Today people think of Southern Lehigh as a suburban community, but up until fifty years ago it was more rural, even industrial. With small towns connected by winding dirt roads, the area while its larger routes connected it to towns like Philadelphia, Allentown, and Bethlehem.
Always known as Southern Lehigh to those who lived here, it wasn’t until the formation of the joint school district that Upper Saucon Township, Coopersburg, and Lower Milford Township became officially known as Southern Lehigh to those beyond the valley.
If you asked someone in 1920 to describe Southern Lehigh, you would have received a variety of answers. Most would have described it as a farming community. Some would describe it as industrial, citing foundries, factories, and tanneries in the towns. Others would say commercial and list the tavern and store that appeared in each town. And those who lived near the many mines and quarries would use that to describe their homes. These are all true descriptions of the area, a diverse community older than the country that governs it.
Kelly Ann Butterbaugh resides in Southern Lehigh and works with both the Coopersburg and Lower Milford historical societies to preserve the history of the area. As a young girl she wanted to be a writer and enjoyed looking through old photographs and walking around the abandoned Thomas Iron buildings behind her grandparents’ house. Combining both interests, Kelly became an English teacher in both public school and college as well as a freelance writer. She has written four history books and multiple articles for national and local magazines and newspapers.