The first gas well in Ludlow, still known as the Curtis well, was drilled in
1882 by David Curtis. In thse days, "Wildcat" drilling was a secret and
mysterious operation. So anyone who would call himself a "prospector" in oil
must necessarily erect a high, tight board fence around his drilling
apparatus to keep out all prying eyes. This is just exactly what David
Curtis did, only it happened Curtis was drilling for oil instead of gas. In
those dayspeople in other parts of the country were getting rich-quick on oil
prospecting and David Curtis had that strongly in mind, when he brought
several barrels of good crude oil to the scene of the drilling operations.
This was, of course, to insure an oil "gusher." Just as the gas sand was
reached, David Curtis poured the contents of the three barrels into the well
casing, from where it was blown all over the derrick.
Great excitement prevailed among the assembled crowd who witnessed the
"drilling in." Prospectors came from miles to witness the new oil "gusher."
High bids were made for leases in this vicinity. People bought all manner of
lands and started drilling operations of their own. However, they must have
been disappointed in their efforts because, as we see it, Dave Curtis
"pulled" a "Mighty Barnum" and found that there was a "sucker born every
minute." A few days brought out the fact that probably the best gas well in
this part of the country had been drilled in but no oil had as yet been found
in this vicinity. It is interesting to know that this well is still
producing. There was a great demand for the new fuel as we see by an item
from the Kane Leader of November 19, 1885:
" A Jamestown dispatch, dated October 28, 1885, says" At two o'clock in
the afternoon today, the gas was turned on into an eight-inch main at Ludlow,
Pennsylvania. In half an hour it had made its way thirty miles to this city.
Tonight the streets are filled with crowds watching the illumination by the
gas burning from several standpipes. The roar of the flames can be heard for
a long distance. The Pennsylvania Gas Company owns this line and has forty
miles of gas pipe in Jamestown's streets, the lines, pipes and fixtures
representing over $800,000. Members of the Standard Oil Company are heavily
interested. It is expected the vapor fuel wil drive coal and wood from the
local market and that Jamestown's manufacturing interests will profit
largely." ("Kane and the Upper Alleghenies" by J. E. Henretta.)
The discovery of gas also brought another industry to Ludlow in the form
of lamp black or carbon black factories. The Peerless Carbon Black Company
operated one which was located between the I.O.O.F. Hall and the Two-Mile
Creek. It was first managed by Erastus R. Blood, and later by Henderson
Swick. E. R. Blood owned another factory which was located on the south side
of the railroad near the tannery. James McDade, of Kane, owned the one just
east of the Pennsylvania Railroad station, on the lower side of the track.
These were among the first carbon black factories to be established on this
country. They were operated on a small scale and with very primitive
equipment. The product was used mostly in the preparation of printing ink.
Another industry which developed along with the leather manufacturing
activities of the J. G. Curtis Leather Company was that of making suspenders.
Some means of utilizing the odds and ends of the finishing shops of the
leather factory seemed advisable, so the manufacture of suspenders was begun.
This work was carried on in the building which is now the J. G. Curtis
Leather Company office. It developed so rapidly that a separate corporation
was organized under the name of the Pennsylvania Specialty Leather
Corporation. Because of insufficient local labor, the factory was moved to
Warren, where it again changed hands to other interests.
In 1880, the Walter Horton Company operated a "slash dam" near the McKean
and Warren County lines. The company transported its logs to Sheffield by
floating them down the Two-Mile Creek.
A stock company, owned by local interests, opened a furniture factory in
1893. As it was not a profitable enterprise, it did not continue very long.
It was located in the building which was formerly occupied by the Palmer
In 1886 L. D. Wetmore built a sawmill at Wildcat, the present site of
Wildcat Park. It was operated by his son E. D. Wetmore, now of Warren, until
it burned down completely in 1887. It was rebuilt, however, in less than a
year and other improvements were added. The log-cabin, now occupied by Clyde
Gilfert, was used as the company office during the remaining time the mill
was in operation. Most of the lumber milled by Wetmore was pine and the
average daily output was about 45,000 feet. A shingle mill was erected
nearby in order that all the odds and ends of the sawmill might be utilized.
The standard shingle is eighteen inches, but the shingles were made
twenty-four inches and were sold to the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers who
desired this size shingles. Incidentally, this mill was one of hte first to
be operated with a band saw. Other improvements, which are standard
equipment of the mills today, were designed and used in this mill. The
spring which supplied water to the mill is still in use in Wildcat Park, as
well as the water pipes which were laid fifty years ago.
J. G. CURTIS LEATHER CO.
Founded in 1872, this industry has continued without interruption except
for the inevitable change occasioned by progress and the element of time.
Originally established to utilize the native hemlock bark it still makes
ample use of this commodity in manufacture. Its product is known and admired
wherever leather is sold, being particularly noted for its extreme durability
and beauty of finish. Below is a partial list of the different leathers
produced: luggage leather, book binding, handbag and pocketbook leather,
sporting goods covering, including football, basketball, golf bags, gun
cases, racquet covers; shoe leather uppers and lining stock; foot appliance
and truss leathers; strap leathers of all kinds; insoles for women's and
source:Souvenir program book, Ludlow Old Home Week, July 4-5-6-7, 1935