1 vote

Heritage Rail Trail - Howard Tunnel


Northern Portal

Approaching from the York side of the tunnel

Daniel Hopkins, October 2010


BH Photo #182032



The Howard Tunnel is located in New Salem, Pennsylvania. In operation since 1838, it is the second oldest active rail tunnel in the U.S. Originally constructed by the York and Maryland Line Rail Road, it formed a critical link in the north-south line assembled by the Northern Central Railway. The tunnel is named for a young engineer named Henry Howard who thought of an ingenious way to bore through the solid slate rock wall that the tunnel passes through today. It was widened in 1865 to accommodate a second track which ran parallel the first from York to Glen Rock in 1865 and was then dismantled in 1970 and the main track moved over a few inches to make it more center.


Tunnel on York Heritage Trail & Northern Central Railway
York, York County, Pennsylvania
Open to bicyclists, horseback, and pedestrians on trail side. The rail is clear and allows for rail bikes, speeders, and hobby-builds. Once a year the Steam into History Excursions runs through this tunnel.
Built 1836, Rebuilt in 1865
- Northern Central Railway (NCRY)
- Rail-to-trail
It is a 370-foot (110 m) long, brick-lined tunnel
Total length: 370.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 19, 1995
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.89160, -76.74945   (decimal degrees)
39°53'30" N, 76°44'58" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/350427/4417191 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 95000941 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 46297 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 13, 2014: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added the Steam into History status
  • March 12, 2014: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Updated name to match other Heritage Rail Trail labels on site
  • March 9, 2014: Updated by Dave King: Added NRHP info & imported photo
  • July 15, 2011: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Updated status
  • December 9, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added Rail-to-trail to category
  • October 13, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added new photos
  • October 12, 2010: New photos from Daniel Hopkins
  • September 29, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added to description with a bit of breif history
  • September 28, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: updated information
  • September 23, 2010: New photo from Daniel Hopkins
  • September 21, 2010: Added by Daniel Hopkins


  • Daniel Hopkins - chimera [at] clovermail [dot] net
  • Wikipedia
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com


Heritage Rail Trail - Howard Tunnel
Posted March 19, 2018, by Tom Johnson (wtjohnson1958 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I found this photo postcard among my fathers pictures.

Howard Tunnel
Posted November 2, 2011, by Tom (tvketchum [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Picture 7, it is not the remnants of a switch, but the remnants of the guardrail. In the middle of the track, it goes from a point to spread to be just a few inches from the rails the wheels ride on. The purpose is to guide a derailed wheel or truck back as close to the rails as possible, to keep the car from hitting the tunnel wall. You see these on bridges as well, to keep a derailed car from destroying the bridge or to keep the car and those it is coupled to from toppling off the bridge.