The Susquehanna Trail lands York, PA at the Crossroads of PA Routes 1 & 4

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 4

1925 Map of Major Pennsylvania Route Numbers in booklet Pennsylvania Facts Motorists Should Know, published by Department of Highways, Harrisburg PA in 1925. (Source: Penn State University Library)

1925 Map of Major Pennsylvania Route Numbers in booklet Pennsylvania Facts Motorists Should Know, published by Department of Highways, Harrisburg PA in 1925. (Source: Penn State University Library)

In Part 1 of the Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement, I asked my readers to solve the mystery location of a Susquehanna Trail road sign in York County by identifying the full name of the intersecting road.  Nobody commented with the correct answer following the Manchester Township and the sign is at a “Y” intersection clues, therefore here is your next clue: the “Inn is in the Y.”

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.  Pennsylvania immediately identified their major state roads by route numbers; with east-west highways generally odd numbers and north-south highways generally even numbers.

We have the Susquehanna Trail road name in York County as a result of the Good Roads Movement in Pennsylvania.  The Susquehanna Trail Association was established in Williamsport on February 2nd, 1917; it was modeled after the successful nationwide Lincoln Highway Association, founded four years earlier.

Just as with the Lincoln Highway, the Board of Governors of The Susquehanna Trail Association deliberated and made site visits to select the existing road segments that would be part of the Susquehanna Trail.  In February 1917, Board of Governors immediately selected State Route 4, which had existed for several years between Harrisburg and Williamsport, as their first road segment of the Susquehanna Trail; see Part 1.  By the fall of 1917, the Board of Governors of The Susquehanna Trail Association selected the route they would champion north from Williamsport to the New York State line; see Part 2.  Besides having the Susquehanna Trail label, Pennsylvania’s Department of Highways also extended their State Route 4 designation along the association’s chosen route to the New York State line.

The following is an enlarged section of the 1925 Pennsylvania Road Map shown at the beginning of this post.  This Map of Major Pennsylvania Route Numbers is from the booklet Pennsylvania Facts Motorists Should Know, published by Department of Highways, Harrisburg PA in 1925.

Enlarged Section of 1925 Map of Major Pennsylvania Route Numbers in booklet Pennsylvania Facts Motorists Should Know, published by Department of Highways, Harrisburg PA in 1925. (Source: Penn State University Library)

Enlarged Section of 1925 Map of Major Pennsylvania Route Numbers in booklet Pennsylvania Facts Motorists Should Know, published by Department of Highways, Harrisburg PA in 1925. (Source: Penn State University Library)

Running north out of Harrisburg, the Susquehanna Trail followed the already established William Penn Highway (State Route 3) until it reached Amity Hall, where it branched off, on its own, and followed the Susquehanna River to Williamsport; see Part 3.  During the spring and summer of 1918, the competition was on between Adams County and York County as they advocated for the southern extension route of the Susquehanna Trail to pass through their respective territories.

The remaining posts in this series will examine details of that competition; however jumping forward to the fall of 1918, the Board of Governors of The Susquehanna Trail Association selected a York County route they would champion south from Harrisburg to the Maryland line.  Besides having the Susquehanna Trail label, Pennsylvania’s Department of Highways also extended their State Route 4 designation along the association’s chosen route to the Maryland line, thus landing York, PA at the Crossroads of PA Routes 1 & 4; as seen on the 1925 map.

Pennsylvania Routes 1 & 4 did not cross in York’s Continental Square much longer, since over the years 1925 to 1928 the “modern” state route numbering system was implemented throughout the states.  Pennsylvania was in the minority during the nationwide implementation and converted to the “modern” system of identifying major state roads with east-west highways generally with even numbers and north-south highways generally with odd numbers.  Thus PA Route 1 became Route 30 and PA Route 4 became Route 111 over all but the Harrisburg to Sunbury part of the Susquehanna Trail, which became Route 11.

Related posts include:

Reading the HEADLINES; A Quick Index to ALL YorksPast Posts

About Stephen H. Smith

Stephen H. Smith is a design engineer who worked at York International Corp. for 33 years before retiring several years ago to research and write books full time; his second career. The initial emphasis was on family history when he won a national award during 2002 for his first book “Barshingers in America.” Positive feedback and that award were influential in his decision to retire early from engineering and start a retirement career.

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