Aldrich History Project

Chapter XI

Lumber and Roads

The Lumbering Interests -- Rafting and Floating -- Turnpike and Road Companies -- Railroads of the County

The lumbering interests of the past have borne about the same important relation to the welfare and prosperity of Clearfield county, as do the coal producing interests of the present; and looking back three-quarters of a century, who of those pioneers would for a moment think that the complete devastation of the seemingly boundless forests could be accomplished in so brief a time? In the infant days of this region, lumbering was a necessity. Throughout the whole extent of the original territory embraced by this county, and even far beyond it, there was but one cleared tract, comprising a few acres of land where the county seat now stands. To make a settlement and improvement by the pioneer meant the clearing up of the woodlands, and required long and untiring labor before a sufficient area could be improved to supply the necessary products for a frugal family.

It was then that lumbering commenced -- not that lumber was then a commodity sufficiently valuable to place in market, but that the land might be cleared for agricultural pursuits.

The first work in the forests in the production of logs and lumber as a business was commenced soon after the year 1820, and as at that day and in years following, rafting was an indispensable auxiliary to lumbering, the two will be treated as a common head.

The early history of this county shows that Daniel Ogden and Frederick Haney had each built mills prior to 1805. Soon after Daniel Turner erected one on Clearfield Creek, and in 1808, Robert Maxwell had built a mill near Curwensville, and William Kersey another, at the Kersey settlement. The mill of James and Samuel Ardery was soon after built near the old Clearfield bridge. These men had built the several mills to supply the demands of residents in this locality.

David Litz ran a small log raft down Clearfield Creek as early as the year 1805, but this was for the purpose of erecting a log house in the county.

Among the first persons who commenced manufacturing lumber for the market down the river was one Shepherd, who began operations on the Sinnamahoning, in the (then) northern part of the county, but lately in Cameron county, about the year 1822. He had a mill erected and manufactured some lumber, but he rafted mainly square or hewed timber. Shepherd married after coming to the creek, and lived there many years.

"Buck" Claflin came to the Sinnamahoning lumber district between 1825 and 1830, and operated extensively. He kept a store there at the same time for the accommodation of his employees and the permanent residents of the county.

Soon after Claflin, and prior to 1830, the Colemans were extensive operators in that locality.

The Johnsons operated further up and had a mill on Bennet's Branch, in Gibson township, now set off to Elk County. Winslow and Shaffer operated in the same locality, the latter on a small scale. Of the Winslows, there were three brothers -- Rueben, Eben, and Carpenter.

The above mentioned persons, it will be seen, operated mostly along the stream known as the Sinnamahoning Creek; in fact it seems that the business of lumbering commenced down the river nearer the market, and, as the lands were taken up or stripped of their valuable timber, the newer operators were compelled to but tracts farther up the several streams. Timber was so plenty at that time that no thought was entertained of getting far from a stream sufficiently large to navigate a raft. The modern inventions of "tram-roads" and "slides" were unnecessary and unprofitable.

About the year 1832, and soon after, the lands were nearly all taken from Karthaus to the Cherry Tree, the borders of the river being the greatest field of operations.

The reader will understand that the object of the operator was to get his rafts to market as quickly as possible, and for that reason only a small quantity of sawed or manufactured lumber was rafted. Log floating was not indulged in till about 1857 or '8.

From 1830 to 1840 we find names of several who operated extensively, many of whom have become permanent residents of the county.

John and William Irvin lumbered on lands about Curwensville. John Patchin located at Patchinville, and made that vicinity the base of operations, although he had and worked other tracts on Clearfield Creek and in the neighborhood of Frenchville.

Judge Richard Shaw located near Clearfield, where he had a large tract of timber. He also operated near where Shawsville now stands.

Alexander Irvin also commenced near Clearfield. Matthew Irvin located in Burnside township, and David Irvin at Luthersburg. The Irvins were brothers. Matthew was not an extensive operator, but his sons followed the business extensively.

Graham & Wright were large operators in Graham township.

Fitch & Boynton came to the county in 1835. They had some timber lands, but dealt mainly in worked timber, buying and rafting to market.

Ellis and William Irwin operated in the vicinity of Clearfield town as early as 1837.

Bigler & Powell commenced about 1834, and made Clearfield the base of operations although they had lands at Frenchville and elsewhere. Mr. Bigler became governor of the State in 1851. Mr. Powell is a merchant of Clearfield.

