HISTORY OF THE YORK HANOVER TROLLEY LINE
In the early 1900s, the trolley lines of the York Railway Company served the needs of many county residents for both business and leisure travel. Weekday routes served daily commuters, while weekends featured special cars to picnic groves, churches and shops.
Construction of the York and Hanover trolley line began on May 1, 1907.
The “Hanover Fast Line” opened on February 29, 1908 and provided an efficient transportation link from York’s little-known, outlying communities such as Sunnyside, Bairs, Menges Mills, and Jacobs Mill to the growing towns of Spring Grove and Hanover.
The popularity of the automobile doomed trolley transport, and service to Hanover ended in 1938.
TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY
A 2003 study, conducted for the York County Rail Trail Authority, concluded that 85% of the original 16.5-mile trolley corridor remained under the ownership of Metropolitan Edison Company and was suitable for trail development.
The study also recommended that development begin with two sections: (1) 4.5 miles linking Menges Mills to Bair Station and located in Jackson Township and Spring Grove Borough (2) 1.5 miles from Hanover Borough to the Penn Township/Heidelberg Township Line.
Construction began in June 2008 on two sections of the Trolley Trail: approx. 1 mile in Hanover Borough and approx. 3/4 mile in Spring Grove Borough and Jackson Twp. (Phase 1 on map.)
These sections opened to the public in fall 2008.
Phase 2 in Jackson Township was completed and opened in 2012. Phase 2 in Penn Township was completed in 2013.
In December 2017, negotiations began between the York County Rail Trail Authority and Genesee & Wyoming for the acquisition of two sections of York Railway dormant rail line, totaling 8.5 miles and located east and west of Spring Grove, PA. (See bold green line on the map below.) A grant was received from PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with required matching funds received from the County of York, FirstEnergy Foundation, the Warehime Foundation, York County Open Space & Land Preservation Program, York County Community Foundation, and individual donors.
The acquisition was completed in December 2020, and another PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant has provided $300,000 to complete the design of approximately 6 miles of the dormant rail corridor. This design will be completed in several sections over 3-4 years.
In early 2021, design and permitting began for the section of the rail corridor that stretches from Main Street (RT 116) in Spring Grove Borough eastward toward Stoverstown Road in the village of Bair. In June 2022, the first section of trail was built on the rail corridor – a 0.3 mile section from Main St. in Spring Grove that connects to the previously constructed section on the MetEd utility corridor. And by the end of 2022, the rails were removed from the 8.5 miles of dormant rail line, netting $406,000 for the York County Rail Trail Authority to begin seeking large state and federal grants that require matching funds. This strategy has begun to show results, with a $700,000 PA DCNR award, a $1M PA Local Share grant award, and a $110,000 tourism grant from Explore York. These funds will allow for a 2.1-mile section to be built in 2023, extending the Spring Grove section eastward to Sunnyside Rd.
Additional funding sources continue to be identified and sought in order to meet an expected $10 million cost to construct both sections east and west of Spring Grove.