Early years of York Corporation presented in Dover

This illustration includes some of the key early founders and leaders of York Corporation. A talk on the early years of York Corporation will be presented Thursday August 17, 2017 at the meeting of the Greater Dover Historical Society.

The meeting starts at 7:00 PM and is held in the social hall of Calvary Lutheran Church on the square in Dover. Address is 9 North Main Street, although the church parking lot is accessed via City Hall Drive running behind the church. Enter the church at the doors in the lower building.

In the talk, I will discuss the early history of the York Manufacturing Company, established along Penn Street in York during 1874. Learn how this maker of washing machines and water wheels grew to become the driving force behind the development of artificial ice as York Ice Machinery Corporation. From there the company went on to pioneer some of the first air conditioning systems, leading to world recognition of the YORK name for air conditioning and refrigeration.

An index of links to related YorksPast Blog posts follow:

York Manufacturing Company Founders

Early Company History

Grantley Plant

Company History after 1935

General Interest

 

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Haines Shoe House link to WWI

1918 Dodge Brothers Army Staff Touring Car at Haines Shoe House in York County, PA (2013 S. H. Smith Photos)

1918 Dodge Brothers Army Staff Touring Car at Haines Shoe House in York County, PA (2013 S. H. Smith Photos)

A procession of historic automobiles took part in a cross country 100th Anniversary Lincoln Highway Auto Tour during 2013. As a stop for the Lincoln Highway caravan the Haines Shoe House was briefly linked to this WWI era Dodge Brothers Army Staff Touring Car .

The photo shows the 1918 Dodge parked along Shoe House Road in Hellam Township. The Haines Shoe House was the caravan’s York County picnic lunch stop on Sunday June 23, 2013; as the auto tour traveled west on the Lincoln Highway.

In the lower left is my photo of the Dodge Brothers emblem on the front of this 1918 Dodge car. The York County History Center contains a one-of-a-kind giant stained glass version of this emblem via J. Horace Rudy crafting it for D. E. Stetler’s South George Street auto dealership. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

The Dodge Brothers, John and Horace Dodge, utilized this emblem over the time period from their first cars in 1914 until 1927. In a revised emblem, “Brothers” was dropped from the lettering; however the interlocking triangles and interlocking “DB” remained until the 1939 models were introduced.

In York County, twenty-three year old Daniel E. Stetler obtained a charter dealership for Dodge Brothers automobiles and trucks in 1914. He initially operated that dealership in the Newberrytown area of northeastern York County, PA. In 1922, Stetler purchased Stark’s Hotel at 515 South George Street in York, PA. The hotel was torn down and in 1923 D. E. Stetler moved into his downtown Dodge automobile dealership. The D. E. Stetler Dodge dealership operated at that location until moving to a bigger location along Roosevelt Avenue in 1990.

In 1992, the vacant former auto dealership, at 515 South George Street, was selected as the home of Susan P. Byrnes’ vision for a Health Education Center. After two years of fund raising and planning, ground was broken on renovating the building. During April 1995, the Health Education Center was dedicated and continues to educate thousands each year on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The following photos show the present Health Education Center emblem high about the front doors of the George Street entrance to the building. That emblem was installed where a J. Horace Rudy custom stained glass Dodge Brothers Emblem was originally located.

D. E. Stetler Auto Co. (1923 York County Heritage Trust photo) & Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center (1995 S. H. Smith Photo)

D. E. Stetler Auto Co. (1923 York County Heritage Trust photo) & Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center (1995 S. H. Smith Photo)

H. J. Heinz, of Pittsburgh ketchup fame, was a huge patron of the stained glass artistry of J. Horace Rudy. Rudy Brothers decorated his company buildings, home and mausoleum; other industrialists in Pittsburgh followed suit. The Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh displays a 10-foot by 9-foot Rudy Bros. Stained-Glass window from a Pittsburgh Industrial Building.

J. Horace Rudy’s local Rudy Brothers studio; located at 601 North Hartley Street, in York, PA, is primarily know for their stained glass artistry in area churches, however there are several York industries that decorated their company buildings with Rudy stained-glass. The following custom stained glass Dodge Brothers emblem, by J. Horace Rudy, was the original emblem mounted high above the front doors to D. E. Stetler’s South George Street auto dealership.

J. Horace Rudy Stained Glass Window, previously on 1923 D. E. Stetler Auto Company in York, PA (2015 S. H. Smith Photo)

J. Horace Rudy Stained Glass Window, previously on 1923 D. E. Stetler Auto Company in York, PA (2015 S. H. Smith Photo)

This Dodge Brothers stained glass window was donated to the York County Heritage Trust. It was restored and presently is displayed in the Agricultural and Industrial Museum of the York County Heritage Trust.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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Hellam Love Nest featured in British Films

Just a Love Nest, a 1928 Film by British PATHE; LOVE NEST, Hallam, PA, USA (Frame from YouTube v=0Z73LGZqcQ8)

Just a Love Nest, a 1928 Film by British PATHE; LOVE NEST, Hallam, PA, USA (Frame from YouTube v=0Z73LGZqcQ8)

This view shows the Love Nest perched over Kreutz Creek in Hellam Township. The Love Nest was visible to passengers riding the train between York and Wrightsville. One of the railroad bridges spanning Kreutz Creek can be seen in the background of this frame from a 1928 British film.

