Written by: Barbara Barksdale
We went from being a town called Baldwin to the Borough of Steelton, one hundred and forty years ago this month. An application for the corporation was done on September 5, 1879, with Grand Jury filings which lead to the certificate acknowledgement on January 16, 1880. The Deposition document was filed January 19, 1880 and the town was incorporated into a Borough. The final candle on the cake was having it recorded in the Dauphin County Court House located in Harrisburg, Pa in Charter Book “B” on January 26, A.D. 1880.
The name changed and the Borough Council started adding extensions over the next ten years.
The first extension was the land on the upper west side starting at the Harrisburg Pike (Front Street) to the bank of the Susquehanna River. This parcel of land was the village of Ewington4 which was incorporated into Steelton in 1881.
Cottage Hill extension along with an area near the canal towards Highspire was also added. Afterwards Cameron Plot extension (at the edge of Cameron Street) was decreed to be added to the land of the Borough, this extension included the North Second Street area. The fourth extension was in the area of Mohn Street towards Chambers Street. By 1888 the land owned by
H. A. Kelker was then added as the fifth extension to the Borough, which is the land from
Fourth Street to Harrisburg Street.
The sixth extension (Columbia and Lebanon Streets area) was added in January of 1888. Steelton continued to grow with parcels of land here and there as the population of the area continued to rise.
The Borough has seen a lot of changes over the years…good and bad. Oil lamps slowly were extinguished as the flow electricity pulsed through the wires, trolley cars were removed from the tracks to buses stopping at the corner to let you on and off at the stops, street lights glow in the dark instead of gas lamps. We have stop lights to control the traffic. No longer do we have people getting run down by the runaway buggy or the Model T Ford rushing down Highland Hill landing in the Pennsylvania Canal. We now have cars that grace the streets of Steelton and can stop on a dime. Gone is the storefront churches that started in the 1880’s to the solid long life of the area churches which still opens its doors to welcome those seeking a greater power than their own.
The acquisition of land brought the opportunity for the expansion of homes…homes meant more people…more people meant more stores, businesses and restaurants. It also meant that the Borough was thriving. A large part of the growth was because of the Steel Mill, the old Quarry and Brickyard that employed many of the residents. Most of the establishments were here when it was Baldwin and continued with the incorporation of the Borough. This growth brought jobs, steady income and welcomed the immigrants coming from all parts of the world.
The Ewington property was a part of Swatara Township and came with a school system already in place. Baldwin had several wooden school houses and as the Borough of Steelton council took over they added more schools to accommodate all the students of the Borough.
The Borough community has helped to produce awesome people of all races with a wonderful sense of pride. Those that lived here or still live here and invested in the Borough would have something positive to say that would far outreach the negative.
Hopefully you will take the time to say hello to a stranger, visit one of the many churches in the Borough, stop by to get some tasty food from the various eateries and have your moment of gratefulness while reflecting on the history of the town. Don’t forget the history of those who walked before you! Stop by the historic Midland Cemetery, Baldwin Cemetery and the William Howard Day Cemetery to visit an ancestor or feel the spirit of those who paved a way for you. Steelton, you have come a long way from a small American town to a Borough. One hundred and forty years may have weathered you but you still have a lot to offer.
Happy blessed 140th birthday Borough of Steelton