Outdoor dining area on the east side of The Glen Rock Mill Inn (Photo source: Explore York blog of July 21, 2020: “Where to dine outside in York County”)
Mill Races ran through Glen Rock
Mill Races transported Valley Creek water to power everything from Grist to Saw Mills within Glen Rock. From 1837 until 1933, a covered Head Race was located under the present outdoor seating area of the pictured Glen Rock Mill Inn, delivering water to power the waterwheels within the mill. Prior to 1837, a waterwheel powered Saw Mill, was located on the same site; it was established in 1832 and was the first to utilize the waterpower of Valley Creek.
I wrote several YorksPast articles about Mills in other areas of York County prior to one of my presentations for the Glen Rock Historic Preservation Society. Following that meeting, I was asked, what I considered an easy question: “Can you name the source of water for the Mills in Glen Rock?” My answer, “South Branch of the Codorus Creek,” was not correct. I was informed many get that wrong; the source was a strong creek east of Glen Rock, often known as Valley Creek.
That question was the beginning of a discussion concerning the Mills and Mill Races within Glen Rock. In looking over historic maps after that meeting, I added a To-Do-List requested item to show the historical location of Mill Races in Glen Rock, with respect to present structures. That item bubbled to the top of the list with a recent query to the York County History Center. Resulting in a wider re-examination of historical background of Glen Rock Mill Races.
As background, the primary mill utilizing the Mill Races, was the Glen Rock Mill. The following is the mill detail from the May 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Glen Rock. Israel Glatfelter was the mill operator from 1885 until 1918. The map shows a covered Head Race for transporting water into the mill’s two overshot waterwheels. Research shows the water elevation in the Head Race was 12-feet above the water in the Tail Race; for use of the 11-foot or 10-foot diameter waterwheels. In 1908, the mill had a 20-HP steam engine and a boiler with a 50-foot chimney, which was not used in 1908 and both were removed by 1913; per the Sanborn Map of that year.
An item of discussion was the suspicion a waterwheel once powered a nearby Planing Mill. The following detail of that Planing Mill is from the May 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Glen Rock. The map shows the Tail Race from the Glen Rock Mill passing through part of the Planing Mill, an indication that possibly, at one time in the 1800s, the Planing Mill operated by waterpower. If so, I agree, it is logical a Planing Mill Head Race would have tapped the Head Race of the Glen Rock Mill.
A query to the York County History Center wanted to know if a Mill Race ever ran under Ruins Hall (now Ruins Park); shown in the upper left of the following 2015 aerial photo. There is no historical record indicating a Mill Race ever went through the Ruins Hall site. What is now Ruins Park was originally constructed as a 1937 or 1938 building for Coleman Enterprise Corporation of Glen Rock. A historic aerial photo, dated April 23, 1938, shows that building under roof by then. By the late 1980s the building was no longer utilized and in the 1990s the building was left to deteriorate into ruins. Now the skeleton of the building is used as a venue to hold various types of public events; and for Rail Trail users, it has become an exploration stop.
The following aerial photo encompasses the Mill Race Area of Glen Rock; with the Tail Race emptying into the Codorus Creek at the top of the photo and the Mill Pond filling with water from Valley Creek at the bottom of the photo. The historical location of the Mill Races is mapped onto this 2015 Aerial Photo, by transferring the locations from historical 1908 and 1876 maps; which follow.
The Mill Dam Spillway Detail, from the May 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Glen Rock, shows how water flows out of the Mill Pond. When needed for milling purposes, the Head Race is replenished with water from the Mill Pond. However water continually enters the pond, via Valley Creek, in excess of that required for milling. The excess water flows from the Mill Pond by spilling over the 15-foot high Dam, into the Codorus Creek.
The dam spillway created a 15-foot waterfall; the echo of which could be heard in the Glen for 101 years until the great flood of August 1933 destroyed the Dam. It was never re-built; marking the end of water powered milling in Glen Rock. From that point forward, the mills operated by electric motors and/or gasoline engines, until the Glen Rock Mill ceased milling operations in 1960s. In 1984, Cecil and Mary Artrip purchased the deteriorating mill and converted it into a restaurant.
The following map encompasses the Mill Race Area using May 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Glen Rock.
The following map encompasses the Mill Race Area using the 1876 Beach Nichols Atlas of York County, Pennsylvania. Glen Rock is found on page 61.
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Links to other Glen Rock posts include:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts