General Improvements


How the First White Men Penetrated this Region- The Military Roads of the French and Indian War Period- Mention of Some of the Provincial Roads Authorized after the Organization of Bedford County- The Western Road- Early Bridge Building- The National Road-Turnpikes and Stage Coaches- Railroads- Baltimore and Ohio Pittsburg and Connellsville- Berlin Branch- Ursina Branch- Salisbury Branch Somerset and Mineral Point, and Johnstown and Somerset, form the Present Somerset and Cambria Branch- Huntingdon and Broad Top- Bedford and Bridgeport- Dunning's Creek- The Proposed Harrisburg and Western.

THE first white men to visit this region- the Indian traders, and the equally adventurous hunters and trappers - found their way from hill-top to mountain crest, from cove to cove, and from one valley to another by following the trails or paths then in use by the Indians. The latter certainly displayed much astuteness, or, if we may use the term, engineering skill, in the choice of their routes of travel, for the same paths were pursued by the traders with their packhorse trains. Next they were followed by the rude military roads hewed out by the pioneers attached to the armies led by Washington, Braddock, Forbes, Burd and Boquet. Next came the great highways constructed under state and national authority. Then followed the more modern turnpikes, and lastly the railroads of the present day.

Without a doubt the first attempt at road-making in the territory now embraced by these counties took place during Washington's brief and disastrous campaign in the Youghiogheny valley in 1754. The following year Braddock's troops passed over nearly the same route. Hundreds of his soldiers on the outward march were daily employed in the work of building roads for the purpose of moving forward the artillery and ammunition and supply trains. Thus was opened a highway over which hundreds of settlers from Maryland and Virginia found their way into southwestern Pennsylvania, immediately after the close of the French and Indian war, and thus was indicated much of the route of the afterward famous National road. Meanwhile, during the year of Braddock's disastrous campaign (1755), the authorities of Pennsylvania began the work of cutting out a road from Fort Loudon to the Turkey Foot or Three Forks of the Youghiogheny. It was intended by means of this road to throw forward succor and supplies to Braddock's army. But after a road had been opened nearly to the Alleghenies, the project was abandoned by reason of the strength and hostility displayed by the Indians under pay of the French. From Col. James Smith's * account, we learn that in May, 1755, three hundred men were sent out by the provincial authorities to cut out a wagon road from Fort Loudon to the Three Forks of the Youghiogheny. The advanced party of wood-choppers was in charge of William Smith, Esq. (a brother-in-law of James Smith), of Conococheague. They had passed Raystown - the site of the present town of Bedford-and completed their work to near the foot of the main range of the Alleghenies, when young Smith (James Smith was then but eighteen years of age) was sent back toward Juniata crossings with orders to hasten forward the wagons there halted. He had proceeded but a short distance however, or to a point about four miles northwest of Raystown, when he was captured by a party of Indians, and, as related in another chapter, held a prisoner by them for five years. Indeed, the Pennsylvania provincials found the woods and mountains teeming with hostile Indians, and in consequence the design was abandoned.

For three years next succeeding Braddock's defeat and death, the French, and the Indians under their control, dominated over all this part of the province. No English-speaking white settlers were permitted to remain, and for that reason no lands or roads were improved. In the summer of 1758, however, Gen. Forbes' campaign against the French and Indians at Fort Du Quesne began, and closed with the capture of that fortress and the final repulsion of the French from the limits of Pennsylvania. As a result of the movements of Forbes' army, a road sufficient for the passage of artillery and wagons was cut out by the Maryland and Virginia troops under Cols. Washington and Burd, from Fort Cumberland northward to Raystown, or Fort Bedford. During the same time, the road partly finished from Fort Loudon to Raystown by the Smith party in 1755 was still further improved, and finally a broad though rough highway was opened from Raystown westward to the "breastworks" on the top of the Allegheny mountains, thence in a general northwest course across the present county of Somerset to Ligonier, in Westmoreland county, and onward to Fort Pitt. Over this road supplies were sent forward from Philadelphia, and military detachments marched to and from Fort Pitt during the continuance of the French and Indian war. After the close of that struggle for supremacy at the head-waters of the Ohio, or during a period of many years, beginning about the year 1764, it was the only avenue by which the interior of Bedford and Somerset counties could be reached. True, it afterward became a state road, and finally a turnpike, managed by chartered corporations, but it was the same old route, nevertheless.