Katina Snyder of the Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society graciously provided YouTube links to two short films that British PATHE shot at the Love Nest. One of their members, Jeff Clinton, was analyzing the Kreutz Creek Presbyterian newsletters and discovered in the 1927 newsletter a mention was made that the PATHE film company was filming “The Love Nest.” That clue resulted in their Google discovery of the two YouTube videos.

If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations. The 1928 film shows a couple climbing the stairs, looking out from the porches, sitting on a porch bench and also using a rope to draw water from Kreutz Creek. Here is the YouTube link to the 1-minute, 17-second, “Just a Love Nest.”

“Just A Love Nest” was released by British PATHE on April 19, 1928. It would have been one of several shorts shown prior to feature films. The April 19th film release likely prompted the following United Press story of the Hellam Love Nest; which started appearing in newspapers across America on April 28, 1928:

“Hellam, Pa., April 28_(U.P.)_A cottage in the tree-tops, surrounded by a myriad of brilliant colored lights and overlooking a placid little brook—that is the honeymoon ideal as conceived by Morgan Emig, a farmer near here.

“And the strange part of it all is that Emig has built this love nest for the benefit of others and it has already been used by honeymooners from all parts of the country.

“Situated among the branches of a huge buttonwood tree, the cottage is equipped as thoroughly as any of its size on the ground, containing electric lights, dishes, stove for cooking, complete bedroom and living room suites and has porches on three sides.

“To approach the love nest, one must first enter Emig’s farm and traverse the quarter mile between the main highway and the cottage.

“On arrival there is a flight of steps leading up the trunk of the tree to a height of about 25 feet, where they turn and lead out along a branch to a spot directly over the stream where the cottage is located.

“The cottage rests on beams supported by steel cables and was built about eight years ago. “I first got the idea when a bunch of kids wanted to build a treehouse and laid a platform in the branches. I then wondered why a substantial house could not be made there and started work. Each year I made improvements and added a little something to do, but now, in my estimation, it is about perfect,” Emig said and he was not far wrong.

“The cottage is weatherproof and even has a backyard. Scattered about among the branches and amid the many-colored lights are chairs and benches for use in the summer as Emig says his house is occupied virtually the year round.

“Aside from its use by honeymooners, Emig rents the cottage for card parties, dances and like social gatherings. A radio is provided with two loud speakers, one of the speakers being located in the cottage and the other in the top of the tree.

“At one time there have been as many as 26 persons dancing in the cottage and at card parties there have been four tables in play,” Emig said.

“Of course, it is making me money, as it is in use the year around and I charge rental for the use of it but the biggest kick I get out of it is from the honeymooners and others who get the benefit of it,” he said, “and I have a lot of fun improving it.”

“Emig believes in advertising and at nights the tunes from the loud speaker can be heard on the main York to Harrisburg [The U.P. reporter evidently was not very familiar with local roads; this should be York to Wrightsville] road a quarter mile away and the lights in the huge tree can be seen from a great distance, resembling a monster Christmas tree.”

LoveNest1938

Besides all the free publicity from the United Press article, this is the type of advertising that Morgan Emig did to keep the Love Nest filled. The local For Rent ad is from the July 26, 1938, issue of The Gazette and Daily. In 1942, Morgan Emig’s brother Howard adds his touches to the Love Nest and operates it until a fire destroys the tree house on January 13, 1950.

Whereas the 1928 “Just A Love Nest” was a silent film, the 1930 film “Climbing Trees to Dance” had sound recorded by the R.C.A. Photophone System. The sound is from members of a jazz band sitting on branches and on top of the tree house, while couples dance on the porches. The jazz band is playing “How Am I To Know.” At the end of this short film is a night shot, with the band silhouetted from behind by light and smoke from flares.

Climbing Trees to Dance, a 1930 Film by British PATHE; LOVE NEST, Hallam, PA, USA (Frame from YouTube v=I1YO5pInUkc)

Climbing Trees to Dance, a 1930 Film by British PATHE; LOVE NEST, Hallam, PA, USA (Frame from YouTube v=I1YO5pInUkc)

 

Here is the YouTube link to the 1-minute, 37-second, “Climbing Trees to Dance.”

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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York-built Codorus as a passenger ferry in 1829

Codorus1829

The York-built steamboat CODORUS was the first metal-hulled steamboat to operate in America. The CODORUS also was the first common carrier metal-hulled steamboat put in service in America; when it commenced operation in 1829 as a passenger ferry providing regularly scheduled transportation in North Carolina, between New Bern and Beaufort.

The bare hull of the CODORUS, which had pried the waters of the Susquehanna River during testing, featured the addition of enclosed decks for passenger comfort during its service through inter-coastal North Carolina. This illustration of the CODORUS, as a passenger ferry, appeared in the February 21, 1829 issue of the Newbern Sentinel; published in New Bern, North Carolina.

In 1825, John Elgar designed and built the Iron Steamboat Codorus in York, Pa. At that time, the majority attitude was, “wood floated and iron sank, why would anybody build a boat out of iron?”

