Roads of Cumberland Township (1/16)

BY CYRIL ACKERMAN / January 2016

Archeological evidence suggests that Marsh and Conewago creeks were visited by Native Americans; 64 prehistoric sites have been found in Adams County (five in Cumberland Township). By 1700 the area west of the Susquehanna was transferred to the Penn’s by the Susquehanna Indians. The Iroquois, the conquerors of the Susquehanna, made an agreement in 1736 with the Penn’s as official grantors of this land. This area west of the Susquehanna which includes Franklin, Cumberland, and York counties then became part of Lancaster County. Thoroughfares were needed to link hinterlands with population’s centers (seats of government).

July of 1765, Cumberland and Mt. Joy townships petitioned for a road beginning at Black’s Gap Road (Black’s Tavern) passing McAllister’s Mill on Rock Creek which became the Shippensburg Baltimore Road.

In the 1780-1790s an influx of settlers produced and increase of traffic on the aging road system that was in need of repair. In 1795 by an act of Congress a post road was to be established at York and Hagerstown. Today this post road follows present trace of Route 30 to Gettysburg. New offices were added: Fairfield, Gettysburg, Abbottstown. This post road follows present trace of Route 116. Thus the York, Hagerstown/Fairfield roads became the second and third highways that formed the 1863 road hub at Gettysburg. Two years (June 1799) after Hagerstown road was established a fourth highway was to link Gettysburg and Carlisle. Today this in Route 34. Within a 12-year period five additional roads were to connect Gettysburg with more distant economic/political centers. In 1801 a road linked Bonaughtown (modern Bonneauville) with Gettysburg to the east bank of Rock Creek. From that juncture the road crossed the stream at a site adjacent to the north side of present Route 116 bridge to join old York Nichol’s Gap road bed. Twenty-seven years later another road linked Bonaughtown with McSherrystown thus completing from Hanover to Gettysburg road. The second 1801 road extended Gettysburg’s Baltimore Street another 905 feet where it coursed south-by-southwest “to the mouth of Caldwells Lane” near the Mason Dixon line. This road was the forerunner of the Emmitsburg Road from a point south of Breckenridge Street to its present juncture with Steinwehr Avenue following a path south-by-southwest to the state line.

In 1808 a sixth new road to Gettysburg was added. The new highway started at “a post on the south end of Baltimore Street to a juncture with the Emmitsburg Road. From that point a new highway followed the Emmitsburg Road 375 yards S-SW extending McKinney’s lane on the road leading Routsong’s Mill to Taneytown, Md. The Taneytown road was born. As the Taneytown road was being laid out, The Gettysburg and Petersburg Turnpike was incorporated April 7, 1807 to make and artificial roads from the court house in Gettysburg through Petersburg/Littlestown to Maryland line at Biddler’s Mill.

Note: 1797 in response to a petition filled by Cumberland Township residents a second bridge was approved. It crossed Rock Creek east of Gettysburg on the road to York. It was constructed of wood which at the time substantial bridging was expensive to build and maintain.

This research was done by Elwood W Crist: Building a Battle Site: Roads to and through Gettysburg 1747-1863 Adams County History Vol 3 ACHS

Cyril Ackerman is a member of Cumberland Township Historical Society. Visit us at