Speech given by Scotty Roberge at the 7 June 2014 SLCA Annual meeting (also a SLCA Special Meeting). Over 60 people attended, the vote was 38 to 7 for the new by-laws, and 40 to 6 to raise annual maintenance fee from $100 to $500 a year to fund increased regulatory compliance costs and maintenance and rehabilitation of our earthen dam.

Just off the top of your head, how old do you think Silver Lake is?

Does anyone here remember when the new spillway was built? How much it cost?

Does anyone here know how old the earthen dam is?

Does anyone know how old the mill is, that operated as a flour mill!

Corner Stone of the Harman Mill House
Corner Stone of the Herman Mill House

The lake is 229 years old. Built by John Herman/Harman, whose red stone home still stands at the beginning of Silver Lake Rd., (originally Pinetown Road) to provide water for John Herman’s mill. That home was built in the 10th year of American Independency by Samuel Kneissley, stone mason.

The then 40 acre lake was lined with blue clay, which was abundant in this area to the point that pottery was manufactured in the Lewisberry area. In fact, “Silver Lake” is referring to the color of the clay that was quarried in this area, making the lake appear silver.

When Mr. John Herman died, Andrew Cline bought the mill, and increased the production to three separate mills, two for grain and one for flour. Andrew Cline’s son, Lewis Cline took over the mill when his father died and the mill ceased to be used in the early 1900’s. Lewis Cline and his wife Elmira died in 1925. The estate sold the lake and adjoining land to the Silver Lake Improvement Co. The company began developing small summer lots for sale. The depression hit and by 1929, with only half the lots sold, the rest went for $1.00 to anyone who wanted them.

Random summer cottages went up and the lake went downhill. The earthen dam leaked, the small spillway at the head of the lake washed out a number of times.

Silver Lake from Bob and Flo Miller's Property circa 1950Many of the cottage owners were permanent residents of York and when the lake began to become a sanitary problem, a number of cottage owners got together and in 1948 formed the Silver Lake Community Association. The purpose of the Association was to preserve the lake and maintain the feeder streams.

They cleaned out the feeder streams, raised the spillway by one foot, started drawing down to maintain the walls, and became the highlight of the Fairview Twp. winter scene. The lake began to be visited by winter skaters, picnickers and ice hockey clubs. Signs all around the lake appeared demanding that only residents could park. No parking signs were put in every 30 feet around the lake.

Did you know that in 1944, Sonja Henie, who was a 10 time World champion, skated on the lake? She then performed for The Hershey “Ba’rs” Hockey team after the games.

Shirley Miller Peck circa 1948In 1963, the spillway was leaking and the members of the Association needed to do something.

They drew down the lake and between 1963 and 1965, they drew up plans and worked on weekends and built the present spillway. The one we have right now.

Did you know that the Silver Lake Community Association is the FIRST Community Association to register in the County of YORK?

During the “middle years,” the middle 60’s, the association was so active and popular that people waited in line to become members. A dredge was built with a Mercedes motor, to suck up the silt and spray it over the earthen dam, in order to maintain the depth of the lake. In the 60’s it was about 7 feet deep.

In late June of 1972 we were visited by Agnes, a hurricane that did a lot of damage to Central Pennsylvania. Two miles of Rt. 382 were washed away. The lake overflowed; Lewisberry was inundated.

But so was everyone else. Silt poured into our lake from farms above us. The State had to build a new road thru Lewisberry and raised it 8 feet above the old road, to insure it would not wash out again.

The “heyday” of the lake was over. People couldn’t agree on how to manage the lake. The sewage problem got worse, people moved away. Kids started going to malls instead of coming with their families to the lake.

In September of 2013, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reclassified our lake as “High Hazard.” Not because of the lake itself, but because of new laws as to what property lies below it. If our earthen dam were to breach, an area of Lewisberry would be inundated. Some of the property built below the lake is already considered a flood or inundation plain.

It’s still our lake, but the DEP is now in control of a lot of things we didn’t have to deal with before. They have given us a statement: Follow requirements or they will breach the lake. It’s that simple. It’s time for us to come together and try to preserve the lake.