Now Boarding: Life in 1900s Hopewell With the Arrival of the Railroad  

SAVE THE DATE – Thurs., Oct. 27, 2022 – 7 pm
Hopewell Train Station, Railroad Place, Hopewell, NJ
Sourland Conservancy Train Station Series

Advance registration is required [NOT YET OPEN]

Mercer County (1849) – Otley & Keily

Join Doug Dixon of the Hopewell Valley History Project to explore how the arrival of train service in the 1870s along the foothills of the Sourlands drove the growth of the small village of Columbia into the town of Hopewell.

We’ll explore the story both from the business perspective of a growing town that provided opportunities and jobs and services for residents and businesses and farms across the area (“100 girls wanted for shirt factory”), and from the personal perspective of having convenient transportation for farmers and work and fun (including visiting the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia).

Train on the siding at the Hopewell Railway Depot, c1905 – Postcard courtesy of Steven Cohen
Hopewell Canning Factory (HHH 1897)

To the huge Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads, Hopewell was just the crossroads of one part of an ongoing competition to maintain monopoly power, resulting in the Frog War. But for local entrepreneurs, Hopewell provided a welcoming environment to start and grow businesses that provided outlets for products and jobs, including saw mills, coal and lumber yards, factories, and manufacturing.

And for local business people and farmers, Hopewell provided the opportunity to expand their markets, including by creating co-op canning factories and grain and feed stores.

The people of the town also came together in business and volunteer organizations to create the infrastructure needed for a growing and family-friendly town, including churches, schools, libraries, newspapers, fire companies, banks, and public water.

Thanks to the opportunities brought by the railroads, the Hopewell area became a place that supported new residents and families, had low-cost starter housing and storefronts for starting small businesses, and provided facilities to attract industry to provide good jobs.



About the speaker:  Doug Dixon is an independent technology consultant and writer, now morphed into a history enthusiast. He is a board member of The Hopewell Museum and the Hopewell Valley Historical Society.

Over the past few years since mid-2019, Doug has developed the Hopewell Valley History Project and website (HopewellHistoryProject.org), working with over 100 local contributors to collect and freely share digital copies of local historical materials. The History Project now hosts some 540 documents and maps, 3000 images and videos, and an interactive historical map of Hopewell to aid research into Hopewell area people and places.

As a software technologist, Doug specializes in Web technology, databases, and digital media. He has consulted to the Aberdeen Test Center doing large data testing and visualization, and previously was a product manager and software developer at Intel and Sarnoff. He has authored four books on digital media, published hundreds of feature articles, and presented over a hundred technical seminars and talks.

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