History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
MAIL ROUTES AND POSTOFFICES-FIRST MAILS CARRIED ON FOOT AS THERE WERE NO ROADS FOP. OTHER TRAVEL.-FIRST MAIL COACHES BY CONRAD TETER-NAVIGATING THE SUSQUEHANNA –PRESENT POSTOFFICES-THE OLD BERWICK TOLL ROAD-ETC.
THE first mail route through the county was established in 1803, from Wilkes-Barre to Tioga Point (Athens), and postoffices were established at Wyalusing, Sheshequin and Tioga Point. Then every two weeks a mail was carried on foot, as there were no roads making it possible for any other conveyance to pass. These foot-mails were carried by Charles Mowery and Cyril Peck (the first husband of Urania Stalford). To make the round trip took two weeks, and for seven years these were the limited mail trains that went silently through tile tangled wild-wood and climbed along the "break-neck" ledges of the mountains from Wilkes-Barre to Athens-not quite one hundred miles, when often the total mail for the whole trip would be a single letter. These foot-mails in time were succeeded by the man on horseback who made his appearance once a week. Mrs. Perkins states that the first of this kind of mail service was performed by Bart Seeley, who rode for several years.
In 1810 it was supposed that the roads had been sufficiently cut out, and the rock ledges on the sides of the precipices sufficiently improved, for a wheeled vehicle to be used in carrying the mails. A pony mail had been used a short time, and the people were anxious to reach the swell-tide of improvement, and have a weekly mail established. Therefore the year 1810 may be marked as a red-letter year for our people. A weekly mail, carried "in a coach"-at all events it was a vehicle wheels-was commenced, and the tin horn of the driver Peter Conrad, was 11 music in the air " for all the people. This was the beginning of stage-coach travel along the Susquehanna, that increased with the years, brought visitors, speculators, land buyers and settlers of all kinds, like lawyers, doctors, pedagogues and the tenderer assortment of preachers the others had come long before, like the justices' suitors, " on foot and on horseback," and had, single-handed and without prejudice, sampled the fresh hot corn-juice from the farm stills, and fought the devil, hip and thigh, wherever they found either him or his fiddle.
John Hollenbeek was the first postmaster at Wyalusing, and served many years. He was succeeded by Maj. Taylor.
The first postmaster at Towanda was Mr. Thomas, the first publisher in the county; he was succeeded both in the paper and postoffice by Purr Ridgway.
The Old Berwick Turnpike was chartered in 1817 to run from Ber-
208 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
wick to Elmira. A charter was obtained, and the road built through Bradford county in 1821-2-3; entering the county at the south line and passing through Albany township, Monroe, Burlington, Smithfield -following the streams-and passing out of the State through Ridgebury township to Elmira. This was the first good road in the county, and was a great mail route ; was a toll road until 1847, when it became a free public road. The State had donated about 260 acres of land to the building.
In 1818 there was but one mail route through Bradford county. That year a new line was started from Towanda to Burlington, Troy, and to Sylvania, and thence back through Springfield, Smithfield to Towanda. This was a great improvement to the scattered settlers in the west part of the county.
An index of the population is given in the election of 1815, for the Cliffsburg district, held at Columbia Cross Road at the house of William Froman. The district included the whole of Columbia, Wells, South Creek, Ridgebury, Springfield and more than half* of Smithfield. The vote polled was 116, which, without the saying, was a total surprise -a revelation that West Bradford was growing up with the country.
Early Susquehanna Navigation.-The attempts to navigate, by steamboats, the Susquehanna was a failure, and almost a continuous tragedy. Fulton invented and launched his first steamboat on the Hudson River in 1809, and the wonderful story of propelling a boat against the stream by steam spread over the civilized world, and mankind, that had been toiling and pushing the old keel and Durham boats so painfully up all their long journeys -was now rejoiced. People went down to the banks of the clear and swift-flowing Susquehanna and looked upon the stream with wholly new sensations; a providence of God, truly, and the old time slow and horrid work of carrying on the travel and commerce of the country would soon change-the steamboat was coming-the great factor and hand-maiden of civilization. Why not "sound the loud timbrel over Egypt's dark sea?" The good time coming is here; man's ingenuity how overcome the appalling difficulties, and the age of fire and steam has arrived.
