This story was originally published on June 3, 2017.


On a map of Lancaster County, a string of towns stretches along the northern half of the county, including Elizabethtown, Lititz, Ephrata and New Holland.

But in the southern half, there’s really only one: Quarryville.

And, during the 10-mile drive from Willow Street — Quarryville’s closest northern neighbor — the scenery is mostly woods, hills and farms.

“We’re kind of an island by ourselves down here,” said Tim Hassler, a Quarryville resident and one of three family members who own Ferguson & Hassler’s, the more than 100-year-old grocery store at the edge of town.

As a business owner, Hassler said he sometimes wishes the store was closer to more people, but as a resident, he likes having a buffer from rapid development happening in northern parts of Lancaster County.

“Things just happen a little slower in Quarryville because of its location and, of course, the concentration of Amish and Mennonites who resist those things as long as possible,” said local historian Mike Roth.

Self sufficiency, independence and working class values are hallmarks of Quarryville, a fiercely Republican town where Hillary Clinton got only 25 percent of the vote in the recent presidential election.

Quarryville’s status as the principal town in the “Southern End” also means it looms larger than 1.3 square miles that define the borough, encompassing, for many, the entire 180 square miles of the school district.

“Growing up, the whole Solanco School District was really to me, Quarryville,” says John Chase, Quarryville’s mayor and a former owner of Newswanger Furniture in town.


By the numbers

2,687: Borough’s 2015 population

$54,475: Median household income

1.3: Square miles the borough occupies

3: Number of full-time officers in the police department

1,600: Number of residents housed for 9 hours at the high school after evacuation following a 1985 fire at Stoner Ink Co. on East State Street.

546: Pages in “Quarryville in Lancaster County’s Southern End,” an exhaustive, picture-filled history of the town published in 2014.


A place for local business

For Quarryville proper, attracting shops and restaurants that will bring people to the borough’s main streets has been a struggle, much like it is in other small towns in Lancaster County.

But for residents, there’s enough nearby that they wouldn’t ever really need to drive far for anything.

“You can really live here without ever leaving the town,” says Quarryville resident Pennie Kemp. “There are doctors, lawyers, a gym, pharmacy, car repair shops, grocery stores and restaurants.”

Several entrepreneurs in Quarryville say loyal customers provide good support for local businesses but note that doing business in Quarryville often means going the extra mile.

With many deliveries to outlying areas, Erma Work said long hours are required for her long-time flower business, Erma’s Flower’s & Antiques.

And, Jeff Minnich, who has owned a video store and gym and now owns a Groff’s Printing in Quarryville, said customers will give “the local boy” the benefit of the doubt, but also have high expectations.

“If I dissatisfy one person, it’s not like I have 10 to take that customer’s place,” he said.

Building on a history

The town that would become Quarryville got its start in the 1820s when local farmers set up a series of small limestone quarries on land owned by Abram Barr.

The farmers built winter cabins at their quarries, beginning a settlement that appealed to Scots Irish workers who created an enclave away from the wealth concentrating in northern parts of Lancaster County, said historian Roth.

The discovery of limestone deposits may have started the town, but Roth said the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s is what fueled the growth of the borough, which at one point had three hotels and was a major commercial hub.

But a Christmas Eve fire in 1921 destroyed the stately Hotel Quarryville and several other properties in the center of town, robbing the town of a chance to continue to develop around the finest building in its history.

However, the former rail line’s second act as a rail-trail has some officials seeing an opportunity to build on a different part of the town’s history.

Borough employee Scott Peiffer said a trail access point directing people into Quarryville could help get some pedestrians and bicylists off the Enola Low Grade trail and into town where they could help support a coffee shop or similar businesses.

“An opportunity like that could revitalize the borough,” said Peiffer, who has led a variety of community initiatives.

Peiffer said he thinks the town is up to the challenge, even if part of Quarryville’s DNA means private individuals and groups will be expected to lead the effort.

“With what we have and what we do with it, I think we do a really good job,” he said. “A lot of it is not based on the government; it’s based on people and civic organizations.”