The Road to JOPPA; origins of Susquehanna Trail in Southern York County

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 12

Early origins of the Susquehanna Trail in southern York County can be traced back to the road between YorkTown, Pennsylvania and Joppa, Maryland. A reader of last week’s post: Susquehanna Trail extends from York to the Maryland line, asked to see the whole York to Joppa route through York County and Maryland.

I found early road maps for Pennsylvania (1822 by John Melish) and Maryland (1794 by Dennis Griffith) in the Library of Congress digital collections. In the following, I’ve enlarged both to the same scale and highlighted, in yellow, the Joppa Road from York, PA to Joppa, MD:

JoppaRdPAJoppaRdMD

JOPPA ROAD

In early colonial times, Joppa, Maryland, was a thriving port and major tobacco export town on the Gunpowder River. The town had deep harbor access to the Chesapeake Bay. Ships from Europe and the West Indies routinely stopped at the Joppa wharfs. Joppa became the county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland in 1712; which was 17 years before the town of Baltimore was ever established.

Recall that YorkTown, Pennsylvania, was established in 1741 and became the county seat when York County was separated from Lancaster County in 1749. A rudimentary road existed between York and Joppa; after all, they were county seats in neighboring counties and Joppa was YorkTown’s closest port. Petitions to improve the Joppa Road appear within York County Courts in 1752 and improvements were approved in 1754.

JOPPA, an early County Seat of Baltimore County

In early colonial times, Baltimore County, in Maryland, adjoined most of the southern border of York County, Pennsylvania. It was not until 1773, that present-day Harford County was established out of the eastern part of Baltimore County. Thus when Joppa became the county seat for Baltimore County in 1712, it was the county seat for a very large neighboring county to the south of Pennsylvania and west of the Susquehanna River.

Joppa was established in 1706 for the purpose of becoming the new county seat. The Provincial Assembly of Maryland chartered the new town at the location of a mile-wide, deep-water harbor on the Gunpowder River. In 1707, streets were laid out and buildings were built before the British monarch vetoed further work on the town. In 1712, the veto was lifted and Joppa became the county seat. Maryland historian Herbert Baxter Adams, wrote in his 1885 book “Maryland’s Influence Upon Land Cessions To The United States:”

For many years Joppa reigned the mistress of the Chesapeake bay. Within its borders were the county court-house, the chapel, the county prison, several inns and a number of commodious warehouses and stately mansions. In its harbor were vessels from New England, the West Indies, and ports of Europe. It became the seat of the social and civil life of the county and of the adjoining hundreds and parishes, and being located upon the public highway leading to the Northern colonies, it became a well-known resort for travelers and merchants.

JOPPA, from Boom Town to Ghost Town

In 1768, the young port town of Baltimore replaced Joppa as the county seat of Baltimore County. By the late 1700s, Joppa harbor had filled with silt, closing the port. Then the town of Joppa suffered a major smallpox epidemic that decimated the population.

Both of these factors turned this former county seat into a ghost town by the early 1800s. Again quoting Maryland historian Herbert Baxter Adams, from his 1885 book “Maryland’s Influence Upon Land Cessions To The United States:”

Joppa had passed into the list of “deserted” towns and has since become so desolate as to make its site almost an enigma. Baltimore County has many “Joppa roads” traversing it, but it is only lately that the convergent point of these roads has been ascertained. The destruction of the town has been complete. Its warehouses have rotted away, its wharves have disappeared, its harbor has become filled with alluvial deposits, its streets have been turned into ploughed fields.

JOPPA Site preserved with assistance from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

Today only the nearby Rumsey House, built circa 1720 (private residence), remains; although the foundations of many of the town site buildings from Joppa’s boom times are still likely buried in the ground under thick layers of silt that has since accumulated at the mouth of the Gunpowder River.

In 1961, the ploughed fields of the old Joppa town site were being developed as a planned community called Joppatowne. The last remaining building, the Rumsey House and its grounds, was slated to become the site of the community swim and tennis club.

Preservation efforts were stalled until First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy intervened. She was able to convince the developer to relocate the community swim and tennis club. Today, the restored Rumsey House stands as a private home. Much of the remaining ground of the town, not yet under the silt and muck of the Gunpowder River, and not yet developed, was ceded to the Episcopal Church, as custodian.

In 1970, the Episcopal Church re-consecrated the grounds and built the Church of the Resurrection adjacent to the foundation of Joppa’s original “St. John’s Parish.” At that time, ruins of the original wharf and docks, as well as the town jail, were still visible until Hurricane Agnes swept through in 1972. The Old Joppa Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Joppa Road in York County

JoppaRdSignWithin York County, some stand-alone segments of the early colonial Joppa Road between York, PA and Joppa, MD still exist because they did not become part of the York & Maryland Line Turnpike; chartered in 1807 and completed in 1810. Joppa Road that crosses Leader Heights Road is likely part of the original or 1754 improved Joppa Road.

