Looking Back: Franklin County’s history January 9th

Franklin County’s history

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on January 9th.

25 Years Ago 

January 9, 1996 – Tuesday

“Rescue Workers follow snow plow on emergency calls”  

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County's history January 9th
Chambersburg firefighters responding to a call for smoke in a basement make on Kennedy Street Monday their way around an 8-foot snowbank.

Eight Shippensburg firefighters carrying a patient trudged a quarter of a mile through waist-high snow Monday.   

The heart patient was carried to an ambulance on U.S. 11.  

Normally,  it takes two people to carry a stretcher.  And it usually isn’t carried at shoulder level.  Ropes tied the stretcher to the firefighters.  

“The ropes made sure that if a firefighter fell, our patient wouldn’t have gone in the snow,” said Steve O’Donnell, West End Fire and Rescue assistant chief.  “Our adrenalin was fast-paced. Our movement was slow ….. a step at a time. Snow was hitting us in the face.  

“We didn’t think we’d ever get to the ambulance.”  

Knowing someone was worse off than they were kept firefighters and emergency medical technicians on the road Sunday and Monday, despite 33 inches of snow in Franklin County and 18 in Fulton County.  

They went on unplowed roads, often in the company of township trucks equipped with plows. 

Engines and ambulances got stuck. Visibility was five feet at best, they said.  

Firefighters also waited for township crews at the fire halls to help them get back in.  

A five-mile trip in Mont Alto took two hours.  

“We’d get stuck and had to wait for a plow to get us out . . . then had to clear the road ahead,” said Josh Laird, a Mont Alto firefighter. “Being on a big engine was no guarantee you’d get through the snow.”  

Mike Kopecek, an ambulance driver with South Mountain Fire Company, had a wild ride down the mountain Sunday night.  

The company got a call around 8 that an employee at South Mountain Restoration Center had chest pains.  The ambulance went out on unplowed roads.  

“We made pretty decent time for the conditions,” said Kopecek, a firefighter for 19 years.  “(U.S.) 30 was a mess.  We had a couple of whiteouts where I couldn’t see nothing.  I stopped once for a whiteout and three times to clean ice off the windshield wipers.” 

 Firefighters found by the time they arrived at a call, they were exhausted.

“You used a lot of energy getting through the snow. You burned out really quick,” said Franklin Sgt. Gary Himes.  

Fire companies were more prepared for the Blizzard of ’96 than the snowstorms that crippled the area in 1993-94.  

Snowmobiles and four-wheel-drive vehicles were parked with engines and ambulances.  

Many companies attached plows to rescue units or members’ vehicles.  

“Travel was treacherous.  Clearing a road once didn’t ensure it’d be open when you went back through,” said Marion Chief Jim Picking.  “If a plow didn’t go with you, you didn’t go.”  

Ambulance companies didn’t get as many calls for people injured in falls as they did two years ago.  “There were a few . . . none serious,” said Ted Snively, a paid EMT at Fayetteville.  “People were more likely to take it slow and easy or get someone else to do it.  

“Or they just haven’t gotten around.” 

50 Years Ago   


“Some Sights seen by Visitors Touring Old County Jail Today” 

Chambersburg — Dungeon rooms and keeps as well as 19th century heavy wooden doors, possibly hand-hewn, were a few of the unique features of the old county jail during a tour Jan. 9. The old jail eventually became the headquarters for the Franklin County Historical Society and Kittochtinny Genealogy Library and Museum.

100 Years Ago  


“Greencastle citizens want municipal light”   

A proposition that Greencastle should have its own electric lighting service, owned and operated by the municipality, was the outstanding feature of the reorganization meeting of the Greencastle town council held last week. A delegation of twenty-five citizens, with J. H. Ruthrauff, Chambersburg, as counsel, appeared before council and presented a petition largely signed, asking that the town council move toward this end.  

The company was furnishing light largely owned by Chambersburg.


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