28 March 2013

Those Places Thursday: Middletown

Middletown was found in 1755. It is Dauphin County’s oldest community. Originally inhabited by the Conoy and Ganawese Indians, the Scotch-Irish were the first white settlers. These early settlers, being of the Presbyterian faith, fled Scotland to avoid persecution. They fled to Ireland but, not wanting to live under an Irish Catholic rule, they soon migrated to America and made their way to Middletown along the Susquehanna River.

Laid out in 1755 by Quaker George Fisher, Middletown served as a port where the Pennsylvania and Union Canals joined. This ideal location gave growth to flour, iron and lumber industries.

The town served its young country well during the Revolution. Middletown served as a supply depot for the Revolutionary Armies. General Sullivan's boats were built here. Local farms provisioned his troops. The Swatara Ferry House (Old Fort) is reported to have housed Hessian prisoners.

As with any older town, Middletown went through changes through the years. The Scotch-Irish traveled West and German immigrants moved in. People have changed over the years, many leaving their mark on the small community. Businesses have opened and closed. Wars have been fought and soldiers have left Middletown to stand up. Presidents have visited the community.

Like most communities, Middletown has one infamous story that just will not go away.

On 28 March 1979 - 34 years ago today - Middletown and the world watched and waited in horror and confusion as radioactive steam leaked from Three Mile Island . A series of events occurred causing what has become known as the worst nuclear accident in US history.

NOTE: Photos are from Ebay.

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