Queen of the Valley Diner

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The Queen of the Valley Diner was opened in 1954 at 1730 Penn Avenue in Wyomissing Hills, and sat just down from the old Iron Bridge that crossed the railroad. It was opened and first operated by a man named Clyde F. Snyder. Later it was bought by Charles and Gloria Schwambach. The Schwambach’s later owned the Hitching Post Restaurant, also on Penn Avenue but further down in West Lawn, and then Schwambach’s Diner on Route 61 in Temple.

Photo taken in the 1950s by Mary Steiner Grant, courtesy of Bill Stogner

The diner was named after a famous locomotive that ran between Jersey City, New Jersey and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The train, which served as a passenger and mail carrier, began runs in 1911 and was operating six days a week by the 1930s. The Queen of the Valley passed right behind the diner on the Reading Railroad’s Lebanon Valley line out to its final destination in Harrisburg. By the 1960s the route was shortened from Allentown through Reading to Harrisburg. It was ran daily until it was terminated in 1967.

Queen of the Valley Diner

The Queen of the Valley suffered a fire in July of 1959 after being struck by a lightning bolt. It had to be completely rebuilt and the damage of the fire was estimated to be $80,000.

Queen of the Valley Diner

The Queen of the Valley Diner was sold by the Schwambach’s in 1972 when the land it sat on was taken by eminent domain by PennDot. The proposed highway construction plan was to connect 422/Penn Ave all the way to the Warren street bypass. At this time, the Schwambach’s opened the Hitching Post Restaurant in the Springmont section of West Lawn. The buyer, Edward Pusknik, claimed to have purchased the diner for a friend who was looking to buy one. The “friend” was away in Europe and Pushnik only had about a week to move the structure before the state needed it gone. I can find no record of if the structure was actually moved, or where it ended up.

September 25th, 1972 Reading Eagle
Queen of the Valley Diner
pictured in the 1960s, after fire rebuild

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Bob
Bob
6 years ago

Thank you for posting this. My parents took me there to eat often during the ’60’s. I too have been unsuccessful in finding any references to it online.

Kathleen C. Guenther
Kathleen C. Guenther
6 years ago

Spent so many days in the diner with the girls or the Kent Club..

MAX ROBITZER
MAX ROBITZER
6 years ago

“The Queen” was always busy….and “the” place to go !

Mike M
Mike M
6 years ago

I grew up in West Lawn. My grandmother was the hostess/cashier there for many years including the time of the fire. I remember the one cook’s name was Bill. I was only about 8 when it burned and to this day I remember the smell after the fire!

David Procter
David Procter
5 years ago

The Queen of the Valley (named for the daily train that ran from Jersey City to Harrisburg) was managed by a silver-haired lady named Alice (Mike M.’s grandmother?). I don’t know who owned it before Chuck Schwambach bought it in 1959. We lived not too far from the Iron Bridge and we regularly walked the tracks to the “Queen” to hang out for a while – late 1950s and early 1960s.

Richard S
Richard S
3 months ago
Reply to  David Procter

Alice had her hands full on Friday nights in 1962 . all the local kids came in to hang out . they put a dollar in their gas tanks and saved distance it’s or so for French fries and gravy . Alice , who I remember more as a well made up bleached blond than a grey haired lady had a twin sister who managed a diner out in Muhlenberg Twp

Dave Clements
Dave Clements
4 years ago

They had the best hot roast beef sandwiches.

trackback

[…] was opened and originally owned by Charles Schwambach, who also owned the Queen of the Valley Diner, located east up Penn Avenue by the old Iron […]

Paul MILLER
Paul MILLER
4 years ago

This mentions about the highway changes removing the diner. For interest and memories, as part of the changes, additional demolition included Worley’s Lumber Yard, Penn Iron Works, Esterly’s car lot, Best Brother’s Paints (with the large paint can on the roof), a gas station, Weber’s Deerskin, a house or two, the Wyomissing Hills bus stop building, Schell’s drive in restaurant, a laundromat, a bank next to Victor’s Cafe and an auto repair garage (formerly a DeSoto dealership). A lot of memories.

