The River and the Ridge
300 years of Local History

Peach Bottom Township and Delta, Pennsylvania
Cardiff and Whiteford, Maryland

Authors: Roger B. Wilson, Ed. D.; Donald C. Robinson, James L. Morris, and David B. Glenn, D.D.S.

Peach Bottom Slate Quarry

Shank's Ferry on the Mighty Susquehanna River

Take a Walk With Us
Many houses in the Delta, Peach Bottom Township, Cardiff, and Whiteford area have both a slate roof and a slate foundation. The story of this slate is also the foundation of our history. A twelve-mile ridge of slate is our dominant landform. The discovery of roofing slate in 1734 is the beginning of a unique history. A little more than one hundred years later, in the 1840's, many people born in Wales traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to live here because of our slate. The Welsh cracked the stone in one direction and split it in the other to make roofs that seem to last forever.

Our hard, beautiful slate is just part of the story. The Susquehanna River is a mile-wide, physical barrier forming our eastern boundary. Much of our history is connected to "the river." Delta Borough and Peach Bottom Township are in York County, Pennsylvania, with Muddy Creek forming the northern boundary of the township. The villages of Cardiff and Whiteford are in Harford County, Maryland. These two villages, one borough, and one township are the focus of this book. Starting where northern Maryland meets southern Pennsylvania at the Susquehanna River, the area extends about nine miles west, and three to five miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and about one mile south of that line.

We have farmland, forests, river hills, soapstone, slate, serpentine, and Wissahickon shist. Upon this land we built farms, roads, houses, schools, factories, and memories. We have plowed many an acre and dug hundreds of feet deep for rocky treasures. We have treasured stories too. We have family stories, farm stories, school stories, dam stories, quarry stories, electrifying stories, and atomic energy stories. Many of these stories are about how things change.

Given enough time everything changes. Shale can change to slate. The change into stone takes millions of years but eventually will have human consequences. Other changes depend on inventors who design new technology, bringing changes to how we live. Europeans arrived here in ocean-crossing ships with clocks, books, and iron weapons. They found a people with canoes and tools of stone. The natives were changed forever and so was our region.

Looking back at the important changes that affected us, it went like this: a slate ridge formed; the first people came into the region; these people learned how to farm; Europeans came across an ocean; farms, villages, towns, cities, and the colonies were organized, and a dispute was settled with the Mason-Dixon line. And, in our area, many Scots-Irish came; slate was discovered; the first church was built, the first school, the first real road, and a stagecoach; later came the canal along the river; the slate industry; the railroad, and paved roads. Terrible, destructive wars came and went; the Great Depression; the slate industry declined; and a nuclear power plant was built. Telegraph, radio, and television spread across the entire nation, followed by cable TV, computers, and the Internet.

This book is about the changes that shaped our region and created our history. Come, take a book walk with us. If you took a real walk along the Susquehanna River on the western shore past Coal Cabin, up through the river hills, striding over corn fields and peach orchards, past a couple of quarries, into the towns of Delta, Cardiff, and Whiteford, it would be only a few miles but could take several hours or several days. In this book we'll show you old quarries, slate sidewalks, restored homes, green marble, the Rehoboth Welsh Church, our oldest school, stone cottages, a railroad trestle, fields of wheat and corn, piles of slate, a marker for Mason and Dixon's line, Welsh poetry on slate gravestones, a slate clock, and the slate jail. Maybe you will take a real walk to see all these things yourself, to revisit old memories, or to marvel at some of our treasures for the first time.

Roger B. Wilson, July 2003


Roger B. Wilson was a long-time resident of Whiteford, taught at Delta-Peach Bottom Elementary School and Millersville University, and enjoys the beauty of the slate quarries.

Donald C. Robinson grew up in Cardiff, lives in Delta, and for a long time has been interested in the Welsh and the Peach Bottom slate industry.

James L. Morris is one of the principal founders of the Old Line Museum in Delta and has a large collection of historical photographs.

David B. Glenn was raised in Delta, has a dental practice in Cardiff, and is a local historian.

This book is sponsored by the Old Line Museum, Delta, Pennsylvania.

The book has a hard cover, 369 pages, over one hundred references, an index, and roughly 150 photos & maps, four in color.

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