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More Susquehanna bridges proposed in 1933

As I mentioned in my recent York Sunday News column on Theodore Burr’s 1815 bridge at McCall’s Ferry, the lower part of York County did not have a lasting river bridge until the Norman Wood bridge was erected in 1968.

The Harrisburg Evening News article below, dated December 8, 1933, tells of York County native Sam Lewis’s try to obtain funding for two new York County bridges over the Susquehanna River. Many bridges were constructed as part of WPA projects during the depression, but neither of these York County bridges was built, nor was the one proposed further north.


Steps were taken today by Samuel S. Lewis, Secretary of Highways, toward having his department secure Federal funds for the construction of additional toll bridges over the Susquehanna River. Lewis today appeared before the State Advisory Board of Public Works to explain the plan.

This week Governor Pinchot approved a bill permitting the Highway Department to apply for Federal funds to build toll bridges.

Recently Secretary Lewis submitted to the Governor the department’s recommendations for additional toll bridges. Two of these would be between York and Lancaster Counties and the other from Millersburg, Dauphin County, to Liverpool, Perry County.

Under authority granted by the regular session of 1933 the department prepared a survey of available bridge sites. The locations recommended were between Bainbridge and Manchester and the other at McCall’s Ferry.

The department, Lewis explained today, is not yet prepared to ask formally for the Federal loans. Cost estimates were submitted to the Governor on the three structures, but considerable detail work is necessary before the applications can be filed.

Cost estimates of the Manchester bridge were placed at approximately $1,050,000, including bridge approaches of $200,000. The McCall’s Ferry bridge was estimated at $560,000, plus $260,000 more for approaches and highway links. In the report to the Governor the highway department suggested the type of bridges to be built.

At the Millersburg site little detail work has been done. A rough estimate of $735,000 was made for the structure.

A look at a current map shows there are still long stretches of the Susquehanna without bridges for vehicles. The next crossing downriver from the Norman Wood bridge is atop the Conowingo dam in Maryland. There are none between Wrightsville and the Harrisburg area. North of Harrisburg, there is only the Clark’s Ferry bridge and then no others until Pennsylvania Route 61 crosses at Shamokin Dam/Sunbury.

When you look back to the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, there were over 15

ferries that crossed the river at various places just between York and Lancaster counties. They were weather dependent, but when conditions allowed, travel and commerce were possible at many different sites.