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Off to Springwood in 1874

Peach Bottom Railway, Spring Garden Township 1876
Peach Bottom Railway, Spring Garden Township 1876

In a recent post, I shared some 20th century history and photos of Springwood Park in York Township. The park closed in 1954, after operating about 80 years. Springwood was developed as a destination for picnicking and dancing by the Peach Bottom Railway. The narrow gauge railroad opened from York to Dallastown on July 4, 1874.

A lengthy article (see below) appeared in a local newspaper soon after, giving the site great publicity. I learned some things from the article, for example, the initial York station was at what was then the end of Philadelphia Street, near Broad St. It was later moved to Market Street, about a block away.

The Zachariah K. Loucks farm was in the area of Plank Road (now Prospect Street) and Princess Street, the areas that are now salvage yards. Looking at the maps above and below from the 1876 Atlas of York County, you can see the route of the line, following Mill Creek (then the Little Codorus) as it crossed Plank Road (Mt. Rose Avenue) near present day I-83. “Springwoods Picnic Station” is shown on the map, a short distance south of the regular Ore Valley station.

Because of the length of the entertaining, but long-winded, newspaper account the first half is transcribed below. It describes the pleasant ride through the countryside.

“Delightful Excursion on the Peach B. (Narrow-Gauge) Railway.
A Pleasure Party Not Disappointed–Everybody Pleased–P.B.R.W. Excursions an Institution.

Feeling like indulging in the pleasures of a short trip to the country, we wended our way, (with some two hundred others) toward the P.B. Railway station at the eastern end of Philadelphia Street, on Friday evening last. We had an idea, like many others, that more was said than realized in these so called pleasure excursions, but after an experience of the genuine sports of the trip we vote these trips a grand success, and we expect our pleasure seekers will soon see things in their true light, and, like we, enjoy these short, sweet and delightful evening trips to “Spring Woods Pic-Nic Park.” With anticipations of pleasure apparently visible on the countenance of each excursionist, eagerly did they wait for the locomotive tut tut of “up breaks,” the signal for putting the train in motion. Soon we were climbing up the summit, just beyond the farm of Zach. K. Loucks, where we witnessed that which alone compensated us for the outlay–a gorgeous sunset, one, which for grandeur, we doubt if even Italy’s grandest ever surpassed, but, another turn in the road brought us face to face with the beauties of the York valley.– And who that can view our grand old hills and not feel that we are especially favored with a rare view of picturesque scenery and fertility combined.

But, the swift running of the iron-horse gave us little time for reflection as it went thundering along by the rich and beautiful farms to be found on the line of the road. “Saturday Night” station, made famous by the “all-night” “sand-picking” excursionists of a few weeks ago, was reached and passed with the sighs of some who “had to get home at nine o’clock,” but did not make it, even though they walked all the way. A hasty glance at this never-again to be realized scene of dire trouble and we took in a picture for Nast, that would have added new luster to his wide-spread fame.–On we go, not slowly as some think who have not yet enjoyed a ride on a narrow gauge, but at a speed that made distance disappear like young lightning, until we were halted at “Spring-Woods.” The cars emptied magically, and all were on the way to the substantially built and well-arranged pavilion, it being night, no other places of interest on the ground could be reached in the absence of day-light.”

The second installment, recounting the activities once the pleasure seekers arrived will follow.

The writer, identified only by the initials A. L. B. Y., refers to Nast, probably artist Thomas Nast, who is more famed for popularizing the familiar images of Santa Claus, the Republican elephant and the Democrat’s donkey than landscapes.

Peach Bottom Railway later became part of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. The “Saturday Night station” is a mystery. It sounds like there had been some problems on a previous excursion, resulting on a long walk home for the passengers.

Peach Bottom Railway, York Township 1876
Peach Bottom Railway, York Township 1876