A.B. Waller located in Cherry Tree, in the upper end of the county. He was from Washington, D.C. and operated largely for several years.

At about this time Stewart & Owens cleared a large tract on Clearfield Creek near Glen Hope.

James Forest operated on the creek further down, and resided at Clearfield bridge.

John M. Chase commenced about the same time, and has followed the business to the present time.

The principal marketing points for lumber cut in the region during these years was at Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Marietta, where the large buyers from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, and other large cities east and south, came to make their purchases.

For the next twenty years lumbering appears to have been the chief occupation of nearly every resident land owner of the county. Agriculture became a neglected pursuit, and the farmer looked to the accumulation of a fortune in the lumber business. Expenses were great, and during the excitement of the time, future contingencies were not provided for.

The legitimate and certain result of the neglect in improving the lands as they were cleared proved disastrous in very many cases. Hoped for fortunes were not realized, and when farming was resumed the lands were found to be exceedingly poor and difficult of cultivation. By years of labor and expense the farms were brought into a fair producing state. While this is true, as a general rule, there were of course exceptions in various localities, and there were just as good farms in some townships twenty-five years ago as there are to-day.

Among the many who came to the county to engage in this business about the year 1840, and from that time to 1850, was John Du Bois, a native of New York. He operated first on the Sinnamahoning, but made headquarters at Williamsport. Mr. Du Bois afterward became one of the most enterprising men in the county, and did much for its substantial benefit. He founded and built up the borough of Du Bois, erected a lumber manufactory there, among the largest in the State, and engaged in extensive business enterprises that will live for generations a substantial monument to his memory.

John G. Redding & Co., of Williamsport, began lumbering on the Sinnamahoning about 1844. The firm had a large tract and did an extensive business.

Perks & Bowman had and operated a large tract on the Moshannon. Mr. Perks died, but the business was continued by his partner, who still operates there, although residing at Williamsport.

Craig & Blanchard were heavy producers on the Sinnamahoning. In the firm there were three brothers, Blanchard, who lived on the tract. Mr. Craig was a resident of Wilminton, Del.

Christ & Long had a tract on the creek comprising about fifteen or twenty thousand acres. They were large dealers besides. Their lumber was rafted rough to Lock Haven, where they had saw-mills.

John F. Weaver became a member of the firm of Bigler & Powell in 1847, after which the firm name was changed to Bigler & Co. Their field operations lay in the vicinity of Clearfield, about Bald Hill, in Bell township, and on Clearfield Creek. After Mr. Bigler was elected governor, in 1851, his interest was sold to George L. Reed, and the firm became G. L. Reed & Co. The firm of Weaver & Betts was formed in 1869.

John Patton commenced lumbering near Curwensville about 1847 or 1848.

The Dodge tract, on the Sinnamahoning, was opened about the same time by their agent, Mr. Sacketts, a New Yorker. John Brooks, Levi Lutz, Warner, Major Andrews, and Judge Gillis, commenced about the same time. John Brooks came in soon after 1850. He was a large operator. At one time he was elected to the Legislature.

In 1857 a new system was introduced. Instead of rafting, as was the previous practice, some operators began floating their logs to Williamsport, where the river had been boomed to receive them. This deprived the rafters of their means of livelihood, and they organized to prevent any such innovation. An armed party of rafters attacked and drove the floaters from Clearfield Creek, after which the system of floating was abandoned on the waters of the creek, although it continued elsewhere. The attacking party of rafters were arrested and convicted of riotous conduct, but their attack had a wholesome effect in breaking up the floaters' organization in that vicinity.

The lumbering business reached its maximum about this time, and any attempt to enumerate the entire list of those engaged in that occupation would be incomplete and useless. There were many small operators who ran from two to ten rafts each season, but by far the greater number of these were sold to dealers, and by them rafted to the markets.

From the year 1859 to the present time there may be mentioned the names of some extensive operators in the various localities not heretofore referred to, and besides these many of those already named continued to the present, or until a very recent date. In Karthaus there may be recalled D.B. Hall, John Gilliland, Samuel Gilliland, Dr. J.W. Potter, I.C. McCloskey, and others. The Gillilands, with D.B. Hall, constituted the firm of D.B. Hall & Co.

