Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: October 1956 Volume 9 Number 2, Pages 46–48

Confusing road names

Howard S. Okie

Page 46

Gable Building

First the zoning maps, and later the flurry over road-naming which arose in connection with personal mail deliveries, have called attention to a matter upon which it would seem more care might have been taken. A few random examples suffice to give the picture.

The Howellville Road, repeatedly mentioned in old deeds as the road to Widow Howell's Tavern, is marked at Conestoga Road as "Cassatt". An even earlier designation was probably the Road to Jacob Sheridan's Mill which was where Howellville now is. Conrad Wilson tells me that he has seen this road designated in an old deed as "Market Road", evidently a hand-down from early road proceedings where need for a public road was often emphasized by its anticipated use to church, mill and market, strung together where possible according to the ideas of the early settlers. The name "Cassatt Road" properly applies to the east fork, below Doyle's Nursery, the west fork being Howellville Road proper. This east fork is also of early origin and had, of course, a name antedating purchase of the Cassatt farm on Valley Creek. Running from Conestoga Road to Berwyn Station we already have a "Cassatt Avenue." The use of the word "Cassatt" in one instance should be enough.

Page 47

Route 83 is marked "State" at its intersection with Conestoga Road at Devon. It has been known as Valley Forge Road far some years. The present title is not distinctive. The next road to the east is Old Valley Forge Road which was marked as "Baptist Road" twenty-five years or so ago. The Baptists were at their old church long before Valley Forge achieved its great prominence, and "Baptist" must have been the earlier title.

Baptist (Old Valley Forge) Road is now blocked off from crossing the railroad at old Devon Station. An old road, but later than Baptist, left Conestoga at or near what is now Fairfield Road. The railroad crossed it at grade at the site of Hamilton Home.

Waterloo Avenue in Devon leaped into prominence lately and little need be said of it except that it appeared on the scene seventy to eighty years ago when Devon was developed. An interesting point in its history is that there the Easttown supervisors tried out the first cement road in the neighborhood.

Waterloo (Avenue) or Newtown Road, whichever is preferred, was laid out about 1803 between the turnpike at Berwyn and Sugartown Road, earlier known as Church Road. It replaced part of a colonial road to what was to become Howellville.

Another instance of confusion will suffice. At Devon, Berwyn, and Paoli, the Conestoga Road and the Lancaster Turnpike are justly famous. The Conestoga as a prominent road was at Strafford at or before 1725. Soon it must have been pushed out to Devon and Berwyn. Coupled with the Swedesford Road this was the infant colony's great road to the west. Probably there was not a road in the country to equal it in either importance or historical interest. It reached a village of the Conestoga Indians near Lancaster at an early date; hence its name. Later it became the "Lancaster Road". With the building of Lancaster Turnpike over a hundred and fifty years ago it became known in distinction as "Old Lancaster Road." So it continued until about from 1905 to 1910, when our Tredyffrin supervisors marked it as "Conestoga Road". The present signs and the telephone book refer to the turnpike as "Old Lancaster Road", which it never was except in the few places where the road beds coincide.

Such misnaming of roads as has been referred to - and there are others - is a source of much confusion, and suggests, to say the least, a lack of public interest in the affairs and history of our townships.

Page 48

This paper was read at a Club meeting shortly after the furor regarding road names in Easttown. Now there has been a similar move in Tredyffrin, showing public interest in the matter, and official realization of its importance. On September 24th the names of four confusing road names were changed, including that of Waterloo Road in Devon to "Devon State Road."

Editor's Note: Waterloo Avenue is presently in Berwyn while Waterloo Road is in Devon. Both connect Lancaster Avenue with Sugartown Road, but Waterloo Avenue joins Lancaster Avenue close to the Berwyn train station, and Waterloo Road passes close to the Devon train station

We have much information available regarding our old roads and it should be our duty and privilege to give aid in such questions.
The Editor

Map of main roads


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