The village of Spry in York Township, Pa., is the home of Goodwill Fire Company, which supplied the ladder truck so that Almar the Professional Idiot could demonstrate his escape from a straight jacket. Almar kicked off the Dallastown Halloween Parade about a decade ago and was captured in this York Daily Record file photo. (See additional photos below.) Background posts: 19th-century mines gave Ore Valley its name and York County one-room schools: ‘That’s when things were good’ and Forgotten York Valley Inn may be rediscovered.
Bonnie Stiles has provided family information that confirms details in a previous York Town Square post about the toll gate that operated at Leader Heights Road and South Queen Street in Spry.
The gate pivoted up and down on the west side of Queen Street, across the street from present-day Tollgate Village.
“When my paternal great-grandmother (Estella Mae Markey Sechrist) was alive she told me she used to run the ‘toll gate’ on S. Queen Street,” Bonnie Stiles wrote.
“Apparently her husband, my great-grandfather (Norman Sechrist) ran a wagon from Red Lion to York every day. They claim he had something to do with tobacco.”
Those were the days, less than 100 years ago, when toll roads still radiated from York… .
Marcia Feehan took this photo of a barn on a Spry farm.
The toll was not lifted from the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge until World War II. Of course, the area’s best-known toll road, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, running through northern York County, has always charged for its use.
Some people place that South Queen Street toll gate squarely in the York Township village of Spry.
But that raises another question. Where does Spry start? And where does it stop?
The book “York Township, 1753-2003” helped with those toll gate details. So it does, too, with the borders of Spry, an unincorporated town sprawling along both sides of Route 74:
“The ‘Old Timers’ of Spry, say that ‘Old Spry’ begins at Spurg’s, now Nicks Diner, and ends at the foot of the hill from York Township Elementary. ‘New Spry’ runs from Interstate 83 by Square Deal Garage to Mack’s Ice Cream and Alberto’s Pizza. However, new signs declare Spry begins at Commerce Bank, South Queen Street to the Burger King Restaurant.”
(Spurg’s has been demolished, and the Burger King has closed.)
And where does the name “Spry” come from?
Again the York Township book helps, with an assist from George Prowell’s 1907 county history.
The probably apocryphal story has it that Innersville, the town’s early name, was too long for postal purposes and duplicated another post office in Pennsylvania, according to the federal government.
A man came into an Innersville general store and pointed out the need for a name change.
“You’d better be spry about it,” he said.
The store’s proprietor replied: “That’s the name, Spry.”
This spring house in Spry was another of Marcia Feehan’s photographs.