In Covington, on the river, were L.M. Coudriet, Augustus and Alphonso Leconte. Augustus Leconte built a mill in Girard in 1842, and afterward lived there. Judge Lamm was on Deer Creek, in Girard.

Thomas H. Forcey succeded Graham & Wright across in Graham township.

In Cooper there were Joseph C. Brenner, and Leonard Kyler.

In Girard, Alexander, William, and Anderson Murray, James Irvin, Robert Stewart, and Gillingham and Garrison.

In Bradford, William, George, and Henry Alberts, under the firm name of Alberts Bros. They had headquarters at Woodland.

In Goshen, A.B. Shaw, Walton Dwight, and Phelps & Dodge. The latter had large tracts throughout the northern part of the county, and were very large operators.

In Lawrence were Ellis Irwin & Son, and they still operate on Lick Run; Joseph Shaw, and William Mapes.

In Pike, E.A. Irvin, D.W. Irvin, Isaac B. Norris, N.E. & Samuel Arnold, John Irvin & Bros. The latter are also interested on Anderson Creek. On this creek were also John Du Bois, Paul, George, and John Merrell, and Blanchard Bros.

At Lumber City, and in Penn township, the Kirks, Fergusons, G.H. Little, and Joseph Hagerty. At Belleville were the Bell Brothers, and at Lewisville in the same township (Greenwood), the present firm of Leavey, Mitchell & Co. In Bell, the Mahaffeys, Robert, William, and Frank, the McGees, and Elias Henderson.

In Burnside township, at New Washington, Burnside, and other points were John M. Cummings, McMurrays, Mahaffeys, Gallagers, Dr. McCune, Horace and Jackson Patchin, John C. Conner, Aaron Patchin, Irvin Brothers, William and Matthew. The Irvin Brothers were succeeded by Horace Patchin.

At the Cherry Tree region there still remains quite a bevy of lumbermen. Of those who have been there during the recent years are David and Porter Kinport, Jesse Harter, E.B. Camp, Pitts & McKeag, Vincent Tonkin, and others. The latter purchased the lands formerly operated by A.B. Waller.

On the Moshannon, the Steiners, Moshannon Lumber Company, and A.B. Long & Sons; in Geulich, P. & A. Flynn; in Houtzdale and Madera, D.K. Ramey, Samuel Hagerty, and James Lowther. In Beccaria and Jordan townships there were Clark Patchin, and John and Henry Swan. At Penfield, Hiram Woodward, and generally in Huston and Sandy townships, Charles Blanchard, George Craig & Sons, and John E. Du Bois.

The pioneer lumbermen of Brady were Samuel and Frederick K. Arnold, and David Irvin. During latter years the business has been conducted by Reuben H. Moore, the Carlisles, Samuel Kuntz, the Knarrs, Pentzs, and George, William, and Charles Schwem, who succeeded to the business of their father, William Schwem.

Following carefully through the names of the lumbermen in the county since the business was commenced, there will be found many who are among the most enterprising and worthy residents of the county -- men who came here to engage temporarily in business, and when that was accomplished have continued to reside here, and by their efforts and means have contributed towards the present prosperous condition of the county.

Although the lumbering business of the present will not bear comparison with that of twenty-five years ago, it is still carried on to a considerable extent. In some parts of the county there still remain large tracts of standing timber, noticeably from Burnside to Cherry Tree, and generally throughout the northern part of the county.

As incidental to the above subject it may be stated that on the streams large enough for rafting and floating, all lumbermen had equal rights in the pursuit of their business, as the river and its tributaries were declared by the Legislature to be public highways for the purpose intended. This was a necessary act, as by it any conflicting claims were prevented.

Roads and Turnpikes. -- If an attempt should be made to furnish a complete record of every road, turnpike or other like thoroughfare for public accommodation that has been surveyed, laid out or incorporated, either by legislative act or an order of the court in this county, a volume of considerable size would be required to contain that record. The docket of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Clearfield county, during the first twenty-five years after courts were authorized to be held therein, contain applications, orders to view and review and lay out in an almost numberless quantity. Local roads in the several townships, or leading from one to another of the townships of the county, were constructed after an order made by the court upon petition and proceedings thereon. Road and turnpike companies were organized and incorporated under an act of the State Legislature and were invariably toll-roads. Many of them were constructed according to their original conception; others have been curtailed or modified, and some have been abandoned. Of the many constructed but few have yielded a profitable return to the stockholders by direct dividend, but nearly every one has been of vast benefit in the enhanced value of lands in the several localities through which they passed.

