Have you ever been driving along the freeway or down a country road and noticed the name on the street sign? You looked at it and wondered how it got its name? I ran across a few on a drive from State College, PA to Philadelphia, PA that got me to thinking. So I offer my speculation and then added what information I could find on a few of the streets.
One of the first exits I ran across was for Electric Avenue. I wondered if it was the street that ran by the electric company or perhaps it was the first street powered by electricity in town! Could it have been the street with the first electric trolley? I know the exit was in an town that had been around a couple hundred years.
The second street I found interesting was Progress Avenue. My first thought was that it was named because people would walk up and town the area but then it could have referred to a part of town where the latest building techniques, styles, or even the place in town that gets the gas or electricity first.
Then there was the Union Deposit Street which could be the road that went by the Union railroad depot. Depot is short for depository so perhaps this is the way they referred to depots, years ago. After a bit of investigation, this is the road that goes to the town of Union Deposit which grew up around the Union Canal. Another fun one was West Girl Scout Road which I suspect went by the original Girl Scout camp in the area, thus the name.
What about Swamp Ridge Road? I have no idea where that name came from but Hopewell Furnace Road would have been associated with the iron mines in the area. From what I'm told, furnaces were built near iron mines so the ore did not have to go far before it was processed. Turns out the road lead to the original Hopewell Furnace which processed iron until around 1883, when it closed down due to a change in the method of processing. This furnace was founded by a family who did the processing.
Finally, there was Conestoga Road. I'm wondering if this road lead to the factory that made Conestoga wagons used by thousands of people who traveled west back in the 1800's. After a bit of research, it appears that this road might have been part of the Old Conestoga Road which at one point was the shortest route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. If it was part of the Old Conestoga Road, it would have been a turnpike originally.