This is part of a series highlighting the historical and preservation societies in York County. These groups preserve and share the stories of the county's small towns through museums, railroads, former school buildings, mills, Welsh cottages and even bridges.
Look for related stories in future Suburban Life features.
West Manchester Township
THE WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY grew out of the celebration of the township's 200th birthday.
"It started in 1999, the year of the bicentennial, and the people on the committee had such a good time that we decided we'll just keep on going. We have about 80 members but only four or five are really active," historian Melvin Miller said.
While the society does not have a museum, it does accept memorabilia, artifacts, books, photos and other items pertaining to the township's history, he said.
Books of the township's history, published in recognition of the bicentennial are available, at $10 each and a few coverlets remain for sale.
The society's meetings feature speakers and an occasional bus tour, a show-and-tell or an individual's collection of interesting items.
"We meet at the township building but we are independent of the township," Miller said.
The society meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the township building. The group will visit the Gettysburg Visitors Center on Oct. 15.
More information is available at www.wmths.org.
Muddy Creek Forks
THE MA AND PA RAILROAD PRESERVATION SOCIETY invites residents to take a ride on its historic train and visit historic Muddy Creek Forks.
The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad linked York and Baltimore. It carried milk and produce from local farms, goods from local factories and people going to work or the city to shop, according to Jerry McCloskey, president of the society.
The Maryland Division, from Whiteford south, was abandoned in 1958.
Denny's Mill was built in the 1750s where the north and south branches of Muddy Creek meet. By 1789, the Village of Muddy Creek Forks was one of three polling places in York County.
The railroad arrived in 1874 and 14 years later Alexander M. Grove enlarged the mill, converted it to a roller mill, added a grain elevator. He also built a store that sold everything for home and farm and housed the post office, the telephone exchange and the railroad ticket office.
"The store had four clerks waiting to serve customers. A clerk met you at the door, and if you wanted a pair of shoes he brought the shoes to you and you tried them on.
Little has changed since the store closed in 1983, so a visit there is a step back in time.
"People look at the things in the store and say 'wow, I remember when my dad had one of these, or my grandpa talked about one of these.' The older people say "I remember when I had one of these,'" McCloskey said.
The village is at 1255 Muddy Creek Forks Road, Airville, Lower Chanceford Township. Train rides are available from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays from the beginning of June through Labor Day weekend. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. The last train leaves the station at 4:15 p.m. The Grove Store, the roller mill and grain elevator are open all those days and admission is free.
Upcoming events at the Railroad Heritage Village include:
· Railroad Heritage Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22.
· A World War I Encampment, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6 and 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 7.
· Fall leaf excursions, 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 7, 14 and 21.
More information is available at www.maandparailroad.com.
THE OLD LINE MUSEUM OF DELTA tells the story of the Welsh immigrants who came here to work in the slate industry.
They brought the skill and experience they learned in the slate quarries at home, and brought their families in search of religious and personal freedoms and a better life.
"The slate industry was dirty and dangerous but offered these immigrants hope for prosperity and a better future for their families," she said.
Slate is fireproof and was popular as roofing material. The slate that came from Delta was some of the best in the world.
The museum contains photos and memorabilia from the slate industry and other examples of local history. The slate clock made by a local slate splitter is a unique treasure.
Slate tombstones carved by a Welsh immigrant with three-dimensional figures and poetry can be found in several local cemeteries, Robinson said.
"The Rehoboth Welsh Church, the only Welsh Church in America that still uses some of the Welsh language in services, has two song festivals, Gymanfa Ganus, per year. One is the first Sunday afternoon in May and the second one is the second Sunday in October," she said.
The present building was constructed in 1891, was refurbished in 1929 and again in 1991 and has hosted several well-known Welsh choirs.
Friends of the Welsh Cottages are restoring two immigrant cottages at Coulsontown, a project funded by the community and the sale of a local history book, "The River and the Ridge."
Museum hours are 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sundays from May through September. The museum is working with the recipients of two Maryland Heritage grants specific to Welsh history and culture, and will assist with a Welsh Christmas program at Harford Community College in December.
The Delta and Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company's annual heritage festival is "a fun family event that highlights our unique local history," Robinson said.
