"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
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
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."