An expansive town park, a community pool, a growing library, and Residence Park (the region's most beautiful turn-of the-century neighborhood) continue to make Palmerton an outstanding example of everything a small town should be. Merchants still sell hardware, sporting goods, jewelry, groceries and clothing along Palmerton's wide main street. Numerous annual events take place in Palmerton. They include a Rolling Cruise in June, Sidewalk Sales in August and a Community Festival in September. The Palmerton Area Historical Society has well-organized, extensive archives of local photos and artifacts at the Borough Hall and the Heritage Center on Delaware Avenue.
Appalachian Trail hikers know Palmerton as a friendly place to stay over at the Neighborhood House (present day Borough Hall). To understand Palmerton's past and why it exists today, think zinc. Palmerton was founded in 1898 largely because of its closeness to anthracite, the Lehigh Canal and the railroads. Zinc mines were in Franklin, New Jersey as well.
In the late 19th century, the New Jersey Zinc Co. consolidated regional operations here. In 1917, the world's largest zinc research and technology center opened. Palmerton became a "company town," a model community with well-planned and plentiful housing, educational and cultural opportunities, and good medical care for the residents who enjoyed the many benefits derived from New Jersey Zinc's social policies.
The history of Palmerton is generally considered to have begun in 1898. In that year, the New Jersey Zinc Company located a zinc smelting operation (what is now the West Plant) here in order to take advantage of the anthracite coal being mined just north of Palmerton, and the zinc mines in Franklin, New Jersey. The town was named after New Jersey Zinc's then-President, Stephen S. Palmer, though Palmer was reportedly not pleased with having his name linked to the town.