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

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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