horizontal banner with Preserve America logo and images of a historic downtown, farm, courthouse, and mountain

Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

The seal of the President of the United StatesAdvisory Council on Historic Preservation logoU.S. Department of the Interior sealU.S. Department of Commerce seal
U.S. Department of Agriculture logo
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development logo










Preserve America Community:
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Harrisburg (population 48,950), the capital of Pennsylvania, is located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River in south central Pennsylvania. Harrisburg’s identity is closely linked to the Susquehanna. As early as 1710, Englishman John Harris established his trading post and ferry service here. The site he chose was where long-established paths used by the Shawnee and Delaware tribes converged at a river crossing.

In 1785, John Harris, Jr. and William Maclay, Pennsylvania’s first U.S. Senator, planned a village just north of that very crossing. Four acres of land were set aside for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in hopes of creating a new state capital. By 1810, the state legislature, recognizing the community’s growth and central location, had approved moving the state capital from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

As the community grew, ferry activity was replaced in 1817 by the first of many bridges to span the Susquehanna at Harrisburg, thus opening trade to the west. During the Civil War, Camp Curtin (named after Pennsylvania’s wartime governor) was established at Harrisburg. Throughout the war, more troops were mustered into service at Camp Curtin than at any other facility in the Union or Confederacy. Harrisburg’s importance in the war is recognized to this day, as it is the location of the National Civil War Museum.

Harrisburg, along with several other Pennsylvania communities, is participating in the “Pennsylvania Civil War Trails: Prelude to Gettysburg” project. The goal of the project is to link together and share the rich history of the many Pennsylvania communities affected by the Civil War for the benefit of local residents, as well as regional, national, and international visitors.

For more information

National Civil War Museum: www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org

Pennsylvania Civil War Trails: Prelude to Gettysburg: www.PACivilWarTrails.com

History of Harrisburg: www.phmc.state.pa.us/ppet/harrisburg/page1.asp?secid=31

Posted March 16, 2009

Return to Top