Welcome to Historic
PORT INDIAN, PA
PORT INDIAN HISTORY, As Told to Me...
Jean Cording, January 2011
Originally there were only 3 houses in Port Indian, 732 Port Indian rd, the celery farm (Norristown Boat Club) and the former Mrs. Sands Food home, which had been a mill and a barn which still has in the attic the notches from the saw which adjusted the cuts. A few years ago someone in a house along the river, near number 7 just below the Sands house, found a cave and it is thought to have been part of the underground railroad as it was along the river, unfortunately no one was brave enough to explore. The old barn on the Sands property is now in shambles.
There is evidence that Indians (the Delaware tribes) lived in our area (my house has a claim to a presence of a Delaware Indian, Hawk) and if you are lucky you can still find arrowheads and other artifacts if you have a sharp stick and not allergic to poison ivy.
There used to be two train tracks that ran along what is now the bike path. The train would stop at the “station” and drop off passengers and livestock. There were cattle pens to keep the horses, cows, pigs, turkeys and other animals as well. The US Calvary would send horses to the Walker Farm, which is now Wal-Mart. The animals would be herded up Port Indian Road, and much to the dismay of the local housewife, would run wild and often take down clotheslines and cause other havoc, especially in gardens.
Years ago we even had a large bull loose in the neighbor’s field that West Norriton Police had to capture with a rope. Every Friday evening Walker’s had an animal auction and it was the event of the week to go see what was for sale, sort of a Zern’s. There was another lovely farmhouse on the same property that was torn down that had a cemetery on the property that had the grave of Isaac Norris, the founder of Norristown, unfortunately, the local historical society was too late and the graves were not reinterred and houses are there now (The Mews).
The local store, owned for several generations by the Adamson family on the corner, was the hub for Port Indian. You could catch up on the latest news, get your mail and groceries and gas, if times were hard you could get your groceries “on the cuff” and pay when you could or barter for payment. People would call up from the city (Philadelphia) and arrive by train. Mr. Adamson, who had a key to each house, would have the groceries delivered to the house and another relative would have it spruced up for the arrival of the summer visitor.
Mrs. Adamson often told me about the hobos who would show up at her back door hungry. She made them something and sent them on their way. She always smiled when a child came in to buy penny candy and had such patience while they made their important decision. She and all the other women who lived along the river would make aprons and crocheted items to sell at the Strawberry Festivals and other fund raising events. The money went to take care of whatever was needed at the time, like a new bridge, road repairs and even purchasing the parking lot for flood evacuation. Later years we got into the Port Indian Regatta. It started out as a neighborhood thing and grew for 30 years. We had boat racers from all over the Eastern coast and a fabulous water ski group. It was an exciting time for Port Indian.
There were many small cottages along the river in the 30’s, mostly summer places. Some were clubhouses with questionable reputations others just shacks. Thru the years more and more people began to stay the winters and the shacks evolved into the lovely year round homes we have today. I feel Port Indian has a community feeling because it is a dead end street thus forcing us to know each other instead of just passing thru to another town. We have all helped each other, especially when God sees to fill our homes with water.
Mrs. Sands Foods was a local employer. Many of the Adamson family worked there thru the years and other neighbors as well. We made potato salad, coleslaw, relishes, and horseradish. We supplied all the local deli’s and Genuardi’s. The business started out with Mrs. Sands traveling wagon and the salad in an enamel pan. Those pans are still around someplace. Where else could you sit in a circle on tiny wood chairs, peel potatoes and talk all day. It was hard work but no stress!
The bike path has opened us up to more people but the sense of community still prevails. We do not have any Indians living here now, just Port Indians!
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