Sometime prior to 1810 a road was contemplated to extend from the town of Northumberland to Waterford, in Erie county, and the first legislative provision was made relating to it in February, 1812. The act provided for the laying out of two turnpikes, rather than one continuous road, the first from Northumberland by the nearest and most convenient route to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, at or near the most convenient route to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, at or near the mouth of Anderson's Creek. The line of the road lay from Northumberland to Deerstown, thence tot Youngmanstown, to Aaronsburg, to Bellefonte, to Milesburg, to Philipsburg, to the Susquehanna River at the mouth of the creek. The other or western branch of the road lay from Waterford through Meadville, Franklin, and thence to the Susquehanna River at the mouth of Anderson's Creek. The former was known as the Northumberland and Anderson's creek turnpike road, for the stock of which the governor was authorized to subscribe to the amount of seventy-five thousand dollars on behalf of the Commonwealth. The western branch of the road was known and incorporated as the Susquehanna and Waterford turnpike road, and for the laying out and construction thereof between the Susquehanna and Allegheny rivers the governor was authorized to subscribe for one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars of stock. In 1819, by an act passed March 29, there appears to have been a modification of the whole enterprise. That part of the road east of the West Branch was incorporated in five separate companies and in five sections, for the construction thereof; the first between Northumberland and Youngmanstown, the second between Youngmanstown and Aaronsburg, the third from Asronsburg to Bellefonte, the fourth from Bellefonte to Philipsburg, and the fifth from Philipsburg to the river, at the mouth of Anderson's Creek. The last named section, lying wholly within this county, has always been known as the Philipsburg and Susquehanna turnpike Road Company, as incorporated by the act of March 29, 1819. Of the various sections of the road commissioners were appointed to view and lay out, those for the fifth being Willim Rawle, of Philadelphia, Hardman Philips, John Loraine, William Bagshaw and Jacob Test, of Centre county, and William Bloom and Job England, of Clearfield county. It was further provided that as soon as one hundred and thirty shares of the stock of the fifth section were subscribed for by individuals, the governor on behalf of the of the Commonwealth should subscribe for three hundred and twenty additional shares. Also, that three per centum of the entire amount appropriated for the entire road, should be used in the construction of a bridge across the Susquehanna at the mouth of Anderson's creek.

The Milesburg and Smethport Turnpike Road Company was incorporated April 11, 1825. Peter A. Karthaus was the only commissioner residing in this county. The route lay from Milesburg to Karthaus, where the river was crossed, thence in a northwesterly direction across the northern end of the county, thence north to Smethport, and thence to New York State line. If not completed within ten years the charter was to become void.

The Clearfield and Jefferson Turnpike Road Company was incorporated April 10, 1826. The road extended from the mouth of Anderson's Creek to the borough of Punxsutawney in Jefferson county.

The State road from the Moshannon Creek to Clearfield was laid out in the year 1826.

The Snow Shoe and Packersville turnpike was incorporated April 10, 1828, by Commissioners Thomas Hemphill, John Kyler, Reuben Winslow, Philip Antes, jr., Lebbeus Luther, William Alexander, Thomas Burnside, John Rankin, and Robert Lisston. The road commenced near Snow Shoe, on the Milesburg and Smethport turnpike in Centre county, thence through Clearfield town to the Erie turnpike road near Packersville.

The Armstrong and Clearfield Turnpike Road Company was incorporated February 17, 1831, by Commissioners Thomas Blair, Jacob Pontious, Joseph Marshall, of Armstrong county, Charles Gaskill and John W. Jenks of Jefferson county, John Ewing and Harry Kinter of Indiana county, David Ferguson and John Irvin of Clearfield county, and William A. Thomas and Hardman Philips of Centre county. This road commenced at the borough of Kittanning, thence to Punxsutawney, and thence to intersect the turnpike at the mouth of Anderson's Creek in Clearfield county.

