East Pennsboro Historical Society Keeps History Alive
Keeping History Alive at the East Pennsboro Township Historical Society
Few cars pass by the small building tucked away on a tidy corner at 410 Cherry Street in East Pennsboro Township and it’s possible that even fewer residents are aware that the structure even exists. Certainly the foot traffic has diminished since the days when it was known to residents as the West Fairview Borough Building, but a faithful group of volunteers make a regular pilgrimage to the site now known as the East Pennsboro Historical Society. It’s their way of keeping history alive.
Founded in 1999 by East Pennsboro township resident Herb Kruger, the all-volunteer, historical organization houses artifacts and relics of a bygone era. Kruger passed away in 2007, but his work lives on in the non-profit. Today Executive Director Jim Leonard runs the show and you could say it’s in his blood as he launches into a history of the Enola yards and the subsequent founding of the township.
“In 1903, the Rockville Bridge was completed and there was so much traffic that the yards in Marysville and Harrisburg couldn’t handle all the coal business. The Pennsylvania Railroad, realizing this, surveyed the area and founded Enola Realty Company to build a town to house the workers,” said Leonard, who retired from the railroad and whose father and grandfather also worked on the rails. “From World War II through the 1950s, Enola had the largest classification yard in the world,” he said.
A few years ago, the Historical Society was given a facelift, of sorts, to better show off its extensive collection of railroad artifacts, which are housed with other relics of the era in well-lit, glass display cases. The collection of artifacts is often rotated, so you’re likely to see different items every few months, often based on a theme.
Leonard’s goal is to increase the visibility of the organization, which currently touts approximately 500 members. “We’d like more people to get involved in educating our children about the history of the community. Teachers can bring kids here on a small group tour bus to learn about their heritage,” he said. Every year the historical society gives away a $1,000 Herb Kruger memorial scholarship, which is open to any member of the historical society or their child, grandchild, nephew, niece, brother, or sister, who will be attending college. “In this day and age, we’re surprised we haven’t seen more interest in it,” said Leonard.
In addition to seeking increased visibility and membership, the society also needs volunteers and always welcomes artifact donations.
For those interested in joining the East Pennsboro Township Historical Society, costs are $10 for an individual membership and $20 for a family membership, which includes an invitation to their bi-annual dinners and two seasonal newsletters.