Schuylkill River Heritage Towns and Tours



The Heritage Towns & Tours initiative assists communities along the Schuylkill River Trail in attracting trail users to downtowns, restaurants, shops, historic sites and other attractions. The program strives to increase visitorship and improve the economies of participating municipalities.


Photo by Walt Hug

Heritage Towns & Tours Toolkit

The Heritage Area has created a Heritage Towns & Tours Toolkit to guide interested communities and economic development agencies in the following areas:

    • Building successful public and private partnerships at local and regional levels.
    • Promoting community revitalization and the improvement of local economies through heritage preservation and tourism.
    • Defining a community’s distinct heritage preservation and tourism program to achieve short-term and long-term heritage-related goals and objectives.
    • Initiating a sustainable long-term process for heritage tourism.

While the toolkit was developed with Schuylkill River Trail communities in mind, it is easily adaptable for any community.
Learn more about the program:

pdf_icon Heritage Towns & Tours Presentation

pdf_icon Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours Program Executive Summary

pdf_icon Read the Heritage Towns & Tours article from Pennsylvania Borough News April 2013 issue

The complete toolkit is available on DVD. You can purchase one for $5 online (click here), or by calling the Schuylkill River Heritage Area at 484-945-0200.

About Our Grant Program

The grant program for 2012 is now closed. See below for award recipients. Two types of grants were available during the 2012 Grant Round. Those included Heritage Action Planning Grants provided funds to organizations interested in completing a Heritage Action Plan, and Implementation Project Grants given to organizations and partnerships who have a completed and approved Heritage Action Plan.

pdf_icon Heritage Action Plan Grant Instructions & LOI form

pdf_icon Implementation Grant Guidelines

Information About Grant Recipients

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area awarded grants in December 2011 to five communities to implement the Heritage Towns & Tours Program. Those communities—Pottstown, Phoenixville, Hamburg, Pottsville and East Falls—have already begun using the toolkit. In 2012, three communities received Heritage Action Planning Grants, including Norristown, Exeter and Historic Germantown.

pdf_icon 2012 Heritage Towns & Tours Grant Awards

pdf_icon Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours 2011 Grant Announcement

pdf_icon Schuylkill River Heritage Towns & Tours 2011 Grant Awards

About the Trail’s Economic Potential

According to a 2009 Schuylkill River Trail user survey conducted by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the trail, which currently has 60 completed miles, attracted over 800,000 visits and generated $7.3 million in direct economic impact in 2008. This economic impact is expected to grow as the trail grows. When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail will stretch an estimated 130 miles from Philadelphia to Pottsville. For more information on the Schuylkill River Trail visit our trail website at

While all trails have the potential to revitalize the communities they pass through, longer trails have an advantage because they are more likely to attract tourists from outside the region. Studies show that people who come from out of town will spend four times as much as local users. Those who stay overnight will spend even more.

Photo by Walt Hug

The Heritage Towns & Tours program is made possible by a grant from the William Penn Foundation. The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just and caring community. Learn more about the Foundation online at