PENNSYLVANIA RR IN SPRING CITY
Updated: Mar 16
The Pennsylvania Railroad opened the Spring City Station in 1884. It was located on Bridge Street near the river bridge crossing over to Royersford. The first trains came through that same year. The date of the very first scheduled train was September 24, 1884. It was not until 1894, some ten years later, that they enlarged the building and added a ladies room to the station. In 1906 the whole train station was enlarged and remodeled.
In 1891 the Pennsylvania RR ran a siding from behind its freight station, crossing over the lowlands, Bridge St., and finally over the canal. A trestle was needed to cross the
canal and it was located behind the current day Turkey Hill. Coming off of the trestle, the tracks crossed Main St. and followed along Goose Run Stream
up to the Bennett Glass Co. The Glass Company was completed in 1891 and railroad work crews ran the track, as well as a 2nd siding right alongside the factory. Bennett Glass Company was the only one out of four in the twin-boroughs that made plate glass for windows.
Just beyond the glass factory was a quarry and I have been told the railroad actually serviced the quarry. This seems reasonable, but I have never found any railroad documents that would prove this statement. I know for a fact that there was an active quarry as I have read stories that refer to it as the source of the stone used in the building of the Schuylkill Valley Stove Company. The Stove Company was located on South Main Street right on the mainline of the railroad. It was built in 1897, four years before the glass factory was completed. Today we have Quarry Road that can be found just West of this area. The 1893 overview shown below has the track highlighted in yellow showing the route as it followed Goose Run creek to the glass company.
A second major industry was positioned along Goose Run when the Reiff Shirt factory
was built in 1900. The first building was erected right along the railroad siding on the northern side. A boxcar parked at the receiving dock can be seen in this photo on the right. Years later this became the Valley Forge Flag Company and today it is the home of the Flag House Apartments.
In 1892 the Pennsylvania Railroad built a wooden trestle across the Schuylkill River that allowed it to tap into the lucrative shipping business that was in Royersford.
Although the Reading Railroad had been serving these Royersford businesses for 50 years there was room for a little competition. In 1912 an iron girder bridge replaced the old wooden structure. This structure, although no longer in use, has been the object of a recent drive to restore it for pedestrian use.
Shown below is a 1924 photo showing the P.R.R. freight station on the right
hand side. Note the crossing gates are cranked down as we are awaiting a train to pass by. The gate keeper's shanty was a busy place as the gates were cranked down by hand for every train coming through. Today, Hydro-motion Inc. has their facilities situated in this location.
The expansion of the P.R.R. into the Spring City area required several bridges be constructed over the canal. In this photo we see the bridge that was built in 1885 to service the American Wood & Paper Co.
This industry located in the northern part of town became the Pennsylvania Shafting Co. after the Paper Mill closed in 1904. The route of the P.R.R. required that the Schuylkill Valley Branch cross the Schuylkill Canal on both the east and the west side of Spring City. These were iron girder styles and the one east of town was located near Pennhurst. The other one was located behind Gruber’s Knitting Mill, which is now the Bard Complex Apartments.
The canal running behind the Spring City Knitting Co. (Gruber’s) is shown in this photo. The tracks run right along the back of the building and a P.R.R. boxcar can be seen sitting on the siding on the right hand side.
The last passenger train of the Pennsylvania Railroad to stop at Spring City was back in 1952. In the following years the abandoned passenger station was left to deteriorate. In October 1970 the station was damaged by fire. Arson was suspected.
The remainder was torn down. An auto repair center is located there now next to Burger King. Today we have a walking trail that follows the old route of the Pennsylvania R.R. The track has been removed and many other reminders of this era are also gone.
by William C. Brunner 3-14-2019