The major event that changed Rockhill Township and later Perkasie was the North Pennsylvania Railroad’s Landis Ridge train tunnel project, which began in 1853. The tunnel was the longest in eastern Pennsylvania at 2,170 feet. The project made direct railroad traffic easier from Philadelphia to the coal-mining regions of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. However, when the tunnel officially opened for business in Rockhill Township in January 1857, the North Pennsylvania Railroad already had financial woes due to the costs of its ambitious plans.
The Landis Ridge tunnel was one of two tunnels built by the railroad. The railroad extended part of its service from Philadelphia to Bethlehem to capitalize on the coal trade in Northeast Pennsylvania.
The coal business and its connection to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was a critical factor in Perkasie Borough’s early growth. In May 1879, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad acquired a long-term lease of the North Pennsylvania Railroad’s tracks from Philadelphia through the Lehigh Valley, and the line between Philadelphia and Bethle-hem was renamed as the Bethlehem Branch. Soon, the railroad played a more important role as the cigar industry’s main transportation backbone that dominated life in Perkasie for several decades.