On November 22, 1825, The Codorus was launched in the Susquehanna River at Accomac, Hellam Township. She did not sink! Instead she operated flawlessly; traveling at a respectable six miles per hour against the current. The first iron steamboat in America went into the history books, owing to the vision of Yorker John Elgar.

This venture began in 1824, with a group of Baltimore businessmen wanting to test the practicality of running steamboats the length of the Susquehanna River. The businessmen, many of whom were already associated with the Merchant Flouring Mills at York Haven in York County, advertised in Baltimore papers requesting proposals for a steamboat capable of navigating the erratic nature of the Susquehanna River.

John Elgar’s solution was to use an iron hull; a first in America. While he successfully captained The Codorus up the Susquehanna River into New York State during 1826, it was the erratic nature of the rocky Susquehanna River that ultimately did not permit establishment of commercial steamboat operations over the length of the Susquehanna River.

What happened to The Codorus? It sat idle for much of the time near York Haven, before the Baltimore businessmen brought it down the Susquehanna River and put it up for sale.

The Scientific American Supplement No. 1555, in the issue of October 21, 1905, contained an extensive article entitled “Iron and Steel Hull Steam Vessels of the United States,” by J. H. Murrison, Author of “History of American Steam Navigation.” A paragraph, on page 24919, under the “Experimental Period” describes the fate of the Iron Steamboat Codorus that was built in York, Pa.

The boat remained on the Susquehanna River for about two years without any permanent employment, was then taken to Baltimore, Md., and the last record left of the vessel appears that in January, 1829, she was sent to North Carolina to run between New-Berne and Beaufort. A Baltimore paper in April, 1830, published under the heading of “The First Iron Steamboat”; “We have two or three times during the past year endeavored to set history right in regard to the place at which the first iron steamboat was built in America. The steamboat ‘Codorus’ was the first iron steamboat built in the United States, as has been repeatedly stated in this and other papers. . . . It was built at York, the hull altogether of iron. . . . The ‘Codorus’ was afterward brought to this city, where after remaining some time was taken farther south to ply on some small river.” The iron was of domestic manufacture.

The draw, i.e. the depth the iron steamboat would sit in water, had to be kept shallow, due to the many shallow areas; particularly in the upper branches of the Susquehanna River. A six-inch draw was fine for the Susquehanna River, however totally unsuitable to travel any distance on the Atlantic Ocean.

Luckily a Dismal Swamp Canal connection had recently opened further south into North Carolina, such that The Codorus did not have to venture out into the ocean on her voyage to New-Berne. The route of this voyage, which began in mid-December 1828, is depicted by the blue line I’ve drawn on the following 1867 Map of the North Carolina area south of the Dismal Swamp Canal.

1867 Dismal Swamp Canal Map by D. S. Walton (Wikipedia Public Domain, courtesy of University of North Carolina; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2015)

1867 Dismal Swamp Canal Map by D. S. Walton (Wikipedia Public Domain, courtesy of University of North Carolina; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2015)

The route of the ‘late 1828-early 1829’ voyage of the Iron Steamboat Codorus traversed the following. South on the Chesapeake Bay to Hampton Roads, then past Norfolk, Va. on the Elizabeth River to the Dismal Swamp Canal; crossing through Virginia and continuing into North Carolina. The Canal becomes the Pasquatank River, flowing into Albemarle Sound and continuing south into Pamlico Sound, both on the west side of the North Carolina barrier islands. Steaming up the Neuse River to the confluence of the Trent River where the town of New Bern is located.

Several New Bern newspaper articles follow, concerning the CODORUS as a common carrier ferry boat. The Saturday January 24, 1829, issue of the Newbern Sentinel of Newbern, North Carolina, reported:

We hail with pleasure the arrival of the long expected steamboat the Codorus. She arrived on Tuesday last, and will shortly take her place, as a regular packet between Newbern and Beaufort. It is expected that she will be enabled to make three trips per week. Much credit is due to the enterprising proprietors, Messrs. Swan and others, for the undertaking—and we hope that public patronage will reimburse them abundantly. The Neuse is peculiarly adapted to steamboat navigation. The increased facilities of communication will, doubtless, much increase both traveling and business.

The February 21, 1829, issue of the Newbern Sentinel contained the illustration of the iron-hull of the Steamboat Codorus fitted with new decking and also contained the Regulations and Rates. The passage from Newbern to Beaufort or Beaufort to Newbern cost $1.50; this was a distance of 35 miles via the newly opened Clubfoot and Harlow’s Creek Canal. Passage for children under 12 years old and Servants cost $0.75 and each passenger was allowed one Trunk without extra charge. Freight per barrel, between Newbern and Beaufort cost $0.40, with C. V. Swan the agent in Newbern and B. L. Perry the agent in Beaufort.

The route of the Steamboat Codorus, between Newbern and Beaufort, is depicted by the blue line I’ve drawn on the following detail from the 1867 Map of the North Carolina area south of the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Detail from the 1867 Dismal Swamp Canal Map by D. S. Walton (Wikipedia Public Domain, courtesy of University of North Carolina; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2015)

Detail from the 1867 Dismal Swamp Canal Map by D. S. Walton (Wikipedia Public Domain, courtesy of University of North Carolina; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2015)

A little over a year later, the principal owners/operators of the Steamboat Codorus put there part of the steamboat up for sale; desiring to close all their business in North Carolina. Nothing else has been discovered about the fate of the Steamboat Codorus.

