Indians were the first inhabitants of the area known today as Upper Saucon Township. The word “Saucon” is derived from the Indian word “Suakunk” which was the name applied to an Indian village at the mouth of Saucon Creek, and afterwards a large tract of land lying on both sides the creek from its source to its mouth. Suakunk comes from the Indian word Sa-ku-wit, meaning the mouth of a creek.
The earliest European settlers arrived in the region over a 20-year period beginning in 1732 and were primarily of German, English and Welsh descent. In 1743 these immigrants formally organized the Township. Agriculture formed the basis of the Township’s economy for most of its history. Wheat, rye, oats, corn, potatoes, clover, timothy, fruits and garden vegetables were some of the Township’s early agricultural products. Access to trading and selling these products was provided by the precursor to Route 309, which rested in the same general location as the present highway and extended from Allentown to Philadelphia.
The Village of Center Valley formed the principle gathering spot for the Township and evolved as a linear community initially focused around the intersection of present day Routes 309 and 378. By 1848, the village consisted of only a general store, hotel and a 60-acre farm. Construction of the North Pennsylvania Railroad through the Township in 1856 brought improved transportation and expanded access to urban markets. The rail line established its Center Valley Station on the east side of the Saucon Creek about a quarter of a mile east of the village nucleus. Center Valley continued to grow and by 1862 boasted not only a store and hotel, but also a post office, blacksmith shop, and shoemaker, along with several dwellings.
By 1873, as many as seven homes had been established near the railroad station, and in 1875 local commissioners authorized $1,200.00 for construction of the Centennial Bridge. This bridge provided an important link between the original village nucleus and the settlement forming around the railroad station to the east. By the time the bridge was completed in 1876, the area around the station had extended toward the original village nucleus by adding 18 homes, two coal yards, one store and a hotel.
The Center Valley Station became an important shipping point for agricultural products from surrounding farms. The community around the station was at one point locally known as “Milk Town” because of the large quantity of milk that was shipped out of the area. According to the Bucks County Historical Society, two and one half million gallons of milk were shipped annually to the Philadelphia area via the railroad.
In addition to the agricultural trade, the Township’s other key industry was mining. The Friendensville Zinc Mine is the only registered historical site in the Township and dates back to 1845. The mining of zinc ore first occurred on the farm of Jacob Ueberroth, which was eventually purchased by the Lehigh Zinc Company and was the largest of the many mines in the local area. Between 1869 and 1872, the Lehigh Zinc Company installed the world famous Cornish pump known as “The President”. This pump was used to remove between 12,000 to 16,000 gallons of water a minute from the mines. The Lehigh Zinc Company was eventually acquired by the New Jersey Zinc Company and the property is currently owned by the Stabler Land Company.