Safe Harbor Mini-Adventure: Cedar Street

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Location: A short distance east of the pavilion in Safe Harbor Park, find the stone monument and plaque to the original village of Safe Harbor (shown below). 39°56’02.6″N 76°23’01.8″W.

History Brief: In 1846, when construction for the Safe Harbor Iron Works began. Almost overnight, this quiet rural area along the Conestoga transformed into a bustling community with 250 workers and their 500 family members needed somewhere to live. Reeves Abbot & Company solved the housing crisis by building over 70 duplex frame dwellings complete with a system of arrow-straight streets such as Walnut, Cedar, Spring, Griffin, Willow, and Race.

Clue: Find the stone monument and plaque to the original village of Safe Harbor. Record month the plaque was installed.

Find the stone monument and plaque to the original village of Safe Harbor. Record month the plaque was installed.

Rest of the Story: In 1846, Reeves Abbot & Company from Philadelphia selected the Safe Harbor area to build the Safe Harbor Iron Works for the express purpose of manufacturing railroad rails. The location for the industry was ideal for two reasons. First was the discovery of vast amounts of iron ore in the immediate vicinity. The second was the easy access to canals on both the Susquehanna and Conestoga Rivers.

Safe-Harbor Iron [Works, Reeves,] Abbot & Co. Philada.

This quiet rural area along the Conestoga quickly transformed into a bustling community. The 250 workers and their 500 family members needed somewhere to live. Reeves Abbot & Company solved the housing crisis by building over 70 duplex frame dwellings complete with a system of arrow-straight streets such as Walnut, Cedar, Spring, Griffin, Willow, and Race.

These houses were occupied by Irish “puddlers,” the nickname for the men who worked in hot conditions to convert molten pig iron into malleable iron. The Philadelphia company that built the ironworks journeyed to Ireland during its devastating potato famine and had little trouble recruiting puddlers.

Safe Harbor Iron Works Map smaller
Map of Safe Harbor Iron Works 1880.

While most homes are gone today (a few remain on Main Street, formerly known as Willow Street), scores of indentations from the buildings’ foundations are still visible. The duplexes shared a central chimney used for heating and cooking by families on both sides of the house.

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Indentations like these indicate the location of former Safe Harbor duplexes.

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