A Brief History of Upper Hanover Township

 

The first people to inhabit the Upper Perkiomen Valley were the Lenni Lenape Indian tribes. For many years these Native American people lived in peace and harmony with the first European settlers.  This made it easy for William Penn to buy the Upper Perkiomen Valley Area in 1684. The seventeenth century witnessed the Reformation and the Thirty Years War in Europe. European life was in shambles and the new Protestants suffered persecution. Brethren (or Dunkers), Lutherans, members of the Reformed Church, Schwenkfelders, Mennonites, and other “peace” sects looked toward Penn’s “Holy Experiment” with fervent hope. These European settlers, many of German descent, migrated to present day Upper Hanover Township.

 

Before 1741, Upper Hanover was part of Hanover Township along with Douglass, Pottsgrove, and New Hanover Townships and the Borough of Pottstown. Upper Hanover became a separate township from Hanover Township 1741 and, at that time, its boundaries also included the three villages of Palm, Kleinville, and Hillegassville, in addition to the settlements which now constitute the Borough of Pennsburg, Red Hill and East Greenville.

 

The township’s rich soil attracted excellent German farmers who settled in the area. Industrial activity was second only to agriculture in importance during this early period. The primary industry was building construction. This was facilitated by utilizing the Hosensack Hills, which provided granite boulders that were split into building materials. Water power was also available from the Perkiomen Creek and propelled water wheels for five gristmills and four sawmills.

 

In 1851, the Goshenhoppen and Green Lane Turnpike (presently Route 29 or Gravel Pike) was completed. The Geryville and Sumneytown Turnpike, finished in 1865, also crossed the eastern portion of the township. The railroad further opened up the area in 1874 and facilitated easier shipment of manufactured goods, farm produce and wheat to the more densely settled areas of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. The railroad also opened up the area for tourist and weekend visitors.

 

The flood of 1936 wiped out almost all of the ice dams on the Perkiomen Creek that had once supported a flourishing ice production industry.

 

During World War II many of the valley’s workers traveled to industrial centers (i.e. Pottstown, Allentown, Lansdale, etc.) outside the valley to find employment in the war effort.

 

In 1954 a fierce controversy gripped the valley. The Philadelphia Suburban Water Company wanted to impound three billion gallons of the Perkiomen Creek’s water to supply municipalities at the eastern end of Montgomery County. Valley residents felt their water rights were being confiscated. The citizens of the valley organized, took the issue to court, and lost. The dam was started in 1954.  The reservoir and its surrounding parklands are now an important natural resource and recreation area for the valley.

 

The Upper Perkiomen Valley School District was also formed in 1954. Red Hill, Pennsburg, East Greenville, Green Lane, Marlborough, Upper Hanover, and Hereford Township in Berks County merged to better serve school needs in the valley. A multimillion dollar high school was constructed, spanning part of Red Hill and Upper Hanover Township.

 

Over the next few decades major growth and changes occurred in Upper Hanover Township. Industries such as Knoll, Inc., Brown Printing and Blommer Chocolates located their business in the Township. Housing development flourished in the early years of the 21st century and boosted the population to over 6,000 residents. A major shopping center, The Shoppes at Upper Hanover, opened for business in 2006. Despite the recent growth, Upper Hanover Township has maintained its rural character through active coordination with the Montgomery County Open Space Program and the Farmland Preservation Program.

 

(Source: Upper Perkiomen Valley Regional Comprehensive Plan of 2001)