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Berks County > Municipalities > Leesport Borough
House on Water

Leesport is located along the Schuylkill River, about nine miles north of Reading, surrounded by the townships of Bern, Centre, and Ontelaunee.  Transportation and development led to the formation of Leesport, beginning as early as 1745 when a road was surveyed to connect Reading to Maidencreek.  By 1805 a road building company was formed to connect Reading to Sunbury via Maidencreek and Hamburg.  This road became known as the Centre Turnpike and was operated as a toll road from 1812 to 1885.  Today this road is known as the Pottsville Pike, or Route 61.

In 1815 the Schuylkill Navigation Company formed to transport coal, lumber, produce, and other goods from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia by canal and slackwater navigation utilizing water from the Schuylkill River.  Construction of the Schuylkill Canal began this same year with the Leesport section being completed in 1822.  Four locks originally operated at Leesport and attracted small business to the area.  In 1846 the canal was englarged at which time the four locks became two.  These two remained as such until they were covered over in the 1950's.

Philadelphia and Reading Railroad activities in 1835 created the impetus to lay out a town north of Reading that would benefit from the railroad.  A man named Samuel Lee purchased a 75 acre tract of land on the east side of the river with the intention of setting aside building lots for a town, however when the train line was finally built in 1842 it was on the western side of the river.  The village which formed along the tracks became known as West Leesport.  The two villages on each side of the river grew and prospered.

West Leesport was incorporated into a borough of Bern Township in 1901.  Leesport, whose growth was slower, remained a village under the jurisdiction of Ontelaunee Township.  The two were joined together under the official name of Leesport in 1957.

Excerpted from Barbara R. Goda's "Early History",  Leesport Sesquicentennial

To learn more of Leesport's history, the Leesport Sesquicentennial is available for purchase at the Borough Hall. (Hardcover, $30)