Pleasant Valley Lost, a book by Berks County resident Joseph J. Swope, was recently updated and expanded to include 22 photographs and illustrations that depict the area now submerged by the Blue Marsh Dam.
Originally published in 2015, Pleasant Valley Lost chronicles life on Swope’s family’s farm prior to it being seized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of the dam.
“Over the past two years, I have done a number of presentations on the book,” Swope said. “It’s been gratifying to see so many residents who have their own fond memories of Pleasant Valley. Many people have shared both stories and photos of the region. I’ve tried to share some of those in this new edition.”
The 2017 version of Pleasant Valley Lost provides additional information about the history of the Swope farm and several new family tales. More prominently, the photographs capture family members mentioned in the book, as well as a number of the buildings destroyed to make way for the dam.
Pleasant Valley Lost received the 2016 Maxy Award for best non-fiction book from small and independent publishers. The book is published by Black Rose Writing, an independent book publisher located in Texas.
Pleasant Valley Lost is set beginning in 1968 and focuses on the years in the Blue Marsh region before and during the acquisition and condemnation activities of the Corps of Engineers. Swope’s family owned and operated a premier dairy farm of almost 200 acres that was originally part of the Hiester family land.
A sub-plot of the book focuses on the family’s long-standing and long-suffering devotion to the Philadelphia Phillies, culminating in the Phillies’ first World Championship in 1980.
“Those who enjoy Blue Marsh Lake for its recreational activities today may not realize the dam destroyed a rich agricultural region with family farms that extended back into the 1700s,” Swope said. “The Corps of Engineers proceeded with the project with no regard to the culture, the residents or the history of the region.”
Pleasant Valley Lost is available at www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com, and www.BlackRoseWriting.com in both hard cover and soft cover editions. In the Berks County area, signed copies are available at De Antiek Winkel, 7301 Bernville Road.
Swope has also written a children’s book, The Gift, that focuses on diabetes awareness.
In addition to his writing pursuits, Swope has worked as a public relations professional for UGI Utilities, Inc., a natural gas and electric utility, for 24 years. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the Communications department at Alvernia University.
He is available to local organizations for presentations on Pleasant Valley Lost. Interested parties can contact Swope at [email protected].