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Schuylkill and Lehigh MRR Blog


Schuylkill and Lehigh Valley Railroad

The territory encompassing the Maiden Creek watershed was transferred from the native Lenni Lenape to the heirs of William Penn in 1732. At that time, English Quakers bought large tracts of land in what became Maidencreek and Ontelaunee Townships and German immigrants settled the northern reaches of the watershed. The topography, settlement patterns and economic history of the watershed can be readily divided into three sections: the headwaters of the Ontelaunee, the Maidencreek/Moselem corridor and the Quaker quadrant.

In 1874, the Schuylkill and Lehigh Railroad Company completed a rail line along the Maiden Creek from Tuckerton at the Schuylkill River to Slatington in Lehigh County. The railroad contributed to major changes in the local economy and the agrarian landscape. New towns sprung up at railroad depots. Potatoes became a major cash crop with more than 10,000 train cars of potatoes shipped each year in the early twentieth century from the depots along the Maiden Creek. The “Centennial Quarry” at the foot of the Blue Mountain near Steinsville expanded operations when the railroad made transporting the heavy loads of slate more economically feasible. New Tripoli became a fashionable resort destination. The villages of Lynnport, Trexler, Kempton and Wannamaker Station expanded and prospered. The period from 1874 until the stock market crash in 1929 was the heyday of economic development for the Allemaengel. So many historic resources including farmsteads, train depots, gristmills and commercial buildings remain from this period that the entire area may qualify as a traditional cultural landscape suitable for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Local historical societies are collecting information and artifacts to disseminate, interpret and display local history.

The Schuylkill and Lehigh Railroad followed the Maiden Creek where it served the Moselem Furnace and fostered the development of Virginville as both a resort community and a trans-shipment point for the area’s produce and livestock. The integrity of railroad-era buildings in Virginville has resulted in it recognition as a Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Other important resources along the rail line include the Dreibelbis Station and the Merkle Gristmill.

The above information was extracted from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Web Site.

The Schuylkill & Lehigh Railroad was acquired by the reading Railroad and continued to operate as the Schuylkill & Lehigh Branch of the Reading until the reading's demise.




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