Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

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Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 15 of 227)
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kill Railroad Company was incorporated, and it con-
structed the railroad from Tamaqua to Port Clinton.

P. & R. R. — In 1833, a railroad was projected
from Port Clinton via Reading to Philadelphia.
The Little Schuylkill Railroad Company was auth-
orized to extend its railroad to Reading, and to
construct one from Reading , to Philadelphia. A
company was chartered on April 4, 1833, under the
name of the "Philadelphia and Reading Railroad
Company." Twenty-seven commissioners were ap-
pointed, including George de B. Keim, Matthias S.
Richards, Isaac Hiester and James Everhart, of
Reading. Immediate steps were taken to construct
this road. A considerable portion was finished dur-
ing 1835. By December, 1837, one track of the
road was completed from Reading to Pottstown.
An excursion party, comprising one hundred citi-
zens of Reading, made a trip on the 6th of Decem-
ber in five freig-ht cars, temporarily fitted up with
seats and drawn by five horses. It started from the
depot at 9 A. M., and arrived at Pottstown in two
and three quarters hours, including all stops. In
returning, it left at 3 P. M. and arrived at Reading
at 5 p. M. The first regular train from Reading to
Pottstown ran on May 1, 1838 ; to Norristown, on
July, 16, 1838 ; and to Philadelphia in December,
1839. The fare was: First-class, $2.50; second-
class, $2.

The Little Schuylkill Railroad Company being
unable to construct the road from Port Clinton to
Reading, the charter of the Philadelphia & Reading
Railroad Co. was therefore extended to cover the
construction and operation of a railroad from Read-
ing to Pottsville; and notwithstanding the financial
difficulties which prevailed about 1838, the project
was completed within four years afterward. The
first train ran over the whole line from Philadelphia
to Pottsville, ninety-three miles, on Jan. 1, 1842, and
the road was opened for general travel on the 10th.
The second track wis laid in 1843, and opened for
travel in January, 1844. The distance from Read-
ing to Philadelphia was traveled in two hours; to
Pottsville in one hour and twenty minutes.

In the establishment of this great enterprise, the
construction of two long tunnels is worthy of men-
tion — ^one near Phoenixville, in length 1,931 feet, at
a cost of $150,000 ; the other near Port Clinton, in
length 1,606 feet, at a cost of $125,782. The latter
extends through the Blue Mountain, and the depth
from the surface at the top of the mountain is 119
feet. A third tunnel was constructed at Manayunk,
in length 940 feet, costing $75,000. The Phoenix-
ville and Manayunk tunnels were enlarged in 1859.

A superior', large stone bridge across the Schuylkill,
above Tuckerton, is also noteworthy.

The introduction of this railway immediately
stimulated enterprise at Reading, and caused energy
and capital to be directed toward manufacturing.
The increasing tide of affairs induced people and
capital to concentrate here more and more every
succeeding year; and buildings multiplied rapidly
to answer the demands of the increasing population.
The company established its workshops here when
the railway was completed, and these have grown
here in capacity with the ever-increasing traffic of
the road. The first large shop occupied the half
block on the west side of Seventh street between
Franklin and Chestnut streets, where it continued
for over sixty years. Its extensive and costly shops
are now situated along the northern extremity of
Sixth street. Each succeeding decade found the
company with more extended shops of all kinds for
the manufacture of engines and cars, affording in
the mieantime constant employment for an ever-in-
creasing number of workmen. The total annual in-
come to the people of Reading from this single
source during the past seventy years counts into
millions of dollars, all of which contributed directly
toward the substantial growth of this community,
in its buildings, stores, factories, churches and

The passenger station (or "depot" as it was
generally called) was located at the northwest cor-
ner of Seventh and Chestnut streets, and continued
there till 1874, when it was removed to the "junc-
tion" of the Lebanon Valley and East Pennsylvania
railroads, nearly a mile to the north, called "Main
Station," where a fine large building had been erec-
ted. This was done to accommodate the large pas-
senger traffic. It is surmounted with a large and
elevated clock-tower. Extensive covered platforms
are constructed over the three roads, nearly a half-
mile in length; eastern, 1,038 feet; northwestern,
709 feet ; southwestern, 692 feet ; the first being 47
feet wide, and the others 42. The passenger trains
to Philadelphia and Pottsville pass through the first ;
those to Harrisburg and to Allentown through the
second ; and those to Columbia, Slatington, and Wil-
mington, through the third. It was begun in 1871,
and completed in 1874, when the lower station was
abandoned. In 1884 the company re-established the
station at Franklin street.

