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Images of Old Upper Salford

By Phil Johnson Ruth
For sale at the Upper Salford Township Office


Images of Old Upper Salford is a celebration in pictures of life and the passage of time in a rural southeastern Pennsylvania township marking its 250th birthday in 1991. This anniversary “album” includes more than 160 archival photographs and illustrations selected for their clarity, style and historical import, all carefully reproduced so their original luster is not lost. Accompanied by generous captions, the pictures are also placed in historical context by articles which introduce each chapter.

The images chosen for this retrospective range from precisely composed portraits to spur-of-the-moment snapshots. Their subjects, like life itself, run the spectrum between the momentous and the mundane. What the pictures have in common is the ability to offer startlingly fresh and detailed glimpses into a vanished era.

Highlighted in this collection of visual souvenirs are the following “chapters” in the Township’s story:

  • The region’s geologic development, as recorded in stone formations on Spring Mountain.
  • The long residency of Lenape Indians in the Perkiomen Valley.
  • The settling of “Old Goshenhoppen” in the early 1700s by Lutheran, German Reformed and Mennonite immigrants from southern Germany.
  • The establishment of Upper Salford Township in 1741, and the building of roads, bridges, mills and churches.
  • The area’s longstanding tradition of agriculture.
  • The social and economic effects of the Perkiomen Railroad, opened through the Township in 1874.
  • The emergence of five village “nerve centers” in the latter half of the 19th century.
  • The golden era of Upper Salford resorts, such as Spring Mountain House and Woodside Manor.
  • The recent transformation of the Township from a farming to a rural residential community.

Through maps, drawings and, above all, the magic of photography, Images of Old Upper Salford brings these and other fascinating aspects of the Township’s history to light.

The author, Phil Johnson Ruth, has been working on local history pictorial projects in southeastern Pennsylvania since 1986. In addition to Images of Old Upper Salford, he has published Seeing Souderton (1987), A North Penn Pictorial (1989) and Fair Land, Gwynedd (1991). His fiction, essays, feature articles, poetry and photographs have appeared in a variety of periodicals and newspapers.