More information can be found at email@example.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIVERTOWNES PA USA is working to promote, preserve and enhance the culture, heritage and related commerce and recreational activities in the Pennsylvania Susquehanna river towns of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville and surrounding areas.
One of its projects was the purchase and installation of nine interpretive panels on local history. Two are in Wrightsville: one at the western end of the Route 462 bridge relates the borough's history and the other, on North Front Street, tells of the lime kilns once found there.
Plans to restore the historic lighting on the 1930 Veterans Memorial Bridge is an ongoing project, President Clare Storm said.
The mile-long $2.5 million bridge, is believed to be the longest multiple-arched, concrete bridge in the world. It is the only bridge between Harrisburg and Maryland with a pedestrian sidewalk and is listed on the National Register, she said.
Features such as the toll booths and the span's original decorative light fixtures were removed during a 1970s modernization project, Storm said.
"New lanterns, similar to the originals, will be constructed of cast iron from a foundry in Pennsylvania. The two columns that once stood at the entrances of the bridge will be returned to their original appearance with two hanging fixtures," she said. "The new lamps will not only restore the historic integrity of the span but, with new technology, will be more economical to operate and also more reliable, thus making travel safer for both vehicles and pedestrians."
The Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge was destroyed in the Civil War on June 28, 1863, to keep the Confederates from marching into Lancaster County and beyond. The remains of that mile-long covered bridge are to the north of the Route 462 bridge, she said.
"The Sesquicentennial of this event, probably the most notable historic event in the history of the towns of Columbia and Wrightsville, will be held next year," Storm said. "Rivertownes will re-enact the burning by lighting 25 braziers placed atop the abandoned bridge piers in 2003 for the 140th anniversary commemoration. The metal baskets will be loaded with cordwood, crews of men in boats will scale the piers on rope ladders and torch the wood at dusk on June 28, 2013."
Flames Across the Susquehanna is just one of a series of events that will also include a Civil War Ball hosted by the National Watch and Clock Museum, exhibits, commemorative postal cancellations, walking tours hosted by Historic Wrightsville, encampments hosted by Columbia Historic and Preservation Society, and activities for children, she said.
For details on the 150th anniversary, visit www.facebook.com/civilwar150rivertowns.
More information on the Rivertownes organization can be found at www.rivertowns.org.
The group meets at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the Wrightsville House, Front and Locust streets in Wrightsville. The meeting are open to the public.
Lower Windsor Township area
LOWER WINDSOR AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S mission is to collect and preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the area.
It serves Lower Windsor Township, East Prospect and Yorkana boroughs and the villages of Bittersville, Craley, Delroy, Martinsville and Long Level; and is affiliated with the Friends of the Martinsville School House.
The group grew out of concerns about the future of the schoolhouse which was built in the 1870s and closed in 1954, society secretary Hollis Bedell said.
What began as an effort to save the school and the history of all the area's one-room schools grew into an effort to increase the scope of the project.
As a result, the Lower Windsor Area Historical Society, incorporated in 2007, has collected a database of local businesses, families, houses, churches, burial locations and other information pertaining to the history of the area and the effort continues.
"We are asking people to lend photographs or other documents to us to be scanned. We will return all of them but scanning them is a way of preserving the past and of telling the story," Bedell said.
They are interested in family photos, postcards and stories about school days, and memories of local celebrations and activities. While these might seem like ordinary material to most people, they help to preserve the area's history, she said.
Lower Windsor Area Historical Society is working with Historic Wrightsville, Rivertownes and Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society in planning for the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, she said.
"We are working with Kreutz Creek and Wrightsville to do a coloring book about what it was like for the Civil War soldiers," she said."Our society is writing a booklet with the history of the Civil War veterans buried in cemeteries in eastern York County."
Members of Martinsville Alumni and the Susquehanna Senior Center took part in the oral history program with York College, and the interviews are preserved at the college and the York County Heritage Trust.
The Alumni of the Martinsville Schoolhouse hold an annual reunion. Photos of past reunions are available online at www.lowerwindsor-area.org.
