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provements, or making them feeders for canals, were numerous, and were made the
topics of town talk and public discussion.


In 1817 the legislature declared the Tioga and Cowanesque rivers and Crooked
creek navigable streams. (Pine creek had been declared navigable in 1798.) It was
thought that the Tioga river, running north into the State of New York, could be
so improved as to render it safe for arks loaded with coal, then beginning to be
slowly developed at Blossburg, and which it was early foreseen was destined to be-
come a great article of commerce, if a demand could be created for it; or, in other
words, if means for its transportation could be provided. The first step, therefore,
was to make the river navigable.

In order to secure a better outlet overland toward the south, Aaron Bloss and
others, in 1817, petitioned the Pennsylvania legislature to appropriate $10,000
toward improving the William.son road over the mountains from Blossburg to Ly-
coming creek, and Williamsport. But the legislature could not see the wisdom of
appropriating that amount of money to build a good road into what was regarded
as a wild and inhospitable region, and refused the petition.

Undaunted, however, by this failure to secure a better outlet to the south,
agitation was continued in behalf of water navigation. Committees were appointed
in Tioga county to confer with the citizens in the adjoining counties on the north,
and strong efforts made to enlist their co-operation and support. In 1826 Uriah
Spencer was appointed one of a committee to draft an address to the governor of
New York in furtherance of a canal from the head of Seneca lake to the Pennsyl-
vania line at Lawrenceville, to be continued thence by Pennsylvania authority to the
coal mines at Blossburg. He and Samuel W. Morris were chosen a committee to
present a petition to the legislature of New York, and Mr. Spencer visited Albany
for that purpose in February, 1827.

The continued agitation throughout the country of the water navigation pro-
ject, finally resulted in the passage of an act in March, 1823, for the improvement
of the Susquehanna from Northumberland to Columbia, and it was expected by
the citizens of Tioga county that as soon as this work was completed the upper
waters of the Susquehanna would receive the favorable consideration of the legis-
lature, and they would be benefited to some extent.

This was the first step in the great plan for internal improvement by utilizing
the rivers. The next was the act of February 30, 1836, known as the General
Improvement Law, which, among other things, authorized the organization of the
Tioga Navigation Company. This law gave the people great encouragement. No
time was lost in making preparations to start the improvement. A company was
formed and Miller Fox, of Towanda, an eminent civil engineer, employed to make
a survey and an estimate of the cost of putting the stream into a navigable con-
dition. A fine drawing of the proposed canal has been preserved and may be seen
at the office of Jerome B. Niles, Wellsboro. Considerable work was done In 1836
a number of arks were built by different parties and loaded with coal. It was in-
tended to run them down the river and connect with the Chemung canal which
had been completed to Corning. But the arks were sunk before any great distance
had been made, and this mode of navigation was abandoned.

There was increased interest in the mining of coal, but the lack of transportation
to market kept the business back. In 1838 the Arbon Coal Company was formed at
Blossburg and James E. Wilson was chosen its first president. Another company


known as the Arbon Land Company, was ako organized ty the same stockholders,
its purpose being to promote the building and early completion of the railroad
from Coming to Blossburg.


It having become apparent that transportation by water was not feasible,,
attention was directed to the railroad, which then seemed to be the coming method.
The Tioga Navigation Company caught the spirit of the hour and obtained from
the legislature a supplement to its charter, authorizing it to construct a railroad
from Blossburg to the State line at Lawrenceville. The distance was about twenty-
five miles and the road was to run parallel with the river. This was an important
movement and marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Tioga county.
At the same time a company was formed to construct a railroad from the head of
canal navigation at Painted Post to intersect the Blossburg railroad at Lawrenceville.
This would afford an outlet for the coal. The entire line was completed from
Corning to Blossburg in 1810, reaching the latter place in September of that year.
between which time and January 1, 1841, 4,235 tons of coal were sent over it to
market. Compared with the magnificently equi])pe(l lines of tn-day, it wn.-; but a
crude afl'air. Strap rails, laid on stringers were used, and the rolling stock was e.x-
ceedingly primitive. In 1853 the strap rails were rci)laced by the more modern T
rail, and the roadbed and equipment greatly im])r<ive(], the lion. John Magee having,
in the meantime, become the owner of that portion of the line north of Lawrence-

In 1858 a line, four miles in length, was surveyed from Blossburg to .Morris
Run, where new coal mines were being then opened up by the Morris Run Coal
Company. This line was constructed under the direction of Col. Pharon Jarrett,
of Lock Haven, and was opened for traffic in October, 1S.1;5.

