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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Huntingdon Valley in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station

From Train Stop to Trailhead

 

The Pennypack Trail Corridor

 
Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
1. Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker
Inscription.  

From 1878 to the 1980s, this trailhead was the site of the Huntingdon Valley Train Station, carrying passengers and some freight back and forth between Philadelphia and Newtown in Bucks County. Bethayres, the village about 1/3 mile to the east at the crossroads of Welsh Road and Huntingdon Pike, was nicknamed "Goosetown", an indicator of the area's rural character prior to suburban development. While Welsh Road and the former rail corridor look very different today, the nearby Pennypack Creek retains its picturesque quality, and its corridor provides an extremely scenic experience for those who now travel the trail rather than the rails.

Follow the numbered photos for a journey through the way things used to be.

1 Welsh Road: This early photo looks west along Welsh Road to the railroad crossing at Huntingdon Valley Station. The tracks can be seen running alongside the small white station building where the horse-drawn buggy is starting onto the Pennypack Creek Bridge. The larger building to the right is the ruined 1790 schoolhouse that once sat on the hillside at Welsh and Terman Roads.

2 Around the Station:

Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
2. Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker
This 1916 photo looks east along Welsh Road toward the station and railroad tracks. On the hillside, just across Welsh Road from this trailhead, flagman Samuel Chestnut stands in front of the ruined 1790 schoolhouse. In the background, the railroad station, tracks, and Pennypack Creek are visible beyond the hillside. The brick stack of the recently built water plant can be seen just across the creek.

3 Walton's Mill: Once a familiar landmark on Welsh Road near the northeast bank of the Pennypack Creek, John Walton's Mill is depicted in this 1907 postcard. An 1860 map of Lower Moreland portrays Walton's elegant house on a rise overlooking Welsh Road a short distance toward Bethayres. The water-powered mill was in operation until the 1880s when the mill switched to steam power for several years before ceasing its operations.

4 The Water Company: This early postcard shows the large water plant which Jenkintown Water Company built around 1909 near the site of the former John Walton Mill. Although the water plant is still in use today by Aqua PA, the land around it is now a preserved natural area called Bethayres Woods. The site of the Walton mansion, once located a short distance east from the mill, is incorporated into Gloria Dei retirement facilities.

5 Along the Tracks: Continuing northward across Welsh Road, trains passed

Photo 1 on Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, late 1800s
3. Photo 1 on Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station Marker
Courtesy of Old York Road Historical Society
by the front door of the red-roofed house still standing today along the Pennypack Trail. This photo shows a train running south toward Welsh Road in 1977 on tracks in place since the 1880s. This house was home in the 1860s to a Civil War general and later to nearby quarry workers and various Huntingdon Valley families.

6 Quarrying the Hillside: In this photo taken about 1900, quarry workers load building stone onto an open rail car at a rail spur that ran behind the red-roofed house. To provide high-quality granite for the area's development projects, the quarry operations gradually consumed a good part of the hill and caused the demolition of Grandview, a mansion from the 1880s that boasted long views in every direction.

7 The Covered Bridge: This photo shows the railroad tracks spanning the Pennypack Creek after crossing Terwood Road. The covered bridge was a familiar landmark until it was demolished after a fire in the early 1900s. Around this bridge, a pool created by a nearby mill dam was a popular ice-skating spot around the turn of the 20th century. The Pennypack Trail now crosses the creek on the structure of the former rail bridge.

8 The Best View in Town: This photo shows Charles Saunders' elegant mansion which once crowned the hillside across Welsh Road from this trailhead. Saunders, from a Philadelphia merchant

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family, was officially enumerated as a gentleman in the 1880 census. This left him the leisure to lead the board of Jeanes Hospital and to patent a special card table design. Being a gentleman must have suited him since he died at age 89 shortly after celebrating his 68th year of marriage with wife Hannah.

9 Modernizing Welsh Road: Taken in 1967, this photo shows the reconstruction of the Welsh Road Bridge over the Pennypack Creek, just east of this trailhead entrance, a project necessitated by growing traffic congestion and number of automobile accidents.

The Pennypack Trail Corridor
Philadelphia, Newtown, & New York Railroad

Railroad reports in 1892 announced the erection of new stations on the Philadelphia, Newtown, and New York Railroad, including the Huntingdon Valley Train Station pictured above. The extra land needed for the station was acquired from Jonas Hallowell, who had already given up property for both the Newtown and the Bound Brook Railroad corridors. These railroads split the Hallowell land into disconnected sections. The Newtown Railroad corridor is today's Pennypack Trail. The Bound Brook corridor is still in use by the SEPTA commuter line, which the trail crosses a short distance south of this trailhead.

Although the cost of riding the train averaged out to about 1½ cents per mile, there was considerable

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concern about unreasonable ticket costs. In 1915, a local association of commuters filed a formal petition asking for close evaluation of the ticket pricing on the Newtown line.

The original elegant station was later replaced by a more utilitarian structure pictured below, which was again rebuilt in the 1950s and then demolished in the 1980s after train service was discontinued. The train tracks remained in place until removed for the county's Pennypack Trail project.
 
Erected 2014 by Montgomery County and Pennypack Trail Corridor Advisory Committee.
 
Location. 40° 7.241′ N, 75° 4.39′ W. Marker is in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County. Marker is at the intersection of Welsh Road (Pennsylvania Route 63) and Terman Road, on the left when traveling west on Welsh Road. Marker is at a trail kiosk at the trailhead parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 798 Welsh Road, Huntingdon Valley PA 19006, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. All Aboard for Valley Falls (here, next to this marker); Melmar (approx. 1.1 miles away); Harold F. Pitcairn (approx. 1.1 miles away); Bryn Athyn Cathedral (approx. 1.1 miles away); a different marker also named Bryn Athyn Cathedral (approx. 1.1 miles away); Bryn Athyn Historic District (approx. 1.2 miles away); Glencairn (approx. 1.2 miles away); Willow Grove United Methodist Church, 1889 (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Huntingdon Valley.
 
Also see . . .
1. Huntingdon Valley PA at Wikipedia. (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Huntingdon Valley PA Historic Note (taken from 1884 history). (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad at Wikipedia. (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Pennypack Trail. (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
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Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 46 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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