York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Bright York County beacon atop a high tower directed pilots in air, defined community on ground

This landmark beacon atop a high tower is long gone, but long remembered. It was a welcome sight for pilots and helped define the close-knit Conewago Township community of Zion View down below. Norma Bear Gates has written that the tower consisted of a main light and two smaller lights. The tower, she wrote, came down in 1970. The light is on display today. To find out where, see below. For details about the beacon, see: Beacon helped spot whereabouts of Conewago Township’s Zion View.

Quickel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has been in the news recently because of its fun practice of inviting its folks and visitors to come to services on Christmas morning in their pajamas. (And check out these photos).

That capped off a 250th anniversary year for the church, one of York County’s oldest.

That anniversary brought me to the Dover firehall to address an anniversary luncheon late in the year.

I played on the call of the church and its members to be salt and light in the community, based on Jesus’ words in the Bible’s Matthew 5.

The light part was easy to illustrate for a church and Zion View community that had been located for years by its proximity to a high beacon. The tower was used to give directions for those traveling on the ground, and its main beacon was bright enough to light up Zion View bedrooms.

The main function of those lights atop the tower, of course, helped aircraft line up with Harrisburg’s airport 12 miles away, as well as the York Airport six miles off.

The beacon and tower are long gone, but many at Quickel and elsewhere in York County remember its bright, but friendly lights. I’m sure many pilots, flying without instruments, felt gratitude for the illumination high above the ground and how those lights pierced the darkness and gave direction.

And thus the perfect illustration for my salt-and-light presentation to the church’s anniversary audience.

Picture2This later photo of the beacon tower might show the landmark after its lights have been removed. Also of interest: Is the Conewago Township, York County, village: Zion View or Zion’s View?

beaconThe York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum has an aviation wing that includes the Zion View beacon, with this description.

The beacon at the Ag Museum. A model of the original York Airport, at Fayfield, is at bottom. Also of interest: York Airport memories spawn even more recollections about old York-area airfields.

History mystery: This comes from the YDR’s Facebook page, where readers showed a lot of interest in the old beacon.

*Top photo courtesy of John F.M. Wolfe’s ‘Profiles of Aviation. Second photo from top, courtesy of Norma Bear Gates. Mrs. Gates’ book about Zion View provided information about the light.