First it was canoes, flatboats or rafts, then rudely construct arks." and finally the" Durham" boats. The latter were about sixty feet long, and shaped something like a canalboat, with a" running board " on each side the entire length manned usually by five men on each side " setting poles," and' one steering. The best would carry about fifteen tons. With good luck they" could ascend the stream at the rate of two miles an hour. The Provisional Assembly of Pennsylvania, of 1771, declared the Susquehanna river a public highway, and appropriated money to render it navigable. In 1824 a boat called the Experiment was built at-Nescopec, and intended to be operated by horse-power. On her trial trip she arrived at Wilkes-Barre July 4, 1824. A great jubilee was held over the arrival. The thing, however, proved a failure.
Necessity was pushing the people along this river. The Delaware
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 209
river was being navigated successfully with steamboats, then why not the Susquehanna? In 1825 three steamboats were built for the purpose of navigating this important river. The "Codorus " built at York by Davis, Gordon & Co., sixty feet long and nine feet beam, launched, and with fifty passengers drew only eight inches water, ten horse-power engine, and was expected to make, upstream, four miles an hour. She started on her trip in the spring of 1826 from New Haven. As she puffed along, the people Hocked in hundreds to the banks to see her. Arrived at Wilkes-Barre April 12, when the town had an old style jollification day of it. Capt. Elger invited the heads of the town and many prominent citizens to take an excursion to Forty Fort. After a short stay, the boat proceeded on its way, and soon arrived at Athens, making frequent stops at way places. The Athenians, indeed the people for miles, even away up into New York, now realized their fondest dreams. The boat continued on to Binghamton and turned back, and, after a trip of four months, reached its starting point.
Capt. Elger was disappointed, and reported to the company that it was a failure for all practical purposes.
The next boat was the "Susquehanna," built in Baltimore, eighty two feet long two stern w heels, engine thirty horse-power, intended to carry one hundred passengers, loaded, drawing thirty-two inches. The State appointed three commissioners to accompany the boat on her trial trip; several merchants and prominent business men were passengers, and these were continually added to at stopping points. It was hard moving against the current. The boat reached Nescopec, Falls, May 3, 1826. These were considered the most difficult rapids, and so the commissioners and all but about twenty passengers left the boat and walked along the shore. As she stemmed the angry current, the thousands of people on shore cheered and cheered ; reaching the middlle of the most difficult part, she seemed to stop, standing a few moments, then turned her course toward shore and struck a rock, and instantly followed an awful explosion-and death and horror followed the merry cheers of the people. John Turk and Ceber Whitmash were instantly killed ; William Camp died in an hour or so; Maynard, and William Fitch and engineer, lived a few days. The fireman, a Daniel Rose slowly recovered; Col. Paxton, C. Brabst and Jeremiah Miller were severely scalded; Woodside, Colt, Foster, Hurley, Benton, Benj. Edwards and Isaac Loay were all more or less wounded and scalded. William Camp was the father of Mrs. Joseph M. Ely, of Athens, who was on his way home with a fresh stock of goods.
The third boat was the "Pioneer," which was abandoned after an experimental trip on the western branch of the river.
In 1834, Henry F. Lamb, G. T. Hollenback and family built at Owego "The Susquehanna," a strong, well-built boat, forty-horse power. Her trial trip was down the river to Wilkes-Barre, reaching that place August 7, 1835, traveling the one hundred miles in eight hours, and returned laden with coal. On her second trip she broke her shaft at Nanticoke dam, where she sunk and was abandoned.
In 1849, the " Wyoming " was built at Tunkhannock, 128 feet long, 22 feet beam, stern wheel 16 feet, to carry 40 tons of coal. This was
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY 210.
A coal boat, and made trips to Wyoming valley to Athens during the years 16 50 and 51. -L' The arrivals of t is boat were known all along the river, and the people were wont to crowd the landings to see the sight, hearty cheers greeting it, as they would lower their smoke stacks, and at Athens land at the foot of Ferry street. The cargo generally was anthracite coal, and in return they carried grain and farm products.
The last steamboat for commercial purposes was built at Bainbridge, N. Y., by a company, under the superintendence of Capt. Gilman Converse, commander of the 11 Wyoming." She was named Enterprise," 95 feet long, to carry 40 tons-completed and launched in 1851. The first season she had a profitable carrying trade, as the river was high through the season; but in the fall she grounded and was left on the dry shore to rot, and this was the end of attempts to navigate the Susquehanna.