The Blossburg Coal Company was incorporated by an act of the legislature
approved April 11, 1866, for the purpose of opening mines on Johnson's creek, at
what is now the village of Arnot, four miles southwest of Blossburg, fmm which
place a railroad was constructed to the mines in the year named. In IHH'i and
1883 the Arnot and Pine Creek Railroad Company extended this mad to Hoytville,
in Morris township, a distance of twelve miles.

Though constructed by different companies and operated as separate ronils for
years, the last two named were dependent upon the Corning and Blossburg road for
an outlet down the valley of the Tioga river. This was secured by traffic arrange-
ments maintiiinod until December, 18S4. when the control of the three lines passed
into the hands of the "Erie," and they have since remained a part of that system.


In March, 1S.")9, the Fall Brook Coal Company was chartered by the legislature.
The bill granting tiie charter was, however, vetoed by <;overnor Packer, but was
passed over his veto and heenme a law. In this year the company opened mines
at Fall Brook, seven miles east of Blosshurg, to which a line of railroad was surveyed
and constructed. This line, seven miles in length, was the beginning of the Fall
Brook system in Tioga county. The principal owner of the railroad and thr mines


was Hon. John Magee, of Bath, ISTew York, who some years before had come into
possession of that part of the Corning and Blossburg railroad lying between Corn-
ing and Lawrenceville, to reach which with the product of his Pall Brook mines
he made a trafSc arrangement with the owners of that portion of the line between
Lawrenceville and Blossburg.

In 1866 the Fall Brook Coal Company commenced exploring for coal on the
moimtains near Wilson creek, a tributary of Babb's creek, about twelve miles
south of Wellsboro, and rich mines were discovered. The lands were purchased by
the Pall Brook Coal Company and a new outlet became necessary. This resulted
in the incorporation, April 4, 1867, of the Lawrenceville and "Wellsboro Eailroad
Company. A preliminary survey of the road was commenced in September of that
year. Hon. Henry Sherwood took a deep interest in the construction of this road,
and served as president for some time.

The road was opened in May, 1873, with a great celebration, which was at-
tended by many distinguished persons from other parts of the country, among them
being William E. Dodge and Governor Seymour, of Kew York. At Coming the
road connects with the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning, which gives direct commimi-
cation with central New York, as well as east and west by the New York, Lake Erie
and Western railroad.

The Cowanesque Branch. — Before the completion of the new road from Law-
renceville to Antrim, a movement was started to build a road up the Cowanesque.
This valley was the richest agricultural portion of the county, and as it contained a
number of villages, it was important that they should have a railroad outlet. The
work of construction was commenced at once and the road was completed from Law-
renceville to Elkland, a distance of twelve miles, by September 15, 1873. In. 1883
it was extended to Westfield, and later through Potter Brook to Ulysses, in Potter

In 1840 when the New York and Erie railroad was located, it was thought by
many that it should have passed through the Cowanesque to Clean. Years after-
ward a line was surveyed by Horatio Seymour, and on it the present road was built.
The Cowanesque branch was leased to the main line, and the whole is known as
the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim line. Prom Corning to Antrim the distance
IS fifty-three miles. At Stokesdale Junction it leaves the Pine Creek road and
runs through Wellsboro to Antrim, a distance of seventeen miles.

The Pine Creek Branch.~FoT many years efforts had been made to build a raU-
road down Pme creek to connect with the Philadelphia and Erie at Jersey Shore,
or the Eeading at Williamsport. This was regarded as an important link, as it would
afford an outlet for Tioga county to the south. In furtherance of this object the

J7Jr^T' ^'"'^ ^""^ ^'^^^^^ ^^^l^^-i Company was chartered, February

17, 1870, the proposed line to run from Jersey Shore, Lycoming county, up Pine
creek *« Ansonia; thence along the same stream to Gaines, and thence to Couders-
port and Port Allegheny. The survey was made and the right of way obtained,
but nothing further was accomplished in this county until a new company was
organized and the route changed to run from Ansonia to Stokesdale Junction.