Segment of original Dirt Joppa Road

In a comment to last weeks post, reader Eric Lowe provided directions to a trail around Lake Redman that is likely a segment of the original dirt Joppa Road. Eric stated his reasoning:

The sort of wide dirt road was old Joppa Road. When you reach the crest of the hill and look toward Leader Height’s Road you can visualize the old alignment between there and where Joppa Road bisects Leader Heights road.

Next Friday, this series will continue on the Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Maps, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Roads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 5

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable add 2 blanks after GOLD

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable

RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 5 of Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.

Continue reading “RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 5” »

Posted in all posts, New Jersey, Railcar Gold, Railroads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1860 Buildings 41-50 in East Region of Springettsbury Township

Stone Ridge Road Region in what is now Springettsbury Township; from Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA & Penn Pilot Aerial Photo, from Sept. 15, 1937, of Same Area; with a Topographic Map insert, surveyed in 1908 (Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Stone Ridge Road Region in what is now Springettsbury Township; from Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA & Penn Pilot Aerial Photo, from Sept. 15, 1937, of Same Area; with a Topographic Map insert, surveyed in 1908 (Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

At the top of this illustration, I’ve pointed out, and marked, ten 1860 buildings in the Stone Ridge Road region within what is now Springettsbury Township. At the bottom of this illustration is a 1937 aerial photo of the same region. I will show an enlarged view of the white dashed area, with corresponding building markings, later in this post.

In the lower left of the illustration, I’ve pointed out and noted, in 1860, it appears surveyor D. J. Lake mapped a tree-line/drainage ditch, instead of the main branch of the creek. I’ve confirmed this suspicion by examining the 1908 topographic map of the same region; which I’ve included in the insert.

This is important, because if one compares this area on the 1860 map with later maps, it looks like D. J. Lake placed the (e46 to e50) buildings in correct relationship with one another; however he incorrectly located them relative to the drainage ditch vicinity instead of the vicinity of the actual creek. This incorrect placement on the 1860 map is confirmed by comparing the relative location of two standing landmarks, the King James Bible Church (e41) versus the Schultz House (e47); where the aerial photo and topographic map are in agreement.

My suspicion is that surveyor D. J. Lake sighted and mapped what he thought was the main branch of the creek while at a residence west of that area. Possibly a few days later he approached the area from the other direction, to map the locations of the Schultz House (e47) and surrounding buildings; thinking they straddled the same creek he had incorrectly surveyed a few days earlier.

When the map was made from the survey notes, the cluster of buildings ended up correctly placed relative to one another, however not on the actual creek.   This is to take nothing away from the overall 1860 map. I am continually amazed at D. J. Lake’s accurate placement of virtually all roads on the map; considering the following illustration depicts him surveying:

Depiction of D. J. Lake surveying the 1860 Map of York County, PA (Modification of image from 1884 Printer’s Book by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Depiction of D. J. Lake surveying the 1860 Map of York County, PA (Modification of image from 1884 Printer’s Book by S. H. Smith, 2014)

I’ve depicted D. J. Lake surveying the 1860 Map of York County, Pennsylvania, in this illustration. D. J. Lake “went around pushing a wheelbarrow in front of him, and in this barrow he carried his instruments. He did not talk to any one except to ask at every place the one question, ‘who lives here?’”

Can you imagine someone pushing a wheelbarrow along every road that existed throughout York County? Country folk thought he was crazy. D. J. Lake likely counted the revolutions of the wheel to measure distance, while noting direction with a compass.

The map surveyed by Lake and published by W. O. Shearer in Philadelphia is remarkably accurate; even down to the proper placement of the principal residence(s) within each property. Recollections of a person who witnessed this surveying and discussed it with D. J. Lake can be found in the post: Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County.

The corresponding locations of the ten buildings, noted on the 1860 map at the beginning of this post, are noted on the following enlarged section of the 1937 aerial photo. Within this enlargement, I’ve placed the location markers based upon the best, combined evidence of 1860, 1876 and 1908 maps. The 1876 map is Beach Nichols 1876 Atlas of York County, PA.

DetailE41to50

I’m working my way around Springettsbury Township, ten buildings at a time, until all buildings from 1860 are visited. See the post: Springettsbury Township building tally during 1860, for my specification of the four regions.

Other posts in this series include:

Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County contains the owner/occupant of most buildings; for example (e47) is Mrs. Forrey. Additional information on Mrs. Forrey can be found by consulting the 1860 Census of the United States; where one discovers this is Martha Forry, a 75-year-old Widow Farmer.

