York is In Danger of Losing the Susquehanna Trail during 1923

Story of the Susquehanna Trail in the Good Roads Movement: Part 15

Trail1923mapIn 1923, it had been five years since York was selected over Gettysburg as the southern extension city on the Susquehanna Trail. The concrete Trail from York to the Maryland line is complete by the end of 1923. However the laying of concrete over most of the Trail between York and Harrisburg was barely underway by the end of 1923. York had been successful in diverting funds to improve the roadway between York and York Haven, before doing hardly any work on the Trail route between York and Newberrytown.

If you examined the map closely in last Friday’s post, The Susquehanna Trail as a Ribbon of Concrete, you can see the mapped highway, heading northward from York, is actually the road curving towards the river; i.e. York Haven. After five years, York had made virtually no improvement to large sections of the designated Susquehanna Trail north of York. This was the reason many people traveling the unimproved Trail between York and Newberrytown were still getting stuck in the mud during 1923.

It did not sit well with some Williamsport people, where the idea of the Susquehanna Trail originated, that York was the only county lagging behind in supporting the Trail as the top priority. The Williamsport Chamber of Commerce started to print maps, as shown in this post, to rekindle their support for a Gettysburg route of the Susquehanna Trail.

The Williamsport Chamber of Commerce sent speakers to new Trail route towns, such as Gettysburg, Thurmont, Frederick and Rockville. They referred to the old routing of the Trail as being from Harrisburg through York; while firing-up communities on the new route of the Trail to press forward and demand a Susquehanna Trail route change. The Publicity Bureau of Gettysburg did just that, as reported by The Gettysburg Times issue of December 11, 1923: “The condition of the Harrisburg-York road will be called to the attention of Highway Commissioner Wright by the Gettysburg Publicity Bureau as further argument for the designation officially of the Harrisburg-Gettysburg-Washington route as the Susquehanna Trail.”

Trail1923articleThe renewed Susquehanna Trail organization, within Gettysburg, formed as a result of the following kick-off talk on September 24, 1923:

SUSQUEHANNA TRAIL MAY PASS THRO’ GETTYSBURG

Williamsport Hotel Men to Discuss Subject Before Local Rotary Club This Evening

John F. Letton, managing director of the Lycoming hotel at Williamsport, and vice president of the Associated Highways Organization of Pennsylvania, will address the Gettysburg Rotary Club at its weekly luncheon at the Hoffman House this evening at 6 o’clock on the subject: “The possibilities of the Susquehanna Trail.” This main highway has just been opened completely from Harrisburg into Northern New York state and continuation of it from Harrisburg south is being discussed and mapped out.

The old routing of this trail is from Harrisburg through York, thereby excluding Gettysburg and Adams County. The possibility of having it extended through this section will be discussed at the luncheon this evening.

These actions during 1923, initiated by the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce, did kick-start the work on improving the Susquehanna Trail between York and Harrisburg. As a result, York County did not lose the Susquehanna Trail.

However the by-product of these actions led to the creation of an officially designated Alternate Susquehanna Trail route from Harrisburg, through Gettysburg and Frederick, to Washington, D.C. The Williamsport Chamber of Commerce heavily promoted this Alternate Susquehanna Trail route, long after the Trail officially opened in 1924.

A directly related post concerning the Lincoln Highway: York was in danger of losing the Lincoln Highway during 1914.  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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