^hZZ77ZTJ"" "^"'''^ ^^ ^"^^^^^' 1«S^' by t^^ ^^^^^^^^ of Hon. Henry
Sherwood, of Wellsboro, president; George J. Magee, of Watkins, vice-president;


William Howell, of Antrim, secretary; Anton Hardt, of Wellsboro, chief engineer,
and Cornelius Vanderbilt, of New York, treaBurer. The executive committee was
composed of the following gentlemen: Henry Sherwood, Jefferson Harrison, Anton
Hardt, W. H. Vanderbilt, W. K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt and George J.
Magee. The directors were W. H. Vanderbilt, W. K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Van-
derbilt, Augustus Schell, George J. Magee, William Howell, E. G. Schieffelin,
Henry Sherwood, Walter Sherwood, Jefferson Harrison, Jerome B. Xiles, Anton
Hardt and John W. Bailey.

No time was lost in pushing the work of construction. The stockholders
decided that the road should be built to Williamsport, where connection could be
made with the Philadelphia and Reading road. The charter formerly belonged
to the Eeading, but by a business arrangement it passed into the hands of the ^'an-
derbilts, George J. Magee and their associates. The line was built from Williams-
port, up Pine creek, to the mouth of Marsh creek, at xVnsonia; thence up ilarsh
creek through the Big Meadows to Stokesdale Junction, connecting with the Com-
ing, Cowanesque and Antrim railway. It was completed and opened June 4, 1883,
and at once became an important thoroughfare and outlet to the south. The road
runs through an exceedingly wild and romantic region, the Pino Cioek canon not
being excelled in natural grandeur by any other point touched by rail in the Alle-
gheny mountains.

The road is operated as part of the Fall Brook systoin, and in efficiency of
management is surpased by no other single-track road in the State. The distance
from Wellsboro to Williamsport is eighty-two miles, and three passenger trains are
run daily each way. The company operates 375 miles of main track and 118 miles
of side tracks. There are 3,700 cars in its equipment. The Coming railway shops
fiirnish employment to 617 workmen, including the engineers, firemen, inspectors
at junction points, etc. The total pay-roll includes the names of from 1,800 to
2,200 men, according to business. The main line runs from Lyons, New York, to
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a distance of 187 miles. There are four branches, as fol-
lows: The Fall Brook, the Penn Yan, the Cowanesque, and the' Antrim. And
remarkable as it may seem, the company has never killed a passenger. The Fall
Brook railway stands at the head of single-track railways in this country. Its
freight traffic for the year ending June 30, 1896, aggregated 6,."j.j9,590 tons— more
than a half million tons greater than during any former year in its history. The
methods of the Fall Brook company are far ahead of all others in systematic manage-
ment and effective results. The company operates over eighty-seven miles of rail-
way within the limits of Tioga county.

The principal officers are: Goorjje J. JIagee, president; John Lang, first vice-
president; W. H. Northrup, passenger agent; G. R. Brown, general superintendent.


The coal business of Tioga had grown to such proportions that another outlet
by rail was demanded; and in April, 1872, the Elmira and State Line railroad,
running from Klmira to a point near Lawrenceville, was chartered and soon after
put under contnut. The road was finished in October, 187(5. A great celebration
followed the opening, at which toasts were drunk and speeches made. After leaving
the Tioga valley tlie road bears off through the townsliip of Jackson and then


descends to the valley of the Chemung, intersecting the Northern. Central about,
two miles south of Elmira. Soon after the opening it was consolidated with the-
Tioga road, as the Tioga and Elmira State Line railroad. The distance from Elmira
to Blossburg is forty-six miles; and from the latter place to Hoytville, whither it
extends, the distance is fifteen miles, making the entire length of the line sixty-one
miles. Of this distance thirty-five miles belong in Tioga county. The line is oper-
ated by the Erie Kailroad Company as the Tioga division.


The late Charles L. Pattison, of Elkland, was the prime mover in the organiza-
tion of the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in 1882, and was president
of the Pennsylvania division of the road up to his death, April 10, 1896. The sec-
tion from Addison to Westfield, which enters Tioga county at Nelson station, was-
completed, and the first train of passenger cars run between those towns, ITovember
27, 1882, within ninety days from the time the work commenced. The line was.
extended to Gaines by January 1, 1883, and later up the valley of Pine creek to
Galeton, in Potter county. It was originally a narrow gauge road, but was changed
to standard width in the spring of 1895. A short spur of this road, which leaves-
the main line a few miles above Gaines, connects with the coal mines at Gurnee, ia
Gaines township.

