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Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
February 23, 2021

            The Perkiomen Creek was quite a vacation attraction in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Vacation resorts and summer camps dotted the water's edge from Palm to

Living quarters at Camp Minnehaha consisted of tents

with wooden floors and iron spring cots.  The Spartan

living quarters provided a suitable and exciting adven-

ture for the youth

Collegeville.  A few lasted longer than that.

            Most of the nearby camps were started to give young people an outdoor education and a chance to experience the camaraderie and fun that camping brings.  One such camp was known as Camp Minnehaha.  The name is said to be Native American for Laughing Waters.

            Kehl Markley Jr. first opened the camp in June of 1922.  It was located directly north of the longest covered bridge in Montgomery County and across the creek from one of the earliest mills in our region.

            The land was known as the Markley property at the time and there were two houses located on the site back then.  The property included 115 acres, a 14-room stone house where Kehl lived, and another house where Asa P. Markley resided.  Asa

Asa Kehl operated the Minnehaha Chopping Mill at the 

time the Camp Minnehaha was started.  Located along the

Perkiomen Creek just south of the covered bridge, ite be-

came a landmark for most camp-goers.  The 301-foot

Markley's covered bridge can be seen in the background.

operated the Minnehaha Chopping Mill at the time the camp was started.  But the mill business at that location dates back to 1727 when German immigrants George and Margaret Welker built the first one there!

            The 301-foot span was known to many as Markley's bridge.  It was built in 1835 at a cost of $2,500.  The impressive structure carried the Philadelphia-Kutztown Road (known as Knight's Road today) across the Perkiomen Creek at that location in Upper Hanover Township.  The bridge sat upon four piers made out of red stone that was quarried in the nearby hills.  The two historic structures were quite a sight for out-of-town campers.

            In the early years, many of the campers were boys from the Perkiomen School.  Most of them were from other states.  Some were from other countries.  Usually, 30 or so youngsters, ages 8 to 16,

Usually, 30 or so youngsters, ages 8 to 16, would spend

time together at the camp and enjoy tennis, baseball,

basketball, boxing, wrestling, swimming, rowing, fish-

ing, horseback riding, and many other games and events. 

would spend time together at the camp and enjoy tennis, baseball, basketball, boxing, wrestling, swimming, rowing, fishing and many other games and events.  Friendly, but spirited, competition added to the fun.

            Living quarters for the boys consisted of tents with wooden floors and iron spring cots.  The Spartan living quarters provided a suitable and exciting adventure for the youth.  In a newspaper article one of the boys was quoted as saying, "Sleeping is great here … and we're always glad for a blanket."

            The day started around 6 a.m. for the camp and councilors.  Before breakfast, each camper took a dip in the crisp, clear waters of the Perkiomen.  After the morning meal, the activities and fun began.  Sometimes that fun included bus trips to Valley Forge, Crystal Cave, and other nearby spots.

            Kehl Markley Jr. and his out-of-town boys at Camp Minnehaha formed a Boy Scout troop in 1923.  Markley served as the Scoutmaster and campfire meetings were held every ...



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