The results after consulting 1860 Spring Garden Township census records are shown below. Spring Garden Township records must be used because Springettsbury Township was formed from the northeast part of that township on April 20, 1891. The order of visitation, of the census taker, often provides assistance on who are neighbors and the tabulation of “value of real estate” separates the landowners from the renters or tenants:

StCensusE41to50

Two of these 1860 buildings still stand at these addresses:

  • [e41] – 3515 Stone Ridge Road; presently King James Bible Church, next to the Stony Brook Mennonite Cemetery
  • [e47] – 508 Locust Grove Road; known as the Schultz House, now a private residence

CardingCarding is the profession of John R. Green; living at residence (e48). This photo, from the Wikimedia free media repository, of a 19th Century carding machine shows the manufacturing operation that might have existed at his place.

Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibers, such as wool, plant fibers, etc., to produce a continuous web. To power the machine, John could have utilized a water wheel; powered from the creek immediately to the west of his place.

On Beach Nichols’ 1876 map, the ‘M E Church’ (e43) is directly across Stone Ridge Road from the small burial ground. This small burial ground is now on the southwest corner of Eastern Boulevard and Stone Ridge Road, therefore the 1876 map placement of the ‘M E Church’ makes sense. If you look at the 1860 map, D. J. Lake incorrectly places that church closer to the curve in Stone Ridge Road; again, I think D. J. Lake likely sighted and recorded building locations relative to one another in this area and his creek error rippled to incorrect placement of nearby buildings.

That small burial ground on the southwest corner of Eastern Boulevard and Stone Ridge Road is known as the Evangelical Burial Ground; in 1932, 24 gravestones were still standing. The congregation (established in 1803) of the M E Church moved to a new building on the southeast corner of East Market Street and Locust Grove Road during 1912.

The Topographic Map, surveyed in 1908, shows a “new” farm residence that has likely replaced residences (e49) and (e50). This “new” farm residence is located directly west of (e49) in the topographic map insert. The “new” farm residence was built after 1876, since it is not shown on Beach Nichols’ 1876 map.

Part of the (e42 to e44) buildings, may still stand within more recent buildings along Stone Ridge Road. Deed and early family history research concerning the history of all properties is ongoing. My goal is to get community involvement. If anyone has a story associated with past owners of these properties, please post a comment.

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Buildings, Family Histories, Manufacturing, Maps, Pennsylvania, Roads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Susquehanna Trail extends from York to the Maryland line

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 11

Maps of Highways between York and Jacobus; before and after Establishment of the Susquehanna Trail in York County, PA (Utilizes 1915 and 1941 York County Highway Maps published by State Highway Department; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Maps of Highways between York and Jacobus; before and after Establishment of the Susquehanna Trail in York County, PA (Utilizes 1915 and 1941 York County Highway Maps published by State Highway Department; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

During 1917, the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association had selected the road segments they would champion as the Susquehanna Trail between Harrisburg and the New York state line. The spring of 1918 saw a competition between Gettysburg and York for being the next city on the Susquehanna Trail, as it extended southward to connect with the Lincoln Highway.

Notification that York was officially selected to be on the Susquehanna Trail appears in the July 2nd, 1918, issue of The Gazette and Daily. With the Susquehanna Trail foothold established to Centre Square in York, the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association next took up the task of selecting the route that they would champion southward from York to the Maryland line. This choice, at the Board’s August 21st, 1918 meeting in Harrisburg, was probably one of the easiest selections the board would ever make.

State Route 127 ran almost due south from Centre Square in York to the Maryland line and it was directly in line with the recently adopted National goal of the Susquehanna Trail Association. Their initial goal was for improving a north-south road in Pennsylvania. Their new goal was National; to extend the Susquehanna Trail beyond Pennsylvania, in this case further southward to Baltimore and ultimately to Washington, D.C.

State Route 127 was the former Baltimore and York Turnpike. I’ll use the side-by-side illustration of 1915 and 1941 highway maps between York and Jacobus to show the history of the evolution of this route. I selected 1915 and 1941 maps because they illustrate location of highways before and after the establishment of the Susquehanna Trail during 1918 in York County.

JOPPA ROAD

In early colonial times, Joppa, Maryland, was a thriving port and major tobacco export town on the Gunpowder River. The town had deep harbor access to the Chesapeake Bay. Ships from Europe and the West Indies routinely stopped at the Joppa wharfs. Joppa became the county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland in 1712; which was 17 years before the town of Baltimore was ever established.

