Crouse’s Junkyard, More Land for the Park Service (1/19)

BY ELSIE MOREY/JANUARY 2019

Charles Woodrow Crouse (C. Woodrow Crouse) and his wife Lillie V. Crouse purchased land from Hobson and Pauline Crouse on April 13, 1946. This tract of land was located along U.S. Route 140, or more frequently called the Baltimore Pike. This land became Crouse’s Junkyard. The specialty of the junkyard was handling demolished cars from traffic accidents. One of Woody’s ads actually states, “Crouse’s Auto Parts Route 140 We Buy and Sell Late Model Wrecks.”

In 1968, it was learned that an automobile was so ripped apart, police said it could not be towed away. A “low boy” owned by Clyde Williams was secured to haul the wreckage to Crouse Junkyard.

In another incident the Gettysburg firemen were notified by Charles Crouse to inform them that an old bus was on fire at the junkyard and if anyone called in an alarm, they should ignore it. The blaze was harming nothing and would burn out in about an hour. Five minutes later, the alarm sounded. The chiefs sped to the fire house and found someone had turned in the alarm at Crouse’s. They turned off the siren and told the fireman who arrived there was no need for their service.

A local resident escaped injury when he demolished his late model Buick in colliding with two parked vehicles at Crouse’s junkyard. Often at the junkyard demolished cars were parked very near the edge of the road.

By 1966, the legislature took action on Bill 198-0. It was sent to Gov. Scranton. This bill would restrict the establishment and maintenance of junkyards along interstate and primary highways. Another bill had already been passed by the Senate. It read junkyards with 1,000 feet of main roads would have to be removed unless they could be screened from view.

Crouse with attorneys Pinskey and Clark filed preliminary objections in the Adams County court on May 17, 1974 about the declaration filed by the state Department of Transportation, condemning Crouse’s Auto Parts on Rt. 140 in Cumberland Township.

The objections related to condemning only the junk in the junkyard and not the land on which the business was located. Bill 198-0 cited authority for the condemnation and empowered the secretary of transportation “to condemn such property as necessary to screen, remove, relocate or dispose of junkyards with 1,000 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of way-of the highway. Crouse contended, by requiring the removal of junk on the 1,000 feet, the remaining premises, unaffected by the condemnation, would be wholly inadequate to operate his auto business. That area is partially swamp and has no frontage on a state, or township road. Thus, the condemnation is not simply a condemnation of the junk but, in fact a condemnation of his entire business.

At last, property was condemned in 1974 under the Junkyard Act. After years of litigation Crouse settled with PennDOT for $115,000, which included the purchase of all the parts inventory and machinery with the requirement the tract would never be a salvage center again. A preliminary settlement of $27,700 was received by Crouse. There will be a final appraisal when the last of the inventory is removed. PennDOT will move into the yard to complete the final clean up and final settlement to Crouse. In the end, this site will become part of the National Military Park.

Elsie Morey is current chairperson of the board of directors for Cumberland Township Historical Society.