By SHARON BAUMBAUGH
The town of Greencastle grew at the intersection of two very well used roads in the early days of settlement in Penn's Woods or Pennsylvania. One, known as the Carlisle Pike, was crossed from east to west by the Baltimore Pike, now Route 16. Locally, this road in our area of township and borough, is known as Buchanan Trail or Baltimore Street, respectively.
In the spring of 1912, a corps of state highway engineers, led by George L. Sollenberger of Greencastle, were quartered in Mercersburg. They were making a survey of the Mercersburg-Greencastle turnpike in preparation for the roadway to be taken over by the Pennsylvania Highway Department.
In September 1927, a portion of the stone wall forming the north side of the Conococheague Creek Bridge west of town, was dislodged. The section landed in the creek as the result of a collision of two automobiles. Just as a Dodge coupe reached the bridge, a Cadillac sedan approached from the east side. Both cars met almost head-on in the middle of the bridge.
Just a year later, the bridge was the site of another automobile accident. A Studebaker car driven by Mr. Von Bryon of Mercersburg collided with a new Pontiac sedan driven by a man from Pittsburgh.
In the spring of 1937, favorable weather allowed for the pouring of concrete on the relocation project of the Waynesboro-Greencastle road from Waynecastle to Zullinger. Officials of the H.J. Williams Construction Company were completing grading work which had been started during the winter months. The large cut, 37 feet in depth, a short distance east of the railroad underpass, was nearly finished along with a 20 foot cut farther east. It was expected that the road would be completed and opened for traffic in June. The relocation project of Route 16 west of Shady Grove had a single lane open to traffic by May.
The work on relocating the road from Waynesboro to Zullinger was started in March 1939. Two huge steam shovels were put to work cutting down Funk's Hill, just west of the Waynesboro borough line. A fleet of trucks was on the job and as soon as all equipment could be moved into position, the work moved rapidly and was completed in four months' time.
In November 1940 employees of the Chambersburg contracting firm of Walker Bros. began work on the relocation of Pennsylvania Route 16, which would result in the building of a new bridge across the Conococheague. The new bridge structure would be wide enough for modern traffic and would span the creek about 160 feet north of the existing stone, arch-style bridge. The old stone bridge, an historic structure, would be allowed to stand (more on this next week). By July of the next year, it was announced that the August Old Home Week schedule would include an old-fashioned riding tournament near the site of the new bridge west of town.
Motorists traveling on Route 16 may have had to take a ferry from Hotel McLaughlin to Hostetter's corner (from Washington Street through the Square) according to resurfacing plans outlined by the State Highway Department. The state resurfaced West Baltimore from the Square to the western borough limit and East Baltimore Street from the Hotel eastward, toward Shady Grove. It was omitting the Square and the first block of East Baltimore since that section was, in 1954, part of Route 11 and not Route 16.
Two years later, plans were being made to resurface the 12 miles of road from Shady Grove to Mercersburg. By August 1957 the plans involved the rebuilding and widening of the road. E.D. Plummer & Sons of Chambersburg was awarded the bid for the work to be done between Shady Grove and Greencastle. The Plummer firm's bid was $519,777 for those three miles. The widening in this area would include the space of homes, some sheds and many shade trees as part of the relocation of the roadbed.
In 1971, two old bridges west of Greencastle were demolished during a weekend by flood waters from Hurricane Agnes. Swept away were the last traces of the picturesque five-arch stone bridge on Route 16, abandoned several years before when the new bridge was built. Also swept away and badly damaged was the Martin's Mill Covered Bridge that crossed the Conococheague Creek further south of the stone span.
Next week will include some stories and history of the five-arch, stone bridge that once crossed the Conococheague Creek west of town.