Changing Stewartstown ‘one of the most attractive boroughs.’ The boroughs of York County series, No. 11

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Speeders glide along the Stewartstown Railroad past modern buildings. This illustrates the old and new that is Stewartstown’s current story. The railroad serviced this agricultural center’s farms and businesses since 1885. (See video below.) And the town is now offering services to an influx of Marylanders finding affordable homes in and around this southern York County, Pa., borough. Also of interest: What it was like aboard Southeastern York County’s Stewartstown Railroad and Freight locomotive ‘telescoped’ runaway Stewartstown Railroad car and German prisoners from two wars came to York County

Eleventh in a series of occasional posts about York County’s 36 boroughs (see Felton, Yorkana, Red Lion and Hanover. … .
I have written before that the strange case of a Miata ending up in a backyard swimming pool gives insight about change in Stewartstown.
Miatas have replaced pickup trucks and backyard pools substitute for a public swimming club, Glady’s Pool.
Stewartstown is in the path of the Maryland Migration, with a good link, Route 851, to Interstate 83.
That link with a main transportation artery is not new… .


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Another scene from a changing Stewartstown.
Since 1885, the Stewartstown Railroad connected this market center with the Northern Central Railroad and its successors in New Freedom. Farmers and fruit growers and canneries thus had an ready way to get their goods to Baltimore markets.
The borough’s location in one of York County’s richest fruit-growing areas attracted a World War II prisoner-of-war camp, complete with German prisoners, as laborers in the summer of 1944 and 1945.
So Stewartstown took the stage for two historical moments – as host to a POW camp and a short-line railroad, which is today fighting for its life.
Supporters are arguing that the railroad would attract industrial users. For the moment, Stewartstown’s biggest growth industry is serving as a community for workers traveling for Maryland.
Prowell’s description: Historian George Prowell wrote in 1907: “The borough of Stewartstown is situated in the southern part of Hopewell Township. The land on which the town stands was purchased in 1812 by Anthony Stewart, an intelligent Scotch-Irishman, whose ancestors had settled in this region many years before. …. Stewartstown is one of the most attractive boroughs in York County. An earnest religious sentiment has always pervaded the community and for a period of forty years, no license has been granted in the town the sale of intoxicating liquors.”
Strange fact about Stewartstown: Counting post offices, Stewartstown has been known as Guilford and Mechanicsburg. It was incorporated as Mechanicsburg in 1851, but Anthony Stewart, himself a mechanic, lobbied for it to be renamed as Stewartstown. Prowell: “It was then that the fondest hopes of the founder were realized, for he desired that the town should be named in his honor.”
More about Anthony Stewart, making of spinning wheels: From Prowell: “He possessed a good intellect, was a diligent student of science, and made a special study of astronomy. He was an albino and died in 1866 at the age of seven-eight years.”
Population – 2000 population:
1752; 2010 population:
2089. (Census 2010, York Daily Record/Sunday News.)
Incorporated: Feb. 24, 1853 (as Stewartstown). (York County founding dates.)
To learn more: Several books have been written about Stewartstown and its surrounding area, including the popular ‘Yesteryears’ series.

York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer Paul Kuehnel tells the story of the Stewartstown Railroad, a short-line railroad in southern York County that faces a troubled future.

Also of interest:
– York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News has aggregated a wealth of 2010 census information about Cross Roads and other York County boroughs and township.
Other posts in this The boroughs of York County series … .
Miata, pool suggest changes in small-town Stewartstown.
Archives:
– You can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, search for yorktownsquare and Stewartstown and you get this.
Sources: George Prowell’s “History of York County,” “Gazetteer of York and Adams Counties.” Photos: Submitted photos to the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

About Jim McClure

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