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

All Aboard for Valley Falls

Next Stop - Pennypack Creek

 

The Pennypack Trail Corridor

 
All Aboard for Valley Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
1. All Aboard for Valley Falls Marker
Inscription.  

Going south from the Huntingdon Valley Station, people could choose from a variety of station locations on their way to Fox Chase and then Philadelphia. A train ride of about two minutes in this direction brought travelers to the Valley Falls Station, a much more rural train stop. Between the two stations, the Newtown train line crossed in quick succession the separate train line to Bethayres, the Pennypack Creek, and Huntingdon Pike. Until Huntingdon Pike was relocated and elevated in 1936, the grade crossings at railroad and street level necessitated flagmen and a great deal of caution.

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

1 A Busy Train Station: This 1948 photo shows the busy nature of the Huntingdon Valley Station, where sidings allowed trains to pass each other on the otherwise single-track line and gave access to adjoining industrial sites. This train, heading toward Valley Falls, has pulled aside to make room for a train heading north across Welsh Road. The station, hillside, and red-roofed house can be seen in the distance.

2 Painting the Pennypack: The painting

The Pennypack Trail Corridor Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
2. The Pennypack Trail Corridor Marker
Next to the All Aboard marker
"Jarrett Hallowell's Meadow on the Pennypack" shows the scenic character of the creek near this trailhead in 1879 and illustrates the romantic realism that inspired well-known local artist Russell Smith.

3 The Farm Landscape: This photo shows the Jonas Hallowell house that stood just behind Wheelworks until destroyed by a fire in 2002. In the 1890s, Jonas W. Hallowell and his brother William Jarrett Hallowell owned most of the land along the Pennypack Creek between the Huntingdon Valley station and the old Hallowell Mill on the creek below Valley Falls. A map illustration from 1860 depicts this house as an elegant residence with horses grazing in front of well-kept barns. The Bennetts, owners of the house between 1942 and 1968, maintained a horse racing oval between creek and railroad, an area now known as Bethayres Swamp.

4 A Country Life: In this photo, horses wait to exercise on the oval track maintained by the last family to live on the former Hallowell farm. Owned in the 1940s by a prominent Philadelphia physician, this streamside property was a popular site for swimming, boating, picnicking and, on occasion, for 4th of July festivities. The family's gardens, horse pastures, and farm fields, which would periodically be inundated by floods from the adjoining Pennypack Creek, are now an overgrown forested floodplain.

5 Scenic Valley

All Aboard for Valley Falls Markers image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
3. All Aboard for Valley Falls Markers
Are on the other side of this kiosk
Falls: This photo illustrates the type of low, rocky waterfall which gave the name Valley Falls to that area of Pennypack Creek. Scenic spots such as this were popular destinations for afternoon outings.

6 Huntingdon Pike, Old and New: Old Huntingdon Pike once crossed the Pennypack Creek on a long stone-arch bridge near the Valley Falls train station. The modern-day highway under which the Pennypack Trail now passes realigned the old pike and replaced this bridge in 1936. In this photo, the Hallowell Mill can be seen past the far end of the bridge.

7 Rail Crossroads: This 1936 photo shows the prominent signal tower where the two railroads intersected between Huntingdon Valley and Valley Falls. The steam locomotive would have made the train a familiar feature of the landscape as it moved through the valley.

8 The Old Huntingdon Pike Bridge: The highway bridge under which today's Pennypack Trail passes is Huntingdon Pike, relocated and elevated in 1936. The station sat at the base of this highway embankment. The old stone-arch pike bridge, illustrated above, was demolished in 2008.

9 The Hallowell Mill: This substantial mill, which once sat on the Pennypack Creek downstream from the Valley Falls station, was close to the railroad tracks and actually sustained a fire sparked by a passing steam locomotive.

1893 Timetable on All Aboard Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., June 30, 2019
4. 1893 Timetable on All Aboard Marker
Today's trail visitors traveling toward Lorimer Park can see the water channel that turned the mill wheel along the western side of the trail.

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

Reports from 1892 tell of a new waiting shed at the Valley Falls Train Station, whose location is indicated above on an excerpt from a 1938 railroad valuation map. By 1902, the newness had apparently worn off. A Philadelphia traveler, injured by falling on the train platform, sued the railroad for negligence in allowing the passenger area to become "rotten and broken down."

Though rural, Valley Falls was a busy place in its early years. In 1916, day-trippers took the train here to begin scenic "tramps" along the Pennypack. Passengers approaching from the Fox Chase direction would see Isaac Walker's mill dam and the stone arches of Old Huntingdon Pike as the train crossed the creek. Passengers continuing to Huntingdon Valley were carried in rapid succession across the pike, the Pennypack a second time, and the Bound Brook Railroad.

The November 1893 Philadelphia, Newtown, and New York timetable below shows how quickly train travelers could reach the countryside around Valley Falls from Philadelphia's urban edge at Fox Chase.
 
Erected 2014 by Montgomery County and Pennypack Trail Corridor

Photo 1 on All Aboard for Valley Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1948
5. Photo 1 on All Aboard for Valley Falls Marker
Courtesy of Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
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. Welcome to Huntingdon Valley Station (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 Historic Note (taken from 1884 history). (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad at Wikipedia. (Submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. 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 55 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 1, 2019, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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