Only in York County

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History mystery in review

Remember how I said I was on a hunt to find out the truth about Howard Tunnel’s status as the “oldest” railroad tunnel still continuously operating?

Well, we did get some more info on it, thanks to my enterprising readers, that I wanted to share.

Photo submitted in 2008 by Carol (Hyde) Smith of Red Lion. It’s the Howard Tunnel on the Heritage Rail Trail County Park, as seen traveling south from Brillhart Station.

First, let’s start with Jo, who made me smile. She writes, “Doesn’t ‘continuously operational railroad’ imply that trains are still running thru it? I do not see that phrase to include foot and/or bicycle traffic to be still operational as a railroad tunnel. That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?”

She also made a good point: “York has been attempting to find its identity for more than 100 years and this is yet another example of its claim for the biggest, the first, the loudest, or whatever else it can cling to, and now the longest (running).”

June Lloyd, of Universal York blog fame, and also librarian emerita at the Heritage Trust, did some research for me that I really appreciated. She writes: “We do have (“The Story of the Northern Central Railway,” by Robert L. Gunnarson) at the York County History Center Library Archives. It says on pg. 23: “The tunnel was opened for traffic in 1838 … and thus was one of the country’s earliest railroad tunnels.” Guess the quote just got stretched a little on the website you found.” (See that site here.)

June also said there is probably more on the tunnel in other railroad books at the Trust and in files on the York and Maryland Line RR, Northern Central RR and the Pennsylvania RR, since the tunnel would have been part of each of those railroads at various times.

I really appreciate all the info! You can bet this is one subject I’m going to keep reading up on!

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