The First 300

Toll Gates

Toll houses were established along the township’s public roads in 1791. Lancaster Pike was a busy, narrow dirt road over which passengers, freight, the mail, and farmers’ produce were transported. The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Company was formed to care for the 62 miles between Philadelphia and Lancaster. By 1795, there were nine toll gates along the route. Many warehouses and shops were dotted along the way to deal with provisions and repairs. The Pike prospered as a tollroad until the canal and railroad took away its business and it became a broken-down, disreputable route.

In 1876, the Pennsylvania Railroad, to prevent the extension of street car lines from the city into the suburbs, bought Lancaster Pike from 52nd Street to Paoli for $20,000. The Lancaster Avenue Improvement Company was established with A. J. Cassatt as president. A second company, the Philadelphia, Bala and Bryn Mawr Turnpike Company, was formed to control what is now Montgomery Avenue. No toll houses remain.

man stands in door of wood frame house at an unpaved intersection
Early photo of the busy toll house at Lancaster Avenue and City Avenue. Built c. 1871, it operated there until c. 1914.
tollkeeper waits on a car stopped in front of wood frame house
This toll gate was at Meeting House Lane and Old Lancaster Road (Montgomery Avenue), across from Merion Meetinghouse.
small wood frame house on unpaved corner
The toll house at Church Road in Ardmore was built in 1875.
car lodged in doorway on porch of toll house
On an April evening in 1909, an auto crashed into the front.