Hanover Junction depot

The Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, train depot here in York County played an important role during the Civil War.  The hamlet and the small wooden three-story depot sat at the intersection of the Northern Central Railway (the main link between Baltimore / Washington and Harrisburg, the capital of the North’s second largest state) and the Hanover Branch Railroad, which ran westward to Hanover, where it continued on to Gettysburg as the Gettysburg Railroad.

The station house served as a regional training center for young apprentices learning the telegrapher trade and, during the Gettysburg Campaign, served as an important relay station for messages concerning military movements.

The nearby railroad bridges were all burned during the campaign, telegraph wires severed, rails lifted, rolling stock and turntable burned, switches destroyed, and other damage inflicted, all by the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry. However, within days of the Battle of Gettysburg, Herman Haupt and the US Military RR had restored service and carloads of wounded from Gettysburg were transferred through Hanover Junction to Baltimore, Washington, Harrisburg, York, Philadelphia, and other cities. Among the thousands of wounded who temporarily lay in the fields and pastures in the valley near Hanover Junction awaiting their north-south trains was Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles of the III Corps.

In November, President Lincoln changed trains at Hanover Junction en route to Hanover and Gettysburg to deliver his Gettysburg Address. He returned via the same route and again spent a little time in the station house. A photograph of a group of dignitaries traveling to the National Cemetery dedication ceremonies may show Lincoln, although most scholars question the identification. The depot museum has a blow up of the photo for visitors to make their own judgements.

The Hanover Junction station house was restored in the early 2000s and is open to the public on summer weekends. It features a small museum. The route of the Northern Central Railway is now a paved bicycle path alongside the tracks (trains no longer are operational). A historical marker commemorates Lincoln’s visit.

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Categories: Civil War sites, Preservation efforts | Leave a comment

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