New Bethlehem Dam
New Bethlehem Dam has rich history steeped in tradition
New Bethlehem Dam
New Bethlehem Dam is a scenic stop along the Redbank Valley Creek.
The New Bethlehem Dam is beautifully lite by many colorful lights at night.
Right beside the New Bethlehem Dam is a boat launch for Kayaks and Canoes as well as a parklet area that's perfect for picnics.
Scuba Divers at the DamTwo local divers visited New Bethlehem Dam to remove some drift wood that was jammed under the inlet screen, letting debri get into the water plant intake where the it was caught by the strainer baskets causing extra work to remove. They were down about 14'. I joked with some onlookers and fishermen we were letting some of Bigger fish down to the lower part as there was too many upstream. I think some believe me. - L. Adams
There has been a dam at this location for nearly 200 years since the earliest settlers arrived in New Bethlehem and built the area’s first grist mill. The existing Redbank Dam, constructed of concrete and timber in 1847, replaced an earlier dam destroyed during a torrential flood.
The Redbank Dam provided essential water power to grind the grains and saw the lumber necessary to sustain the region’s economy. Redbank Creek served as a vital transportation route for Northern Pennsylvania’s vast lumber industry. Before the Civil War, craftsmen in New Bethlehem made boats for shipping lumber.
Washington Craig purchased the valuable grain and sawmills in New Bethlehem in 1873, the same year as the Allegheny Valley Railroad steamed through town to connect communities in the north with Pittsburgh. Craig furnished his mills with new equipment shipped from New York City and his fine grade of flour became well known as one of Western Pennsylvania’s best. Across the creek in South Bethlehem, Redbank Milling Company also used the dam for its waterpower system.
Flatboats manpowered by long steering oars waited for high water to float their craft over the dam and continue the voyage downstream to markets on the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. Four men and a woman made up the crew on this boat.