The incorporators of the Clearfield and Sinnamahoning Turnpike Road Company were W. J. B. Andrews, Smith Mead, Erasmus Morey, Ebenezer Winslow, James Mix, John Shaw, John R. Bloom, A. B. Reed, Christopher Kratzer, William L. Moore, Thomas Hemphill, and Jacob Coleman. The act creating the corporation was passed April 20, 1838. The route of the road lay from Clearfield to Penfield on the same now usually traveled by the mail stage, except that some slight alterations have been subsequently made. At Penfield the turnpike was built to intersect the Milesburg and Smethport road.

The Huntingdon and Clearfield Turnpike Road Company was chartered by an act passed April 2, 1838. The commissioners were Samuel Hagerty, jr., John Campbell, William Wiley, Samuel Shoaff, William Irvine, John P. Hoyt and Thomas Brown, of Clearfield county, and five others of Huntingdon county. The road commenced at the town of Waterstreet, Huntingdon county, and thence run north to intersect the Erie turnpike at or near the mouth of Anderson's Creek in Clearfield county.

The Waterstreet and Clearfield turnpike was incorporated April 2, 1838, by commissioners appointed from Huntingdon, Centre, and Clearfield counties, Henry Loraine being the only one residing here. The road extended from Waterstreet to Philipsburg, and thence to intersect the Snow Shoe and Packersville turnpike at the point east of John Kyler's in Clearfield county.

The Luthersburg and Punxsutawney Turnpike Road Company was incorporated April 14, 1838. The commissioners were Lebbeus Luther, John Jordan, Benjamin Bonsall, David Irvin, Jacob Fleck, Benjamin Carson, David Hoover, David Haney, and Jeremiah Miles, of Clearfield county, with others from Jefferson county. The line of the road was run by the nearest and most convenient route from Luthersburg to Punxsutawney.

The Clearfield and Curwensville Turnpike Road Company was incorporated by Abraham K. Wright, John R. Bloom, Richard Shaw, Christopher Kratzer, Joseph, Boone, jr., Thomas Brown, William L. Moore, William Bigler, Philip Antes, George Welch, sr., Benjamin Hartshorn, Isaac Chambers, and Robert Ross. The date of the act appointing them commissioners was April 16, 1838. The road commenced at Clearfield, and was authorized to extend, by the most convenient route to be determined by the commissioners, to connect with the Philipsburg and Susquehanna turnpike, at a point west of the river.

The Bald Eagle and Clearfield Turnpike Road Company was organized pursuant to an act of the Legislature, passed June 25, 1839. The commissioners from Clearfield county were Abraham K. Wright, James B. Graham, Henry Loraine, James Allport, James T. Leonard and George J. Kyler; of Lycoming county, John Fleming, John Dealing, Robert Irwin, John Morehead, and J.P. Huling; of Centre county, Thomas Burnside, John Mitchell, George Bresler, Joseph F. Quay, and John G. Lowrey. The road commenced at or near the mouth of Beech Creek; thence by the valley of the creek to intersect the Milesburg and Smethport turnpike at or near Snow Shoe; thence westwardly to unite with the Packersville and Snow Shoe turnpike road in Clearfield county.

The Clearfield and Allegheny Turnpike Road Company was incorporated by an act of the Legislature, passed July 2, 1839, under which commissioners were appointed, as follows: William Bigler, Robert Wallace, William L. Moore, Philip Antes, Christopher Kratzer, James T Leonard, John Mitchell, Joseph Irwin, Joshua J. Tate, Samuel Tate, Amos Reed, sr., William Spackman, Thomas Reed, William Dunlap, James Cathcart, John W. Wright, John R. Bloom, and John R. Reed. The road was laid out from Clearfield to intersect and unite with the Curwensville and Waterstreet turnpike.

The Glen Hope and Little Bald Eagle turnpike was incorporated March 20, 1849, leading from Glen Hope, in Clearfield county, to Curwensville. This was an extension of a former road. The commissioners were John Patton, Samuel Evans, James Bloom, sr., Moses Wise, and William Wiley.

The Clearfield Plank Road Company was incorporated April 6, 1854, to extend from the terminus of Tuckahoe and Mount Pleasant turnpike, and to intersect the Erie turnpike at any point in the direction of Clearfield or Curwensville. The capital stock was not to exceed four thousand shares at twenty-five dollars each. The incorporators were William P. Dysart, A. Caldwell, John Anderson, Jacob Covode, William Smiley, John Kratzer, James T. Leonard, Abraham K. Wright, William Irvin, John Patton, Andrew Moore, Isaac Kirk, and Thomas B. Davis.