The April 22, 1950 issue of The Gastonia Gazette, of Gastonia, North Carolina, contained an article about the 125th anniversary of the construction of the Codorus; the first metal hull vessel built in America. It raised the question “What happened to the Codorus?”

Actually the Codorus was not as large as any number of wooden hull fishing vessels which base in the Morehead City area today [with the coming of the railroad; Morehead City was established just west of Beaufort]—but she was the first iron ship and about the only reminder of the vessel today is a Pennsylvania highway marker which carries the following inscription: “America’s first iron steamboat—The Codorus, built in York by John Elgar, was launched at present day Accomac, on the Susquehanna River, on November 22, 1825. The site is about two miles distant.”

She had been named for a creek that runs through York. Iron used in her construction cost $140 per ton. Following her launching she was powered by a Davis engine of eight horsepower. During the next three years she operated on Pennsylvania rivers but in 1828 the Codorus was towed down the Susquehanna and up to Baltimore.

In Baltimore, she was purchased for $650 by some North Carolina promoter who planned to connect New Bern and Beaufort via the newly opened Clubfoot and Harlow’s Creek Canal. In those days the site where Morehead City was to be was only a point of marshland known as Sheppard’s Point.

On her passage south, America’s first iron steamboat was fortunate to arrive in Norfolk on the very day the Dismal Swamp Canal was reopened after extensive enlargement. This meant the Codorus could continue her voyage via the North Carolina sounds, through inland waters and would not have to brave the Atlantic and pass dreaded Cape Hatteras.

On February 7, 1829, she was advertised in a New Bern paper as ready to enter service. Her operation must not have been very successful because the following year she was advertised for sale. At this point, the curtain closed and the subsequent fate of America’s first iron vessel may forever remain in obscurity. On the other hand some coastal old timer or student of maritime history may read this and give some data about what happened to the Codorus.

Thus ended the story of the Codorus, a ship that was to change the maritime scheme of things. It was the beginning of the end for “wooden ships and iron men.”

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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York-built steamboat traveled 300-miles up Susquehanna in 1826

Illustration of Iron Steamboat Codorus tackling Nanticoke Falls (From the Article “America’s first iron ship,” by Alexander C. Brown, in Steelways issue of Sept./Oct., 1966; page 24.)

Illustration of Iron Steamboat Codorus tackling Nanticoke Falls (From the Article “America’s first iron ship,” by Alexander C. Brown, in Steelways issue of Sept./Oct., 1966; page 24.)


A York-built iron steamboat was successfully launched in the Susquehanna River at Accomac, Hellam Township on November 22, 1825. The boat named CODORUS was the first metal-hulled steamboat in America. The builder, John Elgar, captained the CODORUS on a voyage 300-miles up the Susquehanna River into New York State during 1826.

An article about this voyage was written by Alexander C. Brown, entitled “America’s first iron ship.” The article, with illustration, appeared in the Sept./Oct., 1966, issue of Steelways; The Magazine of the American Iron and Steel Institute. I’ll open this post by quoting from Brown’s article: “A cutting wind blew down the Susquehanna River whipping into freezing spray the water cascading over Nanticoke Falls near Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Despite the cold, John Elgar had taken off his coat and was prepared to swim in case his little steamer, the Codorus, met disaster in her attempt to surmount the hazardous rapids. It was April 1826, the testing time for Elgar’s belief in the quality of iron as a boatbuilding material.”

If you mention First Steamboat; most people think of Robert Fulton, because of his self-promotion and the many books written about him. While Fulton did not invent the steamboat, he was the first to successfully develop them into a viable form of transportation, after the maiden voyage of the wooden-hulled Clermont up the Hudson River on August 17, 1807.

If you mention First Iron Steamboat; John Elgar comes-to-mind for few people. John Elgar, a Quaker from York, Pa., was the first to prove metal-hulled boats were viable in America with the November 22, 1825, successful maiden voyage of his Iron Steamboat Codorus on the Susquehanna River.

Many historians wrote about Fulton’s achievements, including numerous school readers and textbooks. John Elgar’s achievements were primarily the subject of local history books until Commander Alexander C. Brown, U. S. Naval Reserve, championed The Codorus, and the accomplishments of John Elgar, in numerous publications between 1950 and 1966.

Commander Brown was called to active duty in the Naval Reserve in 1942 as a Communications Officer. Following the war, he was a member of the staff of Captain Samuel E. Morison, USNR, and assisted in the preparation of the early volumes of his History of U. S. Naval Operations in World War II. Commander Brown’s initial 1950 article “John Elgar—America’s First Iron Shipbuilder,” appears in Volume 76 of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Annapolis, Maryland.

The Codorus made her successful maiden voyage November 22, 1825; in the Susquehanna River at Accomac, Hellam Township, York County, Pa. The shipbuilder John Elgar, became Captain Elgar in proving out his iron steamboat on the Susquehanna through the end of 1825; where he traveled north, no further than Harrisburg.

