East Pennsboro Township has been known for many years as a community that grew up around the Enola Rail Yard. Today, our Township is a bustling and diversified 21st Century community. It is located on the west shore of the Susquehanna River in the suburbs of Pennsylvania’s State Capitol City Harrisburg. East Pennsboro Township combines older and newer residential neighborhoods with outstanding park and recreation facilities, and a vibrant commercial and economic base.
East Pennsboro is the second largest municipality in Cumberland County, with a population approaching 20,000, according to the figures from the 2000 U.S. Census.
In 1998, East Pennsboro Township became the only central Pennsylvania municipality in modern times to successfully implement a voter-approved merger with a neighboring municipality. The merger of the former Borough of West Fairview with East Pennsboro Township was initiated by West Fairview citizens interested in the pursuit of greater cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and improvement in the delivery of local governmental services.
Early settlement and development of the township dates to the 17th Century with the duplicate purchases of land from various indian tribes. The first purchase from the Iroquois in 1696 deeded land on both sides of the Susquehanna River to William Penn for 100 Pounds Stirling. In the early 1700s, substantially the same land was purchased from the Susquehannock Chiefs, the Shawnee, and Delaware Indian tribes. Just to make sure all sales were final, Penn’s sons, in 1736, transacted a fourth purchase accompanied by a complete payment of 500 Pounds. (the equivalent of about 1/2 cent for each 10 acres.
According to the Harris family, the Penns offered the West Shore to John Harris, Sr. for 5,000 pounds. This represented a 4000% mark up in the cost of the land and the sale did not take place. Mr. Harris was too shrewd to pay $1 for two acres of land on the West Shore (within four decades, it was selling for $12 an acre and by 1957 $ 2,000 an acre). The first settlers on the West Shore in 1725 were Scots-Irish. In 1735, the entire Cumberland Valley was divided into Hopewell and Pennsboro Townships. A year later, Pennsboro was divided into West and East Pennsboro Townships with the dividing line through the crossroads of Indian trails where Carlisle was later established. Major development came to East Pennsboro Township in 1905 with the establishment of the Enola Railroad yards. The yards covered 300 acres of land and extended five miles in a north-south direction along the Susquehanna. During World War II, the rail yards consisted of 217 sets of track that handled 10,000 rail cars a day.
Another early industry in the Township near West Fairview was the Harrisburg Nail Works, erected in 1831. At its height, the company produced 6,300 tons of nails annually. West Fairview Park still includes some of the initial foundation of the old mill, which was dismantled in the early 1900s.
In additon to the approximately 20,000 people who have made East Pennsboro Township their home, thousands of residents of nearby communities know East Pennsboro as their place of employment. An estimated 12,000 people work in the Township’s corporate office complex area which is home to many major companies including EDS, Rite Aid Corporation, Highmark (formerly PA Blue Shield), Holy Spirit Hospital, and Gannett-Fleming Engineers.