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'Derecho' Leads to York Springs Trip to York, Pa.
By Mark Hotz, Bank Note Reporter
August 28, 2012

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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On June 30, 2012, the Mid-Atlantic states were hit by a derecho, a straight-line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed. (Derecho is the Spanish word for “right,” so I don’t really see the connection.) Accordingly, large swaths of the region lost electric power—a great inconvenience given the then reigning 100-degree temperatures gripping the area.

Baltimore, my hometown, was hit hard, and power was lost by over a half million residents for from three to seven days. My own neighborhood went dark, and after the second day of no air conditioning and wasting time in flashlight-lit night, I decided to hightail it to a hotel.

Assuming that the local hostelries would be (1) pretty full, and (2) overpriced, I headed 40 minutes up the road to cozy York, Pa., where I settled into the Comfort Suites for an air-conditioned respite. I was able to catch up on the news as well as respond to emails and the like. The next day, I received a call informing me that the power was back on in my neighborhood. Rather than rush back to Maryland, I decided to head over to Adams County to check out a town from which I had recently acquired a lovely note.

I was headed to York Springs, Pa., a tiny hamlet located in northern Adams County, about 25 miles as the crow flies north and west of York, and about 14 miles north of Gettysburg. So, after enjoying the plentiful hot breakfast provided by the hotel, I headed east on U.S. Route 30 out of York.

Perusing the map, I noticed that I could “kill two birds with one stone,” so to speak, by turning north on Pennsylvania Route 194 and passing through another national bank note issuing town, East Berlin, which we will now visit.

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In 1764, John Frankenberger purchased and laid out 85 lots with streets and alleys and named it Berlin, his home in Germany. Subsequent confusion with another Berlin, located in Somerset County, led to altering the name to East Berlin. When York County was divided in 1800, East Berlin became part of the newly created Adams County. It wasn’t until 1879 that the town was officially incorporated as a borough. Today, approximately 1,400 people call East Berlin home.

In July 1903, the East Berlin National Bank received charter 6878 and opened for business. This was a typical Gold Standard Act of 1900 bank, with a capitalization of $25,000, and a small circulation of Red Seal, Blue Seal and subsequent small-size notes, in this case resulting in a total issue of just $265,000.

The bank was closed by the receiver at the end of April 1934, but immediately reopened under a new charter, 14091, and a slightly different name, the East Berlin National Bank in East Berlin, the in replacing the word of in the original title. The successor bank issued Type 2 $5 notes only for about a year until the end of the National Currency era. Notes from both of these banks are very scarce, though two uncut sheets are known from the 14091 bank.

East Berlin today is quite charming, the entire town having been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The town is replete with old homes, many of which date from the early 19th century. The old bank building still stands at the corner of King and 4th Streets, next to the Zwingli United Church of Christ (erected 1891). It is a lovely building, but seems out of sorts as it currently hosts a branch of “Curves,” a franchised exercise and fitness club for women. Across from the bank was a beautiful large home that has been turned into the Bechtel Mansion Bed & Breakfast. The house, with its fancy cupola, was built in 1897. It is truly spectacular and would be a lovely place to spend a night.

I headed out of East Berlin and on toward York Springs. The town is located in a part of Adams County known for its mineral springs. The town first started life as York Sulphur Springs, on land owned by the Weirman family. A hotel was built at the springs and became the first summer resort in Adams County. It was well patronized as early as the 1790s, with George and Martha Washington as guests in 1799. The water from the springs was very medicinal, and the hotel continued to enlarge and thrive through the 19th century; sadly the entire site was destroyed by fire in 1896, and nothing remains of the hotel that created the town.

Today, York Springs is a sleepy hamlet of about 500 people. Its bank, the First National, opened in the summer of 1905 and received charter 7856. It was a small bank with a total issue of $432,000. The bank survived the end of the National Currency era, and continued to operate under its name until the wave of bank mergers and takeovers of the 1980s and later.

Notes from the bank are scarce, with just three large and nine small reported. The large notes are especially dear, so I was delighted when I was able to add a beautiful $10 Blue Seal in Extremely Fine grade to my collection, providing the impetus to visit the town.

I had a vintage postcard view of the bank as it appeared in the 1930s. York Springs is so small, however, that finding the bank was not too hard. Today, it serves as a branch of Adams County National Bank (ACNB), and was open on the day I visited.

The original building, as seen in the postcard view, had three stories. Today it has just two. The bank tellers told me that at one time the third floor had been a gymnasium; roof leaks and other problems resulted in the third story being removed in the 1950s. The house visible to the side of the bank in the postcard view has been demolished and replaced with an extension of the bank building. I have included photos of the York Springs notes in my collection, including the only known Type 2 $20—a miracle of survival given that just 132 notes of this type were printed.

Today, York Springs has acquired a fairly large Mexican population, as agricultural workers have come to work in the local apple orchards. Lua’s Mexican Store, across Harrisburg Street from the bank, is well stocked, but seems an anomaly in this part of Pennsylvania. The power outage was annoying, but it proved a catalyst for a lovely sojourn to some attractive small towns.



Readers may address questions or comments about this article or National Bank Notes in general to Mark Hotz directly by email at markbhotz@aol.com.




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