Private, public interests built Lake Marburg for manufacturing, recreation

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During a drought in 2004, a land bridge, probably an old farm lane, connected the marina at Codorus State Park’s Lake Marburg to Long Island, or Long Peninsula at that moment. The island contained the remains of an old farmhouse and bank barn that made way for the lake. Its waters covered the town of Marburg Flats and part of old Route 216, in York County, Pa. The lake made news in the drought of 2004 for its dwindling water supply, and the drowning of a teen girl this week propelled the 1,275-acre reservoir back into the headlines. Background posts: 18th-century brownfield now parkland, Is it Pigeon Hills or Pidgeon Hills?, Worker saved key historical surveys from Glatfelter pulping machine.

To fill its massive water demands, Glatfelter paper built Lake Lehman in 1942.
It built Lake PahaGaCo (P.H. Glatfelter Co.) in 1955. It supplemented PaHaGaCo’s 1.3 billion gallons with water from the Thomasville Stone & Lime Company quarries.
But the severe drought of 1963 proved that more water was needed. That was a moment that communities even resorted to cloud seeding… .


The drought also convinced Pennsylvania officials that more reservoirs were needed and that dovetailed with separate state plans to build a new state park on the west branch of the three-pronged Codorus Creek.
That’s how Mark Lipper, in his book “Paper, People and Progress,” explained the confluence of the private/public partnership that led to the creation of Lake Marburg in 1967.
“The Spring Grove Years,” Spring Grove’s centennial book, explained the deal this way:
Glatfelter built the dam – the P.H. Glatfelter Dam – and pumping facilities. The state constructed Codorus State Park and its recreational facilities.
Glatfelter would maintain the dam and pumps. In return, it would be allowed to use water from the reservoir for manufacturing.
The proposed private/public Lauxmont Park project often has been compared to the Lake Marburg/Codorus State Park project.
Both involved the taking of private land for public good.
In 40 years, much changed to complicate such projects. So far, Lauxmont Park, unlike Lake Marburg, has simply not washed.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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