Sandra Esterly Ruffner
Sandra Esterly Ruffner
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul MILLER

Hi Paul. I’m Sandy Esterly Ruffner. My dad was Jack Esterly-owner of the car lot. My uncle Carl Esterly had a gas station across the street from my dad’s car lot. I was wondering if you have any pictures with the car lot in it? My niece is researching my family’s history. If you do, please let me know. Thank you.

David Procter
David Procter
2 years ago

I knew that area well. The only gas station I can think of is Steffy’s Atlantic gasoline station on the north east corner of Hillside Road and Penn Avenue. There was a car lot across the road, but I don’t know if that is the one you are talking about.

David Procter
David Procter
2 years ago
Reply to  David Procter

A friend told me that there was a City Service station in that area. Next to Steffy’s Atlantic? I don’t remember it. Any photos of this area?

dick keiser
dick keiser
2 years ago
Reply to  David Procter

Joe’s Amoco was on the same side of the street as the queen of the valley diner — there for years — also demolished

Joni Boland
Joni Boland
9 months ago
  1. Hi Sandra. My dad (Chuck Schwambach) was very good friends with your dad Jack. My dad and I would stop in to see him sometimes at the car lot, when I was younger. My dad owned the Queen of the Valley Diner and your sister Karen worked there. We also new your uncle. They would come into the Hitching Post a lot, which my parents owned. Your dads car lot was not across the street from your uncle. It was down further, where you get on the bypass near where the Queen of the Valley diner was. My dad sold your dad some land with a barn, where we boarded our horses for a while. Our parents went out to dinner sometimes and your parents came to our house. I probably do have a pic somewhere of the lot, because my dad loved to take pictures’. I will see if I can find one for you. There was also a car dealer on the other side of the street near the diner. The owner was Tom Shapel.(spelling) He sold foreign sport cars. .
David Procter
David Procter
4 years ago

The area was my playground. We lived across the road from Worley’s Lumber at 1612 Penn Avenue – that was the Penn Avenue spur. The Delta Apartments were there, too. I would just cross the tracks to get to the various businesses. I spent some of my youth in those years looking around Worley’s store – so much time, that the cashiers started giving me a 15% discount. I was in my early teens. I was familiar with the Penn Iron Works next to Worley’s, and we bought paint at Best Brothers. One thing about Victor’s Cafe: They made the best cheesesteaks in the area – and this was a few years later; I was twenty-three years old before I went to Victor’s. Good memories. A few of us used to play under the Iron Bridge, too.

trackback

[…] In West Wyomissing, there used to be a pedestrian footbridge that connected Morwood Avenue to Penn Avenue. It was built by the Reading Railroad to help commuters who lived in West Wyo to get to the trolly lines on Penn Ave easily. A nearby establishment was Queen of the Valley Diner. […]

Joni Boland
Joni Boland
9 months ago

Alice was the original owner. My father and mother Chuck and Joan Schwambach bought the diner from Alice in 1967. You might remember all of the Elvis pictures on the wall when Alice owned it. My parents changed the decor. Dick Hinnershitz and Petro were the main cooks. My dad would always buy fresh fruits and vegetables that were in season. They had home cooked meals for unbelievable low prices. I still have the menu. When they tore down the diner my parents bought the Imperial Club.and called it the Hitching Post. They built two sides. One was an upscale diner and the Tally Ho room was fine dining. They would have old time bands play in the Tally Ho room. I hope I answered some of the questions

David Richard Procter
David Richard Procter
9 months ago
Reply to  Joni Boland

Just had a question about Alice whom I remember quite well. A silver-haired and soft-spoken lady, she was very pleasant to us all even though we were hell-raising teens!


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