Greg Durbin soap box derby champ 1970

Greg Durbin, 11, sits in the cockpit of "The White Tornado" after winning the Ephrata Soap Box Derby in 1970.

This story contains links that will take you to our archives site on This content is free for LancasterOnline subscribers who are logged in. Click here for more information about how to subscribe.

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. 

If you've lived in Lancaster County for more than 25 years, you likely remember the "old" Route 30 between Route 283 and Oregon Pike. It was a two-mile stretch of highway insanity, featuring narrow lanes, rough roadways and a jumble of on-ramps - some of which actually had stop signs in the middle of them because they intersected with off-ramps.

Splashed across the top of the front page of the July 19, 1995, New Era was a detailed diagram of the future for that stretch of hated highway. A massive construction project was set to begin the next summer at a cost of $75 million. Estimated to be finished by 1998, the project included widening the highway from four narrow lanes to six wide ones, as well as adding two-lane access roads on either side of the highway. Completely new on/off ramps would also be constructed.

(The project actually ended up costing about $10 million more than the initial estimate, plus countless trips to court as tensions flared between the contractor and the state. It wasn't finished until 2002.)

In the headlines:

U.S. seeks airstrikes vs Serbs

GOP opens hearings on Waco tragedy

Jurors see O.J. joke on exercise video about punching 'the wife'

Check out the July 19, 1995, New Era here.

An 11-year-old boy followed in his father's footsteps - or tire tracks - to win his first soap box derby in the summer of 1970.

Greg Durbin of Lancaster won the Ephrata Soap Box Derby behind the wheel of "The White Tornado," earning himself a bunch of prizes as well as a place at the All-American Gravity Grand Prix in Akron, Ohio.

Durbin's father, Roger, had taken the boy to the Akron race annually, as he was a veteran of the unmotorized motorsport. The elder Durbin competed in 1947-1949 in his home town of Fort Wayne, Indiana, winning his starting heats two of those years.

In the headlines:

Ocean farming forecast among trends in '70s

Walrus-faced rats may help to fight diabetes

Willie Mays gets 3000th hit of his career

Check out the July 19, 1970, Sunday News here.

A summer slate of dance bands, both touring and local, was lined up at the Hersheypark Ballroom in 1945.

In the span of 10 days, area swing dancers would be able to take in the McFarland Twins, a pair of twin saxophonists who played with the Fred Waring Orchestra in the 1920s before striking out on their own; world-renowned trumpeter (and TV star) Harry James, whose orchestra was touring with vocalist Kitty Kallen; and lesser-known bands led by Johnny Long and Red McCarthy.

In the headlines:

600 B-29s in biggest Japan raid; fleet blasts Tokyo Bay for 3rd day

Union leader (James Bove) jailed 10 years

U.S. wants part in pole control

Check out the July 19, 1945, New Era here.

A bizarre lightning strike made the front page of the Lancaster Intelligencer on July 19, 1920.

In Martic Township, the home of E.D. Sensenig was struck by a bolt from the sky the first hit a tall tree near the house, before jumping into the home and careening around for three more strikes.

Remarkably, the home didn't catch fire and no one was seriously injured - though a man sitting on the front porch was briefly knocked unconscious, and a baby sleeping in a crib was temporarily paralyzed by the electricity. 

In the headlines:

President Wilson and Cox entirely agreed on League

State of terror in Cork after street fighting

Check out the July 19, 1920, Lancaster Intelligencer here.