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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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abundantly, soon changing the whole aspect
of the "York Barrens." In this respect the
canal was of more real value, correspondingly,
to the farmer of the lower part of York Coun-
ty, than of financial interest to the stock-
holders and officers of the company. The
original canal company issued money in the
form of " shinplasters," which fell wonder-
fully below par at times. Eventually an ex-
tensive business was done, and the canal be-
came very valuable. D. F. Shure has been
the active and efficient superintendent of this
canal since 1842.

From the description of the Conewago
Canal above, and of the Susquehanna and
Tide-water Canal herein given, it will be
observed that the first canal in Pennsylvania,
and one of the last to which much general
importance was attached, were built in York


A company received a charter in 1825, and
soon after constructed a canal from York to the
mouth of the Codorus Creek, at the Susque-
hanna, a distance of eleven miles. Of this dis-
tance three miles consisted of canal and eight
miles of slack water. It was soon after built
and put into efi'ective operation. Boat loads
of lumber and coal were brought to York over
this route, and it promised to be an important
adjunct to the business interests of the town.
For a time an immense business was done,
but the construction of the York & Wrights-
ville Eailroad and in 1849 the York & Cum-
berland Railroad to Harrisburg, caused the
value of the Codorus navigation to diminish,
and it soon after ceased to be


According to the statistics of 1883, the
State of Pennsylvania had 10,056 miles
of railway, being exceeded by no other State
except Illinois, New York coming third on the
list, with 7,215 miles. The topography of
Pennsylvania is not naturally favorable to
their construction, as it requires great engi-
neering skill to surmount some of the difficul-
ties. It does not possess the treeless plains
which invite railroad operations, like the
West, at small cost, but, on the other hand,
the surface here is broken by mountain rang-
es, cut by broad rivers, and much of the State
is covered by forests. Yet the unbounded re-


soiu'ces of the great State has brought forth '
the business energies of capitalists so as to
have surmounted all those difficulties, until
every important interest is supplied with rail- {
road transportation. Of the vast number of
miles of railway in Pennsylvania, York coun-
ty furnishes ISO. Oui- State, though, early in
the history of American railroads became
prominent in the construction of them. All
efforts at the internal improvement of the
State, for the purpose of transportation, met
with an encouraging support by the enter-
prise of our people. Under the head of ca-
nals it will be observed that the first one in
the United States was built in Pennsylvania,
and that, too, for the navigation of the Sus-
quehanna, within the limits of York County,
at York Haven, being completed in 1797.
Turnpikes, canals and railroads have in large
numbers been constructed in Pennsylvania
entirely without government aid.


Railroads made of wood, called tramways,
wore used in the mines of England to trans-
port coal from the pit's mouth to place of
shipment as early as 1680, at Newcastle-on-
Tyne, built by a man named Beaumont;
wagons transporting coal were drawn over
this road. They soon became common in
England. In 173S the first rails, made
wholly of iron were put into use and a flange
was cast on the outside of the rail like the
rails of the present city passenger roads.
The flange was soon changed to the inside of |
the rail. In 1789 flanges began to be cast I
on the wheel instead of the rail. 'William
Jessop, of England, made this invention. In
1801 the English parliament passed the first
legislative act ever made, authorizing the
"SuiTey Iron Tramway," nine miles long.


In the year 1800, an experimental tramway
was set up in the yard of the "Bull's Head '
Tavern," on Third Street, Philadelphia. It
was done by Thomas Lieper. The rails were
wood, being oak scantlings, four feet g,part,
supported on sleepers. The road was only
twenty-one yards long. One horse could
haul 10,696 pounds on this track. In 1807
Silas Whitney built a railroad on Beacon
Hill, near Boston, Mass.,to haul down gravel.
In 1809 a tramway was laid in Delaware
County, Penn., by John Thomson, father of
J. Edgar Thomson, late president of the
Pennsylvania Railroad. It was sixty yards
long with rails of wood, four feet apart.
This experiment was successful, and led to |

many others. A road one mile in length was
built at the Crum Creek stone quarries in
the same county, and was used for nineteen
years. In 1818 a similar road was built at
Bear Creek Furnace, Armstrong County,
Penn., and one at Nashua, N. H., in 1825.
The first road of more than local note was
Quincy Railroad, in Massachusetts, built in
1826, and used for transporting granit(«. It
was four miles in length. In 1827 a railroad
was constructed at Mauch Chunk, in Car-
bon County, from a coal mine to Lehigh
River, a distance of nine miles. On this
road, loaded cars descended by gravity, and
were drawn back empty by mules. The rails
were made of wood, strapped with iron.
None of the roads mentioned thus far were
used to convey passengers.


