Tucked away near Seven Valleys in southern York County, Pennsylvania, is the tiny hamlet of Hanover Junction. Now mostly known to locals as an important rest stop and parking lot on the York Rail Trail, the old train station has been in existance for more than 150 years. It has been altered, renovated, added onto, and subtracted from during its long history. Restored to approximate its 1863 appearance, today the station houses restrooms for the bike riders and hikers, as well as a small museum that is usually manned by volunteer guides during summer weekends.
If you have never visited this site before, it is well worth a couple of hours some Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Few casual visitors realize that a minor Civil War skirmish occurred at the station on June 27, 1863, when Lt. Colonel Elijah V. White’s 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, raided Hanover Junction and drove off its Union defenders, elements of the 20th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia.
The museum contains artifacts from the railroad station’s years of service, as well as several displays directly related to White’s raid and to the other local claim to fame in 1863 — President Abraham Lincoln’s brief stay at Hanover Junction while he was changing trains en route to Gettysburg for the dedication of the new National Cemetery. There, he presented a few remarks that came down through history as the Gettysburg Address.
There are also a series of excellent models of the depot and other pertinent railroad structures. These were created by long-time area resident and historian Roger Schaffer. Also, there are interpretive displays, timetables, and other relics and artifacts of interest.
Confederates burned the original railroad bridge over the Codorus Creek, and major flooding later in July 1863 destroyed the hastily rebuilt bridge erected by the U.S. Military Railroad under the direction of former York resident Herman Haupt. Other damages inflicted by the Rebel horsemen included railcars that were torched, switches and controls, rails, telegraph wires, and other equipment. However, they left the telegraph machine operational, which was back in service in just a few days.
Shortly after the USMRR repaired the railroad, trainloads of wounded soldiers injured at the Battle of Gettysburg were transported to Hanover Junction, There, charitable groups met them with lemonade, cookies, food, fresh bandages, reading material, and other creature comforts. Many wounded soldiers lounged about the stationhouse, or lay in the fields just beyond the tracks under medical supervision while they awaited other trains to take them to Harrisburg, York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or other permanent hospitals.