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[74] The Vanishing Spas of Pennsylvania

Minnequa Springs - Bradford County (Vicinity of Canton)

History, folklore and the tradition of Minnequa Springs (33, 34) in the vicinity of Canton, are still vivid, thanks to citizens of this community. The spring, known as the "Indian Healing Spring," was discovered by white men before 1771. The local lore relates the story of Minnequa, the beautiful daughter of an Indian Chieftain, who made a miraculous recovery from a deadly disease, after drinking water from the magically healing spring (35).

Another legend tells of an elaborately dressed stranger who came over the mountains to quench his thirst at the Indian Spring. It is said that the magic water made him grow without affecting his health. The "giant of Minnequa" died at a very old age and his neighbors had great difficulty in burying his oversized body.

In 1868, Peter Herdic acquired the spring and the surrounding grounds, after obtaining relief from a rheumatic condition by the use of its water. The first hotel, erected by Herdic in 1869, accommodated 600 guests. The spring was protected against contamination and covered by an open spring house. The first Minnequa Springs Hotel burned down in 1878. It was followed by another hotel. This wooden building, smaller than the first, with a porch facing the railroad track, was closed in 1901 and two years later destroyed by fire. The hotel had only 92 bedrooms in the main building and 36 additional rooms in an annex near the spring. Two cottages nearby with 14 bedrooms increased the total capacity to about 300 guests. The spring and the Victorian springhouse are well preserved and easily accessible. An old description of the spring lists the following medical indications: "Keeps blood and excretions alkaline; increases metabolism and promotes tissue repair; enhances the action of saliva, bile, and intestinal juices; aids in the change of gases in the tissue and lungs, by acting as a carbonic acid carrier; is indicated in dyspepsia, constipation, gall stones, gravel, gout, skin eruptions, rheumatism, neuritis, and obesity."

The present owner of the spring, Mr. William Spencer Castle, Sr., has in his possession the following chemical analysis of Minnequa Spring, made by the Pittsburg Testing Laboratory on December 5, 1936, laboratory #188736, file #11992.1, order # page 15180, marked David E. Fisher and signed by H. H. Craver.
Free Carbon dioxide 25.00 p/m
Iron oxide 2.86 p/m
Calcium carbonate 99.68 p/m
Magnesium carbonate 25.66 p/m
Sodium carbonate Trace p/m
Lithium carbonate Trace p/m
Calcium sulphate 0 p/m
Magnesium sulphate Trace p/m
Sodium sulphate 33.16 p/m
Calcium chloride 0 p/m
Magnesium chloride Trace p/m
Sodium chloride 9.90 p/m
Manganese 0.50 p/m
Silica 2.00 p/m
Alumina 1.89 p/m
Total solids 174.00 p/m

The Vanishing Spas of Pennsylvania (An Historical Review) by Igho H. Kornblueh, M.D. and Geo. Morris Piersol, M.D. 1954

[75]The Summer Homes on Maynard Hill Above Minnequa Springs

When Peter Herdic built the first hotel at Minnequa Springs, he was able to attract many influential and wealthy people to his summer resort. Mineral spas were all the rage in Europe and America during the 19th century, so a spring like the one at Minnequa made a natural place to build a hotel and take advantage of the popularity of such fads. A person with entrepreneurial intentions such as Peter Herdic could easily see the advantage of such a place. Many of the patrons of the Minnequa Springs hotel liked the area so much they decided to build summer homes nearby. Between 1885 and 1891, Rev. Arthur Brooks, Mrs. C. Maynard Parker, Mrs. Thomas J. Owen, Miss F. A. Smith and Henry Oakley, all of New York City, built beautiful cottages on Maynard Hill, and Rev. Stephen W. Dana of Philadelphia had built on the southern slope.

This period of Canton's history represents a glamorous few years that probably never will be seen again. This had an impact on the people of Canton as it gave some of them an opportunity for employment in serving the needs of the hotel and their guests, and the people who built summer cottages nearby.

Maynard hill, or Minnequa hill is generally thought of as only the hill east of Minnequa Springs, but in reality, the total area of the hill would be bounded on the west by the disbanded Pennsylvania railroad tracks; on the south by Mill creek and Towanda creek; on the east by the stream that starts near Alba and empties into Towanda creek; and on the north by the road that goes from Canton to the Minnequa Grange.

