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Berwick Turnpike History
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Subj:  Berwick Turnpike
Date:  03/08/2002 3:51:25 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: (Snyder, Frank, Prof)

I am a native of Dushore, Pa. in Sullivan County, but after a career in the navy, I now reside in Rhode Island.  When I was growing up in Dushore, the road that passed our house was called "North Turnpike Street," and on the other side of Dushore, there was a "South Turnpike Street."  The older histories seemed to say that the Berwick and Tioga Turnpike crossed the Little Loyalsock Creek at Cherry Mills (southwest of Dushore), so the route of the turnpike was always somewhat of a mystery.  Recently, I have undertaken the task of sorting out the differing stories about where that turnpike went, and have written the results of a little research, which I have attached to this email.  The information that I have gathered so far is certainly subject to correction if someone has a more accurate version of the route of the turnpike or the dates of its construction and use.
    Frank Snyder

March 6, 2002


What follows is an attempt to trace the route of the turnpike, based on the Ingham History of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, of 1899, and a 1872 map of Sullivan County.

The 1899 History states:

In 1806 an act was passed [by the Pennsylvania Legislature] incorporating a company to be called the "President, Managers and Company of the Susquehana [sic] and Tioga Turnpike Road." The turnpike was designed to furnish a shorter route from Berwick to the Tioga river at Newtown, now Elmira. Apart from the spelling of Susquehanna, there are two other items in the quotation that deserve comment. The first is that sometime after 1806--probably in 1836 or later--the name of the river that now flows through Elmira and past Newtown was changed from "Tioga" to "Chemung," although the river upstream of the city of Corning still retains the name "Tioga," as does the point of land south of Athens, Pennsylvania, where that river flows into the North Branch of the Susquehanna. The second item is that according to the web page of the city of Elmira, three villages located at the present site of Elmira joined in 1792 to form the "village" of Newtown, and then in 1828, the village of Newtown officially changed its name to Elmira. Other sources date the incorporation as a village to 1815, and as a city to 1864. But the "town" of Newtown that existed in 1806 also included the site of a battle in 1779 between about 4,000 Continental Regulars under General John Sullivan who defeated but failed to capture the Delaware Indians that had tried to ambush them. The city of Elmira now stands today at the site of the "village" of Newtown, but the "town" of Newtown included the site of Wellsburg, about seven miles to the south, where Bentley Creek empties into the river..

Although initially chartered in 1806, the turnpike was not completed and "opened" until 1824--according to the History of Chemung County, or in 1820, according to letters written at the time. The road-builder’s objective was to construct a turnpike to connect Berwick and Newtown--a distance of roughly 85 miles. Over time, however, several alternative routes were apparently constructed for portions of the turnpike. Returning to the 1899 history we find:

This company [formed in 1806] constructed a road in 1808 as far as the Loyalsock creek, and in 1810 completed it to the Haverly settlement [in northwest Sullivan County]. From near the Long Pond [now Ganoga Lake] it went directly to the Loyalsock, which it crossed about a mile below what is now Ringdale Station, and crossed the Little Loyalsock near what is now Sick’s Mill [currently, "Cherry Mills"], and continued northward to the Haverly settlement. The first twenty miles or so of the turnpike--from Berwick to Long Pond are fairly straightforward. The road left Berwick (towards Newtown) following the current State Route (SR) 1025 north--8 miles--over Lee Mountain and Huntington Mountain, through Jamestown, then on SR 1023 and SR 4011--11 miles--through New Columbus and Cambra, to Red Rock, where it followed SR 487--4 miles--to Ricketts State Park, and departed from SR 487 for Long Pond. The route up Red Rock Mountain may not have followed the current SR 487, because the difference in elevation between the base of mountain at Red Rock and at the top of the mountain is over one thousand feet.

Between Berwick and Newtown, the turnpike had to cross several mountain ranges, but because Newtown is approximately North-Northwest from Berwick, the road was usually built in that direction except when it became necessary to follow the land’s contours in order to achieve a gradual decent to some stream, or an ascent from one. The description in the 1899 history makes it clear that after leaving Long Pond [Ganoga Lake] the initial turnpike went off on a more northwesterly direction towards Ringdale (about ten miles from Long Pond). Indeed there is still a rather crooked trail to the Northwest from a point about a mile beyond Ganoga Lake, a trail that passes through Thornedale, once a thriving lumber town (but now deserted) and on to Ringdale, where the initial turnpike is supposed to have crossed the Loyalsock Creek [referred to locally today as the "Big Sock"].

The route of the initial turnpike from the crossing of the "Big Sock" at Ringdale to the crossing of the "Little Sock" at Cherry Mills is not entirely obvious; it may have followed one of the tributaries of the "Big Sock" upstream to its origin, and then followed a stream leading down to the "Little Sock" on the other side of the "divide," or it may have gone more quickly up to a higher elevation--there are several roads that follow a "North-Northwest" direction. In any event, the locations where the turnpike crossed the two branches of the Loyalsock creek become important distinctions between the initial route and the later routes

