Our January 2012 meeting was held at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum. Tom Gibson and Ed Horvath traced the development of transportation in York County. Pennsylvania was crossed by many Indian trails, which usually followed the rivers. Many of our roads follow these original trails – the most well known being the Monocacy trail, which ran from Berks County through York County and down into Maryland. A petition in 1739 was granted to turn this trail into the Monocacy Road. This trail later became part of the Lincoln Highway. Original road petitions can be found at the York County Archives.

Canals were another early form of transportation used. The Codorus Navigation Company was a series of locks and dams on the Codorus river in York County. Several ferries also operated in York County along the Susquehanna River. Andersons Ferry began operating in 1730, Wrights Ferry in 1733, and McCall’s Ferry in 1740. By 1825, the first steamboat, the “Codorus” was running on the Susquehanna.

After that, the railroads came to York County, thanks to York’s own Phineas Davis. Phineas entered a contest sponsored by the B & O railroad and his steam engine design won and revolutionized railroad transportation.  The oldest railroad tunnel in the country, Howard Tunnel, was built in 1836 and is now part of the Rail Trail. Ed Horvath spoke about the various railroads which operated in York County and how they were formed. The Ma & Pa is one of the better known railroads which ran from Delta to York. York County has had over twenty airports and still has several operating facilities.

Tom took us on a guided tour of several exhibits in the museum.

Further information on the development of transportation in York County can be found in Prowell’s History of York County and in Gibson’s History of York County. The MA & PA written by George W. Hilton traces the history of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. For those who grew up in the southern end of the county around New Freedom and Stewartstown, this book with its pictures and maps is particularly interesting.


written by  Becky Anstine