Historic Howard Tunnel. On a late fall afternoon, the Northern Central Railway's York 17 Locomotive comes charging out of the nearly 200 year-old Howard Tunnel, in the town of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, with a 4-car passenger train.
Built in 1838 as part of the York and Maryland Line Railroad, this tunnel is the second oldest active railroad tunnel in the entire US. When the US Civil War began, the 275 ft. long, brick-lined tunnel was part of the Northern Central Railway, which was a vital link between south central PA and Baltimore. As such, it was known to be a target for marauding Confederate Cavalry, but fortunately, it was so well protected that the rebels sought out less well-defended infrastructure in their efforts to disrupt Union supply lines. After the way, what had been a single-track tunnel was rebuilt to accommodate two tracks. The tunnel continued to handle both freight and passenger traffic for another century, until the line fell into disuse in the 1970s. It was used briefly by a tourist railroad until around the year 2000, but was then dormant for another 20 years. The line was restored to operation in 2020 by the current Northern Central Railway and is now in use on some of the line's longer excursions.