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Books Etc.

Local History

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.


Chester Valley Trail West

The Enola Low Grade is a big reason why Atglen is on the map. This feat of railroad engineering starts here in Atglen and runs west 26 miles to the Susquehanna River. Chester County Planning Commission is planning the Chester Valley Trail West to connect the Chester Valley Trail and Extension to the Enola Low Grade Trail in Lancaster County. Townships in Lancaster County are working on their own portions of the Enola Low Grade Trail. The Chester County Planning Commission has recently posted a web page that will have updates on progress on CVTW. Currently, the Atglen portion will enter the design phase shortly, with construction in 2026. For updates, click on the Chester County Planning Commission link below  

Visitors, please note that the trail has not yet been constructed in Atglen. There are no parking lots for, nor access to, the trail here. The only public facilities in Atglen are found in the Library: restrooms, a water fountain with bottle filler, and a vending machine. While we love to accommodate visitors, we have very limited weekend hours during the summer: Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. To plan your trip, please visit these sites.

Atglen Borough, Chester County

Sadsbury Township, Lancaster County

Chester County Planning Commission

Lancaster County Planning Commission

Providence Township and Quarryville sections of the Enola Low Grade Trail

RiverRoots: Enola Low Grade