James Watt, of England, perfected his in-
vention of the steam engine in 1769. The
properties of steam had, however, been known
from time immemorial. In 1804 the first
locomotive was used upon the Merthyr Tyd-
vil Railway, in Wales, by Richard Trevithick,
who was a foreman in a tin mine in Cornwall,
England. This engine would only answer
for a level surface. George Stephenson
worked upon his invention from 1814 to 1822,
when he successfully introduced the use of
locomotives on the railroad of the Holton
colliery in England. He then became chief
engineer of the Stockton & Darlington Rail-
road, and constructed a coal road twelve miles
in length, over a rough country. Inclined
planes were used in some places to be worked
by stationary engines. On the other parts of
the road locomotives were used. The rails
were rolled fish-bellied, and weighed twenty-
eight pounds to the yard. Some cast-iron
rails were used ; one of Stephenson's engines
would run twelve miles an hour. On Octo-
ber 10, 1825, the first passenger car ever used
in the world was put on this road. At first
it was drawn by one horse. Several were
built and then attached to a locomotive the
same year.

The fii-st locomotive in the United States
was run on the road connecting the Delaware
& Hudson Canal with its coal mines at
Carbondale, Penn. ; the length of this road
was sixteen miles. It was completed in
1829. On this road, August 8, 1829, the
locomotive " Sturbridge Lion," built in
England, was successfully run by Horatio
Allen, on a trial trip. It was found to be
too heavy for the railroad, and therefore was
not afterward used. A part of it is still in
existence in Carbondale.


In 1828 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
began operations in Maryland, and the same
year the Charleston & Hamburg Railroad
in South Carolina. This was the beginning
of important railroad enterprises in America.
The Baltimore & Ohio Company intended
to use horses to draw the cars on their road.
It was supposed that the sharp curves, which
were unavoidable in its construction, would
preclude, the use of steam engines. Peter
Cooper, the great philanthropist, of New
York City, then owned considerable proijerty
in Baltimore, and became wonderfully inter-
ested in the progress and success of rail-
roads. He voluntarily offered to construct a
locomotive that would round the curves of
the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. When
thirteen miles of the new road had been con-
structed in 1829, Mr. Cooper experimented
without success, but on August 28, 1830, his
new locomotive, " The Tom Thumb, " made a
satisfactory trip. This was the first locomo-
tive built in America, but it was a mere toy.
Its boiler was very small, and the tubes were
made of gun barrels. It burned anthracite
coal, and ran thirteen miles in an hour and a
quarter. It was only an experiment and was
never put into practical use. Horatio Allen,
mentioned above, induced the South Caro-
lina Railroad Company to iise locomotives,
and employed E. L. Miller, of Charleston, to
superintend the construction of one for trial,
which was done in the West Point foundry,
on Beach Street, New York City. It was
completed by October, 1830, and j^ut on trial
November 2, of the same, year. The experi-
ment was claimed to be a success, and the
engine was used for a time. On June 17,
1831, the negro fireman ignorantly weighted
the. steam, when the boiler burst and injured
several men. This locomotive, called the
" Best Friend of Charleston," is claimed by
some to be the first successful engine built
in America. The company, however, contin-
ued to use horse-power after the explosion,
and in the meantime offered a premium of
$500 for the best locomotive by horse-power.
This premium was awarded to C. E. Detmold,
who invented a horse-power working on an
endless chain platform, like the powers now
used for threshing. " The Dewitt Clinton,"
a locomotive made in New York was put into
successful use on the Charleston Road, Au-
gust 9, 1831, which was but a short time
after " The York " gained its prize on the
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.


The state legislature passed an act March
31, 1823, granting to John Stevens and

permission to build a railroad from
Philadelphia to Columbia. The original
company did not accomplish anything, and
the State afterward completed it. The canal
to Columbia was not yet built. The object
j of the contemplated road was to divert the
trade, which came down the Susquehanna at
that time in keel-boats to Columbia, from go-
ing to Baltimore.

On January 4, 1831, the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad Company issued an advertise-
ment to the inventive genius and me-
chanical skill of the country, offering liberal
inducements for the production of locomo-
tive steam engines. It was the first proposal
ever issued in the United States for locomo-
tives of American manufacture. Four thous-
and dollars were offered for the best
engine delivered for trial on or before
June 1, 1831, and $3,000 for the one adjudged
the next best. One of the most important
requirements was that the engine must burn
coke or coal and consume its own smoke.
During the summer of 1831, in response to
this call upon American geniuS, three loco-
motives were produced upon the railroad,
only one of which, however, was made to
answer any good purpose. This engine,
called " The York, " was built in York, at
the establishment of Davis & Gardner, on
the west side of the Codorus Creek, and
was the product of Phineas Davis. It
was accepted as the best, which gives to
York the undoubted claim of having con-
structed the first locomotive ever built in the
United States, that burned coal and was put
in active use on the railroad. After under-
going some modifications it was found capa-
ble of conveying fifteen tons at fifteen miles
an hour, on a level portion of the road. It
was employed on that part of the road be-
tween Baltimore andEllicott's mills, and gen-
erally performing the trip to the mills in one
hour with four cars, the gross weight of
which was about fourteen tons. The engine
was mounted on wheels, like those of the
common cars, of thirty inches in diameter,
and the motion was obtained by means of
gearing with a spur wheel and pinion on one
of the axles of the road wheels. The curva-
tures were all traveled with facility by this
engine. Its greatest velocity, for a short
time on the straight parts of the road, was
thirty miles per hour, while it frequently
attained that of twenty miles, and often
traveled in curvatures of 400 feet radius at
the rate of fifteen miles per hour. The fuel
used in it was anthracite coal, which answered
the purpose well; but the engine weighing
but three and a half tons was found too light


for advantageous use on ascending grad«»s.
The performance of this engine fully con-
vinced the board of directors of the Balti-
roore & Ohio Railroad and its engineer corps
that locomotive engines could be used suc-
cessfully on railways having curves of 400
feet radius, and from that time forward they
began to be used in this country. To Phin-
eas Davis, of York, then, was due the credit
of successfully introducing the use of loco-
motives that burned coal, in America. He
soon afterward became manager of the com-
pany's shops, and to him Ross Winans, En-
gineer Knight and John Elgar (the inventor
of switches, tui-n tables, chill bearings,
plate wheels, etc.), is due the honor of solv-
ing most of the problems which presented
themselves first in connection with the great
system of railroad travel and inland transpor-
tation. The first steel springs used in this
country were placed upon " The York, "
Davis ' locomotive and tender, in September,
1832. As an experiment it demonstrated
their utility in regulating the motion and
greatly diminishing the jar aod consequent
injury to the road. This experiment, under
the superintendence of Phineas Davis, led to
another, that of placing steel springs on
burden cars, by which it was found they
admitted one-third more loading without any
increase of damage to the road or car. Three
years after Davis ' first experiment, th eBalti-
more & Ohio Railroad had bat three engines
in use:" The York." "Atlantic," and " Frank-
lin." In 1834 a number of uew ones were
added. " The York " is still in existence and
is kept as a relic by the Company.

After the death of Phineas Davis, which
occurred by accident, on September 27, ] 835,
Messrs. Gillingham and Ross Winans took
charge of the car shops of the Baltimore &
Ohio Company, and continued the manufac-
ture of locomotives and railroad machinery
80 successfully commenced by Mr. Davis.


This railway is now one of the most impor-
tant and most valuable lines which crosses
our great State. It extends from the city of
Baltimore to Canandaigua, N. Y., and is
the only line that passes across the entire
breadth of Pennsylvania in a northerly and
southerly direction. It is the grand highway
of travel from Baltimore and points south to
Niagara and the lakes. From York Haven
to Williamsport it follows the Susquehanna
river. It has contributed greatly to the ma-
terial interest of Pennsylvania and especially
to York County.

The Baltimore & Susquehanna, now a part

of the N. C. R. W., starting at the city of
Baltimore and extending to the Pennsylvania
line, was chartered by the legislature of Mary-
land on the 13th day of February. 1828, and
organized as a company on the 5th of May
following, with a board of directors whose
names are now historic. This is the oldest
part of what is now known as the N. C. R.
W. On the 9th of August, 1829, the one
hundredth anniversary of the passage of
theact creating "Baltimore-Town," this rail-
road was begun, being thus one of the first
roads completed in America.


