York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Bona Fide Earthquake rattled York County In 1889

This York Daily Record/Sunday News graphic represents the location of the series of earthquakes that have been felt in northeastern York County in the past year. So far, the impact of the earthquakes have not been as severe as “A BIG GROUND SWELL” that shook York County in March 1889. Background posts: Northern York area strawberry part of Neapolitan county and Photographer tramps to far reaches of York County and Franklintown second cousin to neighboring Dillsburg.
Recent Dillsburg-area earthquakes have been mere rumblings compared to the most memorable quake to hit York County – in 1889.
The multi-deck headline in the York Gazette on March 9, 1889, tells the story:
“York Shaken by a Bona Fide Earthquake”
“A Tall Local Sensation”
“Bricks Fall From Chimneys And Dishes Rattle”
“Pianos Emit Weird and Mysterious Sounds”
“Windows Rattled at Gettysburg – Lancaster and Old Berks Feel the Shock – Baltimore Touched”
The Gazette reported that the streets were deserted, but as soon as it was felt, men, women and children rushed shrieking into the street… .

This YDR/YSN graphic places the Dillsburg temblors on the Richter scale. No such scale existed to measure the 1889 York County earthquake.
A group in the square ran to safety, fearing that the six-story Hartman Building, known today as the Futer Bros. building, would topple.
One man passing the Farmers Market, at Penn and West Market, said the entire structure was shaking. Bricks fell from chimneys and cracks appeared in ceilings.
The next day, the newspaper observed that some initially believed the quake might have come from cannonading in Harrisburg, in recognition of Simon Cameron’s 90th birthday. The shock was believed to have traveled down the Susquehanna River and up the Codorus Creek.
The only people not impacted, according to the newspaper, were street car operators.
The noise of the cars and the normal vibrations of rolling over stones drowned out shakes from the quake.