The goal of John Elgar’s backers from Baltimore, was to prove out the viability of the navigability of the Susquehanna, due to the shallow draft afforded by the iron-hulled steamboat. In the Spring of 1826, after all the ice had cleared from the Susquehanna River, Captain Elgar commenced a voyage up the Susquehanna River to Binghamton, New York.

The 19-foot drop of the Conewago Falls on the Susquehanna River at York Haven could be navigated easily via the canal and locks, which opened in 1797. (See the post First Working Canal in Pennsylvania was in York Haven) On his voyage upriver, there were many areas with tricky rapids, however the Nanticoke Falls, below Wilkes-Barre, was the biggest obstacle. These falls were essentially steep rapids about half the height of the Conewago Falls.

I’ve annotated the following 1864 Map of Luzerne County, Pa., showing the location of the Nanticoke Falls in the Susquehanna River as it cuts through the Nanticoke Gap in the Shawnee Mountain Range. In 1864, a dam and canal were in place to provide for easier navigation through the Nanticoke Gap; however these were not in place when John Elgar tackled the falls on April 12, 1826.

Location of Nanticoke Falls in the Susquehanna River as it cuts through the Nanticoke Gap in the Shawnee Mountain Range (1864 Lacoe & Schooley Map of Luzerne County, Pa.; 2015 Annotations by S. H. Smith)

Location of Nanticoke Falls in the Susquehanna River as it cuts through the Nanticoke Gap in the Shawnee Mountain Range (1864 Lacoe & Schooley Map of Luzerne County, Pa.; 2015 Annotations by S. H. Smith)

John Elgar wrote a letter to his niece containing his account about tackling the Nanticoke Falls. For his 1950 article, Commander Brown quoted from John Elgar’s letter, which is in the Collections of the Library of Congress:

Thee cannot readily conceive the dangers I sometimes had to dare. Being constitutionally a coward, it required great exertion of mind to meet them in the face. To give Thee an instance, at Nanticoke Falls (where more boatmen have been lost than at any other place on the river) we had to throw out the tow line to a number of men on shore who had come down from Wilkes-Barre to see us ascend the falls. Five of us remained on the boat, four good polemen to brace her off the rocks along shore, that the steam power might be used without endangering the wheels, myself to tend the engine and, tho’ a cold morning, icicles hanging to houses 2-ft. long, I took off my coat, preparing to swim out in case of accident, resolved that the boat should go up or sink.

When all was ready the boat was pushed out of an eddy into the main current & all the steam power put on, which was at least 25 horses, but to little effect. The violence of the water being so great, it seemed to increase the motion of wheels. The boat remained stationary for several minutes; at length the greater exertion at the rope drew her bow so low that the rush of water dashed over the deck. I saw the boat was in great danger of being drawn under.

I ran forward with my knife opened to cut the rope, which is considered when necessary a very dangerous resort on account of the boat swinging round in the current & over-setting. But to my joy she bounced up like an egg & began to move ahead. This was a greater voluntary hazard than I would like to run again . . .

A few days later, a steam pipe burst when The Codorus was thirty-seven miles up river from Wilkes-Barre; luckily no one was injured. They floated back to Wilkes-Barre for some lengthy repairs to the steam engine. On May 20, 1826, The Codorus reached her goal, Binghamton, New York; which was about 300-miles distance and 600-feet higher elevation than her launching point at Accomac, York County, Pennsylvania.

The return trip downriver was plagued by low water; even for the slight six-inch draft due to the use of the iron-hull. Several times they had to tie-up and wait for river water levels to rise. The design of the iron-hull and operation of The Codorus had proved successful, however it was the erratic nature of the rocky Susquehanna River that ultimately did not permit establishment of commercial steamboat operations over the length of the river.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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York Haven mural of first working canal in PA

Mural of Canal Operations in York Haven, York County, PA (Painted in 1980 by Cliff Satterthwaite)

Mural of Canal Operations in York Haven, York County, PA (Painted in 1980 by Cliff Satterthwaite)

Cliff Satterthwaite painted two large murals for the York Haven State Bank in 1980. This mural depicts canal operations in York Haven during the 1840-1850s era; and looks across the Susquehanna River towards Falmouth, Lancaster County. That canal at York Haven was the first working canal in Pennsylvania; opening on November 22, 1797.

The two murals were originally produced for the walls of the York Haven State Bank; located on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Landvale Street in York Haven. It eventually became a branch of Drovers Bank. This branch was moved to Newberrytown, where it is now an office of Fulton Bank. When the York Haven branch closed, the large Satterthwaite murals were donated to York Haven and now hang in the Borough Hall.

On November 22, 1797, the Conewago Canal Company opened a canal to navigate the Conewago Falls. George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County, PA, notes in Volume I, Pages 602-603:

One of the most notable events in the history of internal improvements in the State of Pennsylvania was the opening of a navigable canal around the Conewago Falls, on the west side of the Susquehanna River. It was the first canal built in this state, and so far as definite records go, the first in the United States.

