Part of the USA Today Network

The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 6

After leaving Jefferson Station in southern York County, Pennsylvania, the Hanover Branch Railroad’s tracks headed northeasterly toward the Cold Spring Station. Very little remains of the roadbed in this stretch, because it has been heavily farmed over the past 145 years since Abraham Lincoln‘s train departed Jefferson Station for Hanover Junction and his return train to Baltimore and then Washington, D.C. However, there are a few vestiges remaining, including the piers of bridges burned on June 27, 1863, by Lt. Col. Elijah V. White‘s 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry during its mission to wreck the HBRR and the Hanover Junction rail yard.

The old roadbed is barely distinguishable from the ground, but can be discerned from these satellite photographs. Some of White’s Comanches may have followed the tracks, while others trotted along Green Valley Road to Cold Spring Station. Most farmers in the region by now knew the Rebels were coming, and very few in the immediate area lost any horses to White’s raiders.

One of the old piers of the Hanover Branch Railroad may be seen in the photograph submitted by Cannonball reader Bob Resig. This is behind today’s Green Valley Farms, looking west.

The old right of way for the Hanover Branch Railroad is still clearly evident behind Green Valley Farm. This view was taken in 2005 looking west. Courtesy of Bob Resig.

Another old set of stone piers exists farther to the north on the HBRR. Here’s the southern one…

…and its companion, both vestiges of a long ago day when the railroads of America were the lifeblood of commerce and personal travel before trucks and the highway system changed the country from mass transit to individual transit.
Work crews of the U.S. Military Railroad under Brig. Gen. Herman Haupt repaired the damages White’s men did to the HBRR, as well as 19 bridges White and Col. William French‘s 17th Virginia Cavalry destroyed between Hanover Junction and Harrisburg on the Northern Central Railroad (we will look at some of these in a future series of posts on the local railroads during the Gettysburg Campaign).

The old embankment of the HBRR near the piers shown above. The piers were photographed from the top of this old railbed.
Next in this series… the approach to Hanover Junction.
Previous posts in this series:
The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 1 of a series
The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 2
The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 3

The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 4</strong
The Hanover Branch Railroad – part 5