Susquehanna Trail to Tap the Lincoln Highway at either Gettysburg or York; with Dover route Considered

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 5

By the fall of 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. With a new year, talk of expanding the Trail southward was the next step. Early in the spring of 1918, Max L. Lindheimer, the secretary of the association, wrote in a letter to Burgess Eicholtz of Gettysburg:

On June 12th [1918] the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association intend to make an Inspection Trip for the tapping of the Lincoln Highway below Harrisburg, and the idea of the Governors is either to make Gettysburg the terminus or York.

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 has commented with the correct answer following clues: (1) last two words in the road name are given in Part 1,  (2) sign is in Manchester Township, (3) the sign is at a “Y” intersection, and (4) the “Inn is in the Y.”

Susquehanna Trail road sign in York County, PA, and Photo Clue related to the Mystery Road (2014 Photos, S. H. Smith)

Susquehanna Trail road sign in York County, PA, and Photo Clue related to the Mystery Road (2014 Photos, S. H. Smith)

The fifth clue is this structure photo; it is directly related to the name of the mystery road. One reader possibly had the correct answer this past week, however I told him that he had to submit his answer with a comment to this post, for a ruling if his answer was correct. He has yet to submit a comment, thus everyone else has another chance.

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, the 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.

Running north out of Harrisburg, the Susquehanna Trail (State Route 4) 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. I explained how 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; see Part 4.

In this Part 5, I begin to delve into newspaper accounts 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.

From the start, it appeared that the Board of Governors of The Susquehanna Trail Association, at least those from the Williamsport area, favored the southern extension of the Susquehanna Trail passing through Gettysburg as opposed to a York route. Even after the entire Board of Governors selected a York route, the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce continued to emphasis the alternate Gettysburg route; especially upon the further extension of the Susquehanna Trail to Niagara Falls on the north and Washington, D.C. on the south.

Williamsport1928

This graphic appears in a 1928, Sixth Edition of the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce’s publication touting THE SUSQUEHANNA TRAIL “The Greatest Highway in Eastern America.” It states, “Williamspost, ‘The Ideal City for Home and Business,’ The Half-Way Point on The Susquehanna Trail Between Niagara Falls and Washington, via Buffalo, Harrisburg and Gettysburg.”

GettysburgTimes1918The April 26th, 1918, issue of The Gettysburg Times contained this newspaper item:

TRAIL BOOSTERS WILL COME HERE

Want Both Gettysburg and York to Make Bids for Terminus of the Road.

Burgess Eicholtz has received the following letter from Max L. Lindheimer, secretary of the Susquehanna Trail Association:

Dear Sir:

On June 12th the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association intend to make an Inspection Trip for the tapping of the Lincoln Highway below Harrisburg, and the idea of the Governors is either to make Gettysburg the terminus or York. We believe it is for the interest of the city of Gettysburg to have the Trail make its terminus in your city and therefore, ask you as an association for the betterment of conditions, etc., to get busy on this project.

The Board of Governors will arrive in Gettysburg the morning of June 13th and from there go back to Harrisburg and we are to leave this matter to the citizens of both your city as well as York to make their bid.

If this meets with your approval and you are interested kindly send me any suggestions or any information regarding your views on this matter.

Very truly yours,
Susquehanna Trail Assoc.
Max L. Lindheimer, secretary.

I assume that somebody in York received a similar letter from Max L. Lindheimer, however I could not located such a letter in my research. Upcoming posts in this series contain newspaper accounts noting the early 1918 route proposals for the Susquehanna Trail to tap the Lincoln Highway at Gettysburg or York.

I’ve drawn these early route proposals in YELLOW on the following 1928 Thayer’s Industrial Map of Pennsylvania. This map shows railways and only the major roads, along with red stamps indicating the major industries in each county. With an early vote by the Board of Governors, the Susquehanna Trail had a chance of going through Dover, even though everything appeared stacked in favor of Gettysburg getting the Susquehanna Trail.

Adams & York County view of 1928 Thayer’s Industrial Map of Pennsylvania (Source: Penn State Map Room; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Adams & York County view of 1928 Thayer’s Industrial Map of Pennsylvania (Source: Penn State Map Room; Annotations by S. H. Smith, 2014)

Viewing the early route proposals gives the impression that the route was drawn from Harrisburg to Gettysburg and the York route was added as an afterthought. Also by having the York route go to Harrisburg, by way of Dillsburg, the overall route distance from Harrisburg to Gettysburg, and Harrisburg to York is the same 36-miles. Later in 1918, the selected Susquehanna Trail route is as we all know today in York County, where the distance from Harrisburg to York is 29-miles. To be continued . . . next Friday in Part 6.

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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