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Middletown Borough

Middletown Borough Hall is located at 60 West Emmaus Street, Middletown PA 17057; phone: 717-948-3051.

Middletown Borough has a number of historic properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include:

First settled around 1755 with a town being laid out by George Fishe, Middletown was incorporated in 1828 from Lower Swatara Township.

Beginnings [1]

Situated at the mouth of the Swatara creek, was called by the Indians who had a village there "Swahadowry." The name Middletown was given it because of it being midway between Carlisle and Lancaster. It is a delightful place of residence, and its business and financial interests are creditably represented. It was laid out in 1755, by George Fisher, who inherited the land from his father, a Philadelphia merchant. It soon grew into prominence as a harbor for river boats and place of exchange. In 1779, during one of the Indian wars, the small boats, or batteaux used by General Sullivan's army were built here. Until the year 1794, when John Kreider first ran the Conewago Falls, Middletown, sometimes called Portsmouth, was considered the head of navigation, but after that period rafts and arks were piloted through to Baltimore with safety and greater profits. The town has suffered many fluctuations of fortune, due largely to the public improvements made by the State, and which directly concerned its prosperity by reason of its location at the junction of the Union and Pennsylvania canals, and the building of the railroad by way of Mount Joy, abandoning to a great extent, the re-shipping of freight to Columbia by the river route. The Union canal long since abandoned, was projected in 1763 and completed in 1827, and was the first of all public improvements. William Penn is said to have visited the Swatara village in 1701, intending to proceed on up the Susquehanna, but was prevented by the prevalence of some disease, supposed to be small-pox, then epidemic at certain points. Francis Cumming, in 1807, stopped over night in Middletown, at the General Washington Inn, kept by the widow Wentz. He was evidently delighted with the treatment received and the landlady as well. He describes the view down the river, from the porch of the inn, as very fine and the river as a noble stream. He tells of the plentifulness of rock fish, perch, mullet, eels, suckers, catfish, and white salmon, but says " the inhabitants are too lazy to do anything except that which will give them money, and that is used to procure whiskey." The first steel made in America was produced here in 1796, from the furnace of Daniel and Thomas Stubbs. The completion of the Harrisburg, Portsmouth and Mount Joy railroad in 1836, was an event celebrated here with considerable pomp and enthusiasm, a "special train" with cars containing eighteen persons each, being run from Harrisburg.

One of the oldest churches in the country is still standing, though not used for congregational purposes. Old St. Peter's Lutheran church was built in 1767, and stands in the midst of the old graveyard, where repose the ashes of the early settlers. The interior is in a fair state of preservation.

  1. Gray, Zenas J., ed. Prose and Poetry of the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers, 1893, Harrisburg Publishing Co,, Harrisburg, PA
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