May 2021 Program
Tour of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad
Heritage Village at Muddy Creek Forks
Our May 2, 2021 meeting of the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society was a tour of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Heritage Village at Muddy Creek Forks, including a short train ride which followed the winding banks of the Muddy Creek. We were blessed with a lovely day and a cheery group of around 35 participants, divided into two groups, half taking the 4-tenths of a mile train ride and the other half starting the village and store tour and then swapping. Craig and Jean Sansonetti were our guides.
Craig Sansonetti, the organization’s president, gave a fascinating overview of the village beginning with the start of “Dennys” mill, built along the fork of branches of the Muddy Creek in 1759, thru a series of various millers whose enterprises for a while seemed to inevitably end in bankruptcy.
The present mill was rebuilt in 1847 by James P. Maffet who specialized in milling and selling buckwheat flour and who first operated a store on site which continued until the purchase by Alexander M. Grove in 1888. As Craig made clear throughout his presentation, A. M. Grove was a man with big ideas, and the village, with its remarkable level of historical integrity and preservation, displays all of it. The tour included walks through the first and second floors of the 1899 four-story general store complete with historical displays, original furnishings, old-time merchandise, the post office, Ma and Pa railway station, and platform.
The railroad, active from 1901 to the 1950s, connected York and Baltimore and passed through Muddy Creek Forks. Across the road was the mill and mill race where Grove started production of his good quality white flour, marketed as “Harvest Queen,” which eventually grew into a flour sales’ contract for 30-35 box carloads per year with commercial bakeries. There were stories of the grain elevators, the fertilizer warehouse, the icehouse, coal bins, farmhouses, the cannery, the mill pond and dam, and the machine hall, all which provided livelihoods for local farmers and necessities for the community.
Most prominent though, and perhaps most haunting, are the old, larger than life rail cars, vestiges of days when the village and station were a bustling hub and the railroad came through delivering and picking up goods, people, and mail to Baltimore, the York Fair or even distant New Mexico.
For further information about this wonderful historical site, visit: http://www.maandparailroad.com
Contributed by Erica Runkles.