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

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 7

Circa 1913 Postcard of York Motor Club, York, PA (Postcard is Postmarked June 1914 and is from the Collections of S. H. Smith)

Circa 1913 Postcard of York Motor Club, York, PA (Postcard is Postmarked June 1914 and is from the Collections of S. H. Smith)

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, 1918. The Colonial Revival building with massive wrap-around porch still stands along the north side of East Market Street, between North Findlay Street and North Vernon Street, in Springettsbury Township. The building looks virtually the same as it did over 100-years ago in this circa 1913 postcard.

Some automobile owners of York and York County met April 25, 1906.  They formed “The Automobile Association of York County.”  This organization is not to be confused with AAA (American Automobile Association), which established a chapter in York County twenty years later in 1926.

The Automobile Association of York County soon adopted the shorter name “York Motor Club.”  The club promoted good safe roads.  Members shared road trip travel ideas.  The club encouraged camaraderie of car ownership through gatherings and activities. The post 1906 York Automobile Owners form York Motor Club; their Club House still stands contains additional details about this motor club and their club house. And the post Coal Baron built Mansion in Springettsbury, tells who initially built the club house.

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, (4) the “Inn is in the Y,” (5) a Photo Clue in Part 5, and (6) a 1915 highway map, in Part 6, narrowed down the portion of Manchester Township where the mystery road is located. Your seventh clue: the Old Mill operated until 1922, upon which it was initially converted to an Inn.

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.

Williamsport favored placing the Susquehanna Trail through Gettysburg over a York Route, however the full Board of Governors would ultimately decide if Gettysburg or York would get the Susquehanna Trail; see Part 5. Yorkers sprung into action to attract the Susquehanna Trail. They planned for the visit by the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association, who favored a York County route through Dillsburg, Wellsville, and Dover. The York Committee planned to propose a better route through Emigsville, Manchester Boro, York Haven Boro, and Newberrytown; see Part 6. For those familiar with the Susquehanna Trail, north of York, you realize that neither of these routes ultimately became the final route of The Trail.

I found it interesting to read about the June 12th visit by the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association from two, slightly different, viewpoints; both Harrisburg and York. The Harrisburg viewpoint is from the June 13th, 1918, issue of the Harrisburg Telegraph, reporting on the Board of Governors visit to York:

York Makes Bid For Spur of the Susquehanna Trail

With the purpose of pushing the claims of York for a place on the route of the Susquehanna Trail, 150 leading men of that city, members of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Auto Dealers’ Association, etc., in fifty automobiles yesterday afternoon escorted from Harrisburg to York twenty-five members of the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association together with their wives and daughters.

Last evening these members were the guests of honor at a reception of the York Motor Club. The address of welcome was delivered by Mayor E. S. Hugentugler. Senator Henry Wasbers, member of the York Trail Committee, explained the object of the day’s trip.

The twenty-five governors, all of them coming from towns along the trail north of Harrisburg, came here yesterday for the purpose of selecting a route for the section of the trail from Harrisburg to the Mason and Dixon Line. The trail follows the Susquehanna River from Lawrenceville to this city [Harrisburg].

The York route which passes through Dillsburg, Wellsville, Mount Royal, Dover and Weiglestown, favorably impressed the governors, but no definite decision has yet been reached concerning the route to be finally selected. Today the officials made a trip to Gettysburg to pass over the route which passes through Gettysburg.

As you recall from my post Susquehanna Trail to Tap the Lincoln Highway at either Gettysburg or York; with Dover route Considered, the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association favored a York County route through Dillsburg, Wellsville, and Dover, as I previously depicted in on the following map.

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)

The York Committee had selected the more direct route through Newberrytown, York Haven Boro, Manchester Boro and Emigsville. The York Committee had gone to a lot of effort to evaluate and mark their route in preparation of showing it off to the Board of Governors. However, evidently the Board of Governors insisted on seeing only the Dillsburg route. Although in conference at the York Motor Club, the York Committee convinced the Board of Governors to take a quick peek at their route, the following morning, prior to the Board of Governors traveling to Gettysburg. This is reported in the June 13th, 1918, issue of The York Daily:

River Trail Is Strategic Route Says Former Senator Merrick At Motor Club Meeting—Governors Here

DEFER ROUTE SELECTION

No selection of the route through this section of the state was made by the Board of Governors of the Susquehanna Trail Association, who were entertained yesterday by the York County Committee interested in locating the trail through this city. The trail officers were met at Harrisburg by the party of Yorkers, but the return to the city was made by the way of Dillsburg, instead of over route No. 250, as intended. An inspection of the proposed trail through this section, over both state highway No. 250, and No. 333, will be made by the officers of the trail and the York Committee.