Further investigation does verify this canal as being the first working canal in Pennsylvania; however it was not quite the first working canal in the United States. Building the canal was a formidable task; construction costs ballooned to over five times initial estimates. The canal was about one mile long, hugging the York County bank of the Susquehanna River from the top of the Conewago Falls, downriver to two locks at the lower end, near present day York Haven; all required so that river traffic could negotiate the 19-foot drop of the Conewago Falls. To understand the topography of the area, here is an annotated present-day aerial view:

2015 Bing.com Aerial View of Conewago Falls area of Susquehanna River (Enhanced and Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)

2015 Bing.com Aerial View of Conewago Falls area of Susquehanna River (Enhanced and Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)

This 2015 aerial view of the Conewago Falls area of Susquehanna River will be explained, in greater detail, within Tuesday’s post on the York Haven Paper Company. The York Haven Paper Company and the York Haven Power Company may never have been built at this site, without the infrastructure ventures initiated by the 1797 canal.

The key word is working canal, in being the first working canal in Pennsylvania. The Legislature authorized the Conewago Canal Company to construct the canal on April 10, 1793; which was not the first canal authorized in the state. However the canal at York Haven was the first canal in the state that was completed and put into operation. Governor Thomas Mifflin traveled from the state capitol in Philadelphia to witness the official opening on November 22, 1797.

John Hall wrote the Commonwealth’s official report several days later, complimented the Conewago Canal Company on their success, especially praising the operation of the locks, since their, “construction, &c., being new in this Country.” John Hall commended the company for, “digging the Canal a mile nearly in length, 40 feet wide and four feet deep, thro’ the most difficult ground within the State.”

Joshua Scott’s 1858 map of Lancaster County includes details on several bordering towns in York County. The York County information on this map duplicates the York Haven details on Joshua Scott’s other Lancaster County maps of 1824 and 1842. Because during 1851, the railroad from York, through York Haven, to Lemoyne was completed; however does not appear on the 1858 map. Nevertheless, the 1797 canal does appear:

Section of 1858 Joshua Scott map of Lancaster County, PA (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)

Section of 1858 Joshua Scott map of Lancaster County, PA (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)

The mile long canal not only aided in navigation, but also provided a ready pool of elevated water to supply hydropower for several mills. The York Haven Company, under whose direction four large flour mills were erected, laid out the town of York Haven in 1814.

In 1814, James Hopkins constructed a competing one-mile long canal around the Lancaster County side of the Conewago Falls. Hopkins Canal was later incorporated into the Pennsylvania Canal, extending upriver from Columbia.

The competition from the much longer Pennsylvania Canal, spelled the demise of the short stretch of canal at York Haven. However it was the railroads that eventually closed down canal operations, not only at York Haven, but all across the country.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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Porch Talk at New Freedom Train Station

This illustration shows Builders Plates used by 19th Century Rail Car Manufacturers in York and Glen Rock. On Wednesday July 12th 2017 at 7PM I’ll be presenting a Porch Talk at the New Freedom Train Station on 19th Century Train Cars built in York County. This is one of a series of “Porch Talks at the Stations” sponsored by the Friends of Heritage Rail Trail Corridor. These 30-minute programs are free and held rain or shine. For those not wanting to stand, they ask that you bring a chair or blanket to sit on.

In my Porch Talk, learn about some neat facts concerning four York County 19th Century Rail Car Manufacturers, in York and Glen Rock. Beginning in 1847, and throughout the rest of the 19th Century, they shipped rail car product all over the United States and exported to foreign countries.

In the illustration, the top photo shows a Doorsill Builders Plate used by the York Car Works of Billmeyer & Small. This doorsill is installed in an 1882 Billmeyer & Small passenger car, which is in the collections of the East Broad Top Railroad in Rockhill, PA. Even though people have been stepping on this plate, to enter the car for 135-years, one can still read “BILLMEYER & SMALL CO. BUILDERS. YORK, PA.” In the 1800s, BUILDERS was a shorthand reference to CAR BUILDERS; i.e. a manufacturer of rail cars.

In the illustration, the bottom photo shows a Builders Plate used by the Glen Rock Car Works in 1870, when the car shops were operated locally; by Fry, Herbst & Co. Several years ago, an attendee at my Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society presentation submitted a photo from this Builders Plate in his collections.

INDEX to All My Posts Related to 19th Century Railway Car Builders of York County, Pennsylvania

General Interest

Billmeyer & Small

RAILCAR GOLD

Every Thursday, I post the next part of my RAILCAR GOLD novel; a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure primarily set in York County during the later half of the Nineteenth Century. By happenstance, the main character passes through York, is befriended by Charles Billmeyer and decides to stay. The main character spends the greater part of his life associated with the rail car manufacturing business Billmeyer & Small.

Generally every Tuesday I write the next few pages of RAILCAR GOLD; to do so, I dig into my files of historical background that might be associated with that part of the story. Here is an index to the chapters written thus far:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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Avoiding Sour Beer’s Eddy when rafting the Susquehanna

Lumber Rafts on the Lower Susquehanna River

Engraving Entitled “Lumbering on the Susquehanna—A Raft Descending The River” (1880 Magazine Illustration, Collections of S. H. Smith)

Engraving Entitled “Lumbering on the Susquehanna—A Raft Descending The River” (1880 Magazine Illustration, Collections of S. H. Smith)

The origins of this post stem from looking through the newspaper microfilms at the York County Heritage Trust and coming across the following article in the April 30, 1883, issue of the York Daily:

Rafting.

