Bridging York County’s Gut
The Gut is in East Manchester Township. You can easily see the site on these four maps. (Keep in mind that some place names have changed. East Manchester Township was formed from Manchester Township in 1887. Liverpool is now Manchester and New Holland is Saginaw.)
On the three nineteenth century maps (1821, 1860 and 1876) you can see how the Conewago Creek forked just east of Brunner’s Island. The north fork continues today to form the mouth of the Conewago at York Haven. Part of the south fork still exists for a short distance in a series of large ponds. It seems to have been filled in between there and Hartman Run, where it again follows the original route. That part is marked on modern maps, such as the one shown, as Black Gut and empties into the Susquehanna just north of Saginaw. Gut Road runs parallel to it. You can again see clearly where the road crossed the Gut on the old maps. Present Board and Wago roads follow the route to the bridge from present day Manchester and Mount Wolf. The road would have taken the traffic across the Gut bridge to Eib’s Landing, a now disappeared, but once thriving, port for offloading lumber coming down the Susquehanna River. A ferry in this area crossed to Bainbridge, just over the river. It was operated over the years by ferryman named Lowe, Logan, Galbraith, Wilken and perhaps others. The maps show that Brunner’s Island and Lowe’s Island were once separate islands, whereas they can hardly be called islands today.
In 1886 George R. Prowell wrote in Gibson’s History of York County:
“The Gut is a singular freak of nature. Some time, not long before the settlement of York County by the whites, the Big Conewago Creek, on account of high water, overflowed its banks, and cut a deep channel two miles in length, causing this, the southern branch, to flow into the Susquehanna at New Holland, while the main branch of the creek flows into the river, three miles farther up the stream at York Haven. During times of high water the Gut is a rapid stream, but in dry seasons it is sluggish and sometimes altogether dry. Within this irregularly shaped delta is contained about five square miles of excellent alluvial soil. ‘The River Gut’ is a branch of half a mile in length, passing from the Gut to the Susquehanna. A singular phenomenon is illustrated: When the river is high it flows toward the creek, when the creek is high it flows toward the river. It is a true bifurcation.”
I think by ‘The River Gut,’ he is referring to the channel that was between Brunner’s and Lowe’s islands.
I will share more later about the tremendous volume of lumber floated down the river to York County.