York County Heritage Rail Trail
When Hurricane Agnes ravaged the east coast in 1972, numerous rail bridges on the old Northern Central rail line between York and Baltimore were destroyed. The ailing Penn Central railroad could not justify rebuilding the line due to the minimal traffic on the line.
This effectively isolated the Stewartstown Railroad and its freight customers from the rest of the world, and a long legal battle ensued. As a result, the state Department of Transportation purchased the line, and restored the line to service. The little Stewartstown Railroad operated the line to connect with the railroads in York.
The line was turned over to the County of York, and a plan to establish a rail trail was born. Construction started at the southern end of the line, where the trail would connect with the Northern Central Rail Trail in Maryland, which extended from the Mason-Dixon line to Cockeysville, a distance of about 20 miles.
The rail trail reached downtown York in 1999, a distance of just over 20 miles from the Mason-Dixon line. The trail is a ten foot wide compacted stone surface designed for hiking, biking, running and horseback riding. The trail parallels an active rail line, used by the Northern Central Railway's Liberty Limited dinner trains. The trail is open year round, 8:00 a.m. to dusk.
Several former railroad stations remain along the line, most notable the recently restored New Freedom station, and the soon-to-be restored Hanover Junction station. Also along the trail are original railroad mileposts, and other remaining railroad equipment. Several miles south of the city is the Howard Tunnel, the oldest operating railroad tunnel in the United States.
Various facilities are available along the trail. For more information on the rail trail, visit the York County Heritage Rail Trail web site.
This page maintained by Greg Halpin.
This page last updated on 8/20/2002
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