Fricks Locks Historic District

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Fricks Locks Historic District
Fricks lock-1.jpg
Old house with Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in background
Fricks Locks Historic District is located in Pennsylvania
Fricks Locks Historic District
Nearest city Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°13′21″N 75°35′47″W / 40.22250°N 75.59639°W / 40.22250; -75.59639Coordinates: 40°13′21″N 75°35′47″W / 40.22250°N 75.59639°W / 40.22250; -75.59639
Area 18 acres (7.3 ha)
Built 1824
Architectural style Federal, Swiss Bank House
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #

03001188

[1]
Added to NRHP November 21, 2003

Fricks Locks Historic District or more simply Frick's Lock is an abandoned village, along the also abandoned Schuylkill Canal, in the northeast portion of East Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This 18th-century village outlasted the canal, being abandoned in the late 20th century with the construction of the adjacent Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. The village on about 18 acres of land were listed as a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.[2] Frick's Locks is considered a modern ghost town and, although private property, attracts visitors.

History[edit]

1906 topographic map of Frick's Lock showing canal and railroad. The nuclear plant was built to the northeast on hill 269.

Canal era[edit]

While some buildings date from the American Revolutionary War era, the village name was a result of the "Schuylkill Navigation" canal. The canal required construction, in the early 1820s, of a set of locks at that point along the Schuylkill River. Locks #54 and #55[3] were built on farmland acquired from John Frick and the village became known as Frick's Locks. The village thrived due to the economic stimulus of the canal. Eventually the commercial canal traffic declined toward the turn of the century and gave way to the railroad. Frick's Locks had become the singular Frick's Lock after the Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad arrived and built a station with the latter name. The canal was filled in starting in 1942. While the railroad eventually declined after Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976, the village remained inhabited until near the end of the 20th century.

Nuclear era[edit]

In the 1960s, the then Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) began the process of building the Limerick Nuclear Power Station immediately across the river from Frick's Lock. The station went on line in 1986. During the project, PECO acquired all the land around the station site, which included Frick's Lock. There are possibly conflicting stories as to the residents being bought out and relocated nearby and one that describes a 48-hour notice forced eviction. In any event the buildings were vacated and simply boarded up. There is evidence that some of the buildings were later occupied by an environmental study company retained by PECO.

Present day[edit]

The remains of Frick's Lock consist of about ten abandoned buildings. The oldest house dates back to 1742/1757. Among the buildings is a barn that dates to 1824 and the original canal lock tender's house dated 1817. The buildings are boarded up, the area is becoming overgrown, and Frick's Lock Road has a gate across it. The property belongs to PECO's successor, Exelon Corporation, and trespassing is discouraged. There have been four Chester County Town Tours in the years 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2003. The walking tours were held during August on Thursday evenings. The first Town Tour included historian Rich Pauley in 1997 Paul S.Frick, Estelle Cremers, William Carl, Jr., Doris (Shaner) Gohl and James Lockart all contributed to the effort to list the property on the National Historic Register October 12, 2003. Paul Frick's book "The History Of Fricks Locks Vol 1" remains the most up to date and in depth book about the property. In February 2011, East Coventry Township partnered with Exelon Corporation to preserve and protect the historic site. Under this new agreement, Exelon will effectively donate the land and eleven historic structures at Frick's Lock Village to East Coventry Township, valued at an estimated $1 million. In addition, Exelon will spend close to $2.5 million to stabilize and rehabilitate these historic structures[4]

Ghost town[edit]

Entrance to Frick's Lock, with a sign forbidding entrance to the site. Note the burned-out residence.

Because of its reputation as a modern ghost town, Frick's Lock attracts many curious individuals and groups, including ghost hunters. Its isolated location and abandoned status also attracts vandals. The inclusion of the Frick's Lock in the 2005 book, Weird Pennsylvania, and numerous web photo essays of the buildings have increased its popularity. The web sites have also documented its increased deterioration, including the aforementioned vandalism and the collapse of some porch structures.

As of March 2008, Frick's Lock remains a hotbed for many thrill seekers and vandals. Interest in the area has grown since a fire destroyed the Lock Tender's House in February 2008. Since then, Exelon has made numerous attempts to clean up debris from the property and to close up open wells and open buildings. Vandals continue with their destruction of the buildings.

Police are now attempting to discourage the continued vandalism by citing all unauthorized people found on the property with trespassing.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Estelle Cremers, 2002, NRHP Nomination Form Fricks Locks Historic District Enter "public" for ID and "public" for password to access the site.
  3. ^ "Schuylkill Navigation". Retrieved 2008-01-18. [dead link]
  4. ^ $2.3M restoration of Frick’s Lock Village unveiled

External links[edit]