It is thus seen that commendable progress has been made in railroad con-
struction in Tioga ooimty since the opening of the first road in 1840. The next,
road likely to be built is the surveyed line from Blackwells up Babb's creek to con-
nect with the Arnot and Pine Creek road at Hoytville. It vnll be a quick outlet
down Pine creek for the settlers in that region. Blackwells, at the mouth of Babb's
creek, is in the southwestern part of the county, and is becoming a place of some
importance on account of its lumber and flagstone traffic.


Tie Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, usually spoken of as the "Goodyear
Line," was opeied from Keating, in Potter county, to Ansonia, in the summer of
1895. It has since been extended to Wellsville, New York. It connects with the
Pall Brook at Ansonia and is an outlet for travel and traffic to Buffalo.

The Northern Central Railway, which traverses the valley of Lycoming creek,
touches the southern boundary of Union township at Soaring Branch and runs
along the border for several miles, the station of Penbryn being in Tioga county.

The Tiadaghton and Fahnastalk Railway Company was chartered March 11,
1892, for the purpose of constructing a railway into Elk township, for the removal
of logs and bark. It begins at Tiadaghton, on the Pall Brook railroad, extends six
miles mto the forest, and was built the same year it was chartered. The following
officers were elected for 1896: President, Creon B. Parr; secretary, J. Harrison;
treasurer, C. B. Parr; diectors, G. A. Veil, J. W. Hammond, D. M. Lounsbury, John
L. Landrus, E. G. Schieffelin and George D. Aiken.



Primitive Saw Mills and Grist Mills— The Morris Mills— First Mills at
Wellsboro — Babe's Mill— In the Tioga Valley— Early Lumbering Opera
TiONS— A Rafting Reminiscence — Along the Cowanesqce River— Pioneer
Mills on Pine Creek— An Era of Rapid Developbient- Risks and Charms
OF The Business— The Tanning Industry— Iron Foundries and Smelting
Works— The Manufacture of Glass - Progress of Agriculture— Agricul-
tural Societies.

THE pioneer settlers within the borders of what is now Tioga county found its
surface covered by an unbroiien forest, made up, for the most part, of pine and
hemlock. Tlie former grew in the valleys and low lands — though not conliucd ex-
clusively to them, while the latter crowned the mountain sidfs and summits and
occupied the uplands. Here and there won.' areas of tlio hard wood variuties, such
as "sugar" maple, beech, oak, ash, etc. ili'lorc liu uould rear a lioiiit- for himself and
the iiieiiil)CT8 of his family, tlif settlor had to clear a s|iucu, first for liis cabin and
afterwards for the little garden plot, that as tliu years went l)y, wu.s enlarged, until
the forest wilderness gave place to cultivated fields, producing abundant crops of
-everything needful to sustain life.

Although there was timber in abundance, there was no lumber, and the rude
<:abin8 that were erected, if they were floored at all, were floored with puncheons and
round logs. Saw-mills were, therefore, a noeossity, to provide lumber for the floor-
ing and roofing of these frontier homes, and it was not long imtil they bi}.'an to be
«rected in various parts of the county, iii)on such streams as had a flow of water suf-
ficient to furnish power for the primitive machinery tlien in use. These primitive
mills, with their flutter wheels and upright saws, led the way in the march of indus-
trial development, and about the opening of the century began the work of forest
destruction that has stripped the hills and valleys of the county of the great growth
of pine and hemlock amid the sombre gloom of which savage beasts had roamed for

The grist-mill was no less a necessity than the saw-mill, but before grain could
be ground grain must lie raised, and this involved the preliminary and tiresome
labor of clearing fields for cultivation. For several years the settlers were com-
pelled to go to Jersey Shore and Williamsport, on the south, and to Painted Post,
Elniira and Tioga Point, now Athens, on the north and east, for their flour or for
the purpose of having their scant crops of wheat, com and other pmins ground,
and many stories are still told of tlie perils and hardships endured during journeys
to and from these trading and milling points.

