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Ask Joan: Horseback riding follow-up edition

Sometimes, I can’t believe HOW many people in York County read Ask Joan. It’s nice, to be sure, but sometimes pretty surprising! Case in point: The number of responses I received about Heindel’s farm and the horseback riding there, in response to these Ask Joan questions from Penny Bupp and Donna.

I’m sure the correct spelling of the farm is Heindel’s, but please note I’ve kept the spelling used by my responders as they have written, and there are some discrepancies.

There are also some discrepancies in another “urban legend” – or maybe in this case rural legend – about Mrs. Heindel; keep reading to the end of today’s post for “the rest of the story,” to quote my hero Paul Harvey!

Charles Druck of Springettsbury Township writes, “In response to Penny Bupp and Donna’s inquiries about horseback riding at Heindel’s farm: Horse rental was a part of the operation of a large working farm. Some riding trails were provided through the huge woodland which extended from the present Arbor Lane (formerly Pleasant Acres Road) through the entire Sentry Woods development. I believe the tilled portion of the farm from Pleasant Acres Road extended west toward and possibly including the Post Office property. Donna may be pleased to know that she can pinpoint the exact location by visiting the Meadowlands Commerce Park about a mile east of the jail. The developer did a great job of preserving the original house and barn on the north side of Concord Road by converting them for office use. Incidentally, there were two other stables operating nearby in the 1940’s. Matthews Stable and Scotland Stables were located opposite each other just off Mt. Zion Rd. on Williams Rd. (now Concord). One of them would probably have been on the present site of the jail parking lot. Happy trails to you!” (To see a photo of the “Concord Corporate Center,” the barn’s current name, see Scott Butcher’s Virtual York here.)

Nancy Arnold, also of Springettsbury Township, also helped with the location and some of her own riding memories. She writes, “After you pass the prison, Heindle Rd. goes off to the right eventually intersecting with Pleasant Acres Rd. In that area was Heindle’s Farm. Mrs. Heindle was a middle-aged woman with facial injuries resulting from being kicked by a horse; she still loved her horses. I was involved with a Jr. Girl Scout troop from 1970-1980. I took the girls to Heindle’s several times to experience their 1st horseback ride. Mrs. Heindle would put each girl up in the saddle and walk them around the corral. It was even my first horseback ride. I know some money exchanged there, but I don’t recall the cost.”

Kathy Rohrbaugh says, “Yes I remember going to the farm to earn my Girl Scout equestrian badge. It was a lot of fun. I recently drove by the barn (which has long been remodeled and turned into a business). The fond memories of yesteryear return when I pass by that area.”

Cindy Roach of Warrington Township said, “When I was a teenager, I used to ride horses there quite frequently. Every time that I received an ‘A’ on my report card, my parents would buy me an hours riding time at Heindel’s. I got a lot of A’s, because I loved horses and loved to ride. I had a favorite horse named ‘Sorrel Mare’ and I would call Mrs. Heindel before I arrived and she would have my horse ready and saddled for me. Sorrel Mare was a beautiful tall horse, probably at least 16 hands tall and I just loved her. If there were enough people to go on a group ride, a guide would take us through the fields and into a very nice trail in the woods. When Rt. 30 was starting to be built, that ended our rides through the woods. Mrs. Heindel had a crooked mouth and she told me one time that it was from a horse kicking her. I sure miss those afternoons at Heindel’s Horse Farm.”

Speaking of those guides – one was Ron Simmons, who writes, “When I was 13, I worked at the farm on the weekends and during the summer months till I was 15 years old. … I would help with the normal farm chores but mainly helped Maw Heindel with the horses. Her grandson Dale and I would lead riders to the trails located in the woods whats now know as Sentry Woods and Springetts Oaks. We would go through the woods and come out onto Ridgewood road which was also gravel and head back to the farm. This took about one hour.”

The former Heindel's barn was renovated into the offices of Nutec Group. Here, J. Donald Butcher, Nutec's former CEO, stands in one of the stairwells. Click the photo to see more images, including historic photos of the barn as it looked in the past, from Nutec's website.

