Laura Klotz will be signing copies of Laury’s Island: The Lehigh Valley’s Forgotten Park at the Barnes & Noble in the Lehigh Valley Mall between 2 and 4 p.m.
BARNES & NOBLE – Lehigh Valley Mall
801 Lehigh Lifestyle Center
Whitehall, PA 18052
Laury’s Island Resurfaces
The Lehigh Valley’s lost amusement park returns to the light of day
More than one hundred years after it was closed and dismantled by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, the amusement resort of Laury’s Island is rediscovered. In Laury’s Island: The Lehigh Valley’s Forgotten Park, readers are taken to the village of Laurys Station, where the railroad operated a popular park on an island in the Lehigh River. Featuring amusement rides, a dancing pavilion, concerts by the Allentown Band, and special attractions such as an exhibition of Edison’s moving pictures, the park was a wholesome retreat where city dwellers could enjoy the beauties of nature. But after fifteen years, the railroad brought the endeavor to a close, and in the century which followed, the park passed out of living memory and most people are unaware that it ever existed at all.
In the 1800s, there were many amusement parks in the Lehigh Valley; only Allentown’s Dorney Park still remains designated as such, being one of the ten oldest surviving amusement parks in the world. The others have either been reduced to community playgrounds, like Indian Trail Park in Lehigh Township, or disappeared entirely, such as Island Park in Easton. But even the ones which have vanished are still remembered, still alive in photographs and local history books – or at the very least, included on lists of defunct parks. Not this one. – from the book’s preface.
Laura Klotz, a lifelong resident of the Lehigh Valley, happened upon a brief mention of the park and had to know more. Knowing more is what she enjoys most; as the owner of the blog MarkerQuest™, she researches and writes about the historical markers erected throughout the state by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. She is also a volunteer with Find A Grave, photographing and researching cemeteries to assist others with their genealogical research, and a member of the Herstory Club, an internet cooperative of women who study and write about various historical topics.
Laury’s Island is a comprehensive history of the resort, beginning with the origins of Laurys Station and its connections to the Lehigh Valley Railroad. A history of the Laury family and the accomplishments of Judge David Laury, for whom the village is named, is included to complete the picture. The Hotel Laury, which burned in the 1930s, was closely associated with the island and is also explored in depth. The course of the book covers the growth of the park, the attractions it offered, the special events it hosted, and the tragedies it suffered, including a long-forgotten double drowning in 1898. What few photographs have survived in the public domain are included to give the reader a sense of the location’s charm. Local history enthusiasts, genealogical researchers, and devotees of amusement park apocrypha will find the tale of Laury’s Island compelling and valuable.