On Saturday, four young men, students of the Collegiate Institute, made a trip from Wrightsville to Peach Bottom on a lumber raft.  Six hours were consumed in making the trip.  Beyond striking a rock or two, nothing of incident occurred.  They speak in high praise of the courtesy of the raftsmen.  We congratulate our young friends upon the happy termination of their perilous voyage.

The 1880 engraving likely depicts the type of perilous voyage the York Collegiate students encountered when they hitched a ride on a lumber raft in 1883.  I purchased the 1880 Magazine Engraving entitled “Lumbering on the Susquehanna—A Raft Descending The River” to use as an illustration in the eventual hardcover Railcar Gold.  Lumber rafts show up several times in my historical novel about Billmeyer & Small; installments which appear, in YorksPast, every Thursday.  Here are two examples:

Within RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 13 . . PeachBottom . . Part 2, I quote an 1872 York Daily article describing Billmeyer & Small’s business.  Part of that article notes the following:

This firm has also extensive lumber yards and saw mills at Wrightsville.  The mills at that place have a capacity of from seven to ten million of feet per year, and the amount of lumber used may be inferred, when it is remembered that they are the largest buyers of rafts along the Susquehanna River.

Within RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 17 . . Production . . Part 1, a clipping from the June 9, 1882 issue of the York Daily is utilized:

Seven Thousand Dollars for Three Rafts of Timber.

John H. Small, Esq., yesterday purchased at Marietta, from Ramadell and Duffy, three immense timber rafts for the Billmeyer & Small Company.  The timber is of remarkably fine quality and is acknowledged to be the best that ever came down the river.  The rafts contain about 27,000 cubic feet of white pine, for which the handsome sum of $7,000 was paid.

I searched for additional details about lumber rafts on the Lower Susquehanna River and found an 1888 source.  On page 13 of the 1888 publication Development of Transportation Systems in the United States, John L. Ringwalt writes about rafting lumber and timber on the Lower Susquehanna River:

The rafts floating on the Susquehanna in 1885 were usually 29 feet wide, 300 feet long, and composed of 120 logs or “sticks.”  The logs are 30 to 40 feet long, and the entire structure contains 11,000 cubic feet of lumber.

From the limber regions, pilots floated rafts to Marietta for $75 to $80 each; Marietta to Peach Bottom, 28 miles, $40 to $45 per raft; Peach Bottom to Port Deposit, 16 miles, $22.50 per raft.  The pilot paid his hands $3.50 and steersmen $5 per trip from Marietta to Peach Bottom; Peach Bottom to Port Deposit hands get $2.25 and steersmen $2.75.  When the river is in good condition the run from Marietta to Port Deposit could be made in eight hours.

Almost every rock and projection along the Susquehanna, from Marietta to Port Deposit, has a name familiar to the raftsmen.  In many instances these points received their titles from the fact that rafts were once stove on them.  Here are a few of the odd names:

  • “Spinning Wheel”
  • “Sour Beer’s Eddy”
  • “Blue Rock”
  • “Turkey Hill”
  • “Brothers”
  • “Old Cow”
  • “Hangman’s Rocks”
  • “Horse Gap”
  • “Ram’s Horn”
  • “Slow and Easy”
  • “Hollow Rock”
  • “Hog Hole”
  • “Sisters”
  • “Old Port Bridge”

The lumber raft that the four students of the Collegiate Institute hitched a ride on, struck a rock or two.  Maybe they hit a rock or two on this list; hopefully they did not tangle with “Sour Beer’s Eddy.”

Related posts:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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Teacher grading: When a 4.0 was poor

York County Teachers’ Provisional Certificate for Samuel S. Matthews during 1859; with Zoomed-In Explanation of Grading at the Bottom (From Collections of York County Heritage Trust)

York County Teachers’ Provisional Certificate for Samuel S. Matthews during 1859; with Zoomed-In Explanation of Grading at the Bottom (From Collections of York County Heritage Trust)

A York County Teachers’ Provisional Certificate for Samuel S. Matthews includes his examination results in five subjects: Orthography, Reading, Writing, Written Arithmetic and Teaching.  With a grade point average of 2.1, Samuel was granted a provisional teachers certificate for one year; during the 1859-1860 school year.

A 4.0 grade point average signified Poor performance in the 1800s.  Back then, striving to be number one in exams meant striving for a 1.0 grade.  The teachers certificate explains the grading system: No. 1, signifies Very Good; 2, Good; 3, Middling; 4, Poor; and 5, Very Poor.  Somewhere in the 1900s, the grade numbering system flip-flopped to higher numbers being desired.

During the 1885-1886 school year, the School Directors of Hopewell Township, York County, PA, used a combination of teachers’ grade point average on their certificate and a mark given by the school directors, based upon in-class teaching ability to set the teachers’ pay.  The same No. 1 through 5 grading system was used for the Directors Mark.