Eugene Shuehad a somewhat, um, less pleasant ride. He says, “I remember Heindle’s farm well. In 1956 or 1957 the guys I ran around with used to go to Heindle’s to ride horses. They talked me into going along one time. Mrs. Heindle … recognized the guys I was with. She said they ran the horses too hard. She said she would give us some horses they just got from out west and they would not take to abuse that they gave the horses. Oh great I never rode a horse before. We went east on the dirt road past a pasture and went north to the woods where there was riding trails. After awhile we turned around and started back to the barn. It seems that these horses could not get back to the barn soon enough. They took off on the run and nothing was going to slow them down. On the last stretch down the road to the barn my horse decided to pass the horse ahead of him. He passed on the left. He went between the other horse and a telephone pole that had plenty of room for the horse but not for the rider. He almost knocked me off.” (Sorry to hear that, Eugene – but I bet your friends were a bit kinder to their horses thereafter?)

Don Bradley recalls, “I grew up in Yorkshire in the 1940’s. I used to ride my bike to Heindel’s to ride the horses. My favorites were Brandy and Silver. It cost $1.00 for an hour of riding. If you brought the horse back sweated up it cost you $2.00. You can see the original farm house at 3601 Concord Road, the barn is to be found at 3687 Concord Road. You had to travel down a long dusty gravel road from the white house on Heindel Road north on a road that ran right to the barn and house. There were no paved roads in that area and the best trails were across Rt. 30 joining into two gravel roads going east to Wrightsville or north on what is now William Road to join more trails. You could actually ride from the barn to Wrightsville and that is what we did. I cut grass in the morning to make $2.00, then head to see Mrs. Heindel and get two hours of riding.”

Jim Knaub says, “Back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s we frequently rode horses down there. The farm was located behind Pleasent Acres which we had to drive thru to get there. After getting past Pleasant Acres the only accesss was via dirt roads. As we arrived the farm house was on the left and the barn on the right Mrs. Heindel (I don’t think we ever knew her 1st name, we just referred to her as Ma Heindel) normally took care of getting and saddling the horses sometimes she was assisted by a young girl (I think it was her daughter), this young lady would ride along with us if she thought one of us might need help with the horse. The cost in those days was 1 dollar per hour. The area back in that area where we rode intertwined with dirt roads which wound around and back to the barn. Of course these are all gone and the area is all developed, however the farmhouse and barn are still there and have been renovated into beautiful properties.”

Many thanks also to Margaret Wagner, Don Hartman, Pam Hunt, Sarann Boring, Sandy Fair and Greg Noll, as well as commenter Steve, many of whom rode at Heindel’s in their youth and also helped confirm its location. There’s also Alan Beaverson and Larry Myers, who worked there in the 1950s, as well as Jim Schrom, who worked there for many years in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jim’s recollection was that the Heindels had about 500 acres that they farmed; he says, “Actually, the husband, Reginald, farmed the land along with a farm hand, Buck who, after several years of working there, married their daughter, Evelyn. Mrs. Heindel rented about 30 head of horses. In addition to renting horses and raising crops, they also had about 30 head of dairy cows; and raised/butchered chickens, turkeys, and a few hogs. They also routinely boarded 3-5 horses.”

Our final memory, though, is the one I promised at the beginning of today’s post – one that sets a rumor to rest. From Shirley Helwig, I received the following:

“I’m the granddaughter, who helped my grandmother. I was also a guide for horseback riders the whole time I was growing up. I’m 63 now so that was a lifetime ago. We lived on the other half of the big house, my parents and (2) brothers we helped on the farm with the animals. It was fun growing up there and riding horses and meeting different people. The house and barn are still there, remodeled, back to the original when first built. It is so built up with factories and business you don’t really recognize it. I took my mother on a tour of the house and barn about 10 years ago – it is all offices and was kind of neat to see now. I would like to clear up something though, my grandmothers face was a little disfigured, there are many things people said about her – truth is as a small child she had a tooth extracted by a dentist that shouldn’t have been one, which left her mouth disfigured for life. Back then dentists of today did not exist. Thanks for remembering.”

Thank YOU, Shirley, for all the memories, as well as for clearing up that story about your grandmother – who knew?? Amazing what we can find out.

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