Until the erection of Bedford county, it is probable that the road just described was the chief, if not the only, highway worthy of the name, intersecting these counties; but after the event referred to -the organization of Bedford county, in 1771 -much attention was paid to these indispensable adjuncts of civilization- wagon roads. We will allude, in a brief manner, to a few of them: In October, 1771, a road leading "from the plantation of John Hinkston at Squirrel Hill, on the Conemaugh, via Arthur St. Clair's mill, to Ligonier," was laid out by John Hinkston, John Woods, Thomas Jamison, James Pollock and Garrett Pendergrass, viewers. At the same time a road from the town of Bedford, "separating from the Great Road, which leads from the town of Bedford to Fort Pitt, at a small distance to the westward of Smith's run; from thence extending by James Anderson's and joining the said Great Road about one mile to the westward of the Shawanese Cabin creek," was laid out by a board of viewers consisting of Thomas Kenton, George Wisegarver, William Riddle, Allen Rose and James Dalton.

In October, 1772, viewers John Nicklo, James Wells, Jr., Thomas Kenton, John Ferguson and Richard Brown laid out a road leading from the town of Bedford to the Youghiogheny river, by way of "the glades of the Youghiogheny and Stoney creek and Sewekely." A road "from the foot of Stony Batter to Daniel Royer's mill" was authorized in October, 1773, after having been viewed by William Kearney, Hugh Rankin, John McKinley, Jacob Castner, Andrew White and Bryan Coyle. A road extending from "the Maryland line to the provincial road at Bedford" was also laid out in the fall of 1773.

The road from Standing Stone (Huntingdon) to Bloody Run (Everett) was viewed and confirmed in July, 1774. In April, 1775, a road leading from John Malott's to Henry Warford's in Bethel township was confirmed. Four years later, or July 14, 1779, the road "from Bedford town to the Black Lick settlement," a distance of thirty-seven miles and fifteen perches, was confirmed, after having been viewed by Thomas Blackburn, Frederick Reichart, Matthew Taylor, William Clark, Jr., and Adam Croyle. Many other highways were laid out prior to the revolutionary war in the vast region then embraced by Bedford county, but it is not deemed necessary to follow their courses further.


Soon after the close of the revolutionary war, in response to the many prayers and urgent petitions of the inhabitants residing in the western counties of the state, the general assembly inaugurated measures to the end that a state wagon road - to follow the general direction of Forbes' road - might be speedily constructed from the Susquehanna river, through Shippensburg and Bedford to Pittsburgh. In accordance with this sentiment, on the 25th of September, 1785, the assembly passed an act authorizing the appointment of commissioners and the construction of such a highway. The work of laying out the route began soon after, and on the 24th of November, 1787, the courses and distances of the western road leading "from the widow Miller's spring through Shippensburg as far as the town of Bedford" were confirmed by the supreme executive council.

One month later, or on Saturday, December 22, 1787, the following proceedings took place in the council:

WHEREAS, Divers inhabitants of the county of Bedford have prayed that the State highway appointed by act of Assembly of the 25th of September, 1785, may be confirmed and made good;

And whereas, the money appropriated by the said Act of Assembly is insufficient for making the said road sixty feet wide as the law directs, and Council being desirous of complying with the said request as far as the money appropriated will admit: Therefore,

Ordered, That such part of the said road as leads from this side of Sideling Hill to the opposite side of Ray's Hill, in the County of Bedford, be cleared and made good and sufficient, to be twelve feet wide on the sides of the hills or among the rocks, and not less than twenty feet wide on the other ground, and room to be made for not less than three wagons to draw off to one side in the narrow places at a convenient distance for others to pass by, and the waters to run next to the hill sides.

At the same time it was made public that proposals for doing the said work would be received until the 1st of April, 1788.

On March 14, 1789, the supreme executive council of the state resolved that Alexander McLean, of Fayette county; James Guthrie, of Westmoreland county, and John Skinner, of Franklin county, be appointed commissioners "to view and mark out" the "Western Road," leading from Bedford to Pittsburgh. This was done in accordance with a resolution of the general assembly passed November 21, 1788. Mr. McLean began his labors alone on December 3, 1789, and he soon ascertained, by measuring northward from the 158th mile post, "that Bedford town laid 19 miles and 290 perches north of Mason and Dixon's line."

During the succeeding year (all of the members of the board of commissioners engaging in the work) the route was surveyed through to Pittsburgh. The report of the commissioners, describing the courses and distances, was approved by the executive council on Tuesday, September 28, 1790. It was traversed by Gen. Lee's army during the whisky insurrection in 1794, and, known as the old "Pennsylvania Road," it served as the best means of communicating between the eastern and western portions of the state until after the close of the war of 1812-15, when the era of turnpike-building began. The same general direction across the state was still maintained in constructing the turnpikes, but the route was shortened at many points and the mountain tops gained by less abrupt gradients.