The first mills resorted to for lumber and the grinding of their grain by the


early settlers in the western and southern parts of the county, were those built by
John Norris, on the headwaters of Little Pine creek, near what is now the hamlet
of Texas, across the line in Lycoming county, as agent of Benjamin Wistar Morris.
These mills, known as "Morris' Mills," were erected as early as 1799, and were on the
line of the north and south State road opened up in that year.

In an advertisement of Benjamin Wistar Morris, published in the Lycoming
Gazette, under date of November 13, 1806, inviting investments in lots in the new
county-seat town of Wellsboro, attention is called to the fact that "a grist-mill, a
saw-mill, and a store are situated within one mile of the town." These were the
mills erected by Samuel W. Fisher on Marsh creek, below the borough limits of
Wellsboro, a fuller reference to which will be found in the chapter devoted to Del-
mar township. They were undoubtedly the first mills in this section of the county.

The first saw-mill on Babb's creek was erected in 1806, on the site of the present
village of Morris, by Samson Babb, the pioneer settler on that stream.


In the absence of authentic records it is impossible, at this late day, to give the
, name of the builder of the first saw-mill in the Tioga river valley, which soon after
its settlement became the scene of active lumbering operations. Previous to 1813
mills were erected along that stream and near the mouths of its branches as
far south as Canoe Camp, and much lumber was manufactured for shipment down
the river as well as for supplying an increasing local demand. It is said that the
first grist-mill in the county was erected on this stream, at the mouth of Mill creek,
by Aaron Grillet, about 1797 or 1798, and that he also erected a small distillery
about the same time. Both were soon carried away by high water and Gillet removed
to Cherry Flats. Adam Hart, one of the early settlers of Lawrence township, built
a saw-mill and a distillery soon after locating. Joseph Middaugh, who settled near
Hart, also erected a saw-mill. The first saw-mill at Tioga was built by Dr. William
Willard, about 1800, or soon after. The first grist-mill here was built in 1805 by
Nicholas Prutsman and his sons. As early as 1803 Elihu Marvin built a saw-miU at
Mansfield, and in 1805 added a hand grist-mill, which he had purchased of Dorman
Bloss, a millwright, then living at Beecher's Island. In 1812 Amos Spencer erected
a saw-mill and a grist-mill at Canoe Camp. In 1809 the first grist-mill at Maines-
burg was erected by Noah Eumsey, Sr., and two years later sold by him to Jonathan
L. Spencer. It was about 1810 that the De Pui grist-mill was erected on the Tioga
river below Tioga borough. It was resorted to by the settlers of the neighboring
townships for many years.

All these early mills were primitive in their character and construction. The
grist-mill and the distillery were operated to meet the demands of the settlers in
their immediate vicinity. The saw-mills soon became of more importance, and the
lumber manufactured in excess of local demand was floated down the river to the
markets on the lower Susquehanna. It was the only thing for which cash could be
quickly obtained, and it was relied upon by the settlers to furnish them the means
to clear their lands and equip them with the implements needed in their cultivation.

The early lumbermen on the Tioga river, therefore, floated the product of their
mills down to the junction of that stream with the North Branch of the Susque-


hanna, at Tioga Point, now known as Athens; thence it descended the latter stream
to the markets below. Ketuming from these rafting trips, the men generally came
to Williamsport and walked over the mountains from Trout Eun or Eoaring Branch,
for railroads had not then been built and the stage line was slow and uncertain.

It would be hard to estimate the value of lumber floated out of Tioga county
before the advent of railroads. An old record says that in 1804 about 452 rafts,
containing 22,000,000 feet of lumber, besides a large number of arks, loaded with
wheat, flour, staves, whiskey and shingles, the whole aggregating in value $5,000,-
000, passed out of the North Branch at Northumberland. Of course only a small
part of this was from Tioga county, it being then comparatively unsettled, but it
shows the magnitude of lumbering operations in northern Pennsylvania even at
that early day.


An old diary of a trip from Painted Post on a raft to Port Deposit, made by
Judge Strong, of Steuben county, New York, in the early development of the busi-
ness, gives an interesting reminiscence. Judge Strong says:

Many a time and oft when a boy have I taken a convenient station during the

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 13 of 163)