Only in York County

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This "1947 Official York Inter-State Fair Facts and Guide" booklet sold for 25 cents and offered visitors a day-by-day schedule, a photo directory of the fair's managers and officers, details on the year's Grandstand shows and more.

A look back at the 1947 York Fair, plus more train info

Lola’s Luscious Lemonade, Lola’s Waffles and Ice Cream, and two slabs of bacon on a stick marked the highlights of my York (State) Fair experience this year; it was a tasty one to be sure! Today, I have something Fair-fitting to share, and a few more notes on a recent topic of interest, trains.

An image shows the phrase Ask Joan in large letters above a line and the phrase What's to love about York County below it.

What’s inside

1. Finishing off the Fair
2. A follow-up on the Dinky
3. … and another railroad question

1. Finishing off the Fair

Today’s fun find is something REALLY cool that I have had for a while – a 1947 York Fair guidebook, the cover of which you see pictured today.

I get fair memories pretty often; not long ago, I received a note from Christopher Simonton Jr., who is in his late 20s and can already remember a host of changes in the Fair just in his lifetime. He said that with the date change next year, he’s hoping the Fair staff will bring back some of the older traditions as well.

So what did the Fair look like “back in the day?” Well, if you’re curious, you can check out the entire 1947 guidebook at That’s a PDF version of the almost-30-page booklet. At some point in the future, I want to pull out pieces from it and do whole columns or website posts about the individual elements. The advertisements alone would be material for months and months of columns!

One quick fact of interest you’ll find if you browse it: The president and general manager of the fair in 1947 was none other than Samuel S. Lewis, whose name might sound familiar as the moniker of the state park looking down on the Susquehanna River in eastern York County.

Lewis, who was born in York, was, among other things, the former state Auditor General and Treasurer (including during the administration of Gov. Gifford Pinchot, who you might also know because of his namesake park). Most notably, he was Lieutenant Governor from 1939 to 1943 under Gov. Arthur James.

At the time of the 1947 Fair, he was 73 years old, and, based on the Fair’s website, had been serving in the position for some time – including during his period of government service. (The Fair site notes that, under the leadership of Lewis, the Fair remained open during World War II when other fairs and the Farm Show closed, drawing a lot of criticism.)

So, more to come from the 1947 Fair Guide in the future, I hope, but for today, I hope you enjoyed a little slice of Fair history!

2. A follow-up on the Dinky

While going through some more of my emails this week, I found one note on the Dinky – the small, self-propelled commuter railcar that ran from York to Lancaster in the 1940s and 1950s – that I had not shared when we talked in detail about local trains a couple of weeks ago.

The note came from Jim Bender, who wrote, “My grandfather Sinclair Leroy Keeney was the engineer/conductor of the ‘Dinky.’ As a small boy I would sometimes ride with him if my mother needed a sitter.”

Jim described, “We lived in Stony Brook and my grandfather would stop and pick me up. My grandfather lived in Wrightsville and at the end of the day he would park the Dinky and walk home. If you wanted a drink of water, there was a bucket of ice water and a ladle and paper cups that everybody could help themselves to.”

Now I am curious about how many readers who remember riding the Dinky also remember you and your grandfather, Jim!

3. … and another railroad question

So with the ‘Dinky,’ we talked about the Pennsylvania Railroad’s line going from Wrightsville to Lancaster, and in the same previous column, I shared a lot of information from Ivan Frantz Jr. about the same railroad’s larger area service, going from York to Lancaster and on to Philadelphia and beyond.

In that vein, I had a letter from Robert Williams, a railroad historian working specifically on the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s York Brach that ran from York to Wrightsville.

“This railroad played a key role in the Civil War and I am sure you have read a lot of Civil War history on the burning of the Wrightsville bridge,” Robert wrote. “I have found it difficult to find information on this railroad, so I am hoping your readers would have old photographs and history on the railroad they could share with me.”

Robert asked that I publish his contact information for anyone who has such things to share; he can be reached at or 443-463-9242.

I would also welcome any photos and history, so feel free to share with us both! I also would direct anyone interested in the Civil War piece in particular to check out fellow writer Scott Mingus‘ Cannonball website, which focuses on York County in the Civil War. Scott shared a great set of information in 2011 about the Northern Central and later Pennsylvania railroads in that area and the war’s effects on them; you can find that at

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.

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