The Certificates and Directors Mark were averaged, and the resulting Salary Mark set each teachers pay. During the 1885-1886 school year, a Salary Mark of less than 1.5 resulted in pay of $32.00 per month; from 1.5 to 2.0, $28.00 per month; from 2.0 to 2.5, $26.00 per month; and over 2.5, $24.00 per month.  For the 1885-1886 school year, I’ve listed the 27 teachers, and one-room school where they taught, in Hopewell Township; from best to worst [Salary Mark]:

Salary of $32.00 per month (33% above lowest salary)

  • [1.00] Lizzie Gable (Gemmill’s, 2 mos)
  • [1.20] M. Elmer Bailey (Gemmill’s, 3 mos)
  • [1.27] Ella M. Ebaugh (Ebaugh’s)
  • [1.39] T. Benton Baird (Hyson’s)
  • [1.47] Amanda M. Duncan (Round Hill)

Salary of $28.00 per month (17% above lowest salary)

  • [1.53] D. C. Waltemyre (Mt. Pleasant)
  • [1.56] Emanuel S. Klinefelter (Gerber’s)
  • [1.56] Jos. O. Seitz (Leib’s)
  • [1.58] Sallie E. Leib (Bose’s)
  • [1.61] Mary M. Smith (Anstine’s)
  • [1.77] Annie P. Hess (Hildebrand’s)
  • [1.89] L. S. Waltemyre (Hartman’s)
  • [1.89] Alice J. Hendrix (Wallace’s)
  • [1.92] James M. Grove (Bowman’s)
  • [1.97] Emma V. Redding (Trout’s)

Salary of $26.00 per month (8% above lowest salary)

  • [2.13] Annie G. Liggit (Manifold’s)
  • [2.16] Maggie S. Wallace (Duncan’s)
  • [2.16] W. Clinton Bailey (Miller’s)
  • [2.17] Bertha F. Yost (Collins’)
  • [2.22] Eli B. Keller (Strayer’s)
  • [2.23] Shade S. Robinson (Center)
  • [2.31] Ellsworth Peterman (Myers’)
  • [2.44] Ella M. Manifold (Glessick’s)
  • [2.50] Hannah Waltermyre (Fulton’s)

Salary of $24.00 per month (lowest salary)

  • [2.70] R. A. Grove (Sechrist’s)
  • [2.73] S. A. Miller (Hake’s)
  • [2.78] J. Elmer Evans (Zion)

The York County Teachers’ Provisional Certificate for Samuel S. Matthews comes from the Collections of York County Heritage Trust.  Records of the School Directors of Hopewell Township, York County, PA, for the1885-1886 school year, come from the Collections of the Stewartstown Historical Society.

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

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One-room school called Burnt Cabin

Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse (circa 1900) along Vinegar Ferry Road [now River Drive] in Hellam Township, York Co., Pa. (Originally from Anna Shields; Submitted by Katina Snyder)

Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse (circa 1900) along Vinegar Ferry Road [now River Drive] in Hellam Township, York Co., Pa. (Originally from Anna Shields; Submitted by Katina Snyder)

Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse sat on the west side of Vinegar Ferry Road [now River Drive], just north of where the headwaters of main branch of Wildcat Run cross that road in Hellam Township.

Katina Snyder submitted three undated photos of Burnt Cabin. At one time, the photos belonged to Anna Shields, a long time teacher in the one-room schools of Hellam Township.

The topography of the land in the photos agrees with the Burnt Cabin School placement on the following 1908 Topographic Map section. Burnt Cabin School is next to the red arrow that I’ve added to the map.

Northwest Section of Hellam Township, York Co., PA (1908 Topographic Map)

Northwest Section of Hellam Township, York Co., PA (1908 Topographic Map)

The following photo looks at the south side of the Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse with Vinegar Ferry Road passing on the right side, down to the Susquehanna River. The flying American flag has obviously been added to both of the photos; pasted onto the flagpoles. However in the first photo, sitting up against the front porch, there is also a flag that is clearly part of the original photo; was it being mounted on a board, for display in the schoolhouse?

Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse (circa 1900) along Vinegar Ferry Road [now River Drive] in Hellam Township, York Co., Pa. (Originally from Anna Shields; Submitted by Katina Snyder)

Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse (circa 1900) along Vinegar Ferry Road [now River Drive] in Hellam Township, York Co., Pa. (Originally from Anna Shields; Submitted by Katina Snyder)

The flags on the flagpoles definitely have 45 stars, in an 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7 -per row configuration. The 45 star flag was adopted in 1896 and continued in use until another star was added in 1908. That is the reason I’ve estimated the date of these photos as ‘circa 1900.’

Through the late 1870s, about 40-students filled the Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse. I suspect many were children of a large workforce in the River Hills, primarily consisting of lumbermen and men involved in charcoaling. For even though Codorus Furnace shut down in 1850, the furnaces between Columbia and Marietta were still producing iron using a process that needed large quantities of charcoal.

Charcoal made an ideal iron furnace fuel, because its’ ash, consisting largely of lime and alkalis, supplied part of the necessary flux for the smelting process. Heating wood in the absence of air makes charcoal. It is a long involved process to char the wood throughout without allowing it to burn to ashes. Because of the large charcoaling operations in the Hellam Hills, I suspect that is why the school got the name Burnt Cabin.

Continue reading to discover when Burnt Cabin Schoolhouse burnt down. Continue reading

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