Roads.-The oldest gleanings from the records show that in 1788 the first petition for roads, in Bradford county, were circulated and signed by the people. This was signed by Thomas Wigley, Nathan Kingsley and Ambrose Gaylord, all of Springfield township, and simply notified the court that "divers roads are thought to be necessary to be laid out in said town of Springfield." The committee of freeholders: Justus Gaylord, Oliver Dodge, Thomas Lewis, Isaac Hancock and Gideon Baldwin. This first movement was pressed in the following September by Isaac Hancock, Joseph Elliott, Justus Gaylord, Oliver Dodge, Thomas Lewis, in another petition in which they said: "For the want of public highways traveling through said township is attended with the utmost difficulty; for remedy whereof, your petitioners humbly beg the honorable court to appoint commissioners to lay out and alter the roads in said town." * * And appoint supervisors." In 1790, the commissioners reported there were "three roads in the town:". From the eastern part of the town to Bennett's gristmill, on Wyalusing creek; 2d. From the town plot, between Baldwin and Kingsley's lots, to Porter's mill on Wyalusing; 3d. Starting on the river near Bennett's, up the main road to Bennett's mill, striking the Wyalusing, at Porter's sawmill. An attempt to open a road along the river had been made before this, but was a failure.
In 1789, a petition was presented for a road from Sheshequin to Tioga
Point (Athens). They stated that they had tried in vain to make a road
over this line, but that the passage at Breakneck was difficult and dangerous;
they had, at great expense, they say, opened a tolerable road from Wysox
to Tioga Point, and asked the court to declare the same a public highway.
The commissioners made this recommendation in 1794, and at this time a
road was ordered from Ulster to Athens. In November, 1794, a road was surveyed
from Wyalusing Falls to Tioga (Athens), passing Towanda, or Jacob Bowman's
tavern, and crossing the Tioga river opposite Hollenback's store. About
this time roads were laid out from Athens to the State line; from Wysox
creek to Athens ; also up the river to Benjamin Ackley's blacksmith shop;
to Jacob Camp's house. up the creek to Isaac Bronsou's, near the forks
of the creek: in 1795, one up the Towanda creek, and in 1798,
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 211
one up the Sugar creek in 1799, one to start at Col. Elisha Satterlee's, at Athens, easterly over the high-lands to the forks of the Wyalusing. It is easy to say these important roads were authorized, but it was a more serious matter to open them and make them real highways. In most cases it was years before passable roads were made over those routes.
The "Old Stage Road " was a State enterprise-a system of internal improvements, that in the early times -were really of importance in settling and advancing the country. In 1780, the State surveyed a, road from Wilkes-Barre, following the river to Athens. The State did but little more than make the survey, yet it eventually became the stage line.
The "State Road " passed through the county from northeast to south west. It was provided for by the Legislature in 1807; Henry Donnell and George Haines, commissioners. As provided for, it passes through Pike and Wysox townships crossing the river at Towanda, following up Sugar creek to East Troy, and on to Covington, in Tioga county.
In 1821 Zephan Flower and W. D. Bacon were appointed to layout a road from Athens, running westerly. They report, " beginning one mile below Athens, on the State road, crossing the northwest part of Smithfield, through Springfield and Columbia townships to Tioga county line-a distance of twenty-three miles."
In 1820 a road was laid out from Towanda to Pennsboro. Commissioners: W. Brindle, Edward J. Elder, Eliphalet Mason and William Thomas. They commenced at a point "fourteen rods from the front of the court-house, and thence to the line between Bradford and Lycoming counties- seventeen and one-half miles."
Turnpike.-The Berwick and Elmira turnpike, passing through Monroe on toward Towanda. was projected in 1807, and the work was still carried on in 1810. This was an important improvement in the unsettled southern portion. of the county.
Post-roads in Bradford county were, by act signed by John Adams, April 23, 1800, established as follows: From Wilkes-Barre to Wyalusing and Athens, from Athens via Newtown, Painted Post and Bath to Canandaigua. The office at Wyalusing had Peter Stevens for postmaster, and at Athens was William Prentice.
