History of the Greenway
In 1682 William Penn and early settlers met representatives of the Lenape, led by the revered Sachem, Tammany. The result was a "Treaty of Peace", which took place under a great Elm in present day Penn Treaty Park, Philadelphia. One year later, and after several amicable meetings, Tammany deeded the Lenape lands between the Pennpack and Neshaminy Creeks to William Penn.
In 1878, the Philadelphia, Newtown, and New York Railroad opened and virtually bisected lands deeded to William Penn in 1683. Since 1878, the railway exchanged ownership several times and was marked by several historical events. The most notable being the Bryn Athyn train crash of 1921, which affected many lives in the communities of Southampton and Churchville, and resulted in National legislation for train car construction standards. Ultimately, the line was deactivated in 1983 and has been dormant since.
The Penn-Tammany Greenway will capture and preserve a rich cultural and railroad history that is unique to our area. It will also connect communities with the beautiful natural surroundings of local, county, and state parks throughout the economic centers of Southampton, Churchville, Holland, and Newtown.
Our trail can become a vital link for "The Circuit", which is a 750 mile trail network connecting the greater Philadelphia area. For more information on "The Circuit" contact The Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition and view the maps for Connect the Circuit.
We encourage you to visit our neighboring Pennypack Trail in Lorimer Park located in Montgomery County for a tremendous example of what a completed rails to trails project could look like in our community.
Rails-to-Trails discussed in Upper Southampton Township Comprehensive Plan Update
"Train service was terminated in January 1983, primarily due to lower ridership and cost considerations. SEPTA has removed the Newtown Line Improvement project and projected funding from the Fiscal Years 2009-2020 Capital Program and Comprehensive Plan. Further, SEPTA has suggested that the Township make use of the rail right-of-way for a “Rails-to Trails” project tailoring an agreement with SEPTA patterned after a similar agreement with Montgomery County for the same purpose. There are currently several Regional Rail stations that provide an alternative transportation option for Township residents located within three (3) miles of the township" (Upper Southampton Township 2010, 7-6)*.
Trails along this line are included as a general recommendation in the Upper Southampton Township Comprehensive Plan Update
"Develop a Township-wide pedestrian and bicycle master plan to determine roadways and location to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities, including walkways and closing of gaps in sidewalks along roadways used for that purpose. This may include the use of the SEPTA R8 Line’s unused corridor for biking and walking, as also recommended in the 2007 Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan from Tamanend Park to the Township Center area at Knowles Avenue and Second Street Pike" (Upper Southampton Township 2010, 7-12)*.
Rails to trails discussed in Northampton Township Open Space Plan Update
The plan suggests use of rail corridors as linkages within the township as well as surrounding municipalities.
"Ideal for many uses, such as bicycling, walking, inline skating, cross-country skiing, equestrian, and wheelchair use, rail-trails are extremely popular as recreation and transportation corridors. Strong partnerships between municipalities, counties, rails-to-trails groups, and rail operators (i.e., SEPTA) may be considered to pursue open space linkages along rail corridors" (Northampton Township 2009, 39).**
* Upper Southampton Township. (2010). Upper Southampton Township Comprehensive Plan Update. Upper Southampton Township Planning Commission; Pennoni Associates, Inc.
** Northampton Township. (2009). Northampton Township Open Space Plan Update. Boucher & James, Inc.; Northampton Township Planning Commission.
We are currently coordinating with Montgomery County Planning Department to complete the Montgomery County portion of the Pennypack Trail and Penn-Tammany Greenway. Many thanks to the Planning Department and all those working diligently to make this trail a reality!
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