In November, 1795, the county commissioners of Bedford county resolved to rebuild "the three bridges near Bedford town "- two over the Raystown branch of the Juniata and one over Dunning's creek. Also to build a new bridge over the Raystown branch "near Thomas Kenton's, on the Glade road." For such purposes $6,000 were ordered to be levied and collected the following year. Work upon these bridges was not commenced until 1797, when the commissioners contracted with John Knisely to build a bridge and causeway over the Raystown branch at his mill, west of Bedford, for £550; with Robert Spencer to construct a bridge and causeway over Dunning's creek "where the state road passes over the same east of Bedford," for £650, and for small bridges and approaches near the same, £350; with William Anderson and Robert Small for a bridge over the Raystown branch "east of Bedford, where the state road passes the same," for £500. These bridges were built, in a very substantial manner, of stone, oak and iron, and all were completed before the year 1800.


"An Act to Regulate the Laying Out and Making a Road from Cumberland, in the State of Maryland, to the State of Ohio" was passed by the senate of the United States on the 30th day of December, 1805. It was then debated and passed in the house of representatives, and became a law March 29, 1806. The commissioners appointed by the president under this act to designate the route of the proposed road were Col. Eli Williams (a revolutionary officer whose home was at Williamsport, Maryland), Thomas Moore, of Maryland, and Joseph Kerr, of Ohio, who, after an examination of the country, made their first report in the latter part of 1806, which was presented to congress, with the message of President Jefferson, January 31, 1807. In a special message to congress, February 19, 1808, referring to the report of the commissioners, he said:

I have approved of the route ** therein proposed for the said road as far as Brownsville, with a single deviation, since located, which carries it through Uniontown. From thence, the course to the Ohio and the point within the legal limits at which it shall strike that river is still to be decided.

In 1811 congress passed an act appropriating $50,000 with which to begin the work of construction. The first contracts, in sections, for the first ten miles from Cumberland, were made April 16 and May 8, 1811. These were finished in the autumn of 1812. The next letting was of eleven miles more, to Tomlinson's, in August, 1812, which were nearly completed in 1814. From Tomlinson's to Smithfield, eighteen miles were let in August, 1813, but not finished until 1817, owing to the scarcity of laborers during the war, war prices and the fear of failure of some of the contractors. The next letting was of about six and a half miles west of Smithfield in September, 1815, in sections, to John Hagan, Doherty, McGlaughlin and Bradley, William Aull and Evans and Ramsay. In February, 1817, about five miles more were let (taking the road to Braddock's grave) to Ramsay and McGarvey, John Boyle, D. McGlaughlin and Bradley and Charles McKinney. And in May, 1817, it was let about nine miles farther, to Uniontown, to Hagan and McCann, Mordecai and James Cochran, Thompson McKean and Thomas and Mathew Blakeley.

Having shown the date of its construction, and by whom, from Cumberland to Uniontown, it is not deemed necessary to follow its course and to mention its builders, etc., further. Suffice it to say, then, that the road was open for travel with scarcely a break (except some heavy masonry) from Cumberland to Uniontown in the summer of 1817. On August 1, 1818, the first stage-coach from Cumberland, carrying the United States mail for the west, left that place by the National road, and passing over the completed as well as unfinished portions, arrived at Wheeling, on the Ohio, in due time. The portion of the road last finished was that part lying between Uniontown and Brownsville, which was completed and made ready for use in the fall of 1820. On the 19th of December, 1820, the Genius of Liberty of Uniontown announced in its columns:

The National turnpike is now completed and in the use of the public from Cumberland in the State of Maryland, to Wheeling in the State of Virginia, a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles.

When completed the road had cost the United States government nearly $1,700,000, and it was one of the best and most substantial turnpike roads ever built in this country. A main thoroughfare between the East and the West, it was to be expected that an immense amount of travel would be attracted to it; but all the expectations which could have been previously entertained of the vast volume of travel and traffic which would pass over the National road between the Ohio and the Potomac were trebly verified by the result. There were the stagecoaches carrying the mail and passengers, loaded to their utmost capacity from the first, and constantly increasing in number from that time until the opening of the railroads banished them forever. By these conveyances all the prominent public men of the West, and many of those from the South - presidents-elect from Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana, on their way to inauguration; presidents-in-office passing to and fro between the city of Washington and their southwestern homes; ex-presidents on their way to the shades of private life; senators, members of congress, and numberless officials of lesser grade -all made the National road their highway to and from the National capital Then, too, there were the long, almost interminable trains of Conestoga wagons, laden on their eastward trips with flour, whisky, bacon and other produce, and returning west with loads of iron, salt and every kind of merchandise, their numbers being swelled on the return to the West by the addition of equally numerous trains of the same kind of wagons, freighted with the families and household effects of emigrants from the East, bound to new homes beyond the Ohio. Besides these, the road was crowded with various other kinds and descriptions of wagons, laden and unladen, with horsemen and private conveyances innumerable. "But the passengers on foot outnumbered and outate them all. The long lines of hogs, cattle, sheep and horses, working their way on the hoof by the month to an Eastern market, was almost endless and countless. They were gathered in from the Wabash, the Scioto, the Muskingum and the Ohio valleys, and the men, all tired and dry and hungry, had to be cared for at a great cost, for it was like feeding an army every day and night."