At the Motor Club, last evening, where the visitors were entertained at dinner, W. T. Merrick, who was one of the speakers stated that York was on the shortest route to Washington, the southern terminus of the trail. He also pointed out the strategic importance from a military point of view of such a road as the proposed Susquehanna Trail.

It will commence at the New York state line, where it will meet the Mohawk Trail, leading direct to the great lakes. The trail has been located definitely southward as far as Harrisburg, from which point the route remains to be determined.

The York party made up a train of 50 automobiles and left shortly after noon. The automobiles on the north side of East Market Street and each car was numbered and supplied with a banner, reading, “Boost the Susquehanna Trail,” while the delegates occupying the automobiles wore badges. They arrived in Harrisburg at 3 p.m., by way of the proposed trail from York, and met the Williamsport delegation, which included the following:

  • Dr. and Mrs. Charles T. Aikens, Selinsgrove
  • Mr. and Mrs. Max L. Lindheimer, Willamsport
  • Former State Senator and Mrs. W. T. Merrick, Wellsboro
  • Mr. and Mrs. Vosburg, Mansfield
  • James T. Snyder, Blossburg
  • Mr. and Mrs. William Decker, Montgomery
  • William Field Shay, Watsontown
  • Robert Rombach, Sunbury
  • Dr. H. R. Wnitmer, Liverpool
  • John E. Person, of the Sun, Williamsport.

The trail governors left Williamsport yesterday morning at 9 o’clock. Six automobiles conveyed the party. They arrived in Harrisburg at 1:30 o’clock and had dinner at the Senate.

After the Yorkers had also had dinner the entire party left the capital at 4 p.m. on the return trip to this city [York]. Having decided upon the best road regardless of the distance of the route by way of Dillsburg and Wellsville was selected.

Supper At Motor Club

The party arrived in the city at 6 p.m. and proceeded to the Motor Club on the Wrightsville Pike, where supper was served. The guests were welcomed by Mayor E. S. Hugentugler, and Senator Henry Wasbers. The response was made by Dr. Aikens, president of the trail association.

The Board of Governors of the trail association and the York Committee held a conference, at which it was decided to go over the two trail routes today, selected by the local committee. The decision by the Board of Governors of their choice of route will be made later.

A dance was held for the guests, the music being furnished by Percy Hall’s Jazz Band.

The visitors during their stay in the city are guests at the Colonial Hotel. Upon their return today from the inspection of the trail route through this county, they will proceed to Gettysburg.

In addition to the trail governors and their wives, the party of visitors included:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Frank Snyder
  • Mr. and Mrs. Simon Schloss and son
  • Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence H. Ulman
  • Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Perley
  • Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Rohrbaugh
  • Mr. and Mrs. N. Gulley Finch
  • Mr. and Mrs. B. Person

The automobiles for the York party were furnished by the following:

  • Anderson Motor Car Company, 2
  • Max Grumbacher
  • Franklin Auto Company
  • L. Edward Herr
  • Dr. G. E. Spotz
  • Urban S. Bond
  • James W. Neuman
  • Edward W. Neuman
  • J. W. Richley Automobile Company, 2
  • Harrisburg-Overland Company
  • York Garage & Supply Company
  • Ambrose B. Strickler
  • Harry S. Ebert
  • Snyder Automobile Company
  • Arthur E. Lehman
  • N. H. Forry
  • E. A. Clark was the pilot.

This article gives a clue of the influential person that will champion the York cause on the Board of Governors. Former State Senator Walter T. Merrick, from Wellsboro, home of the Wellsboro Agitator, a town north of Williamspost in Tioga County; however not directly on the Susquehanna Trail. Merrick is already talking about extending the southern terminus of the Susquehanna Trail to Washington D.C. He points out the strategic importance, from a military point of view, of such a route for the proposed Susquehanna Trail passing through the industrial cities of York and Baltimore. Remember, in June of 1918, the United States is still involved in World War I.

To be continued . . . next Friday in Part 8.

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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