“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Milton in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Rotary Centennial Park

The Port of Milton

Rotary Centennial Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, August 22, 2015
1. Rotary Centennial Park Marker
Inscription. The lower Limestone Run area of Milton, bordered by Broadway, Front, Mahoning, and Filbert Streets, had already begun to develop mostly as an industrial and business area in the early 1800's. While the east side of Front Street was mostly occupied by merchants, the opposite side of the street which was along the riverbank, was mostly log buildings serving as granaries and warehouses. With landing docks, the merchants and manufacturers were able to transport their goods to and from markets.

Until the West Branch Canal was built in 1830, the primary means of moving large cargoes was on the Susquehanna River. Rafts, flat-boats, arks, and other varieties of river craft were loaded at the public wharves of "The Port of Milton" with cargoes of grain, whiskey, and other products on the way to Baltimore and other southern points. Several boat building works were soon in operation in Milton.

Sails were first used to aid in propelling boats on the river. Steamboat navigation was first attempted in 1826, when the "Codours, constructed at Baltimore made its maiden trip up the West Branch of the river past Milton onto Williamsport and returned to Northumberland. A larger steamboat, the Susquehanna, attempted a trip up the North Branch and exploded in the Nescopeck rapids, discouraging any further attempts to navigate the river with steamboats.


Gov. James Pollock Memorial Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, August 22, 2015
2. Gov. James Pollock Memorial Bridge
of the first attempts to propel a boat by screw type blade, instead of the older paddle wheel, was in the river at Milton by the inventor John Patton, in 1830. This demonstration unfortunately, was not a success, and many of the spectators lining the shore scoffed at "Patton's Folly." One of the spectators, however, did not the think the experiment was so humorous. The inventor observed enough of Patton's idea to be able to make the screw propeller workable at a later date.

The spectator was Swedish-American John Ericsson, who in 1844 successfully demonstrated the propeller he made on the Warship Princeton. He won fame for his design and construction of the U.S.S. Monitor in 1862 that battled the Merimack during the Civil War.

At the time Milton was laid out, the southernmost street, Ferry Lane, was so named because of its location at the eastern dock of the ferry that crossed the Susquehanna to the western shore south of West Milton. In later years, another ferry was located at the northern end of Milton, at the end of a lane connecting to North Front Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets. Both ferries operated for many years after the construction of the first bridge between Milton and West Milton.

The first span to be built across the Susquehanna at Milton was begun in 1830. It was financed by a bridge company incorporated by the state legislature and composed

Rotary Centennial Park Marker on right image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, August 22, 2015
3. Rotary Centennial Park Marker on right
of stockholders from Milton and the vicinity.

The wooden truss covered bridge, which allowed two-way traffic, was built in three sections and was located on the same site as the present bridge. Completed in 1833, it was constructed by Abraham and Isaac Straub at the cost of $22,000. Users of the bridge were assessed a small toll.

Several bridge structures were built over the Susquehanna River between Milton and West Milton through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Floods destroyed the first two bridges, while the next two were replaced due to age and inadequate capacity. The most recent bridge is the Gov. James Pollock Memorial Bridge, built in the late 1980's

Above - the river was not only used for commercial traffic, but was also an attraction for leisurely travel as can be seen by this flat-bottom houseboat.
Right - early 1900's, the third of five bridges to cross the river between Milton and West Milton.

The Governor James Pollock Memorial Bridge
The bridge was completed in 1988 at a cost of more than $7,000,000. I was built along side the previous one with the intention being to demolish the old bridge after the new one opened, however, the construction process eroded the foundation of the old bridge's fourth pier and one of the 125-foot steel spans of the 67-year-old bridge collapsed.

The event, which occurred on March 27, 1987, drew great attention because of the heroic efforts of Rodney Finan and John Yingling, who came upon the site and noticed the appearance of the structure. Finan was on the West Milton side and Yingling on the Milton side. Just as the two turned to halt traffic from either direction, the structure collapsed. Fortunately, no one was injured in the mishap.
Above - as viewed from the island, the Pollock bridge under construction on the right with the previous bridge to the left, after the fourth pier collapsed.
Right - Rodney Finan, on the left and John Yingling, on the right during the opening celebration of the Gov. James Pollock Memorial Bridge.
Location. 41° 1.003′ N, 76° 51.412′ W. Marker is in Milton, Pennsylvania, in Northumberland County. Marker is at the intersection of S. Front Street and Mahoning Street on S. Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Milton PA 17847, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Rotary Centennial Park (a few steps from this marker); On This Site Stood the Second Stone House in Milton (within shouting distance of this marker); Riverside Park (approx. mile away); Welcome to Lincoln Park (approx. mile away); Adult Baseball, Softball, and Basketball Programs (approx. mile away); Milton's Early Park and Recreation Programs (approx. mile away); The Turbot Hills Golf Club (approx. mile away); The Milton Fair (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Milton.
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsWaterways & Vessels

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 148 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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