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The Heart of Upper Bucks County

The Heart of Upper Bucks County

The Quakertown area is situated in the northern portion of Bucks County – one of three original counties laid out by William Penn in 1682, and is located 15 miles south of Bethlehem and 40 miles north of Philadelphia, making Quakertown a border town of both the Delaware Valley and Lehigh Valley metropolitan areas.

The Borough of Quakertown encompasses approximately two square miles while the surrounding communities of Richland Township (including the villages of California, Paletown, Rich Hill, and Shelly), Milford Township, and the Boroughs of Trumbuersville and Richlandtown, add an additional 50.2 square miles. Combined, the area is home to approximately 36,000 residents with an additional 64,000 in the outlying communities within the Palisades and Pennridge School Districts - also located in Upper Bucks County, that rely on the convenience for goods and services within the heart of Upper Bucks – known as Quakertown.

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In the early 18th century, the first white settlers of English and Welsh Friends, popularly referred to as Quakers arrived and they shared the land with the peaceable tribe of Lenni Lenape Indians who lived along the creeks. Because the region was poorly drained, it was commonly called the “Great Swamp”. When Welsh, English and German pioneers settled in the area, they found that European farming techniques could produce fertile soil and the region came to be called “Rich Land”. The area was incorporated as Richland Township in 1734. The area located along the Lehigh River to the north was also being settled during the mid-eighteenth century, and a turnpike to Bethlehem passed through the Township. The village of Quakertown grew up between the Quaker meetinghouse and the Red Lion Inn making it the religious and commercial center of the area. In 1801, the settlement officially became known as Quakertown and the first post office bearing its name was established in 1803.

As a crossroad village with a tavern, Quakertown soon became a stopover for stagecoaches and commercial traffic between Allentown and Philadelphia. It was the core of the extensive community of Welsh and German farmers that resided in the outlying villages that included Milford Square and Trumbauersville and farmland in Haycock Township . The village center remained quite small until the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to the Civil War, residents played key roles in hiding the Liberty Bell, organizing the Fries Rebellion, and assisted fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada through the Underground Railroad.

Quakertown became a borough in February, 1855. In preparation for the borough council form of government, the first Chief Burgess, Edward Foulke, Jr., was elected in 1854. The construction of the North Pennsylvania Railroad in 1855 gave a great impetus to growth in the area. The combination of the railroad and national economic expansion following the Civil War changed Quakertown from a tiny village to a bustling commercial center. In the nineteenth century, local industrial establishments included cigar and cigar box factories, silk mills, harness factories, and stove foundries.

During the early decades of the 20th century, passenger train service and the “Liberty Bell” trolley line brought tourists from Philadelphia and its suburbs to Upper Bucks County but by the 1920s the automobile began to challenge horse-drawn and rail transportation. After 1929, bus service had replaced the trolley between Richlandtown and Quakertown. During the Great Depression, a federal highway was constructed through the township to relieve traffic on Bethlehem Pike. U.S. Route 309 entered close to Rich Hill in the South, cut through farms to the west and south of Quakertown, and ran close to Shelly Station on its way to Lehigh County and the coal regions. Gas stations, restaurants and stores soon filled in along the highway.

During the Second World War, farms and factories ramped up to full production in the war effort. Farms in the township diversified to produce vegetables, such as tomatoes for Campbell’s Soup Company, poultry and swine. Quakertown was transformed into a commercial manufacturing center.

The Borough of Quakertown and surrounding Richland Township along with the Boroughs of Richlandtown, Trumbauersville and Milford Township, continue to serve as the hub of commerce in the Upper Bucks region. The tradition of enterprise and hard work has been carried down through the years to present-day Quakertown. It is the charming blend of the past and the present, old traditions and progressive spirit which makes the Quakertown area a pleasant place to live and work.

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