300-year-old tree, 1996

Arborist Jack Wolf, left, and Owen Groff work atop the massive trunk of a 300-year-old white oak that was felled in East Hempfield Township in 1996. 

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Excerpts and summaries of news stories from the former Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News that focus on the events in the county’s past that are noteworthy, newsworthy or just strange. 

One of the oldest living things in Lancaster County met its demise in 1996.

A massive white oak tree, more than 300 years old, was felled and removed by local arborist Jack Wolf. The tree had been struck by lightning 10 years earlier, and had been slowly dying ever since. Its weakening trunk meant it posed a danger to a trailer park neighborhood near its longtime home along Columbia Avenue in East Hempfield Township.

The 35-ton tree, which Wolf said he believed was one of the oldest in the county, was nearly 10 feet in diameter and more than 100 feet tall. 

When the colossal tree was a sapling, William Penn had just arrived in the New World, and King Charles II was on the throne in England.

In the headlines:

Ridge signs welfare reform into law

Eating eggs not so bad for you after all

GOP will start ads criticizing Clinton

Check out the May 16, 1996, Lancaster New Era here.

"Is it the start of a revolution, or just a fluke?"

That question opened a Sunday News story from May 1971 about local manufacturing businesses testing out the concept of a four-day work week.

Two factories - Redman Industries of Ephrata (which produced mobile homes) and Aggregate Equipments Inc. of Leola (which made quarrying equipment) - had shifted to a work week of four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

The vast majority of employees liked the new system, and were happy to work longer days in exchange for three-day weekends. Management was happy as well - both plants were reporting improved worker morale, increased productivity and lower overhead costs, all of which added up to increased profits.

Only the factory workers had moved to the four-day schedule, however. Clerical and other office employees continued to work a traditional five-day week - at least, the Sunday News reported, until the four-day week becomes the new norm across the county.

In the headlines:

Drugs are declared epidemic in Vietnam

India warns Pakistan refugees pose threat

Sadat pressing purge of Egypt dissidents

Check out the May 16, 1971, Sunday News here.

"Death Highway" is what the Intelligencer Journal, circa 1946, was calling Lincoln Highway East, both in headlines and in the text of a front-page article.

The article reported that Donald Martin, 26, was killed at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Strasburg Road when his car collided with a truck on May 15, 1946.

Martin was the county's 19th highway fatality in 1946 as of that date, a total that was nearly quadruple that of the previous year, when the county saw just five fatal wrecks by the same date.

In the headlines:

Soft coal peace talks broken off

Atcheson tells Soviet delegate U.S. does not favor communism

Husband refuses to leave side of wife stricken by leprosy

Check out the May 16, 1946, Intelligencer Journal here.

In May 1921, a raid by state police and state health department officers targeted "disorderly houses" - in other words, brothels - in Columbia.

Several dozen people were taken into custody, though no criminal charges were filed. As the operation was run as a "public health" effort, the women who resided in the targeted houses - as well as their male guests - were instead taken to area hospitals and tested for "social diseases." 

The 17 women nabbed in the raids were quarantined at the hospital, while the 34 men were released and ordered to report back tot he hospital for testing.

The state effort to combat the "menace" of social diseases also involved placing the seven houses involved under quarantine while abatement proceedings were begun to prevent the homes from being used again for "immoral purposes."

In the headlines:

Four are murdered in ambush of Irish

'Northern lights' halt wire service

Check out the May 16, 1921, Lancaster Intelligencer here.

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