Atglen Public Library has a small collection of local history resources and books by local authors. Most of these items are available to borrow, but some of them must be used only in the library.
A Brief History of Atglen
European settlers first came to western West Sadsbury Township, Chester County, in the 1720s, attracted by its vacant land and water power for mills. Andrew Moore, Ellis Lewis, Caleb Peirce, and Charles Downing all built early mills on the Octoraro and Valley Creeks. The Octoraro served as the border when Lancaster County was separated from Chester County in 1729. The Irwin Brothers, John, Gideon and Josiah, operated a tavern, grain mill, and saw mill, respectively, for 40 years, establishing a permanent community in the Glen.
The 19th century saw several periods of development here. The completion of the Columbia and Philadelphia Railroad in 1834 moved the community north of Valley Creek toward the railroad. A second boom in the 1850s added three churches, several general stores, and several warehouses along the rail line. Atglen was incorporated as a borough in 1876 from the surrounding West Sadsbury Township.
The second half of the 19th century witnessed a thriving town built on agriculture and industry from the surrounding townships using the railroad. Small businesses provided self-sufficiency for the residents. Prominent residents included George W. Phillips (grandfather of George Morris Phillips), Robert Futhey (brother of J. Smith Futhey), and Moses Whitson. Atglen played small roles in the commercial introduction of the Chester White Hog, the Christiana Rebellion, and the Goss-Udderzook murder.
The turn of the 20th century brought another boom to Atglen with the construction of the Atglen and Susquehanna Low Grade Line. Businesses expanded, high-style residences were built, and cultural and civic associations flourished. The construction of the Route 41 “Skyway” in 1954 bypassed the center of town. The gradual loss of business to the busier highway transformed Atglen into the quiet bedroom community it is now.