Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Frick's Lock

A modern ghost town whose inhabitants were driven away by nuclear proliferation. 

If the collapse of the local economy didn’t crush the small village of Frick’s Lock, Pennsylvania, the nuclear power plant across the river certainly did.

Settled in the early 1800s (although some of the buildings are older) next to the Schuylkill Canal in an attempt to build a town around the waterway’s commercial traffic, Frick’s Lock was a small community with a niche means of survival. The village survived on the business generated by its titular water locks until railroads rendered their canal obsolete. But even the loss of their main means of income did not drive out the residents of the small community who continued to live in the village even after the canal was drained. It wasn’t until a nuclear power plant was constructed across the river that the people of Frick’s Lock either left on their own or were forced out of their homes, depending on whose account one believes.

Now the 18-acre area that was once the village of Frick’s Lock stands empty. There are around ten buildings still standing vacant and while explorers and vandals left their marks on the old homes over the years, a joint effort between the local community and the power plant itself has seen the buildings somewhat restored. The area is private land, owned by the company that operates the power plant, and a number of signs and fences have been erected to keep out trespassers. The signs promise that the area is under 24-hour surveillance and that trespassers will be prosecuted. The East Coventry Historical Commission now runs regular tours of the village. Some of the guides even lived there as children.

As a village, it took nuclear power to clear out the inhabitants of Frick’s Lock, but as a ghost town, it will take more than that to keep explorers at bay.

Know Before You Go

Frick's Lock can be found off of Route 724 in the Limerick/Pottstown area. From Route 724, follow Lower Frick's Lock Road until you reach the yellow road barrier. Although you're not allowed to proceed further, either by car or on foot, you can still see some of the abandoned buildings from that point.