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Conestoga in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Moving Heaven and Earth

The Atglen & Susquehanna in Manor Township

 
 
Moving Heaven and Earth Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2018
1. Moving Heaven and Earth Marker
Inscription. When construction began in 1903, no other section of the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) A&S Branch likely seemed as improbable as that along the western boundary of Manor Township. There was no existing path sufficient to the purpose of two-track, modern freight service. The Susquehanna River, over millennia, had carved majestic cliffs to contain its powerful meandering flow. The river was a frontier boundary that held farming to fertile inland fields and river men to perilous journeys along swift rocky channels. Not even the regional canals of the nineteenth century traversed Manor's western edge. In the early 1900s, railroads were boldly bridging the river. Rarely short on confidence, the PRR was sure of its reach between Safe Harbor and Columbia. Leisurely exploration of pristine glens that flowed to the river and pulling up the oars in a serene eddy (upper left images), were abruptly displaced.

In 1877, the Columbia and Port Deposit Railroad (C&PD), under the control of the PRR, completed its route into Columbia, PA from the south (lower left images). Hosting passenger and freight services, the primarily single-track line slowly traced the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River northward from the historic transportation hub of Port Deposit, MD. Within Manor Township, the C&PD's narrow ledge was frequently consumed by the
Marker detail: Susquehanna River at Manor Township image. Click for full size.
Kline Collection, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC
2. Marker detail: Susquehanna River at Manor Township
river's tempestuous flow. Construction of the A&S provided the PRR with an opportunity to elevate the C&PD and to reduce its curvature and grades. The PRR constructed two separate freight roads where there had been barely room for one. The C&PD (subsequently known as the “Port Road”) is presently (2013) operated by Norfolk Southern Railway. The Port Road is located parallel to and below Manor Township's rail trail.

Work to create two new rail shelves extended from 1903-1906 with one of the PRR's most experienced contractors — H. S. Kerbaugh Co — coordinating the massive efforts along the Susquehanna. At times, as many as 3,000 laborers were engaged in a relentless cycle of drilling and blasting. A mix of rock and loam was dislodged from the cliffs and graded into the water's edge. The arduous process relied on human agility to scale the unstable slopes by staked rope line and to level a perch sufficient for the vertical well drills. Near the bottom of the vertical holes (up to 133 feet deep), horizontal holes (up to 35 feet deep) were drilled by tripod-mounted rock drills. Holes were sprung by a charge of dynamite, loaded with blasting powder, then simultaneously discharged by electric current. A month's drilling in July 1905 was filled with 225 tons of explosives that expelled an estimated 240,000 cubic yards of material in a single blast

Two
Marker detail: trestle image. Click for full size.
Columbia Historic Preservation Society, Columbia, PA
3. Marker detail: trestle
new shelves slowly emerged on the east bank of the river. Their distinct elevations are most clearly appreciated as their flanking spans cross the mouth of the Conestoga River on the Safe Harbor Bridge (lower right image). North of Manor Township, the A&S crossed the Susquehanna River on the PRR's Shocks Mill Bridge at Marietta, then on to the Enola Classification Yard west of Harrisburg. From near Washington Boro to Atglen, PA (Chester County) there were no grade crossings on the A&S. In 1941, this superhighway of rail carried a daily average of 29 eastbound freights (2,424 cars) and 23 westbound freights (2,224 cars). The Atglen and Susquehanna Lou Grade was one of the largest civil engineering projects Lancaster County has ever seen.
 
Erected by Amtrak.
 
Location. 39° 57.862′ N, 76° 27.349′ W. Marker is in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. Marker can be reached from River Road half a mile south of Anchor Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located at the south end of the Turkey Hill Trail Nature Preserve parking lot, at the trailhead for the Enola Low Grade Trail, about 2/10 mile south of the park entrance from River Road. Marker is in this post office area: Conestoga PA 17516, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers
Marker detail: winch image. Click for full size.
Kline Collection, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC
4. Marker detail: winch
are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Atglen & Susquehanna Low Grade (here, next to this marker); Great Minqua Path (approx. 0.9 miles away); Susquehanna Canal (approx. 1.8 miles away); Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal (approx. 1.8 miles away); Washington Boro Archaeological Sites (approx. 2 miles away); Cresap's Fort (approx. 2.1 miles away); Captain Thomas Cresap (approx. 2.1 miles away); Martin Chartier (approx. 2˝ miles away).
 
More about this marker. This is a large, "billboard-style" marker, mounted on the south-facing side of the trailhead kiosk for the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Atglen & Susquehanna Low Grade
 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsIndustry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesRailroads & Streetcars
 
Marker detail: work crew image. Click for full size.
Kline Collection, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC
5. Marker detail: work crew
Marker detail: narrow, curved, waters' edge cut image. Click for full size.
David H. Mellinger Collection, courtesy of Scott E. Kriner, Conestoga, PA
6. Marker detail: narrow, curved, waters' edge cut
Marker detail: bridge work image. Click for full size.
David H. Mellinger Collection, courtesy of Scott E. Kriner, Conestoga, PA
7. Marker detail: bridge work
Marker detail: steam locomotive image. Click for full size.
David H. Mellinger Collection, courtesy of Scott E. Kriner, Conestoga, PA
8. Marker detail: steam locomotive
Marker detail: Cliff image. Click for full size.
Kline Collection, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC
9. Marker detail: Cliff
Marker detail: Waterfall image. Click for full size.
David H. Mellinger Collection, courtesy of Scott E. Kriner, Conestoga, PA
10. Marker detail: Waterfall
Marker detail: Construction photographs image. Click for full size.
11. Marker detail: Construction photographs
Moving Heaven and Earth Marker (<i>wide view; Enola Low Grade Trail parking lot in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 27, 2018
12. Moving Heaven and Earth Marker (wide view; Enola Low Grade Trail parking lot in background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 28, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 56 times since then and 15 times this year. Last updated on February 2, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   6, 7, 8. submitted on September 5, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   9, 10, 11. submitted on October 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   12. submitted on August 29, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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