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Narrow Gauge Railway Along Stonewood Road in Springettsbury Township to the Stony Brook Slate & Brick Company

Northwest Looking View of the Stony Brook Slate & Brick Company in Springettsbury Township; Proto is circa 1905 and is from the Archives of the York County Heritage Trust (Photo originally the property of Charles E. Hoffman)

The Stony Brook Slate & Brick Company constructed the 3’-0” narrow gauge railway seen in this photo during 1905.  The railway paralleled what would become Stonewood Road to a quarry 1-1/4 miles to the south.  Horse and wagon had initially hauled slate from the quarry to a siding on the Railroad between York & Wrightsville at the site of this photo.  The brick plant at the siding was constructed in 1904 when the owners of the slate operation discovered that their slate waste by-product become more valuable as bricks than their original slate business.

Related posts include:

This northwest looking view of the Stony Brook Slate & Brick Company matches the viewpoint in the ‘Brick Plant DETAIL 1908 Map / 2012 Photo’ side-by-side comparisons in yesterday’s post: Narrow Gauge Railway Along Stonewood Road in Springettsbury Township and Plot of Daniel Brubaker’s 280-Acres; i.e. location of Camp Security.


My starting point of discovery of information about the slate quarry and brick company came from a booklet produced by Springettsbury Township for their Centennial, 1891-1991; Our First 100 Years of Progress in the County of York, PA.  Quoting starting on Page 117:


A low-grade quality of slate was once quarried from a hill along Stonewood Road, 0.5 miles south of Orchard Road.  This rock was reportedly used for road gravel in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The quarry cut measured about 150 feet long, with a 30-foot embankment.

Stony Brook Slate and Brick Company

Although no records were to be found in local historical files of the Stony Brook Slate and Brick Company, area residents supplied photographs and anecdotes to convince us of its role in helping to build Springettsbury Township.  Their pictures show the businesses’ buildings, smokestacks, loading platform along the Pennsylvania railroad tracks, and their dinkey that was pulled by a small stream engine on those narrow gauge tracks.

Several residents living in the Stony Brook area shared stories, which had been handed down to them by ancestors.

Frank Daron spoke of the clay that had been used to make the bricks.  It had been hauled from the Baughman Valley Clay Hole, situated along the area that is now Stonewood Road in our township.  Slate was also quarried from this same area; out of a 60-foot deep pit located about two miles south from where the brick plant had then operated.  (The quarry has long since been filled in.)

At first hauled to the brickyard by horse and wagon, the clay was later transported on the “dinkey,” pulled by the little engine.  It was a tossup which looked “dinkier.”

That dinkey was remembered and discussed by various informants.  A schoolteacher said that when she taught school at Witmer’s one-room school, the railroad tracks from the brick plant to the clay hole could be seen from her classroom window.  Students enjoyed watching the dinkey haul clay on its way to the kilns; a learning experience by observation.  Stony Brook Slate and Brick Company made two grades of bricks: one with a hard finish; to be used as face brick…the other of softer grade, to be used for subsequent layers, as back-up.  Reputedly, their face brick was of a nice color and weathered well.

Charles Hoffman, Jr., showed us a photograph of this brickyard, where his father, Charles Hoffman, Sr., worked for $1.50 a week.  In addition, he told us that his grandfather, Robert Hoffman, labored in the quarry in Baughman Valley, from which the slate and clay was obtained for the brickyard.

In 1908 Charlie’s granddaddy bought a home behind which the brickyard dinkey ran on its regular trips to and from the quarry.  Those trips ceased about six years later, however, when the stony Brook Slate and Brick Company went out of business, but not before some Stony Brook area buildings were built by their bricks.

Marino’s Pizzeria (original residence built by Winfield Hauser); The Paddock Restaurant (built by John Hauser); Stony Brook Mennonite Church; The Carriage House on the former Dr. Crandall’s Health School property; and numerous homes in Hellam as well.

Typical Brickyard “Dinkey” of the Early 1900s

Tomorrow I’ll post a different view of the Stony Brook Slate and Brick Company; one looking to the southwest, while standing where the main Railroad crosses Stonewood Road.  This second view comes from a Chicago trade publication of 1905, which also contains a full page of details about the company; plus noting a 3’-0” narrow gauge railway.

This Brick Trade publication is the source for the photo of a ‘Typical Brickyard “Dinkey” of the Early 1900s.’  Several manufacturers produced “Dinkeys,” this particular “Dinkey” photo looks similar to the one shown in the photo at the beginning of this post; although it’s hard to tell exactly.  The scene of a “Dinkey” with cars being loaded at a quarry in Tennessee probably looks similar to the early 1900s operations at the quarry along Stonewood Road.

Typical Brickyard “Dinkey” of the Early 1900s with Cars being Load at the Quarry

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