York Town Square

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Early York airport operator: ‘My planes will be new and with mufflers to silence them’

This photograph from a mid-20th-century York (Pa.) Chamber of Commerce publication shows York Valley Airways, later York Whitehull Airport. The old Valley Canvas building, then part of the airport, stands today. The Springettsbury Township airport land is now occupied by the old York Mall, now Walmart. The stone structure across the from Playland pool is the York Valley Inn. Also of interest: First York Airport’s administration building stands today and Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging photograph and U.S. 30 Drag-O-Way, Part III: ‘We would watch the dragsters on trailers head for Thomasville’.

In the same way that horse-drawn wagons and sleighs and those newfangled automobiles shared York County’s bad roads in the 1910s, people around York County had to adjust to the introduction of airplanes and airports a quarter of a century later.
York countian Dorcas LaMotte Townsley mailed in a news article about one particularly heated airport controversy.
That came over the building of a landing strip in the Yorkshire area of Springettsbury Township, around the York Valley Inn, in the months before Pearl Harbor.
Ben LaMotte, a Red Lion businessman and Dorcas Townsley’s uncle, made the proposal to build on Henry Frank’s farm and started work on the land later covered by the York Mall, now Walmart.
His opposition came from the formidable “Shoe Wizard” Mahlon Haines… .

“Two weeks later, my friend, Mahon Haines, objected for he believed an airport would demoralize Yorkshire, although he had already allowed a service station, roller skating rink, driving range, hot dog stand and a race track to be placed there,” LaMotte wrote in a letter to the York Dispatch.
At one point, LaMotte challenged Haines, who was reportedly supportive of an earlier airport at nearby Fayfield: “If Mr. Haines puts a plow to his race track, I’ll put a plow to the runway of the airport.”
All this was more rhetoric than action.
LaMotte argued that planes using the airport would not fly over the homes of the residents of East York or Yorkshire.
And he put forth the following interesting argument: “My planes will be new and with mufflers to silence them.”
LaMotte eventually ended his venture.
Perhaps it was the prime role of aircraft in the ensuing World War II that loosened opposition to the next Yorkshire airport venture at the Yorkshire site three years later.
Local aviation historian John F. M. Wolfe wrote in “Profile of Aviation” that Paul Murray, a former Army Air Corps pilot, partnered with Charles T. Frew Jr. to operate Valley Airways.
An area of business for the airport along the Lincoln Highway came from returning veterans gaining flight training under the G.I. Bill.
Valley Airways evolved into the York Whitehull Airport and flight service operated out of that three-runway site until 1952.
Then the post-war times brought development pressure and whatever peace Mahlon Haines and others were seeking in opposing LaMotte’s airport gave way to the largely unmufflered bass sound of earthmoving equipment, often made at a new neighbor, Caterpillar.
Other posts with aerial views:
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging photograph
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging Sears photograph, Part II
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photo of North York’s White Oak Park
Just try to resist this memory-tugging aerial photograph of York Whitehull Airport and York Valley Inn and Playland and …
So, can you find long-gone Springwood Park in this aerial photograph?
Camp Security area of Springettsbury Township from the air
Columbia-Wrightsville Susquehanna River bridges from the air.
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photograph of northwest York, Pa.
“The Record of the York Chamber of Commerce in the First Half of the Twentieth Century,” the source of the photograph for this post, courtesy of Joe Stein.