While the above were the first government post-routes, yet we learn from Miner's history: "As early as 1777 an express was established between the Wyoming settlements and Hartford. An old, smoked-dried paper, torn and much mutilated, has, by an accident, fallen into our possession, which shows that the people of Wyoming established a post to Hartford, to go once a fortnight and bring on the papers. Prince Bryant was a post-rider on this route nine months. More than fifty subscribers remain to the paper, which evidently must have been more numerous as it is torn in the center. The sums given varied from one to two dollars each. In the list of names are Elijah Shoemaker, Elias Church, George Darrance, Nathan Kingsley, Elisha Blackman, Nathan Dennison, Seth Marvin, Obadiali Gore, James
212 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
Stark, Anderson Doud, Jeremiah Ross and Zebulon Butler. Some of those names were prominent Bradford county men.
Soon after the occupation of Asylum by the French they established a weekly post to Philadelphia.
In 1810, Conrad Teter contracted to carry the mail once a week, in stages, from Sunbury, via Wilkes-Barre, Wyalusing and Athens, to Painted Post.
Post Offices.-We make mention of the following existing and discontinued post offices in Bradford county:
Alva, January 5, 1827, Fred. Wilson.
Altus, Columbia township, established 1888, C. E. Gladding.
Allis, Hollow (Orwell township), August 17, 1868, George N. Norton.
Aspinwall (Wells township), established May 17, 1838, named Old Hickory,
Alfred Ferguson; changed to Wells, February 28, 1862, Joel Jewell; changed
back to Old Hickory, July 23,1868, John 0. Randall; changed to Aspinwall, November 10, 1869, Levi Morse.
Asylum (see Terrytown); changed to Frenchtown, September 15, 1857, Charles Stevens.
Aurora, in Warren township, established 1883.
Austinville, Columbia township, established as Havensville, June 2,1846, Dunsmer Smith; changed to Austinville, August 13, 1861, Lyman S. Slade.
Athens, January 1, 1801, William Prentice.
Barclay, January 10, 1866, George E. Fox,
Ballibay, Herrick township, October 9, 1871, John Nesbit.
Bently Creek, January 7, 1859, Benjamin F. Buck.
Berrytown, near Troy.
Big Pond, Springfield township, May 31, 1870, Isaac F. Bullock.
Big-my, May 6, 1872, John Bolles.
Black, in Sheshequin township, established 1887, William Stevens.
Browntown, December 11, 1839, Ralph Morton. Discontinued.
Brinkhill, near Athens, established 1882.
Burlington, February 24, 1849, John Rose.
Bumpsville, Rome township, 1887.
Brushville, Pike township, established as Pike, January 15, 1868, Isaac Ross; changed to Brushville, January 23,1871, Giles N. DeWolf.
Cadis, Warren township, 1887.
Camptown, December 7, 1841, William Camp.
Canton, September 23,1825, Asa Pratt.
Carbon Run, LeRoy township, July 9, 1874, Robert A. Abbott. Discontinued.
Cold Creek, Pike township, March 4, 1870. Edward S. Skeel.
Columbia Cross Roads, December 7, 1826, Elisha S. Goodrich.
Covert, Smithfield, 1888.
Kamisky, established 1888.
Durell, originally Benjamintown, Novemher 24, 1840, Selden S. Bradley; changed
Durell, March 29, 1843, W. W, Goff; discontinued, January 4,1844; reinstated, December 11, 1848, Simeon Decker.
East Canton, April 15, 1862, Warren Landow.
Fast Herrick January 26. 1839, Jeremiah C. Barnes. Discontinued.
East Smithfield, October 11, 1825, James Gerould.
East Troy, April 25, 1851, Andrus Case.
Edsallville, Wells township, December 14 , 1827, Samuel Edsall.
Elwell Wilmot township, May 21, 1857, Warren R. Griffis.
Evergreen, Albany township, February 9, 1871, William Allen.
Fass ett, June 6, 1867, Joseph M. Young.
Franklindale, January 6, 1826, John Knapp.
Floss, Smithfield township.
Foot of Plane, Barclay township, March 11,1872, Theodore Streator,
Ghent, Sheshequin township, June 14, 1848, R. N. Horton.
Gillett, station on N. C. R. R., 1856.
Granville. Centre, established as North Branch, December 8, 1825, Sylvester Taylor; changed to Granville, February 25, 1831, Sylvester Taylor; changed to Granville Centre, January 30, 1865, Luman D. Taylor.