The Lick Run and Sinnamahoning Turnpike Road Company was incorporated May 6, 1854, by Ellis Irwin, Christian Pottarff, Thompson Read, Isaac Scoffield, James Lock, John Owens, Richard Mossop, Gould Wilson, Philip Heavener, and John Hewitt, to extend from the mouth of Lick Run to Bennet's Branch of the Sinnamahoning, near Gould Wilson's. The capital stock of the company was twenty thousand dollars, in shares of twenty-five dollars each.

The Glen Hope and New Washington Turnpike and Plank Road Company was incorporated April 22, 1856, to extend froma point on the Little Bald Eagle and Glen Hope road, near where the public road from Glen Hope to Chest Creek crosses the same, and thence by the nearest and most convenient route to New Washington. The capital stock consisted of two hundred and fifty shares at twenty-five dollars each. The incorporators were David McGeehan, Joseph Patterson, Alfred D. Knapp, David Mitchell, Gilbert S. Tozer, Lewis J. Hurd, Russell McMurray, John M. Cumings, Henry D. Rose, James Dowler, and Frederick G. Miller.

The Union Turnpike Road Company was chartered March 24, 1851, by Abraham K. Wright, William Bigler, James T. Leonard, Richard Shaw, James B. Graham, Ellis Irwin, and Ferdinand P. Hurxthal, beginning at a point west of Philipsburg, on the Philipsburg and Susquehanna turnpike; thence to the Snow Shoe and Packersville road, at a point east of George J. Kyler's, in Bradford township, in a direction to the town of Clearfield.

The Grahamton and Deer Creek Turnpike and Plank Road Company was organized under an act of the Legislature, passed April 18, 1857. The amount of capital stock was fixed at the sum of two thousand dollars, in one hundred shares of twenty dollars each. The intended route of the road lay from the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad to Grahamton; thence to the mouth of Deer Creek, passing Leconte's mill and Humphrey Hale's to the coal company's works, and intersecting and uniting with the Milesburg and Smethport road. The incorporators were James T. Hale, James C. Williams, James B. Graham, A. Leconte, Abraham Beebe, Thomas Leonard, Francis Coudriet, T.F. Conterel, E. Woolridge, and Peter Lamm.

The Glen Hope and Independence Turnpike Road Company was organized by virtue of an act of the Legislature passed April 24, 1857. The route lay from Glen Hope and thence by way of New Castle to the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad at or near Independence, at the mouth of Trout Run in Centre county. The incorporators were Thomas Henderson, C. Jefferies, Benjamin Wright, Israel Cooper, John A. Thompson, Abraham Goss, Robert Hagerty, Christopher Shoff, Israel Goss, Alexander Reed, H. Green, John Wright, and J.J. Lingle. Capital stock, $12,000; shares, $20.

The Kylerstown, Morrisdale and Philipsburg Plank Road Company was chartered April 11, 1859. The capital stock was divided into five hundred shares at twenty dollars each. The route lay from Kylerstown thence via Morrisdale and Philipsburg to intersect the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad. Incorporators: Dr. G..F. Hoop, M.R. Denning, J.C. Brenner, Andrew Hunter, J.C. Williams, and Chester Munson.

The Madera and New Washington Turnpike and Plank Road Company was incorporated March 4, 1862, by J.M. Cummings, Russell McMurray, Charles G. Worrell, Robert Patterson, Henry Swan, Robert Johnson, Samuel Shoff, Samuel Hegarty, William B. Alexander, and Charles J. Pusey, of Clearfield county. The route of the road lay from Madera to New Washington. Capital stock, $18,000; value of chares, $20.

The Graham Turnpike Road Company was incorporated February 14, 1863, by James B. Graham, James T. Leonard, Richard Shaw, sr., Thomas H. Forcey, George L. Reed, J.G. Hartswick, and John M. Adams. The road extended form the end of the Union Turnpike at George Kyler's, by the way of Grahamton, and by the most convenient route to the Milesburg and Smethport Turnpike at a point west of Central Point on said road. The capital stock was divided into four hundred shares, at $25 each. The company was authorized to build a bridge across the West Branch.

