a historic old farmhouse as seen over a few aprils…sad

Taken by my friend Tina April 6, 2018

A lot of my friends like the cool historic houses and properties around Chester County. It’s not just me.

So above is that once lovely 18th century farmhouse.  If my research is correct, it was built in 1734.  According to the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, Lincoln Highway, Lancaster Pike, Lancaster Avenue was laid out in 1732! (Now I know the place has to be on a historic resources inventory list, but I can’t find that on East Whiteland’s website, although I can find it on one of the little maps on the comprehensive plan.)

I am not sure if the house’s address is 307 or 310 W. Lancaster Pike. Or W. Lancaster Ave. Or W. Lincoln Highway.

Ironically, I have previously photographed this same farmhouse April/May 2013, April  2015, and April 2016.

My photo. April, 2016

Looking at the naked acres of it all today makes me wonder what is going on with the property.  The trees that were around it are gone, and possibly one of the dead Saabs I remembered on the side of the house.  So is it going to be rehabbed or is stripping away the greenery mean it is truly marked for death? Inquiring minds would love to know.

My photo. April, 2015

Historic houses seen rotting is never pretty, is it?  So Clews & Strawbridge or Clews Boats, what’s up with the old farmhouse?

My photo. Taken in late April 2013 (maybe May?)

rally against pipelines – west whiteland- march 10 at 3:30 pm

See below. Sharing what I saw on Facebook. A peaceful rally. #DefendWhatYouLove.

Oh poor Jeff Shields former Inquirer reporter and now Sunoco Logistics’ Communications Manager (a/k/a their talking head.) He was an amazing reporter and now he has been Suessed. No Jeff, I had nothing to do with any of this, just sharing. Dude, hope the jingle in your pocket is worth it, you are on the wrong side of this one.

I would take note Adelphia Gateway and other companies pondering pipelines. We the people are awake. And the people are over pipelines and companies raping the land and destroying where we call home.

SHUT DOWN. sunoco is halted again (for now) on the mariner east pipeline…

From Uwchlan Safety Coalition via Facebook:

The #emergency order from the PUC has been granted! #MarinerEast 1 will be shut down!!!!!

Public hearing will be March 15th!

#Uwchlan must be heard here! Please, while many of you have already #emailed your supervisors today, please, do it again!

Ask for them to file their own complaint with PUC!

Consider this! Uwchlan Township is next door to the area where #Sunoco did not do their homework on the geology and put public safety and property at risk! Our water supply and our unique land formations including a fault line exists along the pipeline route in Uwchlan! Let’s make sure Sunoco has done their job correctly here!

Email our township supervisors asking for the complaint to be filed at PUC!

WMiller@uwchlan.com

MBaumann@uwchlan.com

KDoan@uwchlan.com

http://www.puc.state.pa.us/pcdocs/1556680.pdf

#noME2 #stopETP #shutitdown

What is in the media (there is more as this story is spreading like wildfire, I just posted a couple of sources):

Delco Times Heron’s Nest by Phil Heron Thursday March 8:

PUC pulls plug on Mariner East 1 – for now

Karst….I’m pretty sure Sunoco Pipeline is already tired of hearing it.

Karst refers to a geologic formation where the ground is situated on old limestone formations that have been weakened by moisture over decades.

It turns out it’s a pretty common occurrence in this area – particularly across a swath of Chester County.

Exactly in many of the same spots where Sunoco Pipeline is now running gases through its Mariner East 1 pipeline and is constructing Mariner East 2….These weakened karst areas are susceptible to sinkholes, fissures and other ground settling, in particular when the ground is disturbed, such as when drilling trenches for a new pipeline.

READ MORE HERE

and… Philadelphia Inquirer…

PUC orders Sunoco pipeline shutdown after sinkholes expose bare pipe near Exton

Updated: MARCH 7, 2018 — 5:36 PM EST

by Andrew Maykuth, Staff Writer amaykuth@phillynews.com

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Wednesday ordered the immediate shutdown of Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East 1 system after sinkholes exposed the bare pipeline in Chester County, which PUC investigators said “could have catastrophic results” if not repaired.

Gladys M. Brown, the PUC’s chair, granted an emergency order to halt operations on the 8-inch-diameter pipeline, which went into service in 1931 originally to carry motor fuel. It now carries up to 70,000 barrels a day of high-pressure volatile natural gas liquids such as propane from the Marcellus Shale gas region to a Sunoco terminal in Marcus Hook

Craziness.