Recall that YorkTown, Pennsylvania, was established in 1741 and became the county seat when York County was separated from Lancaster County in 1749. A rudimentary road existed between York and Joppa; after all, they were county seats in neighboring counties and Joppa was YorkTown’s closest port. Petitions to improve the Joppa Road appear within York County Courts in 1752 and improvements were approved in 1754.

JoppaRdSignSome stand-alone segments of this original road from York to Maryland still exist. I’ve placed blue labels on the highway maps to represent present road names. Joppa Road that crosses Leader Heights Road and York Road east of Jacobus are very likely parts of the original or 1754 improved Joppa Road.

Note that these Joppa Road and York Road segments, at one time, were connected per the 1915 highway map; see third large block of red text. By 1941 the connecting roadway between Joppa Road at Leader Heights and York Road next to Jacobus has been removed from the map. Much of this removed roadway is presently under Lake Redman.

YORK and MARYLAND Line Turnpike

In 1768, the young port town of Baltimore replaced Joppa as the county seat of Baltimore County. In 1807 the York and Maryland Line Turnpike Company was chartered for improving the road between York and the Maryland line. This improved highway became a toll road to pay for those improvements.

This company essentially further improved much of Joppa Road in York County to complete the York & Maryland Line Turnpike by 1810. The stand-along segments of the original road from York to Maryland still exist because the improved route of the York & Maryland Line Turnpike occasionally veered off the original Joppa Road.

BALTIMORE and YORK Turnpike

Many people started to simply call the road the Baltimore Pike, or more formerly the Baltimore and York Turnpike; the name so noted on the 1915 highway map. The name was in reference to the substantial increase in volume of traffic to Baltimore, while traffic to Joppa ceased.

By the late 1700s, Joppa harbor had filled with silt, closing the port. Then the town of Joppa suffered a major smallpox epidemic that decimated the population. Both of these factors turned this former county seat into a ghost town by the early 1800s. Today only the nearby Rumsey House, built circa 1720 (private residence), remains; although the foundations of many of the town site buildings from Joppa’s boom times are still likely buried in the ground under thick layers of silt that has since accumulated at the mouth of the Gunpowder River.

State Route 127

Pennsylvania’s 1911 Sproul Highway Act authorized the state to purchase and convert selected county and private toll roads into state-owned highways. In many counties, the responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of these roads was quickly turned over to the state. In a few counties, including York County, the roads were not sold to the state for a few more years, although Pennsylvania went ahead and identified the roads they intended to make state highways. The state highlighted these roads in red on their 1915 highway map. The Baltimore and York Turnpike was identified as Route 127 by Pennsylvania.

The stockholders of the York and Maryland Line Turnpike Company sold their turnpike for $11,800 on April 18th, 1918. The State and County governments contributed $5,900 each, towards the purchase, and the road became State Route 127.

SUSQUEHANNA TRAIL

On August 21st, 1918, State Route 127 was selected by the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association as the route they would champion as the Susquehanna Trail between York and the Maryland line; the route became State Route 4, in 1918, Pennsylvania’s route designation for the Susquehanna Trail.

BaltPikeSignAs illustrated in my post last Friday, many times the Board of Governors suggested minor changes to the route, to allow for a better driving experience; i.e. straightening of curves or improvements to intersections. A change due to straightening of curves is illustrated by referring to the second large block of red text on the maps.

That block of red text points to the location where the Susquehanna Trail deviated to the east of the old Baltimore turnpike. Within York Township, the name of that section of the old Baltimore turnpike is still named Old Baltimore Pike. The pictured road sign is at the Old Baltimore Pike’s intersection with South George Street (i.e. Susquehanna Trail) and Monument Road.

Over the years 1925 to 1928, the “modern” state route numbering system was implemented, resulting in a Route 111 designation of the Susquehanna Trail through York County. The York to Jacobus section of the 1941 Highway Map, shown at the beginning of this post, has the Susquehanna Trail designated as such; Route 111.

Next Friday, this series will continue on the Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Maps, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Roads, Susquehanna River, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 4

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable add 2 blanks after GOLD

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable

RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 4 of Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.

Continue reading “RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 4” »

Posted in all posts, New Jersey, Railcar Gold, Railroads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LaMotte’s Indian & Harley Motorcycle Feedback

Fred LaMotte of Red Lion stands behind his Indian Motorcycle (Photocopy provided by Fred’s daughter Dorcas LaMotte Townsley)

Fred LaMotte of Red Lion stands behind his Indian Motorcycle (Photocopy provided by Fred’s daughter Dorcas LaMotte Townsley)

A YorksPast article contained 1914 motorcycle illustrations of a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck, an Indian, a Thor and a Yale Motorcycle. The article was the result of a reader request to my write-up about Vulcan Technology in Pullman’s Electrically Controlled Gasoline Automobile. In that post, I noted the Harrisburg Auto Show of 1914 also included motorcycles. Reader Rick Wall wanted to see any of the motorcycles pictured in the 1914 Auto Show flyer.

