Low water on the Conestoga, 1947
After a downstream dam partially washed away in July 1947, the water level in the Conestoga River dropped dramatically, exposing swaths of riverbed and resulting in a "foul stench" in the city.
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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.

25 years ago

A middle school baseball player from Ephrata made the front page of the New Era on July 31, 1997, for slugging a would-be burglar with a bat.

Brandon Ringler, 13, lived in a first-floor apartment with his mother, and was listening to music in his bedroom when he heard a noise outside his window. He turned out the lights and realized someone was attempting to enter his room. 

He quickly grabbed the bat and bopped the burglar on the head. For good measure, he also landed a punch to the intruder's face, after which the man swore and ran away.

Police publicized a description of the suspect, but no arrests had been made as of three days later.

Ringler, who would be entering the eighth grade in the fall, was a pitcher and center fielder for the junior midget Ephrata Orioles. He led the team in home runs.

In the headlines:

New survey finds seven more asteroids pose threat to Earth

Clues sought to fungus fatal to 10

Israel hits back at Arabs

Check out the July 31, 1997, Lancaster New Era here.

50 years ago

Ten people were arrested after a "fracas" at a day-long rock concert at Long's Park in July 1972.

The unrest began when an undercover police officer attempted to arrest a concertgoer for possession of marijuana. As several officers led the man out of the area, an angry crowd formed around them.

Concertgoers chanted anti-police slogans, threw rocks and other objects at officers, broke windows on police vehicles and attempted to overturn a police cruiser. Police fired several warning shots into the air during the process of quelling the unrest, which a police spokesman described as "an unruly crowd," but not a riot.

Ten arrests were made after the ruckus, on charges ranging from drug possession to disorderly conduct.

The all-day concert event featured mostly local rock bands. 

In the headlines:

13,000 British troops occupy IRA strongholds

Plane hijacked over Florida

Socialite released for $1 million ransom

Check out the July 31, 1972, Lancaster New Era here.

75 years ago

A dam break led to a drop in the water levels of the Conestoga River - and an accompanying foul smell - in July 1947.

Levan's Dam, located several miles south of Lancaster city, had partially washed away, leading to a drop of about four feet in the water level of the Conestoga. This resulted in large portions of the riverbed being exposed. After baking in the hot summer sun, those areas began emitting a "foul stench" that was the subject of complaints from area residents as well as motorists who drove on roads along the river.

The drop in water levels happened despite the heavy rains that had drenched the county throughout the summer of 1947. 

Levan's Dam was just the latest in a series of old, poorly maintained dams that had completely or partially washed away along the Conestoga. Earl Rebman, former president of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, urged county officials to attempt to secure state funding to restore the Conestoga, as its value in terms of fishing, swimming and other recreation had been greatly diminished.

In the headlines:

U.S. protests Russian Balkan grab

Douglas Chandler given life term at treason trial

Fireman who punched bear in nose to save boy may be cited

Check out the July 31, 1947, Intelligencer Journal here.

100 years ago

The arrival of chain restaurants in Lancaster County might be traced back to 1922, when the Lancaster Intelligencer conducted a survey of local restaurant prices.

The results of the study were that Lancaster restaurant owners were charging nearly double the price for comparable items in other cities. The survey "attracted state-wide attention," including from two companies that operated chains of restaurants throughout the East Coast.

Representatives of those companies - which wanted to remain unidentified at the time - were in the city July 29 and 30, evaluating the market and inspecting possible properties in the downtown area where they might open "one-arm" cafes.

(That term referred to quick-service lunch restaurants, where seating was at individual one-armed chairs rather than tables.)

One company official told the Intelligencer that because of the inflated prices here, he estimated his firm could charge about half the price of typical Lancaster eateries and still turn a profit.

In the headlines:

Coal output gains as U.S. takes control

Rail strike's end this week is forecasted

Check out the July 31, 1922, Lancaster Intelligencer here.

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