How is it life had to reach a crisis point like this?

Apparently where the pipeline is causing sinkholes over in West Whiteland is also close to train tracks? Active train tracks? As in AMTRAK tracks? I am guessing the railroad will not be too happy about this when they check it out or we can hope, right?

There is so much that could go wrong and so much that already has it gone wrong, right?

And all they are doing is back filling sinkholes with concrete, correct? Considering we are talking Karst formations (and geology is not my forte and I have heard other terminology used as well with Chester County and the sinkholes which can occur) are they just going to turn Chester County into one giant concrete pad and that is their solution?

Is Sunoco/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer Partners L.P. that greedy that they would put our homes, health,safety, and welfare at risk like this? (Yes, I realize that is a somewhat redundant question, but it has to be asked yet again, doesn’t it?)

Supervisors, commissioners, and borough officials throughout Chester County really should be paying attention to this. And a lot of them aren’t. And if you live in a Township affected by pipelines you should be pressuring your elected officials to contact the PUC immediately!

And this is also why people shouldn’t just roll over with regard to the Adelphia Gateway pipeline poised to become Mariner East- Lite.

Go ahead, plug your address into that interactive pipeline map Chester County Planning Commission has on their pipeline information page. You will see what I saw that there are a lot of pipelines crisscrossing Chester County and neighboring counties. I was told (and I have no reason to disbelieve the person who told me) that a lot of these pipeline companies are waiting to see what happens with Sunoco, so doesn’t that say to you if we don’t stop this now as an extended dual county and extended county community, we will just keep fighting the same thing over and over again?

Our homes are our castles. They want to take part of our land via eminent domain as fake utility companies and we’re supposed to be OK with that and all the havoc pipelines are causing?

Bull Twaddle.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not OK with it. I’m not OK living in a blast zone, that’s just as bad as having the pipeline go down my street as far as I’m concerned.

Perhaps the most galling thing of all is still the fact that we don’t benefit for what they are raping our land for and destroying our property values for, are we?

What is being plundered from the very ground below us, doesn’t benefit us. It gets shipped overseas, doesn’t it?

Please note the photos used in this post are courtesy of Eric Friedman/Middletown Coalition for Community Safety. If I have not attributed properly– community groups, please let me know.

#DefendWhatYouLove – there is no other option. We live here. It’s where we call home. We cannot as a collective extended community just silently fall victim to these corporations.

things always look better in the morning…even if there still is no power

I got some photos at the end of daybreak with my regular camera, but this tablet photo will have to do for now. Last night was a long night. We kept the wood stove stoked all night and it’s roaring happily this morning.

Living in Chester County when I have now discovered that when the power goes out during a storm, it can stay out, I am glad we have the wood stove even if this is yet another “O Pioneers” (Willa Cather novel 1913) feeling storm event.The wind howled so fiercely last night. After the ice storm of 2014, it still makes me a little anxious to hear the freight train- like sounds of high winds through the woods.

What made last night a really long night is our son’s car broke down on a dark and windy Chester County road. He had gone to a friend’s house on the other side of where University of Valley Forge is. I will be honest that I had wanted him to come home right after school because of the weather. (But anyway….)

There is nothing worse than finding out in the middle of a nasty storm where trees are coming down like matchsticks everywhere that your kid is broken down on the side of the road. My husband went to get him and they sat for hours waiting for the tow truck that never showed up.

Fortunately, the police department over there did have a tow truck. So the car is safe and off of the road. All’s well that ends well, but in the deep dark of night with power out all over, that was so not fun.

We are still without power. We still don’t know when it will be restored. We are not alone in Chester County.

I think PECO Energy as a utility really needs to let us know the status of our infrastructure. I would also like to know if it’s true that they never completely restored the infrastructure that was damaged during the 2014 ice storm and maybe our state elected officials can check on that?

Maybe our esteemed Governor could do a little more than be a talking head running for re-election ? I mean is Tom Wolf is a giant disappointment and waste of time. He really hasn’t done anything. And wasn’t part of his platform fixing Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and dealing with pipelines? I totally digress but I had to get that in there because I was thinking about that.

