There are one hundred and twenty state parks in Pennsylvania -- all with their own unique stories.
Some were created to save historical landmarks, others to preserve the vast forests for which the state inherits its name (Sylvania meaning woods or forest land), while others were to be used for industry and outdoor recreational areas for the public.
The latter is the reason for Codorus State Park near Hanover in York County.
But the real story behind this beautiful 3,300+ acre area is what lies beneath the manmade lake at the center of the park. It’s not a Loch Ness type monster, nor sunken treasure, but the underwater ghost village of Marburg.
Marburg was a small community made up of a handful of buildings, including a farmstead, which can be seen when the water level gets low enough. This actually happens more often than you think, as the damming of Codorus Creek by the P.H. Glatfelter Company was to supply water for its paper mill, and during summer months, the combination of industrial use and evaporation causes the water line to fluctuate, dropping up to 22 feet and revealing the mysterious ruins below.
You might be asking yourself, why was a corporation allowed to take away the private property of a community? (Cue the late Paul Harvey...“page 2”) It wasn’t just the paper mill that wanted to dam up the creek, in fact, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted a law back in 1964 called “Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act” to purchase private lands to be used as public parks, reservoirs, and other conservation and recreational purposes.
You see, the state also wanted the land surrounding Marburg to be used as a drinking water reservoir for the town of Spring Grove (north, about ten miles) along with furthering Pennsylvania’s goal to have a state park within 25 miles of each resident.
So, in 1966, an eleven story tall dam was built by the paper mill people, stopping Codorus Creek’s water flow, flooding the village of Marburg, and creating twenty-six miles of coastline to be enjoyed by the public in the newly formed state park.
It really is a beautiful park filled with tons of amenities (marina, swimming pool, campground, hiking and horseback trails, dirt bike course, and an award-winning disk golf course). If you’re ever in the the area (Gettysburg, Hanover, York, Harrisburg), plan a day to enjoy this area -- and keep an eye out for Marburg, you might just spot the underwater ghost town.
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P.S. - I think we should petition the ghost hunting television shows to put on scuba gear to check out this underwater ghost town to see if it’s haunted.
P.S.S. - For more information about Codorus State Park, click here.