Free Shipping. Entire Store. Always.

The York Plan: Big Effort from a Small Town

York, PA: The Town That Roared

York, Pennsylvania isn’t just a beautiful town, it’s also a historical one. During the height of World War II, it was also the origin of the famous York Plan, a defense initiative that quickly spread across the country. In this article, we will talk about the history of the town, how the plan worked, and the impact it had on the American war effort.

Seeing Ahead

In the spring of 1940, a year before the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, a small industrial town in rural Pennsylvania began to realize that the war would be coming to America one way or another. They needed to prepare for something that most of the country still believed they could sit out on.

Forry Laucks - York Plan WWII

A man named Forry Laucks, the owner of York Safe & Lock, was one of the first people to realize this, seeing the war reaching America as early as 1938. Most of the town thought he was overreacting and a lunatic for thinking that America would ever get involved in a war just after recovering from the previous one. Nonetheless, he managed to convince a very small number of manufacturers into believing his warnings. Four families, including his, were appointed by these manufacturers to come up with a plan. They were given six months to do so, or the whole operation would be called off. 

The York Plan

The town needed to work together. As such, they came up with three guiding principles to help keep everything on track. The first was agreeing that the war was coming, no matter what, so they needed to be ready for it. The second was that all political differences needed to be put aside for the time being. It didn’t matter if you hated your neighbor with every fiber of your being, you had to let it go. 

The third principle was the most innovative and what made the plan so successful. Everybody was to work with everyone else, talk things out, and work to remove any and all barriers that stood in the way of progress. This meant that the rich would help the poor, the factory owners would hold meetings with their workers to give them what they needed, and even the children were consulted for their own unique perspectives. 

York Plan Mural and Film

Coming Together

Eventually, a month over the deadline, they finally all came to a collective agreement, titled the York Plan. This plan laid out everything that needed to be done to maximize the defense output of the town. A sharing economy formed, where tools would be shared across competitors to ensure that everybody could produce what they needed with the bare minimum. He got everybody to start making various defense components, many of them meant for tanks. No one person could produce them all on their own, but with enough collective effort, they could distribute the work enough to get it done. 

This plan proved to be so radically popular that it spread outside the confines of the town. Soon, the entire state was adopting similar mindsets. By the time America was dragged kicking and screaming into the war, the industry was already fully prepared. When the president of the United States looked for manufacturing proposals, he quickly decided to adopt the York Plan as it was the only one fully operational. Out of everything produced during the war, a full third of it was produced in Pennsylvania.


The town of York’s efforts may have been one of the biggest contributors to the war effort in the entire country. If not for the bravery and audacity of a few good men, ignoring the naysayers, and forging ahead against all mocking and ridicule, countless more lives could have been lost. York, Pennsylvania’s legacy is one that goes down in history. 

If you liked this story and want to show your appreciation for a town so important to our nation’s survival, why not pick up a t-shirt from our store?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published