The stations in the county are the following:
Douglassville, Monocacy, Birdsboro, Exeter, Frank-
lin Street, Reading, Tuckerton, Leesport, Mohrs-
ville, Shoemakersville, Bern, Hamburg. The length
of the railway from the southern extremity of the.
county to the northern is forty miles.

The, train service for passengers, coal and freight
over the Philadelphia & Reading railroad and
its several branches, is very extensive, as will ap-
pear by the following statistics for July, 1908, at
Reading :



Passenger trains 94 first ground was broken at a spot, now the highest

Coal and freight— point of the cut, a short distance north of Temple

Main Line 90 Station, on June 11, 1857; and it was prosecuted

Lebanon Valley 65 vv^jth energy for two years. The last spike was

East Penn . 48 jj-iven on April 20, 1859, and the completion was

wiStt fNorTheVn-:;^ signalized by a demonstration at Temple on

Sdniylkill & Lehigh 4 May 11th. On that day, trains began to run be-

, , , J A -1 -I tween Reading- and Allentown Junction, a distance
Lebanon V.^LLEY.-An Act was passed April 1 ^^ thirty-six miles. It was leased to the Philadel-
1836, mcorporatmg the Lebanon Valley Railroad ^ia & Reading Railroad Co. in May, 1869, by
Company," for a railroad from Reading to Harris- ^^^-^^ -^ ^^^ ^J^ operated since,
burg. It required an actual subscription of four -phe length of the railroad in the county is twenty-
thousand shares of stock before the charter should t^^ee miles, with the following stations : Temple,
become operative. This number could not be ob- Blandon, Fleetwood, Lyons, Bowers, Topton,
tained by private subscriptions, and the project was Mertztown, Shamrock.

allowed to slumber for seventeen years. In 1853, Reading & Columbia.— Whilst the Lebanon
the idea was conceived that Lebanon and Reading, Valley and East Penn railroads were being con-
as municipal organizations, should encourage the en- structed, the subject of extending a railroad from
terprise by a large subscription of the stock, the Sinking Spring (a station on the former) to Col-
former, two thousand shares, and the latter, six umbia was discussed with earnestness. In this be-
thousand. half an Act was passed on May 19, 1857, incorporat-
A supplementary Act was accordingly passed on ing the "Reading & Columbia Railroad Company,"
April 5, 1853, with a provision that the subject of and naming fifteen commissioners. The first pro-
a subscription be submitted to the taxables of the ject was to extend the road from a point in Read-
respective places. The city councils of Reading ing; but in 1861 an Act was passed authorizing a
discussed this subject on May 11, 1853, and ordered connection to be made with the former railroad at
an election to be held on June 15th following. This any point between Reading and Sinking Spring,
election was to decide for or against a subscription Numerous meetings were held at Ephrata, Lancas-
of four thousand shares, amounting to $200^000. ter, Columbia and Reading, and reports pertaining
The result of the election was 1,658 for subscription, to the business which the territory would afford
and 682 against. The election having terminated were made to encourage the construction of the
favorably, certain taxables applied to the Supreme road ; and these eventually terminated in its suc-
court for an injunction, but it was refused. The cessful completion in March, 1864, from Sinking
subscription by the city councils was made, and Spring to Columbia, a distance of forty miles.' The
in payment thereof city bonds were issued amount- first passenger train ran in May, 1864. The length
ing to $200,000. During the completion of the road of the railroad in the county is five miles, with two
an Act was passed. May 5, 1857, to authorize the stations, Fntztown and Vinemont.
consolidation of the Lebanon Valley Railroad Com- Wilmington & Northern.— A railroad was also
pany with the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad encouraged through the southern section of Berks
Company, upon first obtaining consent of the stock- county, by inhabitants of Robeson, Union and Caer-
holders. The city councils approved of the consoli- "^'■^°" *°^"s'"P%,^"^ *ey obtained an Act on
dation. especiallv upon having been assured by the ^P"' ^^' jSe^k The road was to extend from a
Philadelphia &' Reading Railroad Company that P°"^t on the Philadelphia & Reading railroad, at
the city bonds would be returned and that its °^ "^ar Birdsboro, by the most available route, to
company would assume the subscription of four any railroad built in Chester county The incorpor-
thousand shares. The road was completed, the con- ^""^ '^°dy was named Berks and Chester Railroad
solidation effected, and the city bonds were returned. Company ; and the company was authorized to con-
Trains began to run to Lebanon in June, 1857; -^^''^.f/^^f JTrr l^ "°! exceedmg nine miles
and to Harrisburg in January, 1858. ' Length of ll^'^'St. ^Ih Zt\ T ^^^^^^ T^ ^'^''^^
this railroad in th% countv, sixteen miles; wfth the f If^'lr^^ '^ WffT.f"' '""^ Pennsylvania State
following stations: Sinking Spring, Wernersville, ^'"mm nnir L f ^ consohda ion with this
■n , • -i^r 1 1 i: ^ Company under the name of the Wilming-ton &

