THE OLD TOLL-HOUSE
by Roland Williams
On the 24th. of March, 1803, the Frankford and Bristol Turnpike Company was incorporated and the road we now call Frankford Avenue became a toll road. Tollhouses and gates were erected along the route from Front Street and Germantown Avenue to the ferry at Morrisville on the Delaware River. Travelers paid a toll every five miles.
Toll-house and gate number three were at the south end of the old King's Highway Bridge over the Pennypack, between the mill-race and the creek. The house itself stood across the road from where Formica's store now stands. The gates were closed around 11:00 each night and opened at four or five in the morning. Tuesdays and Fridays were market days when the gates were opened as early as two or three in the morning to allow the farmers of Bucks County to deliver produce for sale in the city. Herds of animals were driven down the pike, across the old bridge and through the gates on their way to slaughter-houses.
The turnpike company had the responsibility of upgrading and maintaining the road-way. The toll-rates reflect concern for the wear-and-tear of the road surface:
vehicles with narrow wheels tended to dig deeper into the surface and caused more rutting and so were charged higher rates than vehicles with wider wheels.
Toll-gate keepers lived with their families in the toll-house. A Mr. Rich was one of the earliest gate-keepers. Samuel Daunton became keeper around 1840. After the Civil War members of the Ash ton family, William and Jacob, held the job. The last gate-keeper was one John Booz who served until the turnpike company went out of business in 1892.
In 1893 with the widening of the old bridge the toll-house was torn down. No trace of it remains today save for a few old photographs from the late 1800's.