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Independence Island and Bailey's Island are on the market: here's a brief history

Independence Island and Bailey’s Island have hit the market for $150,000 as a set.
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PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A pair of islands on the Susquehanna River have been put up for sale, according to TheBurg, Greater Harrisburg's community magazine

Independence Island and Bailey’s Island have hit the market for the first time in over a century, thanks to owners Robert and John Ensminger, whose family has had roots in Central Pa. since 1733. 

About a century later in 1836, Robert and John's great-great grandfather established Ensminger Auctioneers in downtown Harrisburg, a business that Robert himself still runs today, also according to TheBurg. 

Both brothers are hopeful they'll have success in selling the islands. 

“My brother and I are both getting up there in age,” Robert, 71, told TheBurg when asked about their motivation for selling. “So, we decided to just put them on the market and see what we would get.”

The brothers told TheBurg that the islands have been in their family for generations, but they're unsure of exactly how long. Robert and John have owned them for two decades, however. 

As noted by the magazine, this isn't the first time the islands have been up for sale.

They dug into the archives of the Harrisburg Telegraph, and found an article from 1916 with the headline: "City’s Chance to Take Over ‘Independence’ Is Slipping." Turns out, E. Charles Ensminger and his father, Major John T. Ensminger, were asking for $15,000 to $20,000 for the lands. 

The article details how Harrisburg wanted to purchase Independence Island to be a “municipal bathing resort." A day before the article was published, roughly 4,000 people had crowded onto the island for a swim on a hot August day. 

Also according to TheBurg, the city was not the only one interested in buying the island: an unnamed "New York syndicate" was considering purchasing it to become a possible private resort. 

In the end, after even the Telegraph took sides on the issue, advocating for city control of the island, neither party purchased it, and the Ensminger family has held onto the islands ever since. 

Over the centuries, according to TheBurg, Independence Island has been used for picnics, races, and various sporting contests, but today, the island is mostly visited by boaters. In recent years, the island has gained the nickname “party island” for the boats that stop and dock there. 

Robert and John Ensminger told TheBurg that the future owners of the islands, which are zoned as "open say recreation," will have "good bragging rights." 

“Someone will buy it somewhere along the line,” Robert concluded. “Make me an offer I can’t refuse.”

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