"i'^TvV^rn^^i . i..r A. Reading Railroad Company. The name wis sub
East PENN.-On March 9, 1856, an Act was sequently changed to Wilmington & Northern Rail-
pa.ssed incorporating the Reading and Lehigh ,^^^ Companv. The road was opened for travel
Railroad Company for a railroad froni the June- ^s follows: From Wilmington to CoatesviUe,
ion of the Phi adelphia & Reading and the Lebanon thtrtv-three miles, in December, 1869 • to Birdsboro
\ a ley railroads at Reading, to the Lehigh Valley sixty-three miles, in June, 1870; and to Readino-'
railroad at Allentown. The title of the company seventy-two miles, in Februarv 1874 It was con-
was changed to "East Pennsylvania Railroad Com- structed to a point in Poplar Neck ' and the road
pany," by Act passed April 21, 1857. The construe- from that point was extended through Reading by
tion of the roadway began in June following. The the Berks County Railroad Company



The passenger station of the company at Read-
ing was for a' time at the southwest corner of Sec-
ond and Cherry streets. In 1882 the company effec-
ted an arrangement to run its trains to and from
the station of the Philadelphia & Reading Rail-
road Company; and in 1903 the road was leased to
the latter company.

The following stations are in the county: Birds-
boro. White Bear, Geigertown, Joanna. The pas-
senger station at Birdsboro is a handsome structure.
Length in county, twenty miles.

West Reading. — The • manufacturers situated
along the Schuylkill canal secured an Act on March
20, 1860, to construct a railroad from the Lebanon
Valley railroad at Fourth street to a point on Canal
street near the gas works, and to organize a com-
pany under the name of West Reading Railroad
Company. The road was constructed, in length
nearly two miles, and opened for traffic in 1863.
This company operated it for ten years, and then
transferred it to the Philadelphia & Reading Rail-
road Co., by which company it has been used since,
as a branch road in delivering and receiving freight.

COLEBROOKDALE. — In March, 1865, a railroad was
constructed from the Philadelphia & Reading rail-
road at Pottstown to Boyertown and a company
was incorporated under the name of "Colebropkdale
Railroad Company." The road was constructed to
Barto, a distance of nearly thirteen miles, and
opened to travel in November, 1869.

The stations in the county are Manatawny, Iron-
stone, Colebrookdale, Boyertown, Bechtelsville,
Barto. It was leased to the Philadelphia & Read-
ing Railroad Company on Jan. 1, 1870, for twenty
years, which lease was renewed.

KuTZTOWN Branch. — In 1854 a company was
incorporated under the name of the Allentown Rail-
'road Company, to construct a railroad from Allen-
town to the Philadelphia & Reading railroad at any
point between Reading and Port Clinton; and if
this railroad should not be extended by way of
Kutztown, a branch should be constructed to that
place. -Subsequently a section of the road was con-
structed from Topton to Kutztown, in length four
and a half miles, and opened for travel in January,
1870. It has been operated since by the Philadel-
phia & Reading Railroad Company under a lease.

Schuylkill & Lehigh. — In March, 1871, a com-
pany was incorporated for the purpose of construct-
ing a railroad from a point on the Wilmington &
Northern railroad, at or near Birdsboro, through
Reading, to connect with any railroad or railroads
in the county of Lehigh; commissioners were ap-
pointed and a company was created by the name of
"Berks County Railroad Company," and it was con-
structed from the "Cut" in "Poplar Neck," through
Reading, by way of the Maiden creek, to Slating-
ton, where connection was made with the Lehigh
Valley railroad, a total length of forty-five miles.
The road was opened for travel in July, 1874.
Shortly afterward, the road was sold and a reor-
ganization effected under the name of "Berks &

Lehigh Railroad Company" ; and subsequently this
name was changed to "Schuylkill & Lehigh Rail-
road Company." The road is carried on by the
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company under
a lease. The length of the road in the county is
twenty-four miles, and the stations are Maiden-
creek, Evansville, Moselem, Virginville, Lenharts-
ville, Kempton.

