Past Meetings

At our public meeting on October 15, 2006 the featured presentation was:

Sand, Railways, & Movies: The fascinating history of a local business.

  By local historian and Society member Michael Bertram

In the late 19th century, two sons of local businessman Nicholas Bean developed a quartzite mine on Mount Misery, on the west side of Valley Creek in what is now Valley Forge National Historic Park. To process and transport the quartzite, a rock crushing plant was built along the Schuylkill River on the Reading Railroad mainline. Connecting the quarries to the crushing plant, passing through Valley Forge village, a narrow gauge railway was built to transport the stone down the mountain.

This long-forgotten railway, as well as the passenger line that connected Phoenixville to Valley Forge, became prominent features in the Toonerville Trolley films, the most successful silent films ever made at the famous Betzwood Film Studios, the country's first movie studio, in 1920-22.

In addition to the photographs and considerable detail that Mike Bertram always brings to his talks, this fascinating presentation included a showing of one of the Toonerville Trolley movies that used these local railway lines.


Toonerville Trolley publicity still, courtesy of The Film Foundation.


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