Shady Lane History / Oerwood Nature Center
North Eastern York County History In Preservation                          NeyChip
  Historic Shady Lane was once part of a 210 acre patent to James Smith, York attorney and signer of the Declaration of Independence. By 1805, one half of this original patent came into ownership of Jacob Hake, wealthy farmer and distiller of Manchester Township. Hake built the main house on the property in 1825. The Hake family built a distillery above a spring-fed stream, which was essential for brewing whiskey and other spirits.

     The estate passed through many hands, but none were arguably as great as its owner from 1905 to 1948. Frederick Small, a Yale graduate, York industrialist, and the developer of York's Elmwood community, purchased the estate grounds and farmland. Mr. Small owned a mansion in York City and used the estate for his summer home where his family could entertain their vast network of friends. He's credited with adding many of the fine architectural features and landscaping to entertain guest at his country estate.

    In 1948, after Mr. Small had passed, his estate sold to Carl H Oerman, a businessman who ran American Acme in Emigsville, for over $30,000. "Included in the reported purchase are a century-old 12 room residence and 33 surrounding acres on which there is a two and on half acre lake. The Colonial style stone residence is built on a hillside, with a ground floor level and three upper floors. Across the front and overlooking the gardens is a broad porch. The central hall has a Colonial stairway. On the first floor are a library and living room, both with fireplaces, a sun porch, dining room, and kitchen. There are a sleeping porch and four master bedrooms on the second floor, and four bedrooms on the third floor. on the ground level, a rumpus room opens to a terrace bordered by a brook. A barn with a five room apartment and a seven room caretakers house are included in the sale."   In 1967, the Oerwood Nature Center was started on the property with several trails, nature museum and even a famous Braille Trail for the blind. More on this is listed below.

    Since 2003, the estate has been preserved through The Farm and Natural Land Trust and its new owners, Steve and Sue Kohr have been quietly restoring the buildings and grounds. They began with the 1825 farmhouse, which became the busy center of activity for their four sons. After several years, the 1790 distillery was fully refurbished to become a private residence. And now the Brownstone Cottage built in 1911 by Frederick Small for his spinster sister, serves as the Cottage for events and small parties.

    Today, the estate is enjoying a new era. From family to family and into its third century, Historic Shady Lane welcomes you and your spouse, family, and friends to create your own history." The property expands across both Manchester and East Manchester townships. HistoryShadyLane.com also see Manchester Township History Profile #14
The building on the left was used as a trolley stop.
The building on the right was used as an ice house.
Oerwood Nature Center
       Early December 1967, the the Ecology Club of Northeastern High School gave of their weekends and holidays to develop a beautiful piece of a useful and educational nature laboratory on the property of Carl H Oerman (now Shady Lane) and called it Oerwood.  In 1969, when James Brett, who was a teacher at Northeastern High School and sponsored of its Ecology Club, visited in Aspen, Colorado, he was impressed with the Roaring Fork Braille Trail. When School reconvened in the fall, he suggested to his Club members that they add a Braille Trail to Oerwood Trails. After many hours of dedication from the Ecology Club, York Jaycees, Scouts, and Mitchell Galloway, the Oerwood Braille Trail was dedicated in June 1970. It was the first of its kind in PA. In 1971, the Susquehanna Lions Club and the Oerwood Nature Association adopted the trail as a project. The Trail received national recognition and seven students were awarded the President's Environmental Merit Award.

     In 1990, York County ForSight Vision encouraged the use of the Braille Trail.  In the early 90's the Lion's Club would bring people to Oerwood, escort them through the Brail Trail and feed them lunch. Then, later in the 90's, the area was under review for a housing development. By the time the development plans fell through, Oerwood and the Brail Trail was overgrown and forgotten.  In 2016, there were discussions on bring back the Brail Trail. However, several key organizations declined to be a part of the project because of liability, newer handicap requirements, and the trails could not be open weekends because of current owner business.

                                             Oerwood Nature Center Self Guiding Trail Booklet    Memories of Oerwood

    Braille Trail  Lion's Club Flyer  York Dispatch 1978  What Happened to York County's Braille Trail?
York Sunday News 2016
The Main House build 1825.
Jim Brett honored as Curator Emeritus
Jim Brett started as a biology and earth science teacher at Northeastern High School, York County. He founded the Oerwood Nature Center, where he and his students developed the "Braille Trail." In 1969, he received a National Science Foundation Award and in 1970 was named Pennsylvania Science Teacher of the Year.

In 1971, he joined the staff at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. In 1996 he became the first Executive Director of the Ned Smith Center for Nature and the Arts. Three years later, he was appointed by Governor Ridge as Commonwealth’s Senior Conservation Advisor and later Secretary of Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources.  He co-founded and president of PA Institute for Conservation Education.

In 1996, Jim was awarded a Daughters of the American Revolution Conservation Medal. He was given the honorary title of Curator Emeritus by Hawk Mountain.  He is currently a consultant to the Tanzania National Parks Association and serves on the boards of other national and international conservation and wildlife organizations.
Since losing his sight in 1965, Mitchell Galloway has been involved with various issues concerning the blind. While he was a senior at York Central High and a member of Scout Troop 64 of North York, he worked with Jim Brett to developed the Braille Trail at Oerwood. Read about his involvement with the trail. He was instrumental in forming a support group for parents with blind children, a radio reading service, sensory garden, and initiating the access technology evaluation and training program at Foresight Vision, formerly the York County Blind Center. He.graduated from United Theological Seminary in 1980. He has served as  Pastor in several local churches. In 2011, he was one of the contributors to the book “Speaking Out: Gifts for Ministry Undeterred by Disabilities”. Please see to his video about being blind and today's technology for the blind.
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The over 100 year old stone arch bridge on Shady Lane.
Watch: Remembering the Oerwood Braille Trail  June 26, 2017