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Governor Wolf’s profound impact on York County

Northern Central Railroad & Glen Rock Talk

George Wolf [1777-1840] (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
George Wolf [1777-1840] (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Yorker Tom Wolf is running for Governor.  One hundred and eighty-five years ago, Pennsylvania had its first Governor Wolf.  George Wolf served as the seventh Governor of Pennsylvania.

This portrait shows George Wolf when he served the Eighth District of Pennsylvania in the U. S. House of Representatives; having been elected in 1824 and reelected in 1826 and 1828.  In 1829 George Wolf was elected Governor of Pennsylvania; and was reelected in 1832.

Governor George Wolf is best known for pushing through the 1834 Common School Law, which established the first system of publicly financed grade-school education throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Governor Wolf also had a profound impact on improvements to the transportation infrastructure in York County.

In 1827, York County merchants and farmers thought interstate barriers, the result of a fierce trade rivalry between Philadelphia and Baltimore, created restrictive trade routes; enriching Philadelphia businessmen at their expense.  York County and Baltimore businessmen worked together in applying for a charter on the first railroad into York County.  It would run between Baltimore and the Susquehanna River, passing through York.

The Maryland Legislature granted a Charter on February 13th, 1828, authorizing construction of the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad.  The Pennsylvania Legislature refused to approve a charter; protecting Philadelphia’s interests.

Following a one and one-half year impasse, the Pennsylvania Legislature still refusing to budge on allowing a railroad link from Baltimore into York County.  Maryland was not to be deterred.  Stock in the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad was issued.


On August 8th, 1829, construction was started on the railroad northward from Baltimore.  This was the beginning of what eventually became the Northern Central Railroad.

In 1832, it was Pennsylvania Governor Wolf who brokered a deal with the Pennsylvania Legislature to approve a charter for this railroad to proceed into Pennsylvania.  You’ll have to hear my talk on Rail Events in the 1800’s for the Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society on April 22nd, 2014, to discover why it took another six years before the railroad reached York.

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