The legislature of Pennsylvania, in March,
1832, passed an act to extend a road from
York to the Maryland line, to join the Balti-
more & Susquehanna Railroad, to be com-
pleted, that far, under a Maryland charter,
lu some respects there were objectionable fea-
tures in the act of 1832. and it was not until
November. 1835, that a satisfactory arrange-
ment was entered into between the legislative
body and the stockholders of the road. Rail-
roads at this time were in their infancy.
Outside of military operations, civil engi-
neering had not developed into a science which-
may explain the cause of some mistakes that
arose in the construction of these two roads.
The southern division, the Baltimore & Sus-
quehanna, was completed to the Relay House,
and opened July 4, 1831, and to Owing's
mills in 1832. It was the tirst railroad cor-
poration in this country to undertake gradi-
ents of any considerable magnitude: a grade
of eighty-four feet to the mile for two and
seven-tenths miles was overcome, which, in
that early day, was considered a marvel. The
first locomotive used was imported from Liv-
erpool, England. It was ordered in March,
1831, but a vessel to bring it over could not
be obtained until six months later. It was
the third locomotive put into successful oper-
ation in America that burned anthracite coal.
Phineas Davis' engine, made at his foundry
in York, and described elsewhere in this work,
was the first. The railroad was completed to
York in August, 1838. A few years before, a
survey had been made and a new corporation
formed called the Wrightsville, York & Get-
tysburg Railroad Co. A line was completed
from York to Wrightsville in 1840, and for
a number of years was operated in connection
with the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railway,
which then included York & Maryland line.
There was then a continuous line from Balti-
more to PhiladelpV'ia by way of York and
Columbia, joining the Philadelphia & Colum-
bia at the latter town. At Columbia the road



from York communicated with the canal at
that point, giving a completfi route of trafiSc
from Baltimore to Pittsburgh — another great
point gained in the history of internal
improvements in Pennsylvania.


Extending from York to York Haven and
thence along the Susquehanna to Bridge-
port, was completed in 1850— another impor-
tant event. This gave a direct line from Bal-
timore to Harrisburg. The legislature of
Maryland, on the 10th of March, 1854, and
the legislature of Pennsylvania, on the 8d of
May following, passed a joint act, which
read as follows: "An Act to authorize the
consolidation of the Baltimore & Susquehan-
na Railroad Company with the York & Mary-
land Line Railroad Company, the York &
Cumberland Railroad Company, and the
Susquehanna Railroad Company hj the name
of theNorthern Central Railway Company." It
will be noticed the word "railway" is used, a
name common to all roads in England, but
rare in America. By its extension north in-
to New York State, it now passes through
rich agricultural and mining regions, and has
become a great and important line for the
transportation of coal, petroleum, grain and
livestock, and. with its connection at Harris-
burg with the Pennsylvania railroad, consti-
tutes most of the main line to the west, with
all the advantages of through passenger and
freight traffic. During the civil war it was
the main line for the transportation of sol-
diers and army supplies from the West and
North to Washington and "the front." Hun-
dreds of regiments passed over this route.
Originally there was but one track. About
fifteen years ago a double track was complet-
ed as far north as York. It is intended soon
to extend it to Harrisburg.

The Baltimore & Susquehanna Company,
which was organized on the 5th of May,
1828, elected the following directors: George
Winchester, Charles Ridgely, S. C. Larkin,
Thomas Wilson, James Smith, Justus Hoppe.
James B. Stansbury, Thomas Finley, Hugh
W. Evans, James L. Hawkins, Robert Pur-
viance and John Kelly. George Winches-
tei", a distinguished citizen and lawyer of
Baltimore, was chosen the first president. In
March, 1828, Gen. Swift examined the topog-
raphy of the country between Baltimore and
the Susquehanna River by way of York, for
the purpose of directing a survey of the pro-
posed railroad, of which he afterward proved
to be the projector and manager in the con-
struction. G. McNeil and G. W. Whisler
were • engineers from 1827 to 1830; Maj.

Isaac R. Trimble was chief engineer in 1834,
and surveyed the road to York and continued
in service until 18-^1. J. M. Goldsboro af-
terward became engineer and managed the
construction of the road from York to Har-
risburg. The following is a list of the pres-
idents of the several companies from the
time of their organization to the consolida-
tion into the N. C. R. W.

