History

West Conshohocken Borough:/History
History 2018-04-29T11:12:35+00:00

In the Treaty of 1683 William Penn was given a piece of land – later to be known as West Conshohocken – by the Unami Tribe of the Lenni-Lenape nation of Indians.

The name Conshohocken, found on William Penn’s deed, is a derivative of “Gueno-dkeiki-hacking … the place of the long fine land,” as it was described by the Lenni-Lenape Indians.

In 1712, John Matson, an early settler, acquired land from William Penn that included the west bank of the Schuylkill from the present-day Bridgeport to the Lower Merion Township Line. Peter Matson, John Matson’s son built his house along the river and installed a “ford” by placing rocks in the river. That community became known as Matson’s Ford, a name that still endures today as a street in town.

Matson’s Ford played a small part in history during the Revolutionary War. In 1777, Washington’s army left Whitemarsh and traveled down Conshohocken’s Fayette Street towards Matson’s Ford. They constructed a bridge of wagons, over which rails were laid as the soldiers crossed under the command of Lafayette. As they were coming over, Lord Cornwallis and his British soldiers appeared from the hills. Our soldiers were forced to retreat and cross Swede’s Ford into Valley Forge on December 13, 1777.

West Conshohocken Borough was incorporated October 6th, 1874 from land taken almost equally from the Townships of Lower and Upper Merion. On that date, the first Borough council was heldto deal with various problems such as preventing horses, mules, cows, bull or other cattle, swine or goats to run at large in the streets of said the borough. One of the earliest forms of mass transportation in West Conshohocken was the Reading Railroad, built in 1839. The service reached from Reading to Pottstown and down the West Bank of the Schuylkill to West Conshohocken. Bus service began in the 1920’s.

Thefirst bridgeconnecting West Conshohocken with its neighbor Conshohocken was a wooden bridge in 1866. This bridge was later replaced by an iron bridge build in 1872 in 1921, the iron bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge. The bridge that is used today was built in the 1980’s.

In 1951, West Conshohocken’s major traffic artery the Schuylkill Expressway cut through the south part of the Borough and took 20 residences. On December 8, 1952, the Schuylkill Expressway was formally opened to traffic. It created a municipal problem primarily in escalating rush-hour traffic by way of an access ramp.

The introduction of the Blue Route had a profound impact upon the Borough.  More than 80 homes were taken in order for a three mile section of the highway to be completed.  This was a difficult time for the residents as the small community struggled with the fact many families had leave the borough.

In 1981, three miles of the Blue Route that intersected the Borough were completed. It extended from Ridge Pike in Plymouth Township to the Schuylkill Expressway, relieving traffic between West Conshohocken and Conshohocken.

The first fire company was established in West Conshohocken in 1898 through a proposal from John Clay of Philadelphia to provide the Borough with a hose carriage built for $800 with the following provisions: the town would build a suitable building costing no more than $1,500 and to name the company after his brother George. Hence, the name exists today, the George Clay Fire Company of West Conshohocken.

On January 27, 1971, at 9:45 PM, the most disastrous fire to ever hit the Borough resulted from a gas explosion on Front. Fifteen houses were destroyed and twenty-five others were damaged. Fifty people were injured and taken to nearby hospitals. Five people were killed, including Joseph Powers, a nineteen-year-old fireman.

In 2005, the Borough was asked by the Post Office to change the name of First Avenue to avoid confusion with Conshohocken. The street was renamed Powers Avenue in honor of the sacrifice made by this young man.

The earliest forms of business from the town of West Conshohocken were large textile mills operating along the Schuylkill, producing woolen cloth for federal government and army uniforms up to and including World War II. The Dougherty Quarry was a prosperous business, producing stone of superior quality known as Conshohockenor Merion Blue. It was shipped by rail throughout the East before supplies were exhausted in the mid-twentieth century.

West Conshohocken is a central location point between Philadelphia and area suburbs. Today, many corporations are locating their companies in West Conshohocken The Borough’s commercial buildings are One, Four, and Five Tower Bridge, Philadelphia Marriott West, ASTM International and the Four Falls Corporate Center. There are two industrial parks located in the Borough.

West Conshohocken is  home to fine restaurants like , Gypsy Saloon, Baggataway’s and Keystone Pizza as well as fast food restaurants including McDonald’s and Wawa.

The population of West Conshohocken Borough was 1,462 in Year 1880; 2,482 in 1950; 1,516 in 1980; 1,294 in 1990; and 1446 in Year 2000.

West Conshohocken is a small and friendly community.  Many people are moving to West Conshohocken Borough because we have the small town feeling, good public schools, affordable housing, low taxes and are convenient to the City of Philadelphia, King of Prussia Mall and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

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