|Ghost Towns Near Canton
Thomas T. Taber
Pennsylvania, [Penn’s Woods] was heavily wooded when the first white
settlers arrived. They used the trees to build homes and barns and cleared
enough land to grow crops, but this hardly made a dent in the total number
of trees. In the early 1800’s, the woods started to be lumbered off, and
the rivers were used in the spring of the year to move the logs to a mill.
Williamsport became known as the “Lumber Capital of America” because of
the large number of logs floated down the east branch and the west branch
of the Susquehanna river to the mills there.
When steam engines began to be widely used, it opened up a new era in
lumbering. Railroads could be built into the woods making it much easier
to bring the logs out, and sawmills could be constructed where there was
enough flat land. With many square miles of virgin timber available, many
different lumber companies were eager to reap this harvest.
Masten and Laquin were two lumbering towns created solely to exploit
the lumber available in the area. Laquin was first started in 1902, and
the mill started operating in 1903. It was located midway between Wheelerville
and Powell. Over 1,000 people lived there at one time. It had a sawmill,
a chemical factory which made acetate of lime, wood alcohol and charcoal.
The sawmill could saw 135,000 board feet a day, and eventually cut twenty
square miles of timber before closing operations. The working day was eleven
hours a day. There was an engine terminal at Ellenton.
Masten was started about 1905. It had ninety homes, a hotel and a boarding
house for unmarried men. It had a hemlock mill which could cut 70,000 board
feet a day, a hardwood mill which could cut 40,000 board feet a day, a
clothes fin factory and a lath mill. The hemlock logs were stripped of
their bard, and this was sent to Powell and other tanneries in the area.
The Masten operation lasted for twenty five years. The last log was
cut September 18, 1930, but it took another three years to ship out all
of the lumber that had been cut.
During the depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was built
there, and it closed in 1940. The last family moved out of Masten in 1941.