Franklin County’s history on July 17th

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 July 17th.

25 Years Ago


“Mercersburg Academy is hit hard by storm”

Franklin county’s history
Roger Defibaugh cleans away tree limbs that fell in his yard and on his garage during a windstorm early Sunday in Mercersburg.

Mercersburg residents today are still cleaning up the mess left by Sunday’s violent storm. 

Saturday’s high temperatures produced air so warm that it held a lot of moisture, setting the stage for a ridge of thunderstorms that swept across the state, according to the National Weather Service in State College. 

In the Mercersburg area, storms that started at 12:30 a.m. Sunday were especially severe. They knocked down trees and held people spellbound. 

The borough and Mercersburg Academy were without electricity for 7 hours. 

At the academy, about 25 mature trees were partially or completely lost, according to Nick Sturm, director of the physical plant. Among those ripped out by the roots were some 60-foot-tall pine trees and 65- to 75-foot oak trees. 

Richard Defibaugh watched trees on his property bend sideways between flashes of lightning. He and his wife, Cindy, hurried their children away from bedroom windows. Fearing a tornado, he opened the downstairs doors. 

One of the walnut trees fell, just missing the children’s window. Half a sycamore tree landed on their garage. 

“It was more like a windstorm than a thunderstorm,” said Defibaugh, 131 W. Seminary St. 

He and neighbor Brooks Harryman spent Sunday morning cutting branches.

Bear, Jean Bryan’s dog, was sleeping in his doghouse when the tree behind it split and fell. 

“I don’t now how it missed him,” said Bryan, 24 N. Park Ave. “Thank God nobody was hurt.” 

A tree knocked down power lines on West California Street and hammered Tanya Gordon’s car. The front and rear windows were broken. She couldn’t open the car doors. 

The storms knocked out power for 4,900 customers of West Penn Power Co. in Franklin, Fulton, Bedford and Adams counties.

By this morning, nearly 3,900 customers had their power restored as West Penn crews worked around the clock over the weekend. 

In Fulton County, 380 customers had electric service restored by this morning and 470 customers were still waiting. The outage there was concentrated in the southern end of the county. 

In Franklin County, 3,350 customers had their power restored by this morning and 350 customers were still waiting. The outage was concentrated in the area of Mercersburg and Upton, with some in Fort Loudon and St. Thomas.

50 Years Ago

July17, 1970Saturday

“Making Way For Progress”

In photo at left above, Old ’88 at Mercersburg Academy, is to be razed possibly within the year. The dormitory was built in the early 1900s with donations from members of the Princeton University Class of ’88. In the photo at the right, excavation has begun, for the new dormitory building at the academy, which will replace Old ’88. 

The building will house 108 students and will cost slightly under $1 million. Charles E. Brake, St. Thomas, is doing excavation, and the Blake Co., Hagerstown, is contractor. The dorm is to be completed by July 1971.

100 Years Ago

July17, 1920Saturday

“Finds Loaned Auto Damaged In Road”

A Ford automobile belonging to William Solenberger of Piney Mountain Inn, driven by several men, whom he had loaned  it, turned turtle in the road between Greencastle and Shady Grove and was badly damaged. None of the occupants was injured. 

While returning from the Reformed reunion at Pen Mar, Mr. Solenberger noticed the damaged auto the road and upon investigating found that it belonged to him.

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