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
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
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,
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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