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 213
Granville Summit, February 9,1856, William Nichols.
Green's Landing, Athens to wnship, October 18, 1875, W. A. Plummer.
Grover, Canton township, February 13, 1872, H. C. Green.
Herrick established as Wheatland, February 28, 1837, Isaac Camp; changed to Herrick, December 28,1837.
Herrickville, July 22, 1843, Daniel Durand.
Highland Burlington township, March 27,1837, George H. Bull.
Highlan, Lake, Warren township, October 18, 1870, John 1, Arnold. Discontinued.
Hoblet, established 1888.
Homet's Ferry, Frenchtown station, November 22, 1869. J. V. N. Biles.
Hollenback, in Wilmot township.
Hornbrook, Sheshequin. township, February 25, 1827, William S. Way.
Kasota, established 1888. Discontinued.
Laddsburgh, May 11, 1850, Peter Sterigere.
Leona, established as Leonard Hollow, November 13, 1856, Enos Hubbard; changed to Leona, August 2, 1865, William T. Daley.
Le Raysville, February 12, 1827, Josiah Benham.
Le Roy, December 22,1835. William Holcomb.
Liberty Corners, September 5, 1856, Joseph Bull.
Lime Hill Wyalusing township, June 30,1857, John F. Chamberlain.
Litchfield, November 5, 1825, Daniel Bush.
Long Valley, 1886, McFinney.
Luther's Mills, Burlington, established as Mercur's Mills, November 24,1852, Sam NV. Premtice; changed to Grow, January 7, 1862, James Wilcox; changed to Luther'd Mills, November 16, 1865, Roswell Luther.
Marcedonia, Asylum, December 20, 18-56, William Coolbaugh. May 17, 1872, Alvin T. Ackla.
Mercur, August 20, 1872, George A. Stevens.
Merrickville, July 27, 1852. Discontinued.
Merryall, December 20, 1849.
Milan, established as Marshall's Corners, December 21, 1835, Josiah B. Marshall; changed to Milan, December 27, 1838, John L. Webb.
Milltown, December 9, 1826, William P. Rice. Discontinued.
Minnequa, September 21, 1869, Richard L. Dodson.
Monroeton, originally Monroe October 29, 1822. Changed July 30, 1829.
Mountain Lake, May 20, 1861, Earl Nichols.
Myersburgh, April 9, 1850, Elijah R. Myers.
Neath, Welsh settlement, Pike township, October 18, 1870, Newton Humphrey.
New Albany, April 1, 1826, James Moreland.
New Era, Terry township, October 2, 1857, John Huffman.
Narconks, Wilmot township, December 27, 1856, John Cummisky. Discontinued. #4
North Orwell, March 27, 1833, Roswell Russell.
North Rome, January 5. 1846, Charles Forbes.
North Smithfield (now Smithfield), -March 2, 1829, Davis Bullock.
North Towanda, June 21, 1852, Stephen A. -Mills.
Orcutt Creek, Athens, June 14, 1848, David Gardner. Discontinued.
Orwell, July 22, 1818, Edward Benjamin.
Overton, originally Heverlyville, July 1, 1857, Edward McGovern. Changed February 28, 1856, George W. Hottenstein.
Overshot, 1889, D. 0. Sullivan.
Park's Credo, first Seeley, February 28, 1870, Daniel Russell; changed and discon
Pike, changed to Brushville.
Potterville, August 5, 1852. E. C. Potter.
Powell, first Lindwood, December 3, 1855, Samuel C. Naglee; changed April 1, 1872, Elhaman W. Neal.
Quarry Glen, 1888
Ridgebury, May 6, 1826, James Covell.
214 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
Rome, June 11, 1831, Peter Allen.
Rummerfield Creek, December 17, 1833, Eli Gibbs.
Sayre, -March 11, 1874, Harvey G. Spalding.
Sheshquin, January 1, 1819, Avery Gore.
Silvara, in Tuscarora, first East Springfield, April 23,1868, Daniel L. Crawford; changed May 11, 1875, Andrew Silvara.
Smithfield Summit, December 21, 1860, Joseph L. Jones. Discontinued.
Snedekerville. August 1, 1867, William H. Snedeker.
South Branch, December 11. 1863, Chester Caster.
South Creek, January 26,1826, George Hyde. Discontinued.
