Our Documentary Heritage showcases holdings drawn from the vast collections of the Pennsylvania State Archives.

 

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad (Ma & Pa) and its narrow-gauge predecessors (Peach Bottom Railway, York & Peach Bottom Railway, Baltimore & Lehigh Railroad and York Southern Railroad) played a large role in industry and transportation in southeastern York County from the 1870s until its abandonment in 1983. In its heyday, the Ma & Pa ran from York to Baltimore, Maryland, and included stops in Pennsylvania locations like Ore Valley, Relay, Yoe, Red Lion, Muddy Creek Forks and Delta.

The Ma & Pa’s passenger and freight station in Yoe opened in 1898 as a one-story frame building, 161/2 x 60 feet, located near the intersection of South Main Street and West Pennsylvania Avenue. By November 1938 the Ma & Pa sought permission from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to change the Yoe station from agency to nonagency status, which would eliminate the station agent position and also the company’s responsibility for providing an indoor waiting room for its passengers.

The citizens and business community in Yoe opposed this move and protested the company’s decision in a petition to PUC. Protesters argued that the proposed change to the station would not only be an inconvenience but would deprive the residents of Yoe of their only adequate facility for transportation in or out of the borough.

The Ma & Pa maintained that the Yoe station was unprofitable. It stated that on average only one freight shipment and three passenger tickets were sold there per day in 1938. The company claimed that the station agent’s full-time salary and the costs to keep the station fully functional for passengers and freight actually caused it to lose money.

PUC sided with the Ma & Pa in its May 15, 1939, decision but included a clause requiring it to keep the lights and heating on in the waiting room and maintain the sanitary condition for the convenience of railroad patrons. The station was officially changed to nonagency status on June 30, 1939. The job functions of the Yoe station agent were transferred to the Red Lion station. From that point forward passenger tickets had to be bought on the train for those embarking at Yoe, and all freight had to be prepaid to be shipped to or from the Yoe station.

On November 8, 1944, the Ma & Pa petitioned PUC to allow them to move the passenger waiting room from the northwest end of the Yoe station to the Taylor Brothers’ reception room at the southeast corner of their tobacco merchant building on the other side of the tracks. It claimed in this petition that it had become impossible for them to keep the waiting room in the Yoe station open any longer because vandals repeatedly broke windows, lights and benches, making the facility unsanitary. The petition was approved by PUC on February 25, 1945.

Railroad passengers continued to be picked up and discharged in Yoe until August 1954. The original Yoe station building was destroyed by 1977. In 1986 the Ma & Pa’s rails and ties were sold for scrap and then removed.

The Pennsylvania State Archives holds Ma & Pa records, including Yoe station revenue statements, late arrival times, and this plan to relocate the passenger waiting room (MG-199, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Collection). The bottom of the plan is oriented north, the top is south, the right is west and the left is east. Dallastown is south, Cape Horn is north, York is northwest and Red Lion is southeast. The road identified as “Private Concrete Driveway” is now West Pennsylvania Avenue. The concrete wall shown on the plan still stands, as does the Taylor Brothers building, which is now a multiunit apartment building.

 

Richard C. Saylor is an archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives and author of the national award-winning book Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders.