York Town Square

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Trees commemorate World War I vets

A reader wrote us with a question about the sycamore trees lining the Susquehanna Trail in stretches between York and Maryland.
He had heard they were planted in memory of World War I soldiers and was seeking details.

The following entry from my book “Never to be Forgotten” provides information on those trees, as well as those planted along Route 462/30.
These trees are overlooked landmarks No. 10. (See earlier posts on the Little Courthouse, Prospect Hill Cemetery, War Mothers Memorial, USO at York County Academy’s former gymnasium, York’s Salem Square soldiers monument, the Cookes House, York’s rowhouses, Wrightsville’s monuments and the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge.)
1922: York County
WWI vets get
living memorial
Motorists driving today between Wrightsville and Abbottstown may notice occasional rows of red oaks, elms, sugar maples and tulip trees along present-day Route 462 and Route 30.
Those motoring south on the Susquehanna Trail from Jacobus to the Maryland line will notice occasional stretches of sycamores.
These overlooked stands of trees were planted in the 1920s to honor the county’s dead in World War I.
The 25-mile planting along Routes 462 and 30 is part of a well-publicized “Road to Remembrance” program.
First Lady Florence Harding urges Women’s Clubs across the country to sponsor the planting. The Lincoln Highway Memorial and the Tribute Tree Association of York County erects 5-foot-high granite monuments in Wrightsville and Abbottstown in honor of the war dead with the title “Lest we forget.”
The cost of planting a tree is $2.50, with an additional $1 charge for inscribing a veteran’s name and branch of service on a bronze plaque. The first three trees are planted on the lawn of R.S. Cannon in memory of Michael Gardner, York; J. Wilson Gaily, New Park; and Joseph H. Henderson, York. The names are the first three listed on the county courthouse roll of honor. The War Mothers Club plants the sycamores along the Trail.
Today, many of the trees have fallen victim to disease, neglect, wider roads and fast-moving cars. Stretches of well-preserved sycamores stand north of Hametown and the Route 216 cutoff to Glen Rock.