Of the Baltimore & Susquehanna, includ-
ing York and Maryland Line. George Win-
chester, James Howard, Alexander Nisbet,
Charles Howard, R. M. McGraw, R. C.
Wright, G. W. Hughes.

Of the York & Cumberland: Thomas C.
Hambly 1848 to 1850; Eli Lewis, 1850 to
1852; John Herr, 1852 to 1854.

Of the Susquehanna, which was above
Harrisburg: William F. Packer. 1852 to
1853; Hon. Simon Cameron, 1853 to 1854.

Upon the consolidation of the above roads
on December 9, 1854, the following is the
list of officers and directors of the N. C. R.
W^ thus formed: President, John P. Ken-
nedy; secretary, Robert S. Hollins; treas-
urer, John S. Leib. Directors: R. C. Ma-
son, Francis White, W. H. Kiegler. Simon
Cameron, Michael Herr, R. M. MaGraw,
Lloyd N. Rodgers, W. E. Mayhew, William
F. Packer, John Herr, William McPhail, Eli
Lewis, Zenus Barnum, Johns Hopkins.

The successive jiresidents of the Northern
Central have been as follows: John P. Ken-
nedy, Zenus Barnum, John S. Giddings, A.
B. Warford, J. Donald Cameron, Thomas A.
Scott, George B. Roberts.

Robert Bruce became the first general agent
of the railroad company at York. On May
12, 1846, James Hopkins, of Baltimore, suc-
ceeded and was assisted by his two sons,
Samuel B. and James G. Hopkins; T. H.
Belt followed in 1864. J. K. Gross, the
present efficient officer, was appointed gener-
al ticket and freight agent of the N. C. R.
W. January 1, 1873.


March 24, 1873, a bill was introduced into
the legislature by George W. Heiges, then a
member of that body for York County, to in-
corporate the Hanover & York Railroad
Company. A charter was granted April 21,
1873, appointing as commissioners to organ-
ize the company: George D. Klinefelter,
Samuel Shirk, H. M. Schmuck, William
Young, Samuel H. BeclTtel, P. H. Glatfelter,
W. Latimer Small, John S. I'oung. David S.
Tanger, E. H. Etzler, William J. Young,
David P. Forney, Michael Schall, W. H.
Jordan, James W. Latimer and M. B. Spahr.


After subscriptions to stock to the amount
of $105,000 at S50 a share were received, a
meeting was held in Hanover, on Saturday,
August 16. 1S7>5, to elect officers, which re-
sulted as follows: president, John S. Young;
directors, George D. Klinefelter, William
Young, Sr.. Isaac Loucks, Dr. J. P. Smith,
Samuel H. Bechtel, all of Hauover; P. H.
Glatfelter. of Spring Grove; David E. Small,
Philip A. Small, A. J. Frey, Michael Schall,
all of York; and William McConkey, of
Wrightsville. The board of directors then
elected Samuel Shirk, treasurer; and Dr. J.
P. Smith, secretary. The route was siu-veyed
by Joseph S. Gitt, of New Oxford.

The entire line is eighteen miles. When
the amount of S'iOO.OOO was subscribed, the
board of directors gave out the contracts by
sections for grading and masonry to different
persons. Col. Cyrus Diller, Nicholas F.
Fliegle and Jacob F. Frederick, of Hanover,
and Rehill & McTague, the former from Al-
lentown and the latter from Columbia. On
the -oth of February, 187:1 the directors con-
tracted with the Lochiel Iron Works, at Har-
risburg, for 1,600 tons of railroad iron at
§62 per ton of 2,240 pounds each. The
bridge across the Codorus Creek at York was
built at a cost of S5,760. It was a combina-
tion bridge of wood and iron. A new bridge
was erected a few years ago, which was taken
away by the flood of ISS-t. The present one
was built immediately after the flood.
Some of the materials of the old one were
used. This road, in connection with the
York & Wrightsville, and Hanover & Littles-
town, forms part of the Frederick Division
of the Pennsylvania Railroad, with the main
office at York.

The town of Hanover, on the summit of an
extensive plain of the most fertile and pro-
ductive land, is favorably situated for rail-
road interests, and has, therefore, become
quite a center of trade. The first railroad,
which terminated here, was the Hanover
Branch, extending from Hanover to the junc-
tion with the Northern Central Railway.
Then followed the Hanover & Gettysburg
Railroad, the Littlestown Railroad, now a

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 70 of 218)