For many Midstate motorists, the borough of Highspire is that little place on the way to somewhere else. But this year, that little place is celebrating a big birthday. Number 200.
Highspire’s official layout began 1814, but the region making up Highspire dates back to America’s fight for independence, when farming and flour mills flourished. Through the years, many businesses have come and gone, but Highspire’s most significant industry was a whiskey distillery launched in 1832 by Irish immigrant Robert Wilson.
“That whiskey put Highspire on the map, so to speak,” said seventh generation Highspire native Don Ruth. “It became a very famous whiskey around the world.”
To commemorate the borough’s milestone celebration, a bicentennial book was published highlighting the people, places and events that shaped the community’s history. Ruth remembers his hometown as a great place to grow up.
“It was a working class community in the 50s and 60s,” said Ruth. “A time when the working class in America was doing fairly well.”
Today, Robert Wilson’s original residence on Second street serves as headquarters for the Highspire Historical Society. Debbie Whittle grew up in that home and is glad to see it preserved.
“It’s a happier place now that It can be shared with people,” she said. “I like that.”
The year-long bicentennial celebration kicks off with a Walking History, House and Garden Tour on Saturday, June 7, from 3 to 8 pm, with a car show, choral concert and parade scheduled in the fall. Details on all bicentennial events can be found at www.highspire2014.org.