The York County section of J. H. Colton’s 1859 map of Pennsylvania shows the earliest railroads in the county. This post provides a short timeline history of these railroads and provides historical background for the Railcar Gold novel installments being posted every Thursday. Last week the main character, a nine-year-old runaway orphan, crossed over the Columbia-Wrightsville Covered Bridge in July 1860 and is traveling westward through the York countryside as a rail stowaway.
Timeline for the Earliest York County Railroads
(1) … In 1838, the York and Maryland Line Railroad is completed; it runs from the Maryland Line to York, Pennsylvania. These tracks connect to the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad in Maryland, allowing the first train travel to York.
(2) … In 1840, the railroad extension from York to Wrightsville is completed. Tracks are laid through the Columbia-Wrightsville Covered Bridge, resulting in a rail connection to the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad; which becomes the Pennsylvania Railroad. However no engines were allowed on this mile-long Covered Bridge, for fear of it catching fire from a hot locomotive cinder. The solution, railcars were pulled across the bridge by horses or oxen.
(3) … In 1851, the York and Cumberland Railroad is completed. These tracks run north from York then along the western side of the Susquehanna River to Lemoyne and across the river to Harrisburg.
(4) … In 1852, the Hanover Branch Railroad is completed from Hanover Junction to the Hanover. These tracks would be extended to Gettysburg prior the start of the Civil War.
In 1855, the various railroad companies (1), (2) & (3), i.e. except the Hanover Branch Railroad, were consolidated as the Northern Central Railway Company.
In 1861, the Pennsylvania Railroad acquired a controlling interest in the Northern Central, thereafter it operated as a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
This York County section of O. W. Gray’s 1876 map of Pennsylvania shows two additional railroads radiating from York and notes the names of many of the Railroad Stations.
York County Railroads Timeline Continued
(5) … In 1874, tracklaying began May 1st on the narrow-gauge Peach Bottom Railway in York and track was opened to Red Lion by August and Muddy Creek Forks by Christmas. However it would be April 15th 1876 before the Peach Bottom Railway track opened to Delta.
(6) … In 1875, the Hanover & York Railroad was completed. This railroad was organized in 1873 to build a direct rail line between York and Hanover. The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired this rail line in 1914.
Do any of my readers know the history of Hershey’s Station near Hallam or Stoner’s Station along Ducktown Road? Both of these railroad stations are noted along the rail line between Wrightsville and York within Gray’s 1876 Map.
This is my 117th post. An inventory of the general topics and locations that have been the subjects of my first 100 posts are presented in a 100-tile mosaic that breaks down these posts into seven general categories.