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Spring City History Article

09/01/2011

Shining Light on our Two Towns

Posted on August 29, 2011 at 11:20pm By William C. Brunner

 

In recent years, the towns of Spring City and Royersford have both been involved with revitalization programs which included the addition of street lamps. These lights were manufactured by the Spring City Electrical Manufacturing Company right on Main Street in Spring City. This company makes street lights that are shipped throughtout the country and the world. They have a very informative website for those who would like more information. They can be located at - http://www.springcity.com/

I first came to Spring City in 1958 and I can tell you that in the past 50 years these two towns that I call home have never looked better than they look today.

In the early 1800s this area was mostly farm lands. There were the Royer brothers in Spring City and the Custer, Latshaw and Bergstresser farms just to name a few on the Montgomery County side.

In 1824 the Schuylkill Navagation Co., often referred to as the Schuylkill Canal, opened and within 10 years Springville was developing.  The first store on the canal was built in 1835 by James Rogers.Three houses were built down on Main Street in 1838.  Rogers built the Lyceum that same year. It was the first town meeting hall in Spring City and was used for schooling, church and fraternal functions and just about any gathering of people that one could imagine, including the traveling medicine man.

Rogers built the first stove foundry along the canal around 1843. The paper mill, another canal industry, opened in 1847. James Rogers, one of  two prominent men, was responsible for the early development of Springville. The other was Frederick Yost who operated a grist mill near the entrance to the river bridge on the Spring City side.

The foundry was small and manufactured iron stoves and hollow ware. Hollow ware is a collective term used to describe pots & pans, skillets, tea kettles and various cast iron utensils. It is interesting to point out that the manufacturing process of pouring molten iron into sand molds is quite similar to the process employed today in the modern manufacturing of lamp posts.  There has been many  ownership configurations at the Spring City Foundry during the past 168 years. The fact that an operating foundry business still flourishes on the same corner of Hall and Main Streets in Spring City is quite noteworthy.

The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad came through Royersford in 1839 and soon this town would be equal in industrial development to its neighbor on the other side of the river. If one looks at the 1893 overview maps on display in the local museum, it is easy to see the tremendous growth in both towns during the period from 1840 to 1890. 

It was always a dream of mine to be able to go back in time to the early 1900s and take my camera along. I can only imagine what fun I would have taking pictures of everything I saw. Collecting old photos and postcards is about the only way I can realize part of that fantasy. I know that the old twin boroughs were a happening place in this era and there were several bands. two silent movie theaters in Spring City and the Opera house in Royersford which in later years became the Penn Theater.  Fraternal groups and a myriad of social clubs were plentiful.

Spring City had an amusement park, Bonnie Brae, and Royersford had Lakeview Park. I don't know for sure when the glory days of the twin boroughs reached a peak but I am pretty sure I missed them.  By the time I arrived in Spring City in 1958 things were closing and many of the big industries were gone. The remains of the racetrack were sold to the school that year and the new Spring City Elementary opened in 1960.

When we moved to Spring City we lived in a small half-double on Hall street. This was before the new borough hall and the new fire house were built. I teased my parents about our living facilities and often told people I lived on Baltic Avenue.  I have been in town now for over 50 years and traveling now along Main Street with the new street lights shining. "Shining light on our two towns" certainly shows me we are headed back in the right direction.  I get a good feeling driving through our towns.

 

http://limerick.patch.com/blog_posts/shining-light-on-our-two-towns

 

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Spring City Electrical Manufacturing Company

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Spring City, PA 19475
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