After seeing the 1914 motorcycle illustrations, Dorcas LaMotte Townsley provided the photocopy and wrote:

I always thought my dad’s motorcycle was an Indian, but it looks more like the Thor on your article.

He was Fred LaMotte of Red Lion. I am his daughter Dorcas LaMotte Townsley.

The picture of LaMotte’s motorcycle does have some features similar to the Thor motorcycle; features likely designed into later Indian Motorcycle models. The following are zoomed-in views of the photocopy provided by Dorcas. The last few letters of Indian are seen on the gas tank, so this is definitely an Indian. Can any of my readers provide the model year of this Indian?

LaMotte2

The Harley-Davidson exhibit at the 1914 Harrisburg Auto Show featured their side-car and their motorcycle truck; with the motorcycle truck pictured in their ad:

The 1914 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck Ad in Harrisburg Auto Show edition of Harrisburg Telegraph (Issue of March 14, 1914 from the Digital Collections of Penn State University Libraries)

The 1914 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Truck Ad in Harrisburg Auto Show edition of Harrisburg Telegraph (Issue of March 14, 1914 from the Digital Collections of Penn State University Libraries)

The caption under the photo of the motorcycle truck stated:

After six years’ study of the light delivery problem and more than two years’ rigid testing of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle truck, as it now stands, we are offering a proposition that has actually demonstrated its worth. In the hands of retailers and wholesalers all over the United States, as well as in the Government service and general parcel delivery.

Gasoline consumption, 30 to 40 miles per gallon with full load [600 pounds]. Speed, 2 to 35 miles per hour.

Harry Landis told me he remembered his grandfather having a similar motorcycle truck; although his cargo box was out to the side. Later in life, Harry asked for more details about the motorcycle truck owned by his grandfather; he heard two stories. One story had his grandfather modifying a sidecar on a Harley so that, approximately a 30” x 45” x 15” deep, cargo box could sit in its place; with speculation that maybe he was the first to do this. Another story had the grandfather purchasing a motorcycle truck, which had been in an accident and he fixed it up. Harry had been told it was used many years as a delivery vehicle in a part-time business run by his grandfather. Harry tried to locate a photo, but was not successful.

While doing newspaper research for a future post, I discovered the following York Cycle Company Ad in the March 22nd, 1928 issue of The Gazette & Daily:

York Cycle Company Ad in the March 22nd, 1928 issue of The Gazette & Daily

York Cycle Company Ad in the March 22nd, 1928 issue of The Gazette & Daily (Newspaper Microfilms at York County Heritage Trust)

I sent a copy to Harry. His recollection was that the ad illustration looked exactly like the delivery motorcycle owned by his grandfather. He came to the realization there was nothing homemade about his grandfather’s delivery motorcycle; he had likely purchased and fixed a factory built Harley-Davidson 1/4-Ton Capacity Package Truck, which had been in an accident.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Automobiles, Businesses, Pennsylvania, Transportation, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zion View gets the Susquehanna Trail; Intersection with North George Street

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 10

Bing.com Birds Eye View of Northgate Shopping Center, north of York, along Route 30 (The 1918 locations of Routes 333 and 250 are annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Bing.com Birds Eye View of Northgate Shopping Center, north of York, along Route 30 (The 1918 locations of Routes 333 and 250 are annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

During 1917, the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association had selected the road segments they would champion as the Susquehanna Trail between Harrisburg and the New York state line. The spring of 1918 saw a competition between Gettysburg and York for being the next city on the Susquehanna Trail, as it extended southward to connect with the Lincoln Highway.

Notification that York was officially selected to be on the Susquehanna Trail appears in the July 2nd, 1918, issue of The Gazette and Daily. York was also invited to nominate two members to the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association. The York Committee selected State Senator Henry Wasbers and William Ilgenfritz; they were elected as voting members at the full Board of Governors’ meeting in Sunbury on July 17th, 1918.

Following the election of new members, at the Sunbury meeting, the Board of Governors debated several routes between York and Harrisburg; all utilized Route 333, Route 250 or a combination of parts of these routes. At the beginning of this post, I’ve marked the intersection of Route 250 (North George Street) with Route 333, as they existed in 1918, on the Bing.com Birds Eye View of Northgate Shopping Center north of York.

It was the whole Board of Governors that had the final say on the Susquehanna Trail route through Northern York County. The York Committee consistently favored Route 250, which went through Emigsville, Manchester Boro and York Haven Boro; therefore it is assumed Wasbers and Ilgenfritz likely voted for Route 250. However they were only two votes, out of many others on the full Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association. The favored route selection, at the Sunbury meeting, went with Route 333; the most direct route from York to New Cumberland; through Newberrytown and Zion View. This is the Susquehanna Trail route we know today in northern York County.

