SEVEN VALLEYS, Pa. — York County Rail Trail Authority has purchased 8.45 miles of dormant rail line located east and west of Spring Grove. The purchase is in two sections: 5.25 miles from the Penn and Heidelberg townships’ border to just west of Spring Grove Borough and 3.2 miles from Main Street in Spring Grove to Stoverstown Road in West Manchester Township.
This acquisition is part of a Genesee & Wyoming rail line stretching from West York to Hanover. The line is operated by York Railway, and the sections purchased have been dormant for more than 16 years. The purchase was approved by the Surface Transportation Board under federal rail-banking law, preserving the corridor and allowing for its conversion to a trail. Negotiations began in December 2017.
The acquisition was made possible through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, with matching funds provided by FirstEnergy Foundation, the Warehime Foundation, York County Community Foundation, the County of York, and individual donations.
An additional grant award from the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources will fund design of approximately 6 miles of the newly acquired rail corridor. Work under this new grant will include plans for converting the rail corridor sections into trail that will connect sections of the Hanover Trolley Trail previously built in Hanover and Penn Township and Spring Grove and Jackson Township.
This acquisition is part of the Authority’s response to the public’s increased use of York County parks and trails during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, use of sections of the Heritage Rail Trail increased by 242 percent as county residents turned to healthy outdoor recreation during the pandemic.
York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler stated, “This new rail acquisition is a significant step toward expanding equitable trail access in York County, further connecting our communities, leveraging our incredible outdoor assets, and ensuring residents of Hanover, Spring Grove, and surrounding areas have similar, close-to-home access to trails in the future.”
Authority Chairman Frank Kempf also stated, “It is a very rare occurrence when a corridor becomes available for conversion to a multi-use trail. The YCRTA welcomes this opportunity to enhance York County’s much envied trail system.”