General Harry TrexlerApril 17, 1854 – November 17, 1933
The Lehigh Valley owes a lot to General Harry Trexler, as do wildlife and land conservation. Through land donations and a generous bequest in his will, Trexler continues to support recreation and conservation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.
Trexler grew up in Allentown. After his father’s death, he and his brother expanded the family business into one of the largest lumber companies in the eastern United States. Later in life, he helped to form one of the largest cement companies in the world. He was also involved in utility operations as well as banking and real estate development. It was his great success in these businesses that allowed him to be such a philanthropist.
Trexler was inspired by the City Beautiful movement taking shape in Pennsylvania and beyond. He took the elements of the movement, combined with his knowledge of city planning, to make Allentown a model of balanced development, as opposed to the industrially ravaged nearby towns of Bethlehem and Easton.
In 1927, Trexler donated land to the Boy Scouts of America, in what is now known as the Trexler Scout Reservation. In 1933, General Trexler left his 1,108-acre bison, elk, and white-tailed deer game preserve land to Lehigh County in his will. The terms of Trexler’s will also created the Harry Clay Trexler Estate, now the Harry C. Trexler Trust, which supports the City of Allentown’s park system and various Lehigh County charities.
In 2006, Lehigh County partnered with Wildlands Conservancy, the Trexler Trust, and other groups to put a new Master Site Plan for the game preserve into action. One of the highlights of the plan was the creation of the Trexler Nature Preserve, which includes a nature center, 18 miles of multi-use trails, and plenty of space for passive recreation like bird watching and wildlife observation.
Learn more about the legacy of Harry Trexler through this video.