• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

The Big Hand Tourist Camp at Stony Brook

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 27, 2022

The Big Hand Tourist Camp was a seasonal tented camp for tourists on the go. Opened in 1925, it was located along the south side of the Lincoln Highway in a field east of Stony Run. In 1928, the camp entrance was one of 26 locations in York County where concrete markers of Lincoln Road were placed by York County Boy Scout troops.

The completion of the Lincoln Highway and other Good Roads Movement routes gave way to seasonal tourists making increasingly longer trips. Tourist camps have sprung up to meet the need for low-cost accommodation. In the 1920s, tented camps were popular, which charged as little as 25 cents per night; if the tourist provided the tent.

In 1925, Alfred Hubler established such a tented camp along the Lincoln Highway; Stony Brook tourist camp. He soon teamed up with Paul & Stuart Strickler, who owned the Stony Brook Garage just across the freeway. The name of the camp changed to Big Hand Tourist Camp after Hubler left the company; it was around 1926. Alfred Hubler left to establish another tourist camp along the Susquehanna Trail.

The Big Hand Tourist Camp probably got its name from a BIG HAND sign; pointing to the camp entrance.

The Big Hand Tourist Camp was a seasonal tented camp for tourists on the go. It was located along the south side of the Lincoln Highway in a field east of Stony Run. In 1925 Alfred Hubler started the business as Stony Brook Tourist Camp; and soon teamed up with Paul & Stuart Strickler, who owned the Stony Brook Garage just across the freeway. The name of the camp changed to “Big Hand Tourist Camp” after Hubler left the company; circa 1926. (Illustration by SH Smith, 2022)

The 1927 Mohawk-Hobbs Route Guide noted that the Big Hand Tourist Camp charged 50 cents per night to camp. The camp has also rented pitches where tents have been provided. Additionally, two existing Stony Brook stores operated a temporary seasonal general store at the campgrounds: these were Mrs. Emma J. Hoke’s Grocery and Elmer C. Horne’s Meat Market.

The Big Hand Tourist Camp operated for about five years. The onset of the Great Depression led to a significant decline in the need for tourist camps. Additionally, the late 1920s saw the start of a shift to small cabins to accommodate tourists.

The York Council of Boy Scouts, Troop 17, installed a concrete Lincoln Highway marker at the entrance to the Big Hand Tourist Camp on September 1, 1928. In terms of the present environment, this marker would have been near the entrance to the former Turkey Hill store at 3760 East Market Street. This building has been vacant since 2005, after Turkey Hill moved to its new store on Cinema Drive.

The York Council of Boy Scouts, Troop 17, installed a concrete Lincoln Highway marker at the entrance to the Big Hand Tourist Camp on September 1, 1928. In terms of the present environment, this marker would have been near the entrance to the former Turkey Hill store at 3760 East Market Street. This building has been vacant since 2005, after Turkey Hill moved to its new store on Cinema Drive. (photos SH Smith)

It was probably a mutual business boost for the Strickler brothers by having the tourist camp right across the Lincoln Highway from their gas station. In April 1921, brothers Paul and Stuart Strickler opened the Stony Brook Garage along the north side of the Lincoln Highway in Stony Brook. The building still stands at 3701 East Market Street; although it has not been used as a gas station since 1974.

In April 1921, brothers Paul and Stuart Strickler opened Stony Brook Garage along the north side of the Lincoln Highway in Stony Brook, Springettsbury Township, York County, Pennsylvania. The building still stands at 3701 East Market Street; although it has not been used as a gas station since 1974. (Source: 1940s or 1950s photo from Charles Ness Gas Station Collection at York County History Center)

Big Hand Tourist Camp, Stony Brook Garage, Mrs. Emma J. Hoke’s grocery store and Elmer C. Horne’s meat market are just a few of the early businesses in Springettsbury Township, whose stories will be shared at the next Springettsbury History Night Event on July 13, 2022.

The Springettsbury History Night event on July 13, 2022 will be held at the York Area United Fire and Rescue Meeting Room, located at 50 Commons Drive (back of building), York, PA 17402, at 7:00 p.m. The presentation will begin with an exploration of mills and progress to early factories, gas stations, shops, inns, taverns and restaurants. This event will focus on the early business stories of Springettsbury Township; that is, those established before 1940.

The Springettsbury History Night event on July 13, 2022 will be held at the York Area United Fire and Rescue Meeting Room, located at 50 Commons Drive (back of building), York, PA 17402, at 7:00 p.m. The presentation will begin with an exploration of mills and progress to early factories, gas stations, shops, inns, taverns and restaurants. This event will focus on the early business stories of Springettsbury Township; that is, those established before 1940.

Click this LINK for a full view on yorkblog.com of the photos in this article.

Links to related publications include:

Discover stories of Lincoln Highway marker sites

Lincoln Highway Marker near Ducktown Road

Lincoln Highway Centennial Driving Tour at Haines Shoe House

Read the headlines: a quick index of all past Yorks posts