Howard Tunnel

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Howard Tunnel
Heritage Railroad Trail County Park Howard Tunnel.jpg
The Howard Tunnel's south portal.
Location Northern Central railroad tracks near the South Branch of Codorus Creek, southeast of New Salem, North Codorus Township, Pennsylvania,
United States
Opened 1838
Character brick lined
Line length 275 ft (84 m)
Howard Tunnel, Northern Central Railway
Howard Tunnel is located in Pennsylvania
Howard Tunnel
Howard Tunnel is located in the US
Howard Tunnel
Nearest city New Salem, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 39°53′28″N 76°45′2″W / 39.89111°N 76.75056°W / 39.89111; -76.75056Coordinates: 39°53′28″N 76°45′2″W / 39.89111°N 76.75056°W / 39.89111; -76.75056
Area less than one acre
Built 1840
MPS Railroad Resources of York County MPS
NRHP Reference # 95000541[1]
Added to NRHP May 19, 1995

The Howard Tunnel is located near Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania. In operation since 1838, it is the second oldest active rail tunnel in the U.S. Originally constructed by the York and Maryland Line Rail Road, it formed a critical link in the north-south line assembled by the Northern Central Railway.[2]

It is a 275-foot (84 m) long, brick-lined tunnel built between 1836 and 1837 and opened for traffic in 1838. During the Civil War, the tunnel, then part of the Northern Central Railway system, was a target of Confederate cavalry troops, but was protected by elements of the 20th Pennsylvania state militia. However, nearby railroad bridges on the NCR down to Hanover Junction were destroyed by Confederate forces. After the war, the tunnel was rebuilt to accommodate two tracks in 1868.

The line was again damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and rebuilt by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1985. Freight traffic failed to materialize and the line again fell dormant by 1996. The Northern Central Railway (no relation to the original owner) leased the line in 1996 and operated the Liberty Limited dinner train from New Freedom through the tunnel to York until September 2, 2001.[3]

York County, Pennsylvania purchased the tunnel along with its rail corridor in 1990 and has maintained it as part of a historic railroad, thereby preserving its status as an "active" tunnel. The tunnel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.[4] and in August 1999 the county government completed a track-side trail, the Heritage Rail Trail which led to the tunnel being refurbished in 1999 and again in 2003.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.[1]

According to information posted in the front window of Steam Into History Inc. (501c) There is currently a fund raising effort to restore passenger train service through the Howard Tunnel by Steam Into History's Excursion trains. As of 7/9/2016 they have received 1/2 the funds necessary to repair the tracks from Hanover Junction Pa to York Pa. - See also Steam Into History


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System.  Note: This includes Thomas N. Shaffer (June 1992). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Howard Tunnel, Northern Central Railway" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  3. ^ Northern Central Railway, Inc. [1] 2001-09-02
  4. ^ U.S. National Park Service National Register Information System (NRIS): Howard Tunnel, Northern Central Railway. NRIS Item No. 95000541. Listed 1995-05-19.

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