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From "The Annals of Harrisburg" by George Morgan

THE EASTERN SWAMP
 
     Among the remarkable changes in the appearance of the borough within the memory of the present generation, is that which has been made on its eastern border.
     The compiler distinctly remembers when the site of the present handsome depot of the Harrisburg and Lancaster railroad was occupied by a board-yard, owned, we think, by David Lingle, Sr.  The ground in its vicinity was exceedingly swampy, which made it a favorite place of resort for idle school boys, who would find a great source of amusement in pelting bull-frogs and snapping turtles, which abounded there.
     At this time, and until about fifteen years ago, the land laying between the Harrisburg and Lancaster railroad and Second streets, as far north as the east end of Rasberry alley, was covered with a sheet of stagnant water.  Along its southern edge, fronting on Second street, was a long row of lusty willow trees, whose branches in the spring of the year were much sought after by the boys to make "whistles" with.
     In the winter time this pond was a famous skating place; and we have often seen hundreds of people taking their holiday and pleasure upon it's frozen surface.  Groups of ladies would not unfrequently assemble on the bank at Second street, watching the gay and animating scene before them.
     Upon one occasion a lady, we believe from the State of Connecticut, made her appearance on the frozen pond with a pair of skates, which a companion buckled to her feet, and in a few moments, without the aid of gentle or simple, she arose to an erect posture, and floated off like a swan.  She was a fine skater, and the people watched with pleasure the grace and freedom and beauty of her movements.  So admirable a person, of so exquisite a figure, and such perfect art in her evolutions, seemed to marry motion to music, beauty and poetry, and indeed to embody and represent them all.  Away she would sweep through lines of human beings, making  dense masses separate to let her pass, and attracting all eyes after her.
     Among the male skaters who at all times were discernible as being decidedly superior to the rest for dexterity, power and grace, were, within our recollection, Messrs. Peter Weaver, Alex. Hamilton, John Lingle, E.S.German, C. Alward, Amos Cleckner, John Martin, David J. Krause, not forgetting, by the way, Jim Battis, a mulatto, who, from his muscle and powerful movements, might have sprang, as did the noble moor, from "men of royal seige."  In swiftness he had no competitor;  he outstripped the wind; and his actions were very imposing in appearance and effect.  Of the gentlemen previously names, Mr. Weaver took the lead in graceful skating, and in superior dexterity in cutting "high dutch" within a limited space of smooth ice.
      The compiler also recollects seeing the remains of "Maclay's swamp," noticed previously, between Third and Second streets, and North and South streets.  This was also a favorite place for skaters in winter time, especially that part of it below State street, as the wing walls of the arch over which said street passed the swamp, formed a comfortable barrier against the rude "nor'westers."

 

 

 

 

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