The Moshannon and Grahamton Turnpike Road Company was incorporated March 31, 1864, with a capital stock of $12,500, in five hundred shares, at $25 each. The incorporators were: F.P. Hurxthal, Harbison Holt, S.H. Hersch, John T. Hoover, William Stewart, Jacob Mock, James B. Graham, T.H. Forcey, and James Nelson. The road extended from the Moshannon to Grahamton, on or near the line of the old State road, at the option of the directors.

The Osceola Bridge and Plant Road Company was incorporated April 4, 1866, for the purpose of constructing a plank road and bridge from the foot of Coal street, in Osceola, and to extend across the Moshannon to the passenger station on the line of the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad.

The Moshannon Turnpike and Plank Road Company was chartered April 16, 1870, to extend from Philipsburg to Osceola, and thence to Houtzdale and Janesville. Capital stock, $25,000, in one thousand shares of $25 each.

The Cream Hill Turnpike Road Company was incorporated April 2, 1860. The line extended from Curwensville west to the Jefferson county line. This is now the only toll-road in the county, the others having passed into the control of the officers of the several townships.

The Curwensville and Kittanning Turnpike Road Company was incorporated April 5, 1848, extending between the points named by the act, Curwensville and Kittanning.

A State road from the town of Moshannon, in Snow Shoe township, by the nearest route across the Big Moshannon Creek, and thence to Kylertown, in Morris township, was laid out in 1860, under an act passed February 24th of that year.

There remains at the present time scarcely any of the turnpike road companies above mentioned, that can be classed as toll-roads. At the time of their incorporation, a majority of them were organized for private purposes, such as openings through new lands, and for other like reasons. As an investment but few of them proved profitable from direct revenue, and many were abandoned, having failed of their purposes. On the clearing up and development of the agricultural lands, the continuation of the toll-roads became a burden of expense to farmers, and many township roads were laid out and opened at local expense to avoid the incorporated thoroughfares; hence the abandonment of the toll-road.

Railroads. -- For more than a half century after the erection of Clearfield county, there was no rail connection between this and the adjoining counties in either direction. The subject had been agitated and discussed for many years, and at one time a railroad was projected which should pass along the eastern border of this county and have its northern terminus at Philipsburg; but this plan was never carried out, and in fact, received but little encouragement from any persons then residents of this county. With the admirable facilities afforded by the streams of the county for the transportation of lumber to market, and the undeveloped condition of the mineral deposits, rail communication with the outside world was deemed unimportant except so far as related to local passenger and freight traffic. At and during this time the valuable coal deposits of the county in general, and the Houtzdale and Philipsburg regions in particular, were well known to exist, but the supply from the more eastern districts of the State was equal to the demand. Soon after the year 1850, a railroad was projected and chartered, and some preliminary work done, to extend from Tyrone to Clearfield and thence westward through Jefferson and Clarion counties to Waterford and Lake Erie, to be known as the Tyrone, Clearfield and Waterford railroad; but this plan was never carried out on account of various obstacles and difficulties encountered. No survey for this road was made further than Clearfield.

On the 23rd day of March, 1854, a charter was granted to the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad Company, which was subsequently built and now in use, being the pioneer railway of the county. The plan proposed under this enterprise contemplated the road as at present constructed and extending westward through the county, for a part of which west from Curwensville some grading was done, but the track has never been laid beyond that point.

In the year 1862, or thereabouts, the road bed was completed and the track as far as Sandy Ridge, Centre county, and in year following, to Philipsburg; but it was not until several years later, about 1868, that rail connection between Philipsburg and Clearfield was accomplished. Some five or six years later the line was finished as far as Curwensville, and that borough, too, derived the benefits of a railroad, but not without considerable expense to the people of that place. The event of the first train running over the road to Clearfield occurred in February, 1869.

The Tyrone and Clearfield road has numerous branches, particularly in the southeast part of the county. Some of these extension of branches form the main line are for permanent use, but many have been built for temporary convenience and use in the coal regions, and are constantly being removed from place to place to suit the purposes of coal operators. The Moshannon extension, called the Moshannon and Clearfield, is one of the principal branches of the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad. It extends from a point near the mouth of Beaver Run, thence following the general course of the Moshannon and Whiteside Run into Geulich township.

The Beaver Run, or Houtzdale Branch, starts from the same point and follows that stream to Houtzdale, and thence a southwest course to Ramey. The main sub-branches of this road are the Coal Run, the Goss, the Houtz and the Ramey extension above mentioned to the Wigton mines.