To furnish food and other accommodations for all this vast throng of travelers, brute and human, a great number of public-houses were needed, and these sprang up immediately along the road. The large stage-houses were located in the towns, and at stated points between the villages where these were distant from each other. Then there were houses which did scarcely any business other than the selling of whisky to thirsty wayfarers. And there were along the route numerous taverns which made no specialty other than entertainment for man and beast. These had no patronage either from the stage passengers or wagoners upon the road. The latter, with the drovers, always clustered together at houses having large wagon-yards and kept especially for that class of customers. In fact the number of public-houses of all kinds, which the National road brought into existence, was fully equal to one for each two miles of its entire length. It was said that in the mountain portion of the route the average was one to every mile. The keepers *** of these houses, like the wagoners and drivers of stages, and, in fact, like the greater part of the people living along the route, looked upon the Cumberland road as being among the chiefest of earthly blessings, and would have regarded with affright the idea that it would ever be abandoned or superseded by other avenues and modes of travel.

However, after only about five years of the ceaseless beating of hoofs and the never-ending roll and crunch of heavy wheels, the solid load-bed, in many places, became well-nigh impassable. Particularly was this the case in the vicinity of the Monongahela river, and in the mountain region of the route, where much of the road had been formed of soft sandstone. Repairs were imperatively demanded, and it at once became evident that the road would be a perpetual and ever-increasing expense to the general government without producing any income to pay for repairs. Hence, under Jackson's administration, it was proposed that the road should be surrendered to the three states through whose domains it passed. Finally the state authorities of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia agreed to accept the road providing the United States authorities should place it in good condition by macadamizing the roadway in nearly its entire length from Cumberland to Wheeling. On the 4th of April, 1831, an act of the Pennsylvania legislature, entitled "An Act for the Preservation and Repair of the Cumberland Road," was approved, and similar acts were passed by the legislatures of Maryland and Virginia, respectively, on the 23d of January and 7th of February, 1832. These acts of the three states caused a decision by the government in July, 1832, to repair the road effectually from end to end, and then to cede it to the states mentioned, after which the repairs were to be met by the tolls collected upon it. After the government had expended about half a million dollars in repairs, that part of the road passing through Pennsylvania was accepted by the latter state, by the approval of an act (April 1, 1835), the third section of which declared that "the surrender by the United States of so much of the Cumberland road as lies within the State of Pennsylvania is hereby accepted by this state and the commissioners to be appointed under this act are authorized to erect toll-gates on the whole or any part of said road, at such time as they may deem it expedient and proper to do so."

The erection of toll-gates in 1835, by the state commissioners, had the effect to clear the road almost entirely of the immense droves of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs which had passed over it while it was a free thoroughfare. But through the mountains there was no other route, and so the drovers were compelled to use that part of the road and pay the tolls. The new system also brought into use upon this road very heavily built wagons, with wheels nine inches broad, drawn by six and sometimes by eight horses. Wagons having wheels of this breadth of tire or rim, and carrying loads not exceeding five tons weight, were allowed to pass on a much less (proportionate) rate of toll than was charged for narrow-wheeled wagons, which were far more destructive to the road-bed. "I have frequently seen," says a former resident (4*) on the line of the Cumberland road, "from forty to fifty great Conestoga six-horse teams, carrying from five to six tons each, picketed around over night in the yards and on the commons, and all the other taverns about equally full at the same time. There were often two men with a team, who carried their own bedding, but all these men and horses had to be fed and cared for."

As early as 1835, Alvin Adams (founder of the "Adams Express Company"), together with one or two other oyster dealers, of Baltimore, Maryland, began running over this road a line of wagons. They were started with the chief purpose of supplying the western country with fresh oysters. Soon afterward it became a regular express, not only continuing the oyster traffic, but carrying packages, and prosecuting a business similar to that of the express lines of the present day. They ran express wagons, each drawn by four horses, and having relays of teams at stations ten or twelve miles apart, and the business was continued in this way on the road until the opening of the Pennsylvania railroad.

