Susquehanna River greatly shaped York Haven: The boroughs of York County series, No. 16

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Joyce Moul of York Haven Borough submitted this photo to YDR.com’s Your Photos with the notation: ‘Sun rising in York Haven Borough, December 2010.’ One would think that York Haven, a river town on York County’s east border, would see the sun ahead of other towns west of the Susquehanna River. But the way the river runs, York Haven is north of York, Wrightsville and other river towns sit much farther east. Check out this map and you’ll see. Also of interest: For other profiles of 15 of York County’s 36 boroughs York County towns.

In more ways than just forming its eastern border, the Susquehanna River largely has shaped York Haven since the late 1700s.

First, a canal was built there and that meant river commerce flowed into the town. The York Haven Company built large flour mills there in the early 1800s, with streets names after company execs: Hillen, Stansbury, Wilson and other others.

So grain grown throughout York County moved York Haven for storage and shipping… .


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Joyce Moul illustrates everyday life in York Haven: ‘Children getting oranges from Santa.’

The town incorporated after a paper mill went up in the late 1800s.

Then after the turn of the 20th century came the York Haven Water & Power Company operated the hydroelectric dam that still operates.

Brunner’s Island Power Plant, a coal-burning electricity generator came in 1961 and three units operate on the East Manchester Township site today.

York Haven has been – and is – a river town with the capital “R.”

Population - 2000 population809; 2010: 709.

Incorporated: 1892. Town surveyed and planned in 1811 (Gazetteer); alternative 1814 (Prowell).

Prowell’s description: Historian George Prowell wrote in 1907:  “In the town plan there were two sections; the ‘upper town’ was to be built on the hill to the west of the present line of the railroad, and the ‘lower town’ down by the canal.”

Fact about York Haven: Canal Road that runs through York County? Well, it comes from the canal built before 1800 to circumvent the Conewago Rapids in the Susquehanna River. The road starts near Abbottstown and ends in York Haven.

Fact II about York Haven: Like other towns on or near the York-Harrisburg road, it has played host to celebrity visitors: Charles Dickens and Marquis de Lafayette, among others.


Brunner Island Power Plant, in operation in York Haven.

To learn more: George Prowell wrote a long section on York Haven in his “History of York County, Pennsylvania.”
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 townships.

Archives: All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)

Sources: George Prowell’s “History of York County,” “Gazetteer of York and Adams Counties.” Photos: Submitted photos to the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

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A bird’s-eye view of York Haven. That’s the York Haven Dam and power plant on the Susquehanna River, upper right. Brunner Island Power Plant is just outside this frame, lower right.

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.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Explanations/controversy, For photo fans, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Small-town life, Susquehanna, waterways, Unsung/obscure sites, York County aerial photos, York County's towns and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Susquehanna River greatly shaped York Haven: The boroughs of York County series, No. 16

  1. Jessica Brodbeck says:

    I really enjoyed this story glad some one wrote good stuff about this town. I grew up in York Haven & they are my kids in the photo you used :) we still live here & they still go out every Christmas morning.

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