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Steam Engine Causes Excitement in Glen Rock

One hundred and twenty-five years ago there was excitement in Glen Rock, according to an article in the Glen Rock Item, which was reprinted in the York Gazette of November 28, 1882.
A new steam engine had arrived to bring York County agriculture into the automated age. According to the tone of awe in which the article is written, this might have been one of the first steam engines in that area. It certainly seems to have been the first traction steam engine, one that could move under its own power, ever seen climbing the hills of Glen Rock, as the following description attests:

“Mr. J. H. Herbst, of Hopewell Township, this county, purchased one of the Canton Monitor steamers, built by C. Aultman & Co., of Canton, Ohio. The steamer was shipped to this place and was unloaded yesterday and taken to Mr. Herbst’s place. The steamer is used for to furnish power for threshers and also for agricultural purposes. In some places where it has been introduced it is used to furnish power for plowing and hauling. The steamer has attached to it a moveable water tank, and is a self-propeller. The one shipped here is arranged for two horses to guide it, but the propelling power is secured from the steamer itself.
The machine was quite a curiosity and many of our people were interested in seeing it unloaded and prepared to move off. When the steam was finally up and the steamer moved off, an immense crowd of people, including boys and girls, were out to see the funny thing go off. It pulled up Church Street and moved up the hill as if it were on level ground.”
Wow–imagine a machine moving under its own power along the street. Remember, in 1882 steam-powered machines usually moved on water or rails.
Impressively huge steam engines were eventually replaced by small gasoline engines, but there are still many steam engine enthusiasts, especially in the United States and Great Britain.
Even though the engine in this story was made in Ohio, York’s A. B. Farquhar Company, also know as the Pennsylvania Agricultural Works, made engines and boilers sold throughout the world. You can see local examples at York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural & Industrial Museum on West Princess Street.

Click here to read about another York County steam engine manufacturer.
Click here to read about a more tragic kind of excitement at Glen Rock.