In 1844, when the Baltimore & Ohio railroad was completed as far west as Cumberland, the business of the National road, great as it had previously been, was largely increased on account of the easy eastern connections thus formed. During the succeeding period of eight years it was frequently the case that twenty-five stages, each containing its full complement of nine inside and a number of outside passengers, "pulled out" at the same time from Wheeling, and the same was true of the eastern terminus at Cumberland. The lines ran daily each way, and it was sometimes the case that thirty stages, all fully loaded with passengers, stopped at one hotel in a single day.

During the year 1850 (the Monongahela Navigation Company having completed its slack-water improvements to Brownsville in 1844) the stage-lines on the National road carried over eighteen thousand passengers to and from the Monongahela river steamboats and Cumberland, and the number so carried had been considerably larger than this in each of the three preceding years. But the glory of the great thoroughfare was then nearing its close. Another year of prosperity followed, but from the opening of the Pennsylvania railroad to Pittsburgh, in 1852, and the completion of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad to Wheeling, in December of the same year, the business of the National road suddenly and rapidly declined; travelers to and from the West were diverted to the new routes and easier mode of conveyance, and extra passenger coaches were no longer needed; finally, the western mails were sent by the other routes, and the stages were withdrawn from this, the rumble of the broad-wheeled freight wagons was gradually silenced along the rock-laid road-bed, and by rapid degrees the famous National highway lost its importance and became, as it is today, merely and only an avenue of local travel.


On April 9, 1792, the first turnpike company was incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania. It was known as the "Philadelphia and Lancaster Company." Others followed during subsequent years, but it was not until about 1814-21 that turnpike-building became general, or largely engaged the attention of the public mind. The "Chambersburg and Bedford Turnpike Road Company," the "Bedford and Stoystown Turnpike Road Company," the "Stoystown and Greensburg Turnpike Road Company," and the "Bedford and Hollidaysburg Turnpike Road Company," were the corporate titles of companies in which the people of these counties were most deeply interested, although the latter was not authorized until April 14, 1838. During the early years the state became a large subscriber to the stock of various turnpike companies, for the reason that the impression prevailed that the public treasury should aid in making improvements designed for the public benefit. Thus the Chambersburg and Bedford road received from the state the sum of $175,000. The commonwealth received in return but few and very small dividends on its investments, and a little more than thirty years ago these stocks were sold by the state treasurer at from fifty cents to a dollar per share. The roads, however, remain. They have been of vast benefit to the people and materially assisted to develop the regions through which they passed.

What has been said regarding the traffic and travel carried on over the National road can with equal propriety be applied to the great interstate route of which the Chambersburg and Bedford, and Bedford and Stoystown corporations formed a part. Taverns and inns stood at frequent intervals, and daily lines of stagecoaches afforded traveling facilities for thousands yearly. About 1830, the route from Bedford, westward by way of Somerset over the Glade Road, (5*) became a favorite one with many travelers. The journey between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was accomplished in less time; besides, Somerset, even then, was widely known for its excellent hotels. On December 31, 1830, the following editorial notice appeared in the columns of the Bedford Enquirer.- "In the course of a few days a line of stages will be placed on the route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh by way of Somerset, to run through in three days. The proprietors are Messrs. Reeside (A.J.) & Slaymaker. Ten of their stages, which are very splendid and do great credit to the proprietors, have already passed through this place to their several stations." However, with the completion of the Pennsylvania railroad on the north and the Baltimore & Ohio railroad on the south, the business of the stage proprietors was abruptly terminated. Hence, generations now frequent the scenes of former triumphs and defeats in the way of Concord stage-coaching who have never witnessed, nor can they form an adequate idea of, the commotion which was caused in all stage towns on this route forty years ago by the arrival or departure of half a dozen coaches of rival lines, with horns blowing, streamers flying, and horses on the full run.


The railroad companies now operating lines within these counties are the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania and the Huntingdon & Broad Top, though the first and last named are controlling roads which were constructed by other corporations under various names.

Of the companies mentioned, the Baltimore & Ohio was the first corporation to make an actual movement toward the construction of a railway line through this region. That company having been incorporated by the legislature of Maryland, in December, 1826, applied to the general assembly of Pennsylvania for authority to construct their road through this state to or toward a terminus on the Ohio. To this petition the assembly responded by the passage of "An Act to Authorize the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company to Construct a Railroad through Pennsylvania, in a Direction from Baltimore to the Ohio River." The company was required to complete its road in Pennsylvania within fifteen years from the passage of the act, otherwise the act to be void and of no effect.

