping up with the times, in 1998 the club joined the Internet age with an AHC web site.
Events and Activities
Continuing his tradition of "series" hikes, Earl Raub began another string of hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania in 1991. By completing all of the hikes, members could earn their Keystone Trails Association AT Hiker Award.
In 1991 the club revived the lapsed tradition of holding a holiday social event. The December meeting (the club‚Äôs annual meeting which includes the election of officers) was expanded to include a potluck meal.
The club's National Trails Day event in 1993, a hike from Bake Oven Road to PA 309 along the Appalachian Trail, drew over 100 people, including Congressman Paul McHale and his son. This turnout was astonishing since the day was gray and foggy, with rain after lunch.
Also in 1993, Earl Raub and Harold Croxton became the first AHC members to earn the Silver Award, given by the National Parks Service, to recognize volunteers who have compiled 25 years of service to the Appalachian Trail.
AHC members voted in 1998 to purchase two steps (for $100 each) to support the Keystone Trails Association's effort to purchase and preserve the 1000 Steps on the Link Trail.
To close out this busy decade, in 1999 AHC opened a new chapter in its volunteer work. Sherry Petrilak and Tom Gettings of the Wildlands Conservancy attended an AHC meeting to request club assistance in maintaining the 160-mile D & L Trail in the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The club agreed to join the Trail Tenders program and participate in four trail-work days each year.