The Mapleton branches leave the main line at about midway between Osceola and Philipsburg, and penetrate the coal region in that vicinity northwest from Osceola.

The Morrisdale starts from a point north of Philipsburg, and runs north in the direction of Morrisdale mines. The Hawk Run is a branch of the last named, and follows the stream called Hawk Run. These are the leading branches of the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad, all of which are a part of what is known as the Pennsylvania railway system. Many of them have been extended as necessity required in connection with the vast coal mining operations of the region.

The Bell's Gap Railroad Company was chartered May 11, 1871, to connect with the Pennsylvania road at Bell's Mills station, in Blair county, and thence running to a point on Clearfield Creek at or near Fallen Timber. In 1872 the line was extended across the Allegheny Mountains, and subsequently (1880) constructed into the upper part of this county, near the line between Geulich and Beccaria; thence generally northwest, touching Utahville; thence west to Coalport and northwest to Irvona. A further extension was made in 1886, from Irvona by way of Whitmer and Wilson Runs to Newburg, and thence down Chest Creek to its mouth at Mahaffey. A further extension, to be known as the Clearfield and Jefferson Railroad, is to be made in the near future. It will extend from Mahaffey up the West Branch and across to Punxsutawney, in Jefferson county, tapping the rich coal and coke country in that vicinity.

The Low Grade Division of the Allegheny Railroad was opened through the west and northwest portion of the county in the spring of 1874. It is otherwise known as the Bennet's Branch Road, from the fact of its following the general course of that stream. Entering from the north at Tyler's, it runs up Bennett's Branch of the Sinnamahoning to the summit; thence down Sandy Creek to Evergreen, where it leaves this and passes west into Jefferson county.

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad, having its termini at the city of Rochester, New York, and Clayville, Jefferson county, Pa., respectively, was built through the northwestern part of this county in the summer of 1883, at which time it was known as the Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad. It enters the county from the northwest near Evergreen, and runs thence southeast to Du Bois; thence southerly to Stump Creek, and thence by that stream until it leaves that county, and again enters Jefferson county on the west.

The Karthaus Railroad extends from Keating Station, Clinton county, on the Philadelphia and Erie road, to the hamlet of Karthaus, in this county, at or near the mouth of Mosquito Creek. The road was complete about the latter part of 1883.

The Beech Creek, Clearfield and Southwestern Railroad was constructed in Clearfield county during the year 1884, by a company of practical and experienced railroad men and capitalists, who desired to reach the Clearfield county coal regions by a route independent of the existing roads. The route extends from Jersey Shore, Lycoming county, to Philipsburg, Gazzam, and Clearfield. "At Jersey Shore it unites with the Pine Creek Railroad and uses it tracks to Williamsport. Crossing the river it passes the old camping grounds at Wayne, runs along the north side of Bald Eagle Mountain to Castanea, opposite Lock Haven, touches Mill Hall, then crosses Beech Creek, and reaches the borough of the same name. Here it leaves the Bald Eagle valley and ascends Beech Creek at a sharp grade. After crossing this stream several times on iron bridges, it passes through a tunnel at Hog Back and reaches the Snow Shoe coal regions at an elevation of fifteen hundred or more feet above tide. Another tunnel is entered opposite Peale. The Moshannon is crossed on a viaduct one hundred and fifteen feet high, and over seven hundred and seventy feet long, and then the route continues on to Philipsburg. From thence passing west, the stations Munsons, Wallaceton, Bigler, Woodland, New Millport, Kermoor, and Gazzam, the end of the line is reached. From Clearfield to a point on the road at the junction, so called, communication is had with the county seat. This road is known commonly as the Beech Creek, and by many persons called 'the Vanderbilt,' from the fact that Mr. Vanderbilt, of railway fame, owned a controlling interest in the same. The running of the first train over this line to Clearfield occurred in the winter of 1884."

The Cresson, Clearfield County and New York Short Route Railroad was constructed in the upper part of the county, between Cresson and Irvona, in the year 1886, having been about two years in building. It is distinctively a coal and lumber road, although passengers are carried over it.

Further mention will be found relating to the several railroads of the county in the various chapters of township history, and with that in view no more than an outline sketch of them need be give here.  


Source: Pages 92-105, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.

Transcribed May 1999 by Warren R. and Susan K. Thompson for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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