Founded in 1712

Marietta is situated along the Susquehanna River just north of Route 30 on the western edge of Lancaster County. With more than half of the town designated as a Historic District, the town is known for its rowdy past as a "River Town," its historic architecture, and its present eclectic atmosphere.

Founded by Scot-Irish immigrants, the town started as an American Indian trade outpost in the early 1700s. In 1736, it became known as Anderson's Ferry, named after James Anderson, who ran a river-crossing business.

Like nearby Columbia, Marietta depended upon its early prosperity from processing raw timber that was transported down the Susquehanna. The abundance of lumbar in the 19th Century explains why so many early homes in the area were made of wood-construction. This is unusual since most other buildings in Lancaster County from this period were built with brick or stone.

Because of the importance of the Susquehanna River, businesses sprang up along the banks. As a result, the town took on an elongated configuration. Today, the town is 2 1/2 miles long, but only 1/2 mile wide. In addition, present day Marietta is actually comprised of four distinct settlements: Waterford, New Haven, Moravian Town and Irish Town.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the economy became dominated by the iron-smelting industry thanks to a large deposit of hematite nearby. Located along Route 441 east of the town, many ironmasters' houses are reminders of that time.

In addition to the iron industry, Marietta also manufactured hats, soft drinks, enamel, silk, concrete, shoes, and cigars. By the late 19th Century, the lumbar industry was on the decline and the iron industry faced stiff competition with the growing anthracite coal furnaces. As a result, the town's economy began to slow down.

Moreover, the Susquehanna River which was so essential to the town's growth during the 18th and 19th century is also the reason why the town has retained it historical charm today. In today's society where the automobile and truck has become the chief source of transportation for regional commerce, the city, with it's unique relation to the river, no longer has any advantages to accommodate modern industry.

Further, because of the town's narrow, elongated shape, suburban growth never had the room to grow as in other places across the country.

As a result of the town's 19th century charm, Marietta has grown into a highly appealing place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the rat race. During recent years, the town has became know for the number of quality Bed and Breakfasts, casual and fine dining, antiques stores, art galleries, and numerous small shops.

Return to the Welcome to Lancaster Home Page From Visiting

Share this page: