When Europeans reached the land that became Codorus State Park, it was the territory of Susquehannock Indians, a powerful tribe that controlled much of the land near the Susquehanna River. Wars and the push of settlers led to the demise of the Susquehannocks.
The early settlers were German farmers, but industry soon followed.
Built in 1762, Mary Ann Furnace is believed to be the first charcoal furnace built on the western side of the Susquehanna River. The furnace supplied cannon balls and grapeshot for the continental army and employed Hessian prisoners to run the ironworks while many of the available workforce were off fighting the British. Nothing remains of the ironworks except memories.
The four original founders of Mary Ann Furnace had a great impact on the United States.
George Stevenson emigrated from Ireland and was employed as a deputy surveyor by the Penn Family. Stevenson organized wagons and supplies for the Forbes Campaign during the French and Indian War. When the British occupied Philadelphia and York became the capital of the Colonies, George Washington called on George Stevenson to take charge of the supply lines.
George Ross was a lawyer from Lancaster. During the American Revolutionary War, he served in the Provincial Assembly, the Provincial Conference and the Continental Congress. He signed the Declaration of Independence. He also introduced George Washington to the widow of his nephew, the flag maker Betsy Ross.
William Thompson emigrated from Ireland. In the French and Indian War, he served as a officer under John Armstrong in the Kittanning Expedition and as a captain of the light horse in the Forbes Campaign. In the American Revolution, he became the colonel of the first colonial infantry and advanced to brigadier general. He was captured in the Second Assault on Quebec and held prisoner for four years, only to die not long after his release.
Mark Bird was the son of ironmaster William Bird, of Hopewell Furnace. In the American Revolution, Bird served as deputy quartermaster and as a colonel. He used his own money and ironworks to supply cannons and munitions. After the war, he was never repaid. Deep in debt, he went bankrupt and fled to North Carolina to avoid his creditors.
The Up and Down Lake
The impoundment of Codorus Creek was the result of a cooperative project between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Glatfelter Paper Company of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. This undertaking was the first of its kind in the Commonwealth and was designed to serve the water supply needs of a private industry and the town of Spring Grove, and to provide a public recreation area.
The Glatfelter Paper Company constructed the dam and still owns and runs the dam. The gates first closed, impounding water, in December of 1966. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the park land in 1965-1966. Originally the park was known as Codorus Creek State Park. Lake Marburg is named for the small community of Marburg that is covered by the lake.
The Glatfelter Paper Company and the town of Spring Grove are permitted to draw water from the lake for their needs. This means that the lake water level can drop over 22 feet in a summer, only to rise with rainfall.