In October 2011, I documented a relic from the former York County trolley line that transported passengers from York to Hanover, and vice versa. The transformer building shown below is located in Heidelberg Township, although few know of its existence due to its isolated location.
Further research lead me to discover a twin transformer building, this one a few miles to the northeast, in Jackson Township.
The long-lost twin…
Like its Hanover-area counterpart, the Jackson Township trolley building is isolated from public view and is easily overlooked. Located a few hundred feet east of Martin Road, I discovered it while examining the former trolley route via aerial imagery on an online map.
Do you see the dot in the center of the map below – that’s right – that tiny blip in the middle of the field? You are looking at the trolley building I visited. If you click the “+” sign on the left side of the map you can zoom up for a closer look.
There are no places to park nearby, so my journey began from the Hanover Trolley Trail parking lot along Hershey Road. I walked 3/4 mile on a portion of the trail that is less than one year old and pictured below.
If you go back to the map, the Hanover Trolley Trail is incorrectly listed as Constitution Avenue.
At the end of the stone-covered path I crossed Martin Road and proceeded onto the grassy portion of my journey. I walked about 3/8 mile before I reached my destination, but nearly stopped in my tracks when I took my first look.
Unlike its Heidelberg Township twin, this building was almost completely enveloped in vegetation, primarily poison oak and ivy. My first thought was expressed verbally, and I said to myself: “How am I going to get inside of THAT?”
As I circled the building, my hopes of entering continued to wane. Poison plants and me are like oil and water – we don’t mix – and I could see that this was an accident waiting to happen. Lo and behold, as walked to the back of the building, my spirits soared once again.
Human intervention seemed evident, and this was the only side without a mass of vines creeping up the walls. There was evidence that some of them were cut, but I feel that vegetation killer was also used since some were dry and brittle.
I would speculate that this was done to allow easy access for a mystery guest to enter. While the front of the building looked inaccessible, the rear would be much easier to navigate.
There is beauty IN the beast…
After climbing through the small window of this trolley building, it takes a moment to “take in” the scene. It hasn’t only been used as a dumping grounds for trash, but over the years it’s been used as the canvas for numerous pieces of graffiti.
As I looked through the debris littering the floor there were tractor tires, cans of spray paint, deteriorated seats from vehicles, and even a mailbox with the name “HOKE” displayed on the side. It’s difficult to say what else could be found if one would take a closer look.
Despite the rubbish and graffiti, the interior indeed holds its own sense of beauty.
The goal of the Hanover Trolley Trail is for it to extend from York to Hanover, which seems like a daunting mission. As the project continues eastward, the next portion that is worked on will directly influence this trolley building.
Will the York County Rail Trail Authority leave the structure intact, or is there a possibility that it will be razed due to safety concerns? This unique piece of trolley history would serve as a fascinating learning experience from the early age of mass transit in the area.
There was in fact a third transformer building located in the town of Spring Grove but it was razed in the past few years, possibly by the Glatfelter paper company. If any readers can offer information about this, I’d love to hear from them.
In other news…
For those involved with the world of social media, Preserving York now has an official Twitter account. This resource will be used for sharing bits and pieces of York County history, news and events, and for live-tweets of explorations, projects, and more. If you are a Twitter user, follow us here: @PreservingYork