Map showing Initial Routes and the Final Route during the Establishment of the Susquehanna Trail in York County, Pennsylvania during 1918 (S. H. Smith, 2014)

Map showing Initial Routes and the Final Route during the Establishment of the Susquehanna Trail in York County, Pennsylvania during 1918 (S. H. Smith, 2014)

Once a Susquehanna Trail route was selected, the Association championed improvements to the road; by fund raising or lobbying for governmental funds. Many times they suggested minor changes to the route, to allow for a better driving experience; mainly by straightening of curvy sections or improvements to intersections.

The following September 18, 1937 aerial photo is from Penn Pilot. I’ve added the road names. It shows the North George Street area north of North York; comparable to the 2014 Bing.com Birds Eye View at the beginning of this post.

September 18, 1937 Aerial Photo of the North George Street area north of North York (Source is Penn Pilot web site; Street Names added by S. H. Smith, 2013)

September 18, 1937 Aerial Photo of the North George Street area north of North York (Source is Penn Pilot web site; Street Names added by S. H. Smith, 2013)

A 1915 Highway Map, within my post Arsenal Road evolved from a Crooked Road that had an Iron Bridge that Shivered and Shaked, shows that the main east-west intersection crossing North George Street was originally at 11th Avenue. Route 333 veered off to the northwest from this intersection with North George Street (Route 250) and 11th Avenue headed east towards the bridge crossing the Codorus Creek into Springettsbury Township.

It is likely that the Susquehanna Trail Association decided the intersection of the Susquehanna Trail with North George Street needed to be widened, thus a new Trail entrance was moved into fields a short distance north, as can be seen in this 1937 aerial photo. I suspect this, because 1915 and 1926 highway maps confirm this intersection improvement occurred between 1915 and 1926. The Susquehanna Trail spanned 1917 to 1924; conceived in 1917 and all improvements made by its official opening in 1924.

From this intersection to Centre Square in York, the North George Street also became the Susquehanna Trail. After the selection of these routes by the Board of Governors, the Susquehanna Trail was initially designated State Route 4 and afterwards Route 111 in York County.

Around this intersection, in the 1937 aerial photo, one can see the large plant nursery that existed in fields on both sides of North George Street, just north of North York. The original Route 333 entrance to the Susquehanna Trail was renamed as the continuum of 11th Avenue.

With the Susquehanna Trail foothold established to Centre Square in York, quickly the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association took up the task of selecting the route that they would champion southward from York to the Maryland line. That will be my post next Friday in my continuing series on the Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Maps, Pennsylvania, Roads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 3

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable add 2 blanks after GOLD

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable

RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 3 of Chapter 19 . . . Sustainable. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.

Continue reading “RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 19 . . Sustainable . . Part 3” »

Posted in all posts, Businesses, Manufacturing, New Jersey, Railcar Gold, Railroads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Billmeyer Printers of YorkTown; 2014 Journal of York County Heritage

Large Stone Tablet built into the 1901 front steps of the Michael Billmeyer House at 6505-6507 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA (2007 Photo, S. H. Smith)

Large Stone Tablet built into the 1901 front steps of the Michael Billmeyer House at 6505-6507 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA (2006 Photo, S. H. Smith)

The 2014 Journal of York County Heritage was recently unveiled at the York County Heritage Trust (YCHT). I authored the article “A Family of Printers, The Billmeyers of York Town and the Early Printing Profession.” Several members of the Billmeyer family, that I write about, grace the cover of the Journal; courtesy of images drawn by Lewis Miller. The 2014 edition of the Journal is now available for $6.95 in both the YCHT Museum Book Shop and online at the Trust’s Museum Gift Shop and Book Store.

The inspiration for my article is pictured on page 6 of the Journal; the Germantown home of Michael Billmeyer. The page 6 photo of the Michael Billmeyer House is from the large photo collection donated to the YCHT by Rev. Charles W. Heathcote; his photo of the Michael Billmeyer House was taken around 1951.

Seven years ago I was in Philadelphia doing family history research. One item on my list was to visit the Germantown Historical Society. While there, I walked along Germantown Avenue to a nearby cemetery and passed a house containing a large stone tablet, stating:

In front of this House during The Battle of Germantown Oct. 4th 1777, Washington conferred with his Officers, ordered the attack upon the Chew House and directed the Battle. This House bears the marks of bullets and of attempts to fire it made by the British. In 1789 it became the Home of Michael Billmeyer, the Printer.

