Thursday, February 1, 2018

Marcus Hook Quarantine Station Operation 120 years ago

The dock of the Quarantine Station at Marcus Hook about 1905. Several large Victorian houses also made up the almost 20 acre site.

Note: From 1801 when it opened at the "Lazaretto" in Tinicum Twp. till it closed in 1895 the Quarantine Station was a subject of constant turmoil. The main point being it did not protect Marcus Hook and the city of Chester. In late 1895 it opened in Marcus Hook and stayed there till the late 1940's. A description below


Marcus Hook Quarantine Station

                IMPORTANT IMPROVEMENTS – During the past year great improvements have been made at the boarding station at Marcus Hook and the Times is indebted to Dr. J.L. Forwood of this city, who is a member of the State Quarantine Board, for the interesting facts contained in this article.  The boarding station has, in fact, been made a complete quarantine, with all modern and scientific improvements.  The property has been purchased, which includes eighteen acres of land on the river edge with four beautiful buildings for housing the officials and the administration building, two barns, barracks for the accommodations of 500 persons, a hospital, complete disinfecting plant and crematory.
                The hospital for infectious diseases has twenty-five beds, with other accommodations for sleeping purposes and caring for persons including seventy beds adjoining a disinfectant plant, 100 beds and cots in the administration building and 100 tents, so that the accommodations will provide sleep and care 600 persons at one time.
                For the boarding of vessels there is an ample and commodious wharf, with a steam launch.  The quarantine regulations at the present time differ very much from what they did a few years ago.   Under the regulations all steamers coming from south of Florida are required to be fumigated and all vessels going outward to points beyond the United States are required to submit to the same rules.
                Whenever a steamer has a suspect on board or has come from an infected port and had disease on board, all officers, men and passengers are required to land at Marcus Hook, the steamer fumigated and a similar treatment of the clothing worn by those who come on shore.  For this purpose the modern disinfecting plant has been erected.  A person goes into the bathroom stripped of his clothing, has a shower bath, a disinfecting bath of a solution of 4 per cent of carbolic acid.  In the meantime his clothing is disinfected by being placed in a wire crate, along with all others, tied in a bundle and marked.  This large wire crate, resting on a sliding track, is pushed into a large iron cylinder, with a steam tight door closed and is kept under steam pressure for one hour.  Then the steam is allowed to escape, the air to enter and the heat of the cylinder in a few minutes dries the clothing they come out dry and are put on again by the persons in the bath.  This process can be conducted with remarkable rapidity.
                The steamers, the Grayfield and Helga, of the Earn Line, were disinfected last week, their passengers, officers, and men being handled on shore.  Seventy persons and their effects were disinfected and fumigated in four hours.
                A BUSY PLACE – To give the public some idea of the work done at this station and the wonderful and growing commerce of Philadelphia, the Times herewith appends the official reports to the Quarantine Board for the months of July and August 1901:
                For the month of July, 1901 – Number of vessels inspected and passed, 145; vessels spoken and passed, 7; vessels detained for observation, 1; passengers inspected and passed, 1540; officers and inspected and passed, 1540; officers and men inspected and passed, 3675; officers and men detained for observation, 41; total number of persons examined detained, etc., 556; number of medical and surgical cases examined and treated, 46.
                For month of August, 1901 – Number of vessels inspected and passed, 146; vessels spoken and passed, 6; vessels detained for observation, 3; vessels detained for disinfection, 2; passengers inspected and passed, 1966; officers and men inspected and passed, 3810; officers and men detained for observation, 99; officers and men detained for disinfection, 44; total number of persons examined, detained, etc., 6019; number of medical cases examined and treated, 234; surgical cases examined and treated, 23.
                It must not be supposed that with its large capacity and efficiency, is intended or is used for the purpose of treating contagious diseases.   It is simply for a boarding and disinfecting station, an accommodation in barracks and hospital for sleeping and for the care of those who may be ill at the time.  The hospital for the treatment of the sick is on Reedy Island and far away from the danger of any population here.
                As will be seen by the above reports and as has been stated, the requirements of the present quarantine laws require that the efficiency of a boarding station shall be ample and be handled by men who are thoroughly posted and competent to do so in the direction of the advancement of modern science.  In this connection it may be said that the Deputy Quarantine physicians.  Drs. J.M.B. Ward and L.T. Kennedy are the right men in the right place and that Delaware County is fortunate in having such an efficient representative as Dr. J.L. Forwood on the State Quarantine Board.
                CAREFUL PRECAUTIONS – Previously, and still at almost all stations, the boarding of vessels is done from sunrise to sunset.  It is the quarantine regulations all over the world.  In order to further the commercial interests of Philadelphia, the Marcus Hook station officials board night and day, so that no steamer is delayed and if fumigation is required, through the efficiency of the service it is the matter of but a few hours.
                The large number of steamers boarded 145 in July and 146 in August indicates the growing commerce of the cities of Philadelphia and Chester and the great amount of business done at the station just below this city.  These figures, taken from the official reports, which is the only correct way of knowing, shows that the commerce to the Quaker City has doubled in the past year.  This has given great satisfaction to the Commercial Exchange of Philadelphia and has placed in the hands of the Marcus Hook officials nearly all the fumigation of their respective lines coming into the Delaware River.
                There is a telegraph station on the grounds at Marcus Hook, an operator constantly in service and when a vessel passes the Breakwater the station is immediately notified as to what character of vessel she is, whether fumigation is required and about the time she will arrive at Marcus Hook. The disinfecting plant for steamers or incoming vessels is on the quarantine boat and it is very gratifying to know that recently there was obtained an appropriation which will enable the quarantine officials to build a new and modern floating disinfecting plant.  The advantage of this will be that when it is towed alongside it will relieve the visiting boat.  All in all, the station at Marcus Hook is now equipped with modern and scientific methods that are not surpassed by any boarding station in the country, the only one surpassing it, and that by a very small margin, being the station at New York.

The Marple Historical Society
The 1696 Thomas Massey House
Eileen Fresta
Speaking on
The History of Cumberland Cemetery
at the
Marple Christian Church
Lawrence Rd Broomall
Feb. 27
At 7:30
The Cumberland Cemetery in Middletown is a unique historical landmark that encompasses local and national history from the mid-1800s to the present day.
The study of this cemetery has given us insight into the lives of people who populated central Delaware County in the 19th century.

Aston Township Historical Society (ATHS) is having its quarterly meeting on February 8, 2018 at 7pm at the Aston Township Community Center located on 3270 S Concord Road, Aston, PA 19014 (across from Saint Joseph's RC Church).
ATHS is pleased to welcome Ms. Rachel McCullough who will be presenting her Traveling Women's History Walk Through by the Traveling Women's History Museum. Doors will open early at 6:30 pm to give the public a chance to enjoy Rachel's wonderful displays!.  After a brief ATHS meeting, Rachel will share interesting stories about influential women from the past  This is one event you don't want to miss!  Also Girl Scout Cookies will be available for purchase.  If you are a former Scout and still have your Scout pin, please wear it to this event to show support for Scouting and Rachel.
ATHS looks forward to seeing you at this PREMIER event!  
Please bring your old photos so ATHS may scan them for their historical records.  Don't forget to ask about the many interesting available volunteer opportunities!  While this event is free donations are always appreciated.  ATHS will also be collecting 2018 dues at this time.

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