The York County, Pa., borough of Seven Valleys is being defined by the tourism traffic created by the Heritage Rail Trail County Park. But its old buildings, including this old jail, help mark the town as a place for cyclists to linger and soak in the architecture. The Police Heritage Museum site says this about the Seven Valleys lockup: ‘The Seven Valleys jail was located near the Northern Central Railroad’s tracks in the borough of Seven Valleys along Cherry Street. The Seven Valleys jail consisted of two cells, and a common area with a wood stove. The building was also used as the borough office into the 1980s. The building still stands near the current U.S. Post Office in Seven Valleys, and is privately owned.’ Also of interest: In Seven Valleys, Pa.: The Great Watermelon Train Wreck and Baltimore screamed for York County ice cream and Want to know more about York County history?
Ninth in a series of occasional posts about York County’s 36 boroughs … .
Seven Valleys borough, was in the news this week after the roof of the church meeting in the former elementary school there, blew off.
That’s big news in the small town nowadays… .
But the borough in southcentral York County was a key stop between York and Glen Rock in the heyday of the Northern Central Railway.
It was a busy shipping point for agricultural products bound for Baltimore and elsewhere from the earliest days after the railroad went through in 1838.
It’s one of those York County towns that is being reinvented as a bedroom community for Maryland commuters and particularly a tourism stop on the rail trail.
For example, Serenity Station, the old train station, has operated as a destination for riders who get on the trail at New Freedom and York. It offers food, bike service and other amenities to rail trail users. Seven Valleys is also the closest town to the Howard Tunnel, an attraction for rail trail users, and the renovated Hanover Junction railroad station.
In the 1990s, rail use of the trail encroached on the new recreational paradigm. An unmanned locomotive, unleashed by vandals in New Freedom, rumbled through the town, before stalling as the tracks began their elevation toward Howard Tunnel.
Had that vandalism taken place during the day, the old and new users might have disastrously converged.
What others say about Seven Valleys: George Prowell: “In 1838, when the railroad was completed from Baltimore to York, Jacob Smyser and John E. Zeigler opened the first store in this place.”
Population in 2000 – 2000 population:
492; 2010 population: 517. (Census 2010, York Daily Record/Sunday News.)
Incorporated: Aug. 23, 1892. (York County founding dates.)
Memorable moment: Seven Valley’s proximity to the railroad and telegraph hub, Hanover Junction, attracted blue and gray soldiers in the Civil War. The Union soldiers were in that area protecting bridges over the Codorus Creek, and were shoved from there when the invading rebels attacked Hanover Junction.
A bit of controversy: George Prowell writes that Seven Valley comes from “Seiben Thal” or Seven Valley came from confusing over the name from early Seventh Day Baptist settlers. Prowell underscores that the name did not come from geographical features: “The surrounding country is undulating, but there are not seven valleys distinctly marked in the vicinity.” Others have strenuously argued that there are, indeed, seven valleys in or near the borough.
To learn more: Armand Glatfelter’s Das Siebenthal, A History of York County,” 1978.
Serenity Station, known for years as Elmer’s general store, was for years in the middle of the rail business in Seven Valleys. Now, it’s the hub for re-use of the old Northern Central Railroad Line – the main stem of Heritage Rail Trail County Park.
Also of interest:
- York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News has aggregated a wealth of 2010 census information about Seven Valleys and other York County boroughs and township.
- Other posts in The boroughs of York County series … .
- All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
- Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, search for yorktownsquare and Winterstown and you get this.
Sources: George Prowell’s “History of York County,” “Gazetteer of York and Adams Counties.” Photos: York Daily Record/Sunday News; Tom Berkheimer.