York Town Square

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Mason-Dixon Line hugging New Freedom playing host to a lot history

This building at East Main Street and Railroad Avenue in New Freedom is hosting a museum detailing this southern York County borough’s past. Among other things, the borough, founded in 1873, can boast of resting at the highest point on the old Northern Central Railroad between Baltimore and York. Background posts: Spring Grove museum displays horse gas mask and more, Birthday borough Dillsburg: ‘Seems to be York County’s wild child’ and The American hobo comes to York Springs.

At the current rate, every borough in York County will have a museum or an active historical group some day.
That’s a good thing.
Earlier this year, Dallastown opened its museum joining Wrightsville, Red Lion, Glen Rock and many other towns that publicly display their history.
Now New Freedom, right over the Mason-Dixon Line from Maryland, is opening a place to show off its historical artifacts… .

In fact, its position on the border – the first stop in the North for northbound Northern Central passengers and the last stop for southbound passengers – is the borough’s proudest accomplishment. Over the years, New Freedom represented the first stop on northern soil for scores of people, including many blacks from the Deep South coming north to find work.
Add to these facts the notes that New Freedom marked the spot where the Stewartstown Railroad linked with the Northern Central and played host to excellent area fruit growers and canneries and you have a town that was hardly sleepy.
Interestingly, the borough’s name is not usually linked with the Underground Railroad. Historian George Prowell connects it with the prominent Free family who lived there in the same way that the Freeland stop on the Northern Central, to the south, is associated with a family by that name.
Recently, the New Freedom area has represented a changing York County, serving as the new home for many Marylanders heading north as part of the Maryland migration to York County. And the Northern Central, the line that Abraham Lincoln rode on to get to Gettysburg to deliver his famous address, has been transformed into a southern terminous for York County’s main rail trail.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (11/4/08) tells about New Freedom’s new museum:

New Freedom will soon have a museum to tell the story of the borough’s past.
The New Freedom Heritage group recently cut the ribbon on the 1,200-square-foot building, which will now serve as a museum with photos, artifacts and memorabilia that paint a picture of the town and its history from the early days to the present.
The borough agreed to help the heritage group buy a 0.62-acre property that included a small building, which once served as an insurance office. The goal was to turn the site at East Main Street and Railroad Avenue into Freedom Green, a place for community events.
“We talked about how great it would be to have a museum, and we asked the borough council if they would allow us to use the building. We want to do some minor renovations and don’t have the capital we need. We decided to hold a ribbon-cutting during the (New Freedom) Fest to raise awareness about the need to raise money for the renovations and for the electricity and other costs,” Heritage president Brian Kopp said.
Some of the money will come from the recent New Freedom Fest, and the group is considering a buy-a-brick campaign and a walking tour among other activities. Crescent Industries donated $1,000 for a sign that was designed and painted by the owner of Signs by Sal in Shrewsbury Township, Kopp said.
“We scrubbed the building down inside and out, and the gardeners will be putting in flowers around the outside,” he said.
The items for the museum are rolling in, he said, and there should be no shortage of artifacts to display, Kopp said.
“We are creating a digital catalog system to keep track of everything,” he said.
For details, visit www.newfreedom heritage.org.