Belt Line. — For a number of years the increas-
ing traffic on the main line of the Philadelphia &
Reading railroad rendered its passage through
Reading more and more difficult to handle, and
finally, in 1900, the management determined to re-
lieve the great congestion which extended from the
"Walnut street Cut" northward several miles, by
constructing a "Belt Line" around Reading; which
started at a point called the "Junction," in Muhlen-
berg township, about a mile north of the main sta-
tion at Reading, thence crossing the river and pass-
ing through Bern, Spring and Cumru townships,
and ending in the main line about two miles south
of Reading. It was opened for traffic in 1902.

Signal Service. — From the beginning of the
service on the P. & R. railroad the company main-
tained along the main line a number of "signal
towers" for the purpose of notifying the trainmen
as to the situation and movement of the trains ; then
the "Hall block system" was introduced, as a more
reliable system, and it has proved very useful and

Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley. — The
Phoenixville, Pottstown & Reading Railroad Com-
pany was incorporated on Sept. 30, 1882, for oper-
ating a railroad from Phoenixville to Reading, by
way of Pottstown; and on the same day, the Phil-
adelphia, Norristown & Phoenixville Railroad Com-
pany was incorporated for operating a railroad from
Philadelphia to Phoenixville. On May 1, 1883,
these two companies were consolidated, under the
name of Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad
Company, and a month afterward a lease was effec-
ted with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The
latter company then constructed the railroad from
Philadelphia to Reading, by way of Norristown and
Phoenixville, during 1883 and 1884, opening it to
Reading on Nov. ■ 15, 1884. In the course of its
construction the company erected four substantial
bridges across the Schuylkill within the county —
Douglas sville, Poplar Neck, Little Dam, and Read-
ing — and three handsome passenger stations : Doug-
lassville, Birdsboro, Reading.

The length of this railroad from Reading to the
Montgomery county line is fourteen miles.

The Penn street bridge stood in the way of im-
provements by this company at the foot of Penn
street, and, in pursuance of a proposition by this
company to substitute a superior iron bridge in its
place, at a cost of $100,000, provided the county of
Berks contributed $33,000, the old wooden bridge
was removed and the present handsome iron bridge
was erected during the years 1884 and 1885.



The Reading & Pottsville Railroad Company was
incorporated afterward for operating a railroad
from Reading to Pottsville, by way of Hamburg
and Port Clinton, and this was constructed during
1884 and 1885, as a continuation of the railroad
from Philadelphia to the coal regions. It was op-
ened to Hamburg on Dec. 7, 1885, and in 1886 to
Pottsville. On Dec. 1, 1885, this road was also
leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The
company erected a fine station at Hamburg. The
length of the railroad northward from Reading to
the Schuylkill county line is twenty miles ; and the
total length in the county is thirty-four miles. A
fifth bridge was constructed obliquely across the
Schuylkill river at Hamburg.

Electric Railways. — Street railways began to
be laid down in Reading in 1874, but a number of
years elapsed before they were operated success-
fully. The first extensions of the system were made
into the surrounding country districts as follows:
To the Black Bear Inn and Stony Creek in 1890 ;
and an extension was made from a point near the
latter place to Boyertown in 1902, by way of Jack-
sonwald, Oley Line, Friedensburg and Shanesville;
and an extension from Black Bear Inn to Birds-
boro in 1904 by way of Seyfert and Gibraltar.

To Shillington and Mohnsville (now Mohnton)
in 1890; and an extension to Adamstown was con-
structed in 1894.

To Womelsdorf, on the bed of the Berks and
Dauphin turnpike, in 1894.

To Temple in 1902 ; which was extended to Kutz-
town in 1904. A line had been extended from Al-
lentown to Kutztown in 1898 and operated to that
point. When the connection was made in 1904,
through travel was effected from Reading to Allen-
town; and this route then began to be utilized for
cheap Sunday excursions to New York in the sum-
mer season.

These suburban lines opened travel to all points
surrounding Reading, excepting to Hamburg to the
north, and to Bernville, Rehrersburg and Millers-
burg to the northwest. The former point is reached
conveniently by two steam railways, but the latter
can still only be reached by stage lines or by pri-
vate conveyance.

The extension of these lines from Reading has
encouraged building operations and the develop-
ment of suburban towns to a remarkable degree,
more especially since 1900. This is apparent at
Hyde Park to the north; at Wyomissing to the
west ; at Oakbrook and Shillington to the southwest ;
and at Mt. Penn and Esterly to the southeast.

