Small town deals with city problem; Longtime residents along York Road see increase in traffic


"To Appearance, Trans-Susquehanna is peaceful enough, -- Farm-houses, a School-house, a Road to York." -- Thomas Pynchon, "Mason & Dixon"

The town that borders York Road's last mile in Maryland has added an inn, a cement plant and other development since the fabled surveyors passed through more than 230 years ago, but it retains a serene appearance.

One- and two-story clapboard houses that date to the 1800s line the road as it climbs a slight ridge before reaching Pennsylvania. Behind the houses of Maryland Line, cornfields cut across nearby hills. Many residents have lived in the town for decades and have family in the area. In winter, elderly neighbors receive help shoveling snow from their sidewalks and driveways.

Such peaceful appearances extend only so far. Traffic along the "Road to York" prevents this small community from settling into pastoral slumber. Maryland Line is a country town with traffic problems.

Many of the cars don't belong to local residents -- who would have to work hard to make a traffic jam -- but to neighbors in southern Pennsylvania who pass through Maryland Line to head south on Interstate 83, which is west of the town, according to Phillip Wineholt, who regularly deals with the York Road traffic.

"Truthfully, this road has become a bad traffic road. In New Freedom and Shrewsbury [Pa.], thousands of homes have gone up," Wineholt said. "In morning and afternoon, the traffic is just streaming past here. Thousands and thousands of cars come by here. For that reason, we're not the quiet little town you'd think we might be."

As his wife, Nancy, said: "We're out in the country so to speak, if it weren't for the traffic."

The traffic hasn't reached proportions that would make the couple consider leaving their three-bedroom red-brick rancher, which they built in 1962 on land that has belonged to his family since the mid-1800s.

Seated at their kitchen table, scanning a slim published history of Maryland Line, which was originally called New Market, the couple say family has kept them in the town.

"I guess we're just homers. I have a brother living across the field. I have another brother living next door," said Phillip Wineholt, who considers himself a Maryland Line resident though his house is just shy of the town line. "I was born diagonally across that field in the old farmhouse," he said, leaning back in his chair and pointing out the kitchen window.

The convenient location is another reason for remaining.

"Living where we do, only 10 minutes to the north is Shrewsbury, to the south we got 20 minutes to Hunt Valley," he said. "We're kind of here where anything you want from shopping to entertainment is less than a 30-minute drive."

Wineholt's connection to the town is typical, according to Nancy Seim, a Realtor with O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA in Shrewsbury. "I think most of the people who live in Maryland Line have lived there for a long time and people buying there are maybe folks who know someone there and live in the area, like in Freeland," she said.

The town's small size and lack of turnover have made it difficult for newcomers to move in -- only one house has been sold there in the past two years, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Service, the multiple list database for Realtors.

"Very few homes go on the market there and when they do, if they're priced right, they sell pretty quickly," Seim said. Prices in the community range from $80,000 to $175,000 depending on the home's size and condition, she said.

Eugene Jones, a lifetime resident, has found it difficult to consider uprooting his family and moving. Sitting in his living room decorated with firefighter items reflecting his 51 years of membership with the town's volunteer fire department, Jones said the house is the only one he's ever known.

His two-story, 2 1/2-bedroom clapboard house is typical of the houses that line York Road. Built in 1850, the house, with a 2-foot-thick stone foundation, is held together with wooden pegs and has log flooring, Jones said. Asked about his home's condition, Jones replied, "This one is real good. We got new windows and put in insulation in the walls. There hadn't been any before. We've redone the outside with asbestos shingles."

Across the street, Janie Bennett and her husband had extensive renovations done to their house, which dates before 1817.

"Parts of it was just old. It needed a lot of TLC. We took everything apart and put it back together," she said. "I don't recommend doing this while living in it."

Despite the challenge of remodeling, Bennett said she prefers old houses like those in Maryland Line. "There are good things to say about new houses, but I think an older house is much better constructed, though you never know what's behind the walls," she said.

Michelle Blevins, who moved into her two-bedroom, two-story cottage house almost five years ago, said she's always lived in the area and chose Maryland Line because it is such a "cute" town.

"This was the first house I looked at. It's so close to [Interstate] 83, you can't beat the location, and I love my neighbors," she said.

While the York Road traffic in front of her house can be distracting, it also has its positive side.

"In summertime, you sit on the front porch and people go by and wave -- like it's supposed to be," she said.

Maryland Line

ZIP code: 21205

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: one hour

Pubic schools: Seventh District Elementary, Hereford Middle School, Hereford High School

Shopping: Thompson's Market; stores in Shrewsbury, Pa.

Points of interest: Mason Dixon line marker, Northern Central Railroad Trail

Number of homes currently on the market: 0*

Number of homes sold in the last 12 months: 1*

Listing price: $79,000*

Sales price: $79,000*

Sales prices as a percentage of listing price: 100%*

* As recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 1/31/99

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