From Cherry Mills, the turnpike followed T 456, (in 1872, called the "Old Pike") for 3 miles, and at the end of T 456, it went left on SR 4016--1 mile--as it descended to Black Creek and crossed one of its tributaries, and then followed Black Creek upstream, where it went right on T 452 and T 449 to Beebe Road--4 miles. At the end of Beebe Road (in Overton Township of Bradford County), there are two possible routes (from there to Millstone Road). The left route (the more likely) follows Junks Pond Road--for 2 miles--to Millstone Road, and on Millstone Road--for 6 miles--to Weston Road, and on Weston Road--for 2 miles--to Powell. The reason that this route is more likely is that by doing so, the turnpike would have followed the "Genesee Road," built in 1800 from Muncy Pennsylvania to the Tioga river. The Genesee Road passed through the western part of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, and (according to the 1899 history) went down Millstone Run to Shrader’s Branch, which it followed down to Towanda Creek, where it connected with other roads to the Tioga river. The alternate route (for the turnpike from the end of Beebe Road) would have followed Deep Hallow Road--for 4 miles--to Millstone Road, and on Millstone Road--for 2 miles--to Weston Road, over which it would have gone the remaining 2 miles to Powell. Both routes ultimately follow Millstone Creek to its junction with Towanda Creek, at Powell.

At Powell, the turnpike probably went west (down the Towanda Creek) about 3 miles on SR 414 to Franklindale, where the route turned right to Banks Hill Road (the current SR 3013) for 4 miles, and then continued on Franklindale Road to its junction with SR 3009 (Burlington Pike), which it followed for 2 miles to Burlington. At Burlington, the turnpike followed SR 4013 (today called "Berwick Turnpike") for 17 miles through Bourne, Hoblet, Middletown, and Centerville. The town of Hoblet is in Smithfield Township, and the "Berwick turnpike" is reported in one place to have been constructed in 1819, and in another place to have been built "through the township" in 1820-21. There is in Smithfield Township a "Turnpike" Cemetery. The turnpike passed through the northeast corner of Springfield Township about a mile from Big Pond Road. From south of Middletown--in Ridgebury Township, north of Smithfield and Springfield Townships--to the New York State line, the route followed Bentley Creek as it flowed toward the Tioga River, and construction of that part of the turnpike is reported as having been done in 1820 or 1821. .

The turnpike entered New York State, where today the route becomes NY 367--to Wellsburg--1 mile. Newtown battlefield is across the river from Wellsburg. From 1792 to 1808, the Wellsburg area was part of the "town" of Newtown. Elmira is to the left (north) from Wellsburg--7 miles on NY route 427. If the initial turnpike was completed end-to-end, it would probably followed the route described above as far as Wellsburg, where it either went left along the west bank of the Tioga (now Chemung) River to the "village" of Newtown (now Elmira), or its traffic used a road that already existed for those final 7 miles.

The 1899 history of Sullivan County relates that:

Supplements to the act of 1806 were passed in 1812 and 1815 [implying that somehow the initial route was either unsatisfactory or uncompleted]. A new route was surveyed, and Andrew Shiner took the job of building the road, and in 1818, got it opened as far as Birch Creek [the boundary today between the towns of Bernice and Mildred]. The first alternate route of the turnpike probably began near Long Pond (Ganoga Lake) at the point where the initial route of the turnpike headed northwest towards Ringdale, and crossed the "Big Sock." This first alternate route of the turnpike headed North-Northwest (about twenty degrees to the right of the initial route at that point). The alternate route crossed the "Big Sock" west of Lopez, at the west end of SR 1004 (site of the former Schreyvogel Hotel; the first lodging at this site--a shanty--having been built in 1818--to lodge the workers on the turnpike--by an Amos Ellis, who later built an hotel). The first 10 miles (from Ganoga Lake to Bernice) of this second turnpike route has no route number assigned today--but the turnpike route remains the boundary between Davidson and Colley Townships of Sullivan County, as well as the boundary between Laporte and Colley Townships. Between Ganoga Lake (once called Long Pond) and Bernice, this second turnpike route crossed Spring Brook, Painter Den Creek, and Lopez Creek. [Although the bridges across these streams were no longer in existence by 1946, the streams were shallow enough to be fordable.]

At Bernice, the alternate turnpike route rejoins SR 487, and crosses Birch Creek [the point reached by the turnpike in 1818], and passes through the towns of Mildred and Shinersville. At the top of the mountain--about 2 miles after leaving Bernice--the alternate turnpike made a left turn on SR 4024 to Cherry Mills--4 miles--where it rejoined the initial turnpike route, and crossed the Little Loyalsock Creek

A second alternate route of the turnpike began a little north of Shinersville, where the first alternate route had turned towards Cherry Mills. Instead of heading towards Cherry Mills, the second alternate route followed SR 1010 to SR 1007--1 mile--into Dushore, where it crossed Little Loyalsock Creek. This route departed from Dushore on SR 4021 (once called "North Turnpike Street"). At the top of the hill, 1 mile after leaving Dushore, this route turned left to T 505 and T 432 to Coveytown, then to SR 4018, where it joined the earlier turnpike routes at the north end of Beebe Road.

A third alternate turnpike route would have started one mile north of Dushore, at the point where the second alternate route had turned left to join the earlier turnpike routes. This third alternate route would have continued on SR 4021 for two miles to its intersection with U.S. Route 220 (at the boundary between Sullivan and Bradford Counties). At that point the alternative turnpike route would have crossed (the current) U.S. 220 and descended to SR 2008, which (at Laddsburg)--after 2 miles--joins U.S. 220 North, along the valley of the South Branch (of the Towanda Creek) as far as Monroeton--11 miles. There are reports of the turnpike as having passed through both Albany Township and Monroe Townships in Bradford County. At Monroeton, the third alternate route would have followed SR 3009 (Burlington Pike) 9 miles to Burlington, where it would have rejoined the previous routes.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On March 2002
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

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