Additional lines are in contemplation: from
Womelsdorf to Myerstown, westward ; from Temple
to Hamburg, northward; and from Lyons to Top-
ton and Emaus, northward.

A line was completed in 1908 from Pottstown
to Boyertown via Ringing Rocks Park and Gil-


The postal department of the public service is
classed with the internal improvements of the coun-
ty. The first attempt to systematize and regulate
postal communication in the American Colonies was
made by the British government in 1660; and this
subject received the attention of William Penn
shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania, he having,
in July, 1683, issued an order for the establishment
of a post-office at Philadelphia. The postal facili-
ties in that early period were only such as were af-
forded by personal accommodation among the col-
onists. In 1692, the rate of postage to and from
Philadelphia, within a radius of eighty miles, was

The office of Postmaster-General for America
was created by Parliament in 1704. In 1737, Benja-
min Franklin was appointed postmaster at Phila-
delphia, and in 1753, deputy postmaster-general.
The delivery of letters by the penny post began in
1753 ; and also the practice of advertising unclaimed
letters which remained in the office at Philadelphia.
In 1774 Franklin became obnoxious to the British
government, and he was therefore dismissed. This
caused private arrangements to be made for carry-
ing letters, and in 1775, the Colonies established
their own postal department, and on July 26th
Franklin was unanimously chosen postmaster-gen-
eral. This was an important action in connec-
tion with the movement for independence. In 1792,
rates of postage were established, which remained
unchanged for over fifty years.

Reading Office Established. — The first post-
office in the county was established at Reading on
March 20, 1793. The department had been in prac-
tical existence for nearly twenty years. The popu-
lation here was large and business transactions were
numerous, but correspondence was limited. Letters
had been carried for several years previously by a
stage line to Philadelphia and to Harrisburg, at the
rate of threepence postage ; and about the year 1800
they began to be carried to Sunbury once a week
on horseback, and to Lancaster and Easton once a
week in a private two-horse carriage. After the
stage-coach had become a fixed mode of transpor-
tation for people and light articles of merchandise,
at regular intervals, postal matter began to be car-
ried by it from place to place.

The mails were carried by stages till the intro-
duction of the railways ; then passenger trains were

Stamps. — No postage stamps were issued by the
national government till August, 1847, when two
denominations were issued — -five-cent and ten-cent.
The idea of using postage stamps was first sug-
gested in 1841. Previously, postage had been col-
lected entirely in money ; and in all cases, pre-pay-
ment was optional. The two denominations men-
tioned continued in use four years; then new de-
nominations for one cent and three cents appeared,
and shortly afterward others for five, ten, twelve.



twenty-four, thirty and ninety cents. In 1861 this
series was called in by the postmaster-general, and
a new series issued. On July 1, 1863, the first two-
cent stamp appeared; which was to accommodate
local postage. In 1869 a new series was issued, of
the denominations of one, two, three, five, six, ten,
fifteen, thirty and ninety cents; and a year after-
ward, the following designs were adopted for these
stamps : One-cent, Franklin ; two-cent, Jackson ;
three-cent, Washington; five-cent, Jackson; six-
cent, Lincoln; ten-cent, Jefferson; fifteen-cent,
Webster; thirty-cent, Hamilton; ninety-cent. Perry.
Designs of persons on stamps in honor of distin-
■guished representative men of our country had been
in use from their first introduction, particularly of
Franklin and Washington.

Post-Offices of County. — The following post-
offices have been established in the county. They
are arranged in the order of their priority.

JJo. Name Established

1. Reading March 20, 1793

2. Hamburg July 1, 1798

3. Kutztown July 1, 1805

4. Morgantown Jan. 1, 1806

5. Womelsdorf July 1, 1807

6. Rehrersburg May 27, 1818

7. Longswamp April 18, 1822

8. Blandon Nov. 2, 1825

9. Klinesville Dec. 16, 1825

10. Bethel ; Dec. 21, 1827

11. Brower Jan. 7,1828

12. Dale Jan. 35, 1828

13. Colebrookdale Feb. 4, 1828

14. Boyertown Feb. 14, 1828

15. Oley March 14, 1828

16. Brumfield March 27, 1828

17. Geiger's Mill March 27, 1828

18. New Jerusalem May 36, 1828

19. Douglassville March 3, 1829

:20. Grimville Jan. 14, 1830

Zl. Shartlesville Feb. 9, 1830

Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 15 of 227)