Incorporated on December 17, 1888, Eddystone Borough has a history steeped in industry and manufacturing. Originally occupied by Swedes as early as 1641, the town as we know it today developed around the Eddystone Print Works, a textile manufacturing plant. Founded in the 1840s by William Simpson, the print works was named after the Eddystone Lighthouse near Plymouth, England. In 1876, the print works relocated from what is now Fairmount Park outside of Philadelphia to present-day Eddystone. The tenements originally built for workers at the print works near the center of town, are now known as “The Village”. Saville Avenue is named in honor of William Simpson’s wife, Maria Saville. The Simpson family had Lighthouse Hall built in 1880 as a social gathering place for the town. The first Borough Council Meeting was held on the 2nd floor on February 26, 1889, and the first ordinance was borrowing $1,000 to get the Borough started.
In the early 1900’s, Eddystone became the home of the Baldwin Locomotive Works plant, which at the time was the largest manufacturer of steam locomotives in the world. During World War I, Remington Arms opened the Eddystone Rifle Plant on Baldwin land with Baldwin management. The Pattern 1914 Enfield rifle and M1917 Enfield rifle were manufactured at the plant. Most of the rifles used by American soldiers in France, during World War I, were manufactured in Eddystone. Baldwin also formed a subsidiary company, Eddystone Ammunition Corporation in 1915 to build artillery shells.
A portion of the Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company was located within the boundaries of Eddystone. The company was developed by Sun Oil Company, and launched its first ship in 1917, just as the United States was entering World War I. At its peak, the company employed more than 40,000 workers. Today, the former Sun Shipbuilding Yard has been extensively reclaimed for other uses. The North Yard is now on the site of Penn Terminals, a privately owned marine terminal and stevedoring service since 1986.
In the mid-1950s construction began on a power generation station located along Eddystone’s Riverfront. The station opened in 1960, and is now operated by Exelon.
In April, 2014 Eddystone saw a resurgence of industry when the Eddystone Rail Company opened a facility that receives crude oil from North Dakota and transfers it from rail to barge so it can be delivered to nearby refineries along the Delaware River.
Vintage Eddystone Photos
Provided by Joe O’Melia