But if I am to be without power at least we are all together and the sun is shining.

is plausible deniability the cornerstone of american politics?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently. They aren’t someone who is particularly political. All they wanted was a straight answer out of the township where they lived. But they weren’t supposed to bother township staff. They were supposed to go through elected officials. That would be (depending on where you live):

  1. A Commissioner
  2. A Supervisor
  3. A Borough Council Member
  4. A City Council Member
  5. A Selectman or Selectwoman
  6. An Alderman or Alderwoman

(You get the idea, right?)

So this person I know was turned over to a newly elected local representative/official. And the new person sadly appears to be merely the patsy of a more established political cat, a/k/a a more senior and longer duration elected official who feels free to be a puppet master of less experienced officials.

I am speaking in generalist terms and not saying where this friend lives, because this is not anything new. It’s as old as the art of politics itself, and goes on everywhere. I have experienced it in Chester County.

A few years ago now, I was told I should not bother the township people who worked in a township building. I was told the best practice was that I should go through an elected official. I did that at first until I realized it was a way to try to control residents and also for a way to ensure township residents wherever did not build relationships with township staff. I then decided that I didn’t want a politician translating for me all of the time. Sometimes it’s handy to have a politician translate for you, but really as a resident wherever you live you should be able to speak to the people that work in your municipality, right? (Yes that’s right, live dangerously and email your local municipality!)

What I have discovered with dealing with politicians versus municipal staff wherever, is municipal staff will answer an email even if they don’t have the answer. Politicians are more cagey. They only want to have a conversation, they don’t want anything in writing. And the reason for that is a term called plausible deniability . Plausible deniability refers to circumstances where a denial of responsibilty or knowledge of wrongdoing can not be proven true or untrue due to a lack of evidence proving the allegation.

Yes indeed, plausible deniability is a true hallmark of politicians from the tiniest of municipalities through to state houses and Washington, D.C. Without plausible deniability, politicians would not be able to give you that trademark blank or politically shocked stare and say murmuring “kindly” things like “I am so sorry I did not know” or “I was not aware.”

(Of course with this as a best practice, it is probably why there shouldn’t be a Tweeter in Chief with all their Stepford Tweeter Minions, right? )

But it’s no wonder nothing ever gets done anywhere because all of the politicians today are like various versions of Sergeant Schulz from Hogan’s Heroes. They see nothing.

When was the last time we truly had accountability in politics? Again , on any level, from the most local of levels through to the nation’s capital? And this is a problem with both Republicans and Democrats alike.

So why is it we keep electing these people? Or is this a corruption which occurs when they become sitting politicians?

Just some of the random things I think about with regard to politics. The politically jaded will now sign off.

Thanks for stopping by.

in the wee small hours

Conshohocken State Road just after Hollow Road in Penn Valley on the edge of Gladwyne. Now vines and an unkempt forest of sorts, there used to be old silos that once stood and a spring house.

Gloaming is evening twilight, the time just before dusk when the sky is pink and fading.  Morning twilight is that equally beautiful quiet time just before dawn.  Mind you I am not awake then on purpose, sometimes it is just when I wake.  The past few nights it has been the yipping and calling of the foxes plus that even more eerie sound raccoons make when they call to each other – it’s almost a warbling that has awakened me before dawn breaks. It is a time for quiet contemplation, these early moments before dawn, and sometimes I wake up thinking about things and pondering.

Such was the case this morning.

This morning, I was thinking of how to make people see how quickly development takes over farm land.  This morning as I lay there in the twilight while everyone in my home slept, I remembered a couple of examples.

When I was little before we moved from the city to the Main Line, and even when we first moved to the Main Line, the more rural bucolic roots of Penn Valley and even Gladwyne peeked through the modern suburb of it all.

When you turned off of Hollow Road (when you get off the Schuylkill Expressway if you go right, it is River Road, left is up Hollow Road to Conshohocken State Road) onto Conshohocken State Road, for years the remnants of a farm eerily stood in this valley off the side of the road.  Silos and a spring house.  I watched them deteriorate over time, until vines and trees and woods have now basically swallowed them up.

I am not sure whose farm it was.  Along Hagy’s Ford Road (where Welsh Valley Middle School is among other things) until the 1950s there was the Charles W. Latch family farm  and other farms.   According to the Penn Valley Civic Association, this farm once provided a lot of fresh produce for the area. It is so jam packed full of houses today, it’s frankly hard to believe.  But before all of the development, it was farm land, including Pennhurst Farm owned by Percival Roberts.   Pennhurst was over 500 acres.  Pennhurst had among other things a prized heard of Ayrshire cattle (another fact gleamed from the very interesting and well written Penn Valley Civic Association website. (So all of the prize Ayrshire cattle weren’t just on Ardrossan in Radnor, were they?)