I returned to the Germantown Historical Society, finished my intended research, and Michael Billmeyer, the Printer, became my diversionary research. At the time I had been considering doing some sort of Historical Novel about the York railcar-building business of Billmeyer & Small. Two years ago, I decided to use YorksPast to force me to finally start this novel. I’m on a weekly schedule of researching and writing an installment of the novel that appears every Thursday in YorksPast; here is a relevant link to one such installment.

Charles Billmeyer is one of the founders of the Billmeyer & Small railcar building business and the builder of the ornate York House in the 200 block of East Market Street. In 2006, I knew Charles’ father was Daniel Billmeyer, a Printer in York, but did not know much more about the Billmeyer family history.

The Germantown Historical Society diversionary research in 2006 about Michael Billmeyer had several surprises. I learned Michael Billmeyer was born in York, however spent most of his life as a prolific printer in Germantown. Over 100-years ago, historians also wrote that Michael’s son Daniel was also a printer that moved to York to print a German language newspaper [the part about Michael’s son Daniel moving to York, was later discovered to be in error]. In 2006, I immediately questioned, is Michael Billmeyer the grandfather of Charles Billmeyer?

Fast forward to last fall. I was doing some PastPerfect searches at the York County Heritage Trust Library, looking for Billmeyer buildings, houses, etc. A photo of the Michael Billmeyer House in Germantown was one of the hits; from the Heathcote photo collection. I thought, gee, this archives really does have everything.

I recalled walking by the Michael Billmeyer House, however had since discovered historians, from long ago, had either interchanged or combined Daniel, the son of Andrew Billmeyer and Daniel, the son of Michael Billmeyer. I essentially used documentation available at the Heritage Trust and elsewhere to write an article for the 2014 Journal of York County Heritage to set the record straight.

Frederick DeBourg Richards took a photo of the Michael Billmeyer House on Germantown Avenue in April 1859. The source of the following copy of that photo is the Library Company of Philadelphia. This building contained the home, printing office and bookstore of Michael Billmeyer.

Michael Billmeyer House on Germantown Avenue (April 1859 Photo by Frederick DeBourg Richards, Library Company of Philadelphia)

Michael Billmeyer House on Germantown Avenue (April 1859 Photo by Frederick DeBourg Richards, Library Company of Philadelphia)

The 1859 and 1951 house photos were both taken from the same angle. The principal difference in the photos is due to the 1901 widening of Germantown Avenue, resulting in the addition of the stone, foreshortened, street-side, entrance steps. In the wall of those new entrance steps, The Site and Relic Society of Germantown, built-in the 1901 large stone tablet, shown at the beginning of this post.

The Daniel Billmeyer House is directly across Germantown Avenue from the house of his father Michael Billmeyer. Like his father, Daniel L. Billmeyer became a successful printer along with his brother George, and continued to reside in Philadelphia.

HousesNRHP

Both the Daniel Billmeyer House and the Michael Billmeyer House still stand along Germantown Avenue and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). These buildings contribute to the Colonial Germantown Historic District in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. Daniel Billmeyer built his house in 1793. In 1789, Michael Billmeyer became the most prominent occupant of his house; believed to have been built in 1727.

Andrew Billmeyer is a younger brother of Michael Billmeyer; both were born and raised in YorkTown, York County, Pennsylvania. They are children of Jacob Billmeyer, who resided at the site of YorkTown by 1738; which is four years before YorkTown was surveyed in 1741. In a previous post I wrote about Four Generations of Billmeyer Family History; from the Immigrant Jacob to Andrew to Daniel to Charles.

Summarizing the heads of four Billmeyer generations that remained in YorkTown, PA:

  • Jacob Billmeyer (1714-1777) The 1732 Immigrant … lived to be 63-years-old.
  • Andrew Billmeyer (1754-1835) Printer … lived to be 80-years-old.
  • Daniel Billmeyer (1788-1828) Printer … lived to be 40-years-old.
  • Charles Billmeyer (1824-1875) Railcar Builder … lived to be 51-years-old.

In York, other buildings have long since replaced structures housing the early print shops of Andrew Billmeyer and his son Daniel Billmeyer. Andrew Billmeyer’s print shop was likely located within property he owned on the northeast corner of Centre Square; along what is now East Market Street. Andrew Billmeyer sold this Centre Square property to George Small in 1809. On that site, George Small opened a hardware store, likely in the former print shop. However that structure was eventually replaced by a four-story building, which would house the prominent business P.A. & S. Small Company, under the control of two sons of George Small; Philip Albright Small and Samuel Small.

