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1906 York Automobile Owners form York Motor Club; their Club House still stands

1921 Lincoln Highway Map Segment produced by Automobile Club of Southern California (Collections of S. H. Smith)
1921 Lincoln Highway Map Segment produced by Automobile Club of Southern California (Collections of S. H. Smith)

This 1921 Lincoln Highway map segment shows the general location of the Club House of the York Motor Club.  Noted in small print, the location is a little over two-miles east of York on the north side of the Lincoln Highway.

The Lincoln Highway, conceived in 1913, was America’s first coast-to-coast highway.  During 1913, many city streets were paved but most rural roads were still dirt.  The Lincoln Highway Association was formed with a plan to link already paved roads by improving strategic dirt roads throughout the country.  The association engaged more in planning and fund-raising than in actual road construction.

The first real test of how much progress was being made on the Lincoln Highway came in 1919.  The U.S. War Department wanted to know how the country’s roads would handle emergency military convoy movements.  A convoy of 80 military vehicles set out from Washington, D.C. on July 7, 1919.  They traveled to Frederick, Maryland, and then headed north.  At Gettysburg, the convoy made a left turn and made its way west via the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco.

The convoy contended with getting stuck in rutted or muddy roads, bridges collapsing and vehicles braking down.  In remote regions, the Lincoln Highway was not well marked.  Soldiers mounted Harley-Davidsons and rode ahead of the convoy to scout out the route and conditions.  Sixty-two days after leaving Washington, D.C. the convoy reached San Francisco.

One of the immediate results of this convoy debacle was better signage marking the route of the Lincoln Highway.  Another result was better maps, such as the 1921 Lincoln Highway map booklet by the Automobile Club of Southern California.  However the Lincoln Highway was not entirely completed until 1926, becoming the first fully paved route across the United States.

A longer range result of the 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy over the Lincoln Highway was the Interstate Highway System we have today.  One of the army observers that traveled with the 1919 Convoy was 28-year-old Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower.  When Eisenhower became President of the United States, passage of an Interstate Highway Act became one of his priorities.

To finish out the Lincoln Highways’ Centennial Year, I’ll continue to write Lincoln Highway associated posts throughout December. Previous related posts include:

Continue reading for more about the York Motor Club and where the Club House was located.


Some automobile owners of York and York County met April 25, 1906.  They formed “The Automobile Association of York County.”  This organization is not to be confused with AAA (American Automobile Association), which established a chapter in York County twenty years later in 1926.

The Automobile Association of York County soon adopted the shorter name “York Motor Club.”  The club promoted good safe roads.  Members shared road trip travel ideas.  The club encouraged camaraderie of car ownership through gatherings and activities.

The Committee on Permanent Quarters was charged with finding a permanent Club House.  Several sites and buildings were rejected, however when the possibility of acquiring the John Laing residence along the Wrightsville Turnpike came before the membership on April 29, 1912, this choice met with unanimous approval.  York Motor Club details come from the collections of the York County Heritage Trust.

The first meeting of the York Motor Club in their Club House occurred July 2, 1912.  Many will recognize this building along East Market Street in Springettsbury Township.  The Colonial Revival building with massive wrap-around porch is located between North Findlay Street and North Vernon Street; it looks virtually the same as it did 100-years ago in this circa 1913 postcard.

Circa 1913 Postcard of York Motor Club, York, PA (Postcard is Postmarked June 1914 and is from the Collections of S. H. Smith)
Circa 1913 Postcard of York Motor Club, York, PA (Postcard is Postmarked June 1914 and is from the Collections of S. H. Smith)

The Directories at the York County Heritage Trust indicate that the York Motor Club continued to use this building until at least 1921.  The 1923-1924 Directory has the York Motor Club located in the Cassat Building on the northeast angle of Centre Squate.  The 1925-1926 Directory and onward directories have no listing for the York Motor Club.  The disbanding of York’s initial motor club pretty much coincides with the arrival of an AAA Chapter in York County.

YorkMotorClub3I’m sure the activities of the York Motor Club show up in local newspapers, however here is a mention in a national magazine Motor Age, in 1916:  “Club Gets Aid—In order to make the work of the York Motor Club, York, Pa., more effective, the members of the York County Automobile Dealers’ Association have combined with the motor club.  The three members of the dealers’ association, J. W. Richley, J. P. Oden and W. Ilgenfritz, have been added to the board of governors of the motor club.”

“One of the most recent things to be undertaken by the club is the protection of the Grantley road grade crossing on the Pennsylvania railroad just south of this city, where two persons have recently been killed by trains.  The safety-first committee of the club met in conference with G. R. Sinnickson, Baltimore, superintendent, and other officials of the railroad here yesterday and were given the assurance that additional signals would be placed at the crossing as well as a watchman.”

Links to related posts include:

Check back Monday when I look at the 1906 Charter Members of the York Motor Club.

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts