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A Look Back at the Beginning of Green Lane Park
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2017-06-21

            After surviving and growing over the past three-quarters of a century, the Green Lane Park has become a popular, regional attractino for people looking for 

a nearby getaway with nature.

            There was a time that a park system did not exist in Montgomery County and one of the responsible leaders who made it happen had deep roots to the Upper Perkiomen Valley and the Town and Country newspaper in particular.

It was 78 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1939 that Montgomery County Commissioners Frederick Peters, Foster Hillegass and James Potter completed negotiations for the purchase of 425 acres of land surrounding the pristine waters of the Perkiomen and Deep Creeks. 

In addition to being a commissioner, Hillegass was publisher of the Town and Country newspaper at the time.

The picturesque woodland was situated within the municipal boundaries of Marlborough and Upper Frederick townships, and the Borough of Green Lane. 

County officials were shopping for a park acquisition to augment the recent opening of the first County Park in Abington Township in the lower end of Montgomery County along the Pennypack Creek. The 80-acre park was a bequest of George Horace Lorimar. 

The park in the upper end of the county was developed from 205 acres purchased from the Christian Association of the University of Pennsylvania, and an adjoining 220 acres bought from Weir Inc., Elwood Fulmer, Noah Becker and Robert Clark. The price tag for the future flagship of the Montgomery County Park system was $25,000.

  Among other things, the site was the location of one of several American Ice Company plants in the area.  It was also the site of the former Deep Creek dam and William Shall's old iron plant.  Schall owned most of the property until he sold it in 1871 to Thomas Shaw of Philadelphia.  In 1895, Shaw sold it to Philadelphia iceman John C. Hancock.

In the early 20th century, several city-based organizations bought land in the Upper Perkiomen Valley region to establish camps for inner-city children. The Christian Association came to the area in 1907 and opened a camp for boys on donated land.  Around 1925, they purchased more than 300 acres from the American Ice Company. Part of this land was the tract sold to Montgomery County. This property was developed into a camp for girls in 1925. 

Even though it sold a large chunk of property to Montgomery County, the Association didn't leave the area. It kept about 127 acres northwest of the new park.  

The Upper Perkiomen Valley Park officially opened on Feb. 23, 1939.  Residents from all over Montgomery County traveled to see their new park.  Otto Quinque Sr. was named superintendent of the facility and held that position until his retirement in 1970.  His son, Otto Quinque Jr., succeeded him. 

By April 1939, the area of Deep Creek running through the park was stocked with brown trout, and fishing enthusiasts were out in droves when the county commissioners and their appointed Park Board made an official inspection.

Representatives from many county-based sporting associations accompanied Commissioners Peters, Hillegass, and Potter on April 15 and 16.  Among the visitors were local residents Arthur Trumbore and Earl Schaeffer of the Boulder Valley Sportsman's Association and Deputy Game Warden George Schell of Green Lane. 

Also in attendance was Red Hill resident and future Montgomery County Commissioner Forrest J. Henry, representing the Upper Perkiomen Valley Sportsman's Association. 

Over the years, additional property acquisitions and the joining of the Upper Perkiomen Valley Park with the Green Lane Reservoir Park have made more than 3,400 acres available for public recreational use under the name of Green Lane Park.  Many consider it the jewel of the Montgomery County Parks system.

            Of the park a Town and Country reporter wrote, "To a stranger who is unfamiliar with the history of this region, the few remains will be hardly sufficient to allow him to identify their origin, or even to suggest that there is a story worth reconstructing. 

            "Gone are the gigantic icehouses that once dotted the upper reaches of the Perkiomen.  Gone are the huge dams whose clear waters reflected in summer the verdant sylvan beauty of their banks and which in winter gave up their crystal product to the benefit of thousands here and in metropolitan centers nearby."


 

 

 

 

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