About The Author
By J. Michael Morrison
Born 65 miles northwest of Manhattan in Middletown, NY, nestled in the picturesque Hudson River Valley, Michael Shaw gained a unique perspective of history from an early age. Both of his parents are former educators, his mother remedial instructor, and his father at varying times a math and a history teacher. They always appreciated and helped nurture Michael’s sense of curiosity about old abandoned places. Empty buildings, derelict railroad tracks, even a road to seemingly nowhere would always peak his curiosity, and tangible evidence that there was once something there would always send him down the proverbial rabbit hole of discovery.
Middletown was a railroad town, but Michael was never a rail fan. His interest developed from the nostalgia of the railroads themselves, as a fascinating part of Americana.
Higher education found Michael at Ithaca College, where he majored in history. He remembers several professors there who impressed upon him that the study of history is much more than just the memorization of dates. “Do the research,” they would tell him, “and then tell the story.”
After college, Michael settled in Bucks County, PA for a time, and moved to King of Prussia on Labor Day weekend in 1994, becoming part of the thriving hospitality industry. He met his wife Dana in 1999, a graduate of Cabrini College in Radnor, and a native of Abington. They continue to live in Upper Merion Township today.
Back in 2011 while out walking with a friend, the abundance of railroads in the township once again stirred his curiosity, as many working and abandoned railways were discovered. This once again opened the “Pandora’s Box” in him, and Michael was off and running to find out more about the influence of the many rail systems of the township. Soon realizing that there was no solid single source of information on the subject, he decided to document the story himself, and the idea for “The Railroads Of King of Prussia, PA: The Past Leads to the Future,” was born.
Through exhaustive research in libraries, historical societies, and museums, along with countless hours of fieldwork, Michael gained a unique perspective as to the influence of the railroads in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and began writing about what he found. He was driven by a set of principles learned early on. He learned to always document his facts so as to keep his research honest, to confirm his research by recording its sources, and to always get permission to use a document, photograph or a story.
The book is dedicated to his wife Dana, and has been endorsed by the King of Prussia Historical Society for its accuracy in telling this story of our rich local history.
|About J. Michael MorrisonJ. Michael Morrison, 62, is a native of King of Prussia. His keen interest in local history comes honestly; his grandparents settled there in the 1920’s, opening an Antique Shop & General Store, and running the Post Office. He grew up learning the family business and studying local history at an early age.
A 1974 graduate of Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, Morrison is currently involved in kitchen, bathroom, and architectural interior design. His background in Historic Restoration and Architectural Design has given him a unique perspective as it relates to the identification of historic locations long since lost to progress. After the success of his first book, Images of America, He was eager to take on the project of presenting King of Prussia as it once was, and to contrast it to what we see today; a town that hosts over a million visitors a year. Then and Now takes an in-depth look at where things were, and where they have gone. His third book, Upper Merion Township: The First 300 Years, will be released in time for the Upper Merion Township Tricentennial in 2013.
After college, he spent nearly ten years in the hospitality industry, primarily in restaurant management.
His most recent project is Upper Merion Today, an online news outlet to keep local residents informed about what is going on in the area, as well as featuring restaurant reviews, an editorial blog, recipes, a general store, with a little taste of history thrown in. He also acts as a consultant to homeowners and builders in the field of historic restoration, and has personally assisted in the completion of two farmhouse restorations in Chester County, PA.
Morrison is the President of The King of Prussia Historical Society, President of the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, member of the Upper Merion Park and Historic Foundation, member in good standing of The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Life Member of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He is also a lifetime member of the Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges.
He is active in his community and when not writing or designing is a volunteer with the Tricentennial Committee for Upper Merion Township, writer for the King of Prussia Business District and Upper Merion Today.com, and a keynote speaker at local businesses and other organizations.
He hopes that his works will inspire others to take an interest in our past, and help preserve what little is left of our local heritage.