Upper Gwynedd Township
Upper Gwynedd Township administrative offices are located on Parkside Place, West Point PA 19486; phone: 215-699-7777.
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Originally founded in 1891, Upper Gwynedd Township was organized as a First-Class Township in 1963.
Encompassed in Upper Gwynedd Township's boundaries is the Gwynedd Preserve. The Preserve consists of 240 acres and is located off of Swedesford Road near Township Line Road. The Preserve supports a diverse variety of habitats in the wild including ponds and wetlands, open meadows, wildflower meadows, hedgerows, deciduous forests, and conifer plantations. The Preserve is open to the public and visitors can wander the trails during daylight hours.
Source: Township of Upper GwyneddEarly settlers in the Upper Gwynedd area were those of Welsh descent who first settled in the area about 1690. German immigrants followed the early Welsh settlers. By the beginning of the American Revolution, they constituted a majority of the population. Those of the Welsh group were members of the Society of Friends. The name Gwynedd is derived from a Welsh term, 'Gwinith', meaning white, pure land. The early settlers gave this name to the area.
Originally, Gwynedd Township included land which is now the townships of Upper and Lower Gwynedd Township, the borough of North Wales and parts of Ambler and Lansdale boroughs. In 1891, Gwynedd Township was divided into Upper Gwynedd Township and Lower Gwynedd Township.
During the early days of settlement, the Wissahickon Creek provided power for three grist mills. Trewellyn and Willow Run streams and their branches provided irrigation but no water power for the early settlers.
The North Penn Railroad Company was chartered in 1853 to build a line to connect Philadelphia and New York to the Lehigh Valley with its route running through Gwynedd Township. The North Penn Railroad reached Lansdale in 1856. Subsequent branches were built to Doylestown and Bethlehem. The line to New York was never completed. The North Penn Railroad Company became part of the Bethlehem branch of the Reading Railroad Company. It is now a part of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The effect of the railroad is indicated in the census by population increases. .In 1800, the census counted 906 persons; in 1840, 1,589 persons; and in 1880, 2,041 persons. Despite the railroad's dominant influence on the growth of the boroughs of Ambler, North Wales, and Lansdale, it did not change the character of Gwynedd Township. The Township remained predominantly rural until the 1950s, mostly due to the personal desires of the land owners in the Township. Due to improved rail travel to and from Philadelphia, many country estates, owned by leaders of the Philadelphia society, were concentrated in Lower Gwynedd and several in the eastern section of Upper Gwynedd. In the twentieth century, with the advent of the automobile, residential patterns became more dispersed and the Township's dependency upon agricultural economies began to decrease. With increased mobility, people were not as restricted by distances and were able to shop and work further from their homes. Because people no longer had to rely on trollies and railroads to get to work, many families chose more suburban locations for their homes. This increased mobility, families moving from more urban areas such as Philadelphia, is certainly one of the major factors contributing to Upper Gwynedd Township's tremendous growth rate in the past 20 years. For example, in 1950 the population of the Township was 2,164; ten years later, the population increased by 115% to 4,661. The population continued to grow at high growth rates, 47% in 1970 and 38% in J 980, but has slowed down since the 1980s mainly clue to the lack of available land.