York County Heritage Rail Trail

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York County Heritage Rail Trail
Heritage Railroad Trail County Park Howard Tunnel.jpg
Howard Tunnel
Established 1999
Length 21 mi (34 km)

Brillhart Station
Glatfelters Station
Seven Valleys
Hanover Junction
Glen Rock
New Freedom

Heritage Rail Trail County Park Map
Use Hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, pet walking
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Easy, level, ADA accessible
Season Year-round
Months Year-round
Surface Crushed limestone
Right of way Northern Central Railway
Website http://www.yorkcountyparks.org/parkpages/railtrail.htm
Image: 50 pixels

Heritage Rail Trail County Park is a National Recreation Trail[1] rail-with-trail in the Pennsylvania built in 1999 by the York County Governmen; it connects with the Northern Central Railroad Trail in Maryland. The trail runs along the active Northern Central Railway line and forms the southernmost part of Route J in the BicyclePA route system.

Historical development[edit]

Junction along the Heritage Rail Trail. New Freedom junction is a railroad history museum and the base for heritage railway Steam into History.
Steam into History's No. 17 York at New Freedom Junction.

The Heritage Rail Trail is located along railroad tracks built during the nineteenth century as part of the Northern Central Railroad. (NCR) NCR important link between Washington, D.C. and points along the northern path to Lake Ontario and upstate New York.[2]

During the Civil War, the railroad was a target of the Confederate Army before the Battle of Gettysburg. The Confederate Army’s troops tried to isolate the Union's capital by damaging the railroad, telegraph wires and bridges. On November 18 and 19, 1863, President Lincoln traveled on the railroad and stopped at Hanover Junction before giving the Gettysburg Address.[3]

Between the years of 1838 and 1972, NCR connected Baltimore, Maryland to York, Pennsylvania and vastly contributed to the municipalities along the railroad.[4] The line eventually came under Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) ownership. In 1968 PRR and rival New York Central Railroad merged to form the Penn Central Transportation Company (PC). By 1970 PC was bankrupt. The line sustained significant damage resulting from Hurricane Agnes in 1972.[5] PC joined the government-created Conrail in 1976 and the line was abandoned shortly thereafter. The state of Maryland abandoned the line within state borders; Pennsylvania removed one track and left the second in place. In 1990 York County officials looked to develop the 18.5 mile-corridor alongside the dormant trackage.[6] Expansion of the trail to 1.5 miles from John Rudy County Park to Crist Memorial Fields was completed in August 2007. Beginning in early 2012, a $1.3 million project to further extend to the Northern Extension of the Heritage Rail Trail County Park.[7]

Trail development[edit]

Section of the York County Heritage Rail Trail that runs through New Freedom, Pennsylvania.

The rails-with-trails was built alongside the York County-owned former PRR line, currently in use by heritage railway Steam into History.[8][9]

"Livesize Horse"

The New Freedom Railroad Station of 1860 was restored to its 1940 appearance in 2003 and is used by Steam into History. Other historical sites, include the Howard Tunnel of 1838, a 250 foot long tunnel named for a Revolutionary War soldier from Baltimore.[10] and the Mason–Dixon line, the old line of freedom."[11] Memorials include a Korean War memorial in downtown York and a War Rescue Dog World War II Memorial.


External links[edit]