Legislative Route 1 Sycamore Allee
The Legislative Route 1 Sycamore Allee is actually two allees of American sycamore trees along what is now State Route 147 separated by two miles and the town of Halifax. The original trees were planted along both sides of Route 147 in 1922 with one allee just north of Halifax and the other just to the south of the town. Of the original 536 trees planted, only 314 remain as many have been removed by private landowners and by development along the roadway. The Sycamore Allee represents a wonderful example of a designed landscape that was part of the rural beautification movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and for that reason it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Backstory and Context
The northern section of Sycamore Allee was placed along what was once known as Shamokin Pass, really nothing more than a cart path that appeared on local maps as early as 1759 and was the only link between Harrisburg and Sunbury. The southern section was planted along a road that winded around the west side of Peters Mountain and was on local maps in 1770. Those roads would eventually come to be called Legislative Route 1 after passage of the Sproul Highway Act of 1911 which created the state highway system and assigned route numbers to the various state roads of Pennsylvania. Also contained within that act was a mandate for beautification efforts along the roads, to include tree planting.
As a result of the passage of the Sproul Act, Pennsylvania’s Department of Highways and its Department of Forests and Waters began a program for planting trees along significant state roads. These departments saw several benefits from lining roadways with trees, to include erosion prevention, lower maintenance costs, limiting the amount of snow on the roads, and overall beautification of the landscape. Thus, after Legislative Route 1 was paved for the first time in 1920-21, the state government provided Reed and Halifax Townships with over 500 American sycamore saplings to be planted along that route in 1922. They would be part of more than 11,000 trees planted along 75 miles of roads throughout Pennsylvania from 1922 through 1924.
There is some thought that the 383 trees planted south of Halifax and the 163 planted just north of the town were part of the Roads of Remembrance program promoted by the American Forestry Association to honor those lost during World War I. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. The trees were planted approximately 21 feet from the road’s center at 60-foot intervals and were to be inspected on a regular basis and replaced as needed. Since planting, the remaining trees have since matured and many exceed ten feet in circumference and stand 60 to 100 feet tall.
Unfortunately, about a third of the trees in the southern section have been lost, with only 240 remaining, while over half of the trees in the northern section are gone, leaving only 74 along the east side of the road. However, some replacement trees were planted in 2013 during the dedication of Fort Halifax Park in the northern section of Sycamore Allee.
Heinrich, Keith. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form." United States Department of the Interior/National Park Service. September 27, 2006. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://www.dot7.state.pa.us/CRGIS_Attachments/SiteResource/H124138_01H.pdf
"Legislative Route 1 Sycamore Allee." Visit Hershey and Harrisburg. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://www.visithersheyharrisburg.org/listings/legislative-route-1-sycamore-allee/2073/
Heinrich, Keith. "National Transportation Week: A Road to the Past." Pennsylvania Historic Preservation. May 15, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://pahistoricpreservation.com/a-road-to-the-past/