October 2021 Update – Train Stations

The October updates on the Hopewell Valley History Project site focused on the local Hopewell and Pennington train stations, including a trove of over 40 historical photos by Ralph Curcio.

Other posts showed examples of how to use historical maps to learn about local properties, such as the additions to St. Michael’s and Weart’s Market in Hopewell, plus information on the Hopewell National Bank U. S. dollars and references for information on local towns in the early 1900s.

By the numbers, we finished the month with 240 files in the Archives, including 110 documents and 130 maps and aerials. The Image Gallery now has 2279 files, and the Aerial Panoramas Collection has 23 images. The Pamphlet Collection has 144 documents, and the Property Reports Collection has 77 documents, with 58 Site Survey reports and 19 Property Briefs. The interactive History Map includes 775 addresses with 102 historic places in Hopewell Borough. We have just passed 150 blog posts and 150 Facebook posts. Please keep the materials coming!


Hopewell and Pennington Train Stations

The major addition this month was 42 photos of local train stations and trains, photographed by Ralph Curcio between 1976 and 1999. These are not just photos of the stations in isolation, or of trains on the tracks – they also include untraditional views around the stations, passengers boarding and disembarking trains at the stations, and freight trains as well. Most are from around the Hopewell train station, with others in Pennington and the switching area north of the Pennington station.


More Hopewell Train Station

Plus there are two new fascinating and unusual photos of the Hopewell train station from 1915 and c1940, provided through the kindness of Judy Faherty. The station looks so familiar, but the backgrounds are quite different, especially because of the absence of trees.


Hopewell National Bank Dollars

Yes, these are real Hopewell dollars – U. S. National Bank notes from the Hopewell National Bank that were printed as legal tender from 1863 to 1935. The Hopewell National Bank was chartered as a U. S. national bank in 1890, with the right to print its own currency.

These “large-sized notes” feature the issuing bank’s name (Hopewell National Bank) and its charter number (4254) printed prominently on the face of the note, along with the signatures of its officers (at the bottom).

From 1863 to 1935, 12,635 banks participated in National Banking System and printed their own currency, representing the territories, states, and cities.


Investigating History in Hopewell Maps

The best way to get a quick sense of how our towns changed and developed is to investigate the buildings and changes in local maps. We are blessed with a variety of county, township, and town maps back to the mid-1800s that not only show the roads and streams and towns, but also the locations and identification of farms and businesses and residences (see below for examples).

And the best example of seeing changes is the 1935 Sanborn fire insurance map of Hopewell Borough – which literally has slips with changes pasted on the original 1927 map, including adding information on new buildings, overlaying changes to old buildings, and covering old buildings that had been demolished.

These kinds of changes are particularly visible for St. Michael’s Orphanage and Weart’s Market.


Hopewell Valley Towns in the Early 1900s

The Industrial Directory of New Jersey, provides an interesting view into how the people of the time viewed their communities and worked to promote their towns to potential new businesses, including information on the Hopewell Valley towns of Hopewell, Pennington, Titusville, and Woodsville.

The Industrial Directory was printed by the N. J. Bureau of Statistics every third year (or so) from c. 1901 through 1948. It contains over 500 pages of reports on each of the towns in N. J. promoting the business opportunities in the towns, and describing the available services and community and family activities. As a bonus, it also provides information on major local businesses, and separate indexes list businesses organized by the type of industry

We have extracted the Hopewell Valley information from the 1901, 1909, 1912, and 1918 editions of the Industrial Directory, including the town descriptions and business listings. The entries also have been combined and annotated to highlight the differences between the editions.


Please keep looking for more images and materials like these that we can share to help illuminate the history of our Hopewell Valley.

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