In addition to this six homes previously mentioned, other homes belonging to this era are the homes of Mrs. Maynard which stands just west of the spring and Mourland Park situated on the eastern slope. Also, Crockett Lodge and Davenport Villa belong with these homes as they are a part of Canton's once glamorous past. Of the ten homes belonging to this period, only five still exist. Crockett Lodge was torn down sometime after 1965, Hillside burned to the ground in 1951, the Dana home on the eastern slope was set on fire by two boys in 1988, Beechwood was torn down in the 1940's, and Woodcrest still exists but in a different location. This leaves Rockgirt, Owenheim, Davenport Villa, Mourland Park and the home built by Mrs. Maynard still standing and being occupied. A brief history of these homes include:

ROCKGIRT, the country home of Dr. Arthur Brooks, Rector of the church of the Incarnation, New York, occupies a position near the summit of Maynard Hill. The house is an imitation of an English farm house. Rockgirt gets its name from the rock walls on all four sides of the lower portion of the house. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Marble purchased Rockgirt in 1908 and remodeled it into a year round residence. Additional land was added to the property and an extensive apple orchard planted. After the death of Mr. and Mrs. Marble, the apple orchard was taken over by Davis Van dyke and operated by him up to the present time. At one time Mrs. Haywood lived at Rockgirt before she bought Owneheim.

Rockgirt was later owned by Sanford and Margery Reedy for several years, and is presently owned by Thomas and Mary Beth Schoonover who operate it as a Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Rockgirt as it appeared at one time. This photograph was taken looking at the east side of the house.

BEECHWOOD, the charming home of Mrs. C. Maynard Parker, of New York, stands neighbor to it. The overhanging gambrel roof gives a cozy, home like appearance to this colonial house with its dainty coloring of yellow and white. According to Olen Smith, Jr., this house and property was owned by Mrs. Marble, and was torn down in the 1940's because she got tired of having people ask her to rent the house because of the shortage of homes during World War Two. This was her way of solving the problem.

In 1953, Olen Smith Sr. built a house on land where Beechwood once stood.

Beechwood as it appeared at one time. Notice the windmill and water tank for their water supply.

OWENHEIM, with its pointed gables, is the picturesque summer home of Mrs. Thomas J. Owen, of New York, a commodious house, with large hall, spacious stairway and wide fireplaces. A beautiful feature, and one enjoyed by guests, is a tiny stage, complete with dressing rooms and other accessories, for amateur entertainment and musicales. Robert Elliott's father used to look after Openheim when Mrs. Emilia K. Owen was not there. When she died the family had him sell it for them. They wanted $1,000.00 for it, but Mr. Elliott got Mrs. Haywood to buy it for $2,000.00. When he sent them the money the family sent him back $1,000.00 for his work.

Mrs. Gertrude Haywood used the house for many summers, then it remained vacant for several years. It was finally sold to Lloyd and Phyllis Jones. They found the card shown below with the name, "Haliewa," so it could be assumed Mrs. Haywood renamed the house. Mr. and Mrs. Jones extensively remodeled the house and Mrs. Phyllis Jones is still living in the house in 1996.

Owenheim Today - A view of the west and north side of "Owenheim." This shows a good view of the elaborate stonework surrounding the courtyard and two of the large chimneys. The stonework on the lower part of the house is part of the remodeling done by Mr. and Mrs. Jones. The Tudor style work on the upper part of the house is also part of the renovation.
Owenheim as it appears in 1994. This property was purchased and restored to its present condition by Lloyd and Phyllis Jones
Minnequa Springs and Cottages
Owned by Fannie Davenport, Caspar & Mab Weiss.
Destroyed by fire
This house was on the lot now owned by Olen & Lenore Smith
Destroyed by fire
Spring House.
Still standing
Dr. Stephen W. Dana
Leon & Eleanor Keagle
Mr. & Mrs. Martin Ciskanik
Destroyed by fire
Dr. Arthur Brookes
Mr. & Mrs. Louis Marble
Mr. & Mrs. Sanford Reedy
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Schoonover
Mrs. Thomas A. Owen
Mrs. Gertrude Haywood
Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Jones

The Rev. Stephen W. Dana, D.D. of Philadelphia, Pa., with his sister Elizabeth Dana, of Morristown, built a large house on the southern slope of the hill, at a point know as the Bluff, where Dr. Dana and family spent the summer.  After Dr. Dana no longer used the house during the summer, it remained vacant for many years.  It was bought by Leon and Eleanor Keagle who fondly dubbed it "Folly Hill."  The house was used by the Keagle family for family parties but was never used as a residence.  The house was never winterized, so could still only be used in the summer.  The house was later purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Ciskanik of Rockville Center, NY.  A fire set by two young boys in 1988 destroyed this landmark with the loss estimated between $150,000 to $200,000.

 Hillcroft viewed from the south as it appeared when Dr. Dana owned the property.
Hillcroft viewed from the west as it appeared when Leon and Eleanor Keagle owned it.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 31 JAN 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
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The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933