Daniel Billmeyer’s print shop was on the south side of what is now East Market Street; it was located about at the present lobby entrance to the Yorktowne Hotel. For the full story of the Billmeyer Family of Printers, see pages 6-15 of the 2014 Journal of York County Heritage.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Books, Buildings, Businesses, Family Histories, Manufacturing, Pennsylvania, Railcar Gold, Railroads, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

York Fair & Susquehanna Trail Edition; Readers Choose Top 10 Posts during September 2014

Stats2014Sep

York Fair & Susquehanna Trail posts dominated the most popular YorksPast posts during September. Just like August, the series on the Susquehanna Trail continued to provide a significant boost in YorksPast readership … THANKS!   I’ve collected enough new material to continue writing about the Susquehanna Trail throughout October. That series will resume next Friday.

At the beginning of every month, I’m sharing with my readers the top 10 posts from the previous month. These are your favorites during September 2014:

Yt84College Football Games were played on the York Fairgrounds during the York Fair

In the years prior to the construction of the Grandstand Stage on the present York Fairgrounds, the infield of the half-mile race track was occasionally used for football games. This early sports article gives details about the College Football Game played between Dickinson College Reserves and the York Collegiate Institute teams during the York Fair in 1899.

Yt8575 Years Ago, Joe Bury sells Four and a Half TONS of Hamburgers at the York Fair

Joe Bury rightfully deserves the title of York’s hamburg king. A total of 44,750 hamburgers crossed the counter at his stand on the fair grounds 75 years ago. He disposed of 8,950 pounds of hamburg, almost four and a half tons. To make Bury’s feat even more astonishing, in 1939 the York Fair only ran 5 days and 5 nights; Tuesday through Saturday.

Yt86Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association visit to York in 1918

In 1918, the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association visited York on June 12th and Gettysburg on June 13th; to help them decide which city would be the terminus of the southern extension of the Susquehanna Trail. The York Motor Club, pictured in this postcard, is where the York delegation entertained the Board of Governors during the evening of June 12th. Learn where the York Motor Club building still stands.

Yt87NEVER BUILT . . . The Town of Pleasant Garden and other Curiosities

This post provides links related to my latest talk that is entitled “NEVER BUILT . . . The Town of Pleasant Garden and other Curiosities.” The talk was first presented during September and word-of-mouth has already resulted in the talk being scheduled at other locations during November 2014 and March 2015 … watch for details.

Yt88Birds Eye View of Original York Fairgrounds Site

As a result of my post York Fair Grounds Particulars from 1877, I received a request to determine approximately where the track and buildings were located on terms of present York streets. In this post, I’ve marked-up a 2014 Bing.com SOUTH LOOKING Birds-Eye View to indicate the extent of the original (1856-1888) York Fairgrounds. I’ve also over-sketched the approximate location of the 1/3rd-mile race track.

Yt89Establishment of the Susquehanna Trail in York County during 1918

A map shows initial routes and the final route during the process of establishing the Susquehanna Trail in Northern York County during 1918. With the Susquehanna Trail foothold established from Harrisburg to York, a Trail route south of York was guaranteed to follow.

Yt90500th YorksPast Post & Readers Choose Top 10 Posts during August 2014

YorksPast started with a post on July 26, 2012. Two years and nearly two months later, this marks my 500th post of sharing a hodgepodge of explorations of York’s Past. I’ve learned a lot, via my research, for those posts; I hope my readers enjoyed what I’ve shared along the way.

Yt91Susquehanna Trail Association switches in favor of a York Haven route; should York get the Trail

During the June 12th, 1918 York visit, the Board of Governors favored the Dillsburg, Wellsville and Dover route of the Susquehanna Trail, should York get the Trail; although the York Committee was able to convince the Board of Governors to take a peek at their suggested route through York Haven. On June 17th, a Harrisburg newspaper was first to beak the news that the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association had switched in favor of a York Haven route; if York is selected over Gettysburg to get the Trail.

Yt92Yorkers spring into action To Attract the Susquehanna Trail

On June 12th, 1918, a 150-member York delegation, in 34 cars, would caravan to Harrisburg to escort the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association back to York. The rules for the caravan: “The drivers will draw for place in line and there will be no racing.”

Yt93A Trolley heads East of Stony Run in Stony Brook

Trolleys ran from the City of York to Wrightsville, passing through Stony Brook in Springettsbury Township.  Trolley service in and near the City of York existed from August 18, 1892 to February 4, 1939.  However the York to Wrightsville trolley was in service for a shorter time span, from May 21, 1904 to February 1, 1933; thus placing this, undated eastward looking, photo from the collections of the York County Heritage Trust before February 1, 1933. The photo shows a trolley passing over Stony Run where it crosses the Lincoln Highway in Stony Brook; i.e. just east of the Locust Grove Road intersection.

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

Posted in all posts, Buildings, Roads, Talks, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment