Left behind in Lancaster County



Left behind

Abandoned places and things,

a reminder of time gone by

A LancasterOnline iPhone Photo Essay
By Susan Baldrige and Ad Crable





Everything is brand new once. But time passes. Gears wear out, metal rusts, busy paths are forgotten. What has been well-used and now discarded leaves behind its history. In busy and prosperous Lancaster County, there are still those reminders of a different day, a different life. We explored some abandoned items over the past several weeks, photographing and researching these rusty remnants and overgrown places. Readers may recognize and help identify some of them. We welcome submissions to add to this work of abandoned things. Contact Ad Crable and Susan Baldrige. This series is best viewed in landscape mode on your smartphone.

Keppel building

This historic structure on the East side of the 300 block of North Queen Street still oozes sugar from its top floors, reminding us that Lancaster once was home to the biggest candy manufacturer this side of Philadelphia.

Keppel 2 (1)

Designed by famed local architect, C. Emlen Urban, the main building was constructed in 1885, first as a tobacco warehouse.
That operation only lasted three years. With only an 8th-grade education, Robert Francis Keppel bought the building and became part of Lancaster's growing industries of tobacco and candy making and selling Keppel Candy.
The building most recently was a makeshift artist studio known as the Candy Factory. It has sadly fallen into disrepair with a leaking roof and broken windows. However a developer is planning to turn the entire property into apartments that will look out onto scenic downtown Lancaster.

Abandoned cars and trucks

At J & D Auto recycling on Route 72 in Manheim, there is an auto salvage yard as well as a graveyard of old vehicles, which was already rusting into the ground when new owners purchased the business 20 years ago.

Wiley's Jeep

What appears to be a truck from the 1930s allows a small maple tree a berth in its engine. An original Willys Jeep could surely tell tales if it could speak. Rain and snow, wind and cold temperatures are turning other cars and trucks — certainly "it" vehicles in their day — into hunks of rust.

Benedict Eshleman Cemetery

In historical documents there are very specific directions to the Benedict Eshleman Cemetery in Conestoga Township, but they are nearly impossible to follow. The nearest recognizable landmark is the Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve. From there it's quite a hike, up a mountain, through a stream, across a railroad bed, until the cemetery appears in a small forested rise. There are about 25 marked graves from the Steman, Eshleman, Lingerfelter, Schenck and Warfel families. One of the oldest is Benedict's who died in 1780 and his wife, Anna, who died in 1787. The graveyard is on part of the original 600 acres Benedict purchased in 1720 when he settled in Lancaster County. Many graves have only headstones of plain rock to mark the passage of their inhabitant.

Lancaster-Quarryville Railroad

From 1875 until Tropical Storm Agnes took it out in 1972, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Lancaster to Quarryville branch carried freight and passengers.

rr Bridge 2

The sight of belching steam locomotives sharing Water Street with automobiles was a common, if not entirely safe, sight in Lancaster city. This rusting bridge carried trains over Mill Creek near where it merges with the Conestoga River, south of Lancaster.
Several stations still exist along the abandoned line. The West Willow station is used by a contractor. The Baumgardner station is at the corner of Long Lane and Millwood Road. And the Quarryville station is a flower and antiques store.

Raymark building
It was a Stiegel Street landmark in Manheim for nearly 100 years. The Raybestos-Manhattan Inc. plant that produced material for brake linings and other mechanical products was a series of hefty brick buildings, industrial yet attractive.


But as its name implies, its use of asbestos also made it toxic. The site was closed in 2000 for environmental cleanup. Much of it has been converted into a gleaming new business park, one old building remains, occupied now only by pigeons.

Mt. Hope sign

Long a mainstay for weary travelers, the Mount Hope Motel on Route 72 at the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange was demolished about a year ago to make way for a modern motel. This rusting sign is a remnant of a time before turnpikes and interstates, when one-story motels dotted the sides of main roads.

Masonic Hall

In the 19th century, the company town that grew up around the Safe Harbor Iron Works was considered as boozy as any in Lancaster County with five taverns, three liquor stores and six beer halls.

Masonic lodge ivy

The Odd Fellows Hall is among the few buildings still standing in what is now Safe Harbor Park and Arboretum. On the third floor, the Charles M. Howell Mason Lodge was founded. It moved to Millersville in 1899.

Farm machinery

Not all farms in Lancaster County stay as farms and not all farm machinery will last forever. This simple machine is a plow that tilled the rich Lancaster County soil nearly 70 years ago. Lancaster was settled by farmers in the 1700s, and, by 1925, farming was at its peak with 12,000 farms throughout the county. Although roughly the same amount of land is being used for farming today — about 420,000 acres — there are only about half as many individual farms. Still, they make Lancaster County one of the top agricultural spots in the country.

Air raid siren

A relic of the Cold War, this civil defense siren on South Broad Street in Lancaster is an eerie reminder of a time when many Americans feared the possibility of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. Tensions eventually eased. Besides, the high-speed missiles would give scant time to warn a large populace. This siren model weighs between 395 and 410 pounds and is 52 inches high. Its ominous wail produced a sound level comparable to a jet taking off from 100 feet away in a frequency slightly below an F note.

Holtwood bridge

In the early 1800s, this road led to McCalls Ferry along the Susquehanna River near Holtwood and a Theodore Burr covered bridge to York County. Its approach, Street Road, stretched all the way to Philadelphia.

Holtwood bridge 3


Later, Pinnacle Road was partly paved and partly dirt all the way to the top of the Pinnacle and River Road. The bridge was closed about 20 years ago due to safety concerns. Martic Township abandoned the road in 2008 and it was gated. The decking on the old metal bridge, near popular Kelly’s Run Trail, was later removed for fear hikers would fall through.

Be sure to also take a haunting aerial tour of the abandoned Stehli Silk Mill