The time when the company commenced making surveys in Pennsylvania under authority of this act is not known, but the fact that the engineers of the Baltimore & Ohio company were engaged in preliminary surveys in the region embraced by Somerset county as early as 1835, for the purpose of securing a line of communication through to Pittsburgh, or other points on the Ohio, is substantiated by the newspapers of that day. Enthusiastic railroad meetings were held at various points, and the chief engineer of the company reported that a railroad could be built from Cumberland to Brownsville, and thence to Wheeling and Pittsburgh, "without the use of any inclined plane." Other accounts also show that the preparations of the Baltimore & Ohio Company for the construction of a railroad through Somerset and other counties to the westward embraced not only the making of elaborate surveys, but also the purchase of the right of way from a great number of land-owners in the year 1838. At that time, however, the attention of the company was almost wholly engaged, and their funds absorbed, in the construction of their road between Baltimore and Cumberland, and as it had become apparent that they could not complete the Pennsylvania part of the road within the required time of fifteen years from the passage of the act of 1828, they asked an extension, which was granted by the legislature of Pennsylvania in a supplemental act, approved June 20, 1839, by the provisions of which the time in which the company were required to finish their road or roads in Pennsylvania was extended four years, or to February 27, 1847.

In 1844, when the company had completed their road westward to Cumberland, there remained less than three years in which to construct the part lying in Pennsylvania, under the requirements of the supplemental act of 1839. A further extension of time was necessary, and was applied for to the Pennsylvania assembly; but, meanwhile, the Pennsylvania railroad was being pushed westward to cross the Alleghenies and make Pittsburgh its western terminus, and now the business men, manufacturers and people of influence in that city, who in 1828 and 1839 were ready to do all in their power to secure a railroad, even if it were but a branch from a main line, from the seaboard to Wheeling, were now, in view of the prospective direct connection with Philadelphia by the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, entirely favorable to the latter road, and as wholly opposed to the support of a competing line, commencing at the Maryland metropolis, and to have its western terminus, not at Pittsburgh, but at the rival city of Wheeling.

The Baltimore & Ohio company also had to encounter the determined opposition of the inhabitants of the country through which their railroad was to pass. This strong opposition arose chiefly from the belief that the proposed railroad would supersede and ruin the National road, and consequently ruin themselves and the country. Hence all this contrariety of opinion, added to the combined influence of the city of Pittsburgh and of the Pennsylvania railroad, proved too powerful for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company to overcome in the assembly of this state; and so that company, after repeated attempts to obtain a further extension of time for building their road through Pennsylvania, found themselves compelled to abandon the enterprise and complete their road from Cumberland to Wheeling through the State of Virginia. Years afterward, however, they accomplished one of the principal objects they then had in view (the extension of their line to Pittsburgh) by leasing roads already built by companies holding charters from Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh & Connellsville Railroad Company was the first to open a line of railway within any part of Somerset county. It was incorporated by an act of the general assembly approved April 3, 1837. The company was duly organized, but not having complied with the requirements of the act of incorporation - commencing the work of construction within five years from the passage of the act - their franchises were forfeited; but on March 18, 1843, an act was passed, renewing, extending and continuing in force the charter of 1837, upon the same terms, conditions and limitations as were embraced in the original act, and also making the additional provision, "that the said company shall have power and discretion to select any route from Pittsburgh to Turtle Creek, which may be deemed most eligible and advantageous, and may extend said road beyond Connellsville to Smithfield, or any other point on the waters of the Youghiogheny and within the limits of this commonwealth." The clause authorizing the extension of the road from Connellsville to the Maryland line was repealed the next day after its passage, but was re-enacted April 3, 1846.

The Maryland legislature, by an act approved April 21, 1853, granted the company authority to extend their road from the state line to Cumberland. On April 6, 1854, another act was passed, authorizing the Uniontown & Waynesburg Railroad Company (chartered April 18, 1853) to transfer all its rights, etc., to this company, and they were accordingly so transferred.

Early in the spring of 1854, the chief engineer of the road, Oliver W. Barnes, submitted to the president and directors a report on the several proposed routes, whereupon the board adopted "the line occupying the north bank of the Youghiogheny river from a point at or near the borough of West Newton, in Westmoreland county, to a point at or near the borough of Connellsville, in Fayette county, as the final location for the construction of that portion of the road." Southward from Connellsville the route adopted was on the same side of the Youghiogheny to Turkey-Foot, and thence along Castleman's river and Wills' creek (embracing a great tunnel at Sand Patch), through Somerset county to the Maryland line.

For purposes of construction and convenience the road was divided into five divisions as follows:


No. 1.-Pittsburgh to West Newton………………32

No. 2.-West Newton to Connellsvi11e…………..25

No. 3.-Connellsville to Turkey-Foot……………..30

No. 4.-Turkey-Foot to Summit…………………..29

No. 5.-Summit to Cumberland…………………..31

During the year 1854, work was commenced upon division No. 2, and the Sand Patch tunnel. Upon division No. 2, because as a starting-point it was easy of access by river in furnishing men, material and provisions from the city of Pittsburgh, and when completed would materially accelerate the extension of the work to its western terminus; upon the tunnel, for the reason that the heavy character of the work there demanded that it should be put under contract simultaneously with the first work, to secure its completion within the period allotted for the entire line. The road was opened from West Newton to Connellsville in 1855, but beyond the latter place the amount of work done was small, only $9,674.22 having been expended on division No.3 prior to December 1,1854, and for a number of years after the opening of the road to Connellsville very little was done on the line southward and eastward from that point. Strong opposition to the road was developed among the people living along that part of the route, their principal argument against it being that the opening of a railroad through that section would ruin the traffic on the old National road, which latter appeared to be regarded by them as paramount in importance to the securing of railroad facilities.

At last, on the 29th of April, 1864, the legislature of Pennsylvania, for various reasons set forth, passed an act revoking all the rights, powers, franchises and privileges of the Pittsburgh & Connellsville Railroad Company, but providing that all the outlay and expenditure already made by the company on the line south and east of Connellsville should be reimbursed by any other company which might be empowered to complete the construction of that portion of the line. On the same day on which this repeal was passed, the general assembly also passed an act incorporating the "Connellsville & Southern Railway Company," with power to construct a railway from Connellsville to the Maryland state line.

The new company, however, did not comply with the requirements of the act as to the commencement and completion of the line. Meanwhile, legal measures were taken on behalf of the old company to secure a restoration of their charter for the line south and east of Connellsville, and this was finally accomplished by the passage of an act January 31, 1868, repealing the act of April 29, 1864. Thus was the company reinstated in the possession of its original powers and franchises, as to the line from Connellsville to the Maryland boundary, but it was required to commence the work of construction within six months, and to complete it within three years from the passage of the act. Another act was passed April 1, in the same year, authorizing, the Pittsburgh & Connellsville Railroad Company to construct branch roads, for the development of contiguous regions of country, from any point or points on their main line.

The work of construction was now pushed vigorously to completion. In February, 1871, the road from Connellsville to Falls City was finished, and trains ran regularly between those points on and after the 20th of that month. As early as the 23d of the same month trains were announced to be running on schedule time from Sand Patch to Cumberland. At about three o'clock in the afternoon of Monday, April 10, 1871, the track was finished between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, by the laying of the last rail, at a point where the track-layers from both directions met, near Forge Bridge, three miles west of Mineral Point in Somerset county. Immediately after, a passenger train from Pittsburgh took aboard all present and started directly to Cumberland, which place was reached about dark. The road is now operated as a part of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, having been leased by that company in December, 1875.

The Berlin Branch railroad, eight and one-fourth miles in length, extending from Garrett on the Baltimore & Ohio road to Berlin, was built in 1871 by the Buffalo Valley Railroad Company. The company was composed of citizens of Berlin and property-holders living along the route of the road. The branch is now owned and operated by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.

The Ursina Branch railroad, four and one-quarter miles in length, was built in 1871-2 by the Pittsburgh & Baltimore Coal, Coke and Iron Company, for the purpose of developing the coal and timber resources along its line. The road was in operation about three years. The panic caused it to be abandoned. It has since been sold, and the rails have been taken up.

The Salisbury railroad, twelve miles in length, from Salisbury Junction to Salisbury, was commenced and graded by the Salisbury & Baltimore Railroad and Coal Company. In 1875 it was bought at sheriff's sale for $75,000 by Col. E.D. Yutzy and Noah Scott, of Ursina, who completed the greater portion of the road and operated it for two years under the name of the Salisbury Railroad Company. They then sold out to a private company of prominent railroad men, who in turn disposed of the road to the Baltimore & Ohio company. The business of the road is mainly dependent upon mining and lumbering.

Meanwhile the Somerset & Mineral Point railroad, connecting the county seat of Somerset county with the Pittsburgh & Connellsville railroad at Rockwood, was built by the people of the town of Somerset and others along the line. It proved to be a convenient and favorite route of travel with the general public, but like many other enterprises of this kind throughout the country, a non-paying investment on the part of its original owners. During the past five years the Johnstown & Somerset railroad, connecting the towns thus indicated, has been completed along the valley of Stony creek. This, with the Somerset & Mineral Point road, forms a continuous line from Rockwood, by the way of Somerset and Stoystown, to Johnstown, on the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, and, operated by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, is now known as the Somerset & Cambria branch.