The Penn Valley Civic Association continues (and they credit Lower Merion Historical Society with all of these marvelous historical facts):

Other farms included that of George Grow on Hagys Ford Road. Sold in 1921, it is still known as Crow’s Hill (the “G” having become a “C”). Another farm was the Grove of Red Partridges on Old Gulph Road near Bryn Mawr Avenue. The property later was part of the tract of 302 acres belonging to James and Michael Magee. John Frederick Bicking, who operated a paper mill along Mill Creek, owned ten acres where Summit Road ends at Fairview Road. The Bicking family cemetery, mentioned in Bicking’s will of 1809, still exists at this location. Ardeleage, the estate of Charles Chauncey at Righters Mill and Summit roads, was torn down in 1938, and fourteen homes were built on the property. 

 

(Read more of the history of Lower Merion here and farming in Lower Merion here.)

I also remember visiting a dairy farm in King of Prussia that was somewhat commercial when I was a kid where you could get literally farm-fresh ice cream. I don’t remember the name.

Yes, King of Prussia.  It is hard to remember that what today is just thought of by the every growing malls and a casino, was once prize farmland too. (Do you see where I am going now, Chester County?)

If you visit the Valley Forge website, you will find this great post with an even more interesting 1953 zoning map of Upper Merion: 

RETAIL REWIND

March 13, 2017 by Dan Weckerly – VFTCB Communications Manager

Because I grew up in the area, I have long-term memories of King of Prussia Mall….author-historian Michael Stefan Shaw…

since his 1992 transplant to the area, he has looked at the mall through a surprising lens, that of historian rather than shopper.

Shaw is in the midst of capturing the full story of King of Prussia Mall, tracing its development from when it was just a little prince.

And even further, before it was born….

“I wrote a book in 2013 on railroading in King of Prussia, and that got me looking into the backdrop of Upper Merion Township,” Shaw says. “That led me to the mall.”

His research showed interest in a large-scale retail presence long before the 1963 official opening of King of Prussia Mall.

“In writing the railroad book, I came across a 1955 zoning map of the township,” Shaw describes. “And because of the coming of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Schuylkill Expressway, there’s a spot on the map marked ‘shopping center.’ In 1955, it was listed there. That’s way before the 1962 soft opening or the 1963 grand opening.”…

The map shows a candy-cane coded plot of land amid fields that were mainly devoted to dairy farming.

So there were cows onsite long before a purple one selling ice cream.

King of Prussia Zoning Map

 

That was then.  This is now. I guess my point is Chester County, that the farmland continues to disappear under the pace of development. I have to ask, will people in 50 or 60 years be looking at where we all once lived and will they be trying to imagine farmland too?

Do we really want farm land and open space to become just memories?

Check out two videos on YouTube about Nor-View Farm now owned by Upper Merion Township:


(You can also visit the King of Prussia Historical Society for more information.)

We don’t live in a bubble.  Chester County isn’t the only part of Southeastern PA threatened by development.  But if we learn from the mistakes of other PA municipalities, maybe we can hope for a little bit of balance?

Farming is brutally hard work.  Ask any farmer.  This state and this country really do not support farmers enough in my opinion.  But without our farms and farmers, where are we? Growing micro-lettuces on a green roof?  Green roofs are not open space.

Open space once, it is gone, is gone forever.  Along with our history, the architecture, and the farms themselves. And the wildlife.  Check out the Wikipedia page on Penn Valley for example:

Before Welsh development, Penn Valley’s forest was home to bears, cougars, wolves, rattlesnakes, otters, beavers, weasels, turkeys, grouses, woodland bison, trout, and bald eagles. However, after forest destruction by the Welsh and eventual home building after World War 2 many of the rare animals left.[12]

Today, the area is filled with red foxes, white-footed mice, horned owls, red-tailed hawks, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, chipmunks, pheasants, crayfish, songbirds, butterflies, and white-tailed deer. The white-tailed deer pose an occasional problem in Penn Valley because they can halt traffic, destroy the forest underbrush, devour expensive ornamental flowers, and spread Lyme disease. When last counted, Penn Valley contained 44 deer per square mile, 34 more deer per square mile than the recommended average. 

Just food for thought.

Thanks for stopping by.