Members of the Lower Windsor Area Historical Society host open houses at the Wills School, which is owned by the Conservation Society of York County, secretary Hollis Bedell said.
The school, built in 1875 contains many of the original items such as the desks, organ, inkwells, blackboards, water cooler, pot-bellied stove, and pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The original school bell still hangs in the belfry.
It is in Delroy, on Route 124, about 6 miles from the juncture of Route 83 and Mount Rose Avenue.
The school is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month from May to October.
Lower Windsor Area Historical Society meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month in the Lower Windsor Township building, 2425 Craley Road. All are welcome.
Call 717-246-8735 or email at email@example.com for more information.
THE EAST BERLIN HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY maintains five historic buildings and offers an educational hands-on program to give the younger generation a taste of history.
The society owns and maintains Red Men's Hall, Swigart's Mill and the Log House; and maintains two additional properties: Liberty No. 1 Engine House, which is owned by the borough, and the Church Schoolhouse, which is owned by the Union Cemetery Association.
"Red Men's Hall had a list of uses over the years. It was home to Cashman's Hardware Store, a craft store, a pool hall, a schoolhouse, a meat market and bake shop," society President Bev Jadus said.
Built in 1849 by the Stambaughs for their carriage works, it was later bought by the Order of Red Men to house their Oniska Tribe 40. Bought by the society in 1990, it now houses a museum and library and serves as the society's headquarters.
Swigart's Mill, built in 1794, is the only original mill still standing on Beaver Creek. The society bought it in 1976, and much of the restoration work was done by volunteers, Jadus said.
The mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and is the site of the society's annual Christmas party.
The Log House was built in in 1832 in Berwick Township, Adams County, for a family of 11 people. Society members paid $1 for the house and dismantled, moved and rebuilt it in East Berlin in 1980 and 1981, Jadus said.
Everyone pitched in to do the work and much of the chinking between the logs was done by the female members of the group.
"We did not have horsehair for the chinking, so we used human hair, and when we had the first rain storm it all fell out and had to be redone," Jadus said.
The 21-by 23-foot house has V-notched logs, hand-cut nails and spikes, joists and cross beams fastened with wooden pegs, and a stone and brick fireplace with the addition of a stove made by the East Berlin Foundry.
Liberty No. 1 Engine House was built in 1892. The jail once located there has been removed, but the tiny barred windows remain. Under a 99-year lease with the borough, the society agreed to restore the building. That included exterior work, repair of the bell tower and restoration of the bell. Volunteers are now restoring the interior.
The Church Schoolhouse, built in 1769, was home to several German church schools and served as a meeting place for the Berlin Improvement Society and the Berlin Beneficial Society. A potbellied stove still provides heat, windows and hanging oil lamps are the only sources of light and a stool with a dunce hat sits in the corner.
The school closed in 1930. The East Berlin Lions began work to preserve the school in the early 1960s and, since 1983, the society has been responsible for its restoration and care.
The East Berlin Historical Preservation Society offers an educational hands-on program geared toward third- and fourth-grade students. Different activities are held at three of the society's buildings with a focus on life in the East Berlin area during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
"Karen Sheaffer heads up our school program. At Redmen's Hall we have a textile program where students card, spin and dye wool and weave it into cloth," Jadus said.
At the log house they learn about hearth cooking, then it's on to the schoolhouse, where they learn about early education and try out some playground games.
The program is staffed with volunteers and all fees are used to ensure education of future groups.
The committee is always looking for volunteers to help with the program. For details, call 717-259-0822 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The East Berlin Historic Preservation Society holds several events to raise funds for its ongoing projects.
Colonial Day, held on the second Saturday in September, attracts more than 100 traditional craft vendors, demonstrations, food and a raffle of a handmade quilt, tin ware, pottery and similar items.
The antique show, held in May, with the date to coincide with the York Antique Show, features dealers with 18th and 19th century textiles, paintings, tin wares, toys, dolls, ceramics, and ironware.
A Christmas Craft Show at the Log House is held on the last Saturday in November or the first Saturday in December, and the Christmas House Tour is held in the even years.
The society meets bimonthly beginning in January and publishes a newsletter, The Informer. More information is available at ebhpspa.org.