The Huntingdon & Broad Top railroad, the first railway line to penetrate the confines of Bedford county, was completed to Hopewell, in September, 1860, but did not reach Mt. Dallas, its southern terminus, until sometime after the close of the late war. It branches off from the Pennsylvania railroad at Huntingdon and follows up the valley of the Raystown branch of the Juniata to Mt. Dallas, a station one mile west of the thriving town of Everett. The road was built by eastern capitalists for the purpose of opening the immense coal deposits of the Broad Top region. About thirty-two miles of the road-bed lies in Bedford county. Three branches from the main line - Shoup's Run, Six Mile Run and Sandy Run -lead to the various coal-fields now opened in the Broad Top district.

The Bedford & Bridgeport railroad was, from its inception, a Bedford county enterprise It also reflects great credit upon all who were instrumental in its construction, for it was the link by which an important, though to that time isolated, locality was connected with the great markets reached by the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio railroad systems. Connecting with the Huntingdon & Broad Top railroad at Mt. Dallas, it follows up the Raystown branch to Bedford, thence through Bedford, Napier and Harrison townships, to Mt. Savage Junction in Londonderry township, thus effecting a connection with the Baltimore & Ohio railroad and the great Cumberland coal-fields. The road is thirty-nine miles in length. Hon. John Cessna, of Bedford, has served as president of the company since 1870, though for several years the road has been leased and operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

The Dunning's Creek railroad branches off from the Bedford & Bridgeport railroad at Bedford and follows up the stream from which it derives its name, to Cessna station, a distance of about nine miles. By means of it the extensive iron ore deposits owned by Hon. John Cessna, John W. Lingenfelter, Esq., and others are rendered valuable as well as accessible.



Waggoners, travellers and the Publick in general, are now informed, that the two mountains, the Allegheny and Laurel-Hill are now completely turnpiked, five miles at the Allegheny and seven miles at the Laurel-Hill, the latter is the best road, without exception, of any road yet made over that mountain. This road branches off to the left, four miles west of Bedford, where five miles are now nearly completed, from thence for fourteen miles along the Dry-ridge is superior to any Turnpike for Waggons, Horse-men or Carriages, and the road on to Somerset and westward to Pittsburg and Washington, is now so well improved that it can be travelled with more ease both to the horse and to the rider, than any other road across the Mountains. - There are many good houses on this road, among which are the following, where a good and plentiful accommodation can at all times be had, viz.:

Miles. Miles.

From the forks of the road to the two taverns 4 to Heiple's 4

to Metzger's 5 to Somerset 1

to Statler's 4 to Musgrave's 4

to Job's 3 to Brugh's 1

to Imhoff's 2 to Grindle's 2

to White horse 1 to Big Spring 4

to Gebhart's 5 to Beymer's 1

to Cooper's 1 to Berkey's 1

to Will's 3 to Jones's Mill 4

to Thompson's 6


Somerset, 24th Aug., 1820.

The Editors of the Newspapers in Bedford and Chambersburg, are requested to give the above one or two insertions.


* The Col. James Smith Of "Black Boy" fame. See chapter seventh.

** Just prior to the passage of the act regulating the laying out and making a National road, various citizens of the southwestern counties of Pennsylvania (among whom were Thomas Spencer, Abraham Morrison, James Mitchell and John MeClean, of Somerset county) had secured the passage of a state legislative act, incorporating a stock company, for the purpose of 'making an artificial road from the western side of Laurel Hill, near Uniontown, to the State line, in a direction toward Cumberland in the State of Maryland'. The company was empowered to erect toll-gates and collect toll on the road, the work to be commenced within six years, and completed within ten years from the date of the act, under penalty of forfeiture of its franchises, and the state to nave the right of taking the road at any time after 1830 by reimbursing to the company the cost of its construction. But the act of congress passed soon afterward, providing for the construction of the National road, caused the abandonment of the project for constructing the "Union and Cumberland Turnpike."

Another proposed turnpike route was known as the "Harrisburg and Pittsburgh." The road to extend from the Susquehanna river opposite Harrisburg through Bedford and Somerset counties to Pittsburgh. In the spring of 1806, George Kimmel, Abraham Morrison, Peter Kimmel and John Shull, of5omerset county, and John Davis, John Anderson, Jacob Bonnelt and Henry Wertz, Jr., of Bedford county, were appointed'~by the governor as commissioners to superintend the work of surveying and constructing the road, but it seems that the project miscarried and was abandoned.

*** The keepers of many of these houses likewise gained many ill-gotten dollars by apprehending and returning to slavery negroes fleeing northward from cruel masters.

(4*) A.L Littell, Esq., formerly of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, but now of Cleveland, Ohio

(5*) This road was improved and called the "Glade Road Turnpike" as early as 1820, as witness the following copy of a notice which was published in "The Somerset Whig" at the time indicated.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 171-181, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties

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