Runaway slaves seeking freedom are widely known to have sought refuge in the Quakertown area on their way north on the Underground Railroad. Until recently, few knew they also stopped in Lower Saucon Township.
After reviewing historical documents and researching works on the subject, Saucon Valley columnist and historian Lee Weidner said he realized a general store in the Bingen section of the township housed runaways during the 1860s.
''Who would think that the little town of Bingen would be so important in the pathway of people having their lives set free?'' said Weidner, who just finished a pictoral history book of Lower Saucon.
A picture of the general store, owned by William R. Yeager when it was involved in the Underground Railroad, is in the 126-page book, ''Images of America: Lower Saucon Township,'' to be released in early August by Arcadia Publishing.
Lower Saucon was largely an agrarian community until the 1850s, when iron ore plants and limestone mines were built as part of the Industrial Revolution, Weidner said.
Even with the added industry within its borders and the emergence of Bethlehem Steel nearby, Lower Saucon remained primarily a pastoral region until the 1960s, when housing developments began to grow out of cornfields.
''When my grandfather said 'Let's go to the country,' he meant Lower Saucon,'' said Weidner, who put photographs in the book dating from the 1800s until 1965.
Weidner compiled the photographs with Barbara Ryan and Karen Samuels, who head the Lower Saucon Township Historical Society.
The three hope proceeds from the book's sales will help fund the restoration of the Lutz Franklin Schoolhouse, a one-room building where generations of township residents received their primary education.
The historical society will receive 50 percent of sales of the $20 book if readers buy it directly from them, Ryan said, but only 16 cents if readers buy it at store.
''By releasing this book, we hope that when we're gone, someone will know what we know,'' Ryan said.
The historical society is selling the book through its Web site, http://www.lutzfranklin.com , and by contacting Weidner at 610-282-4819.
Weidner, who also released a pictoral history of Hellertown, is working on a written account of Saucon Valley that he hopes to release in a couple of years.