South Hill. January 28. 1837, William Warfield,
South Litchfield, December 18, 1865, Jerrold B. Wheaton. Discontinued.
South Warren, January 12, 1827, Benjamin Buffington.
Springfield, May 24, 1819, William Evans.
Spring Hill, December 29, 1836, H. Ackley.
Standing Slone, January 26, 1826, Jonathan Stevens.
Stevensville, in Pike, January 24, 1837, Cyrus Stevens.
Sugar Ran, first Blaney, May 4, 1839, Nathaniel N. Gamble; changed February 5, 1846, Elmore Horton.
Sylvania, March 18, 1818. Reuben Nash.
Terrytown, July 27, 1826, George Terry; changed to South Asylum June 23, 1854, John M. Horton; changed to Asylum, September 15, 1857, John M. Horton; changed to Terrytown, January 13, 1862, Nathaniel T. Miller.
Tioga Valley, September 23, 1854, Hiram Rogers. Discontinued.
Towanda, August 8, 1810, Reuben Hale.
Troy, December 29, 1817, James Long.
Tuscarora Valley, February 2, 1871, Henry L. Rugg. Discontinued.
Ulster, September 8, 1821, Sidney Bailey.
Warren Centre, July 27, 1853, Jacob L. Brown.
Warrenham, January 1, 1835, Andrew Coburn.
Wells, first French's -Mills, December 12, 1825, James S. French; changed, November 26, 1869, Charles L. Shepard.
West Burlington, July 19, 1833, Luther Goddard.
West Franklin, April 25, 18.07, N. Smith (2d).
West Warren, _-March 16, 1864, Robert Tyrrell.
West Windham, originally Windham, January 17, 1818, Benjamin Woodruff; changed February 8, 1833, Elijah Shoemaker. Discontinued.
Wickizer, 1887. Wilawana. Wilmot, March 15, 1866, Israel Van Luvanee.
Windham Centre, July 9, 1866, W. C. Peck.
Windham Summit, December 10, 1868, John Van Est.
Wyalusing January 1, 1801. Peter Stevens.
Wysox, October 1, 1804, Burr Ridgway.
There are more post offices to-day in Bradford county than there were
annually letters when the county was formed, and for the two men, who footed
it from Wilkes-Barre to Painted Post, carrying the mails at one time, there
are now many hundreds of employes connected with the postal service in
the county. Thus the growth of population was great, from a wildernesstonearly60,000people,yet
the use and
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 217
distribution of reading matter has grown in a most wonderful ratio, during the century. Something of the measure of the growth and spread of civilization may be accurately seen in the postal department -a much better measurement, it would seem, than that of the philosopher who would gauge it by the amount of soap the people used.
Canal.-In 1828, the people of Bradford county, seeing the great success of the movement in New York to construct the Erie Canal, and anticipating the immeasurable advantages of such facilities to commerce, began to agitate the subject of a north and south canal, following the Susquehanna river, and connecting this portion of the State with the outside commercial world. Meetings were held, and public sentiment was rapidly instructed, and in 1830 the entire route was surveyed by Mr. Randall, chief engineer. And now the people believed that soon would be made amends for the terrible failures to navigate the river by steamboats. The State was invoked and gave aid, but sparingly. The work was commenced in Bradford county, in 1836, with a general hurrah all along the line; contractors and laborers swarmed along the river, and, after long waitings, now was coming a rapid completion. But in the course of the year funds were exhausted, and the works were doomed to lie idle awhile, and from 1841 to 1849 work was suspended for the want of. funds. Another generally. I followed, and operations were resumed, then were again suspended and again resumed, and finally the work was completed, and it went into operation in 1854. An era in this part of the State. Compared to our present facilities, it was a wretched make-shift, but in its time it was glorious. When the canal was commenced a railroad was only a dream in the progress of civilization, but when it was completed, so swiftly have we moved upon Fulton's great invention, that it was at the dawn of an era of railroad building throughout the country. Even in the new, wild West. they were then actually building some of the sections that have since become integral parts of some road was in the rapid process of building when the old canal was of the greatest railroads in the world. The great Illinois Central Rail opened for business. These marvels were rapidly educating the people -the packet canal-boats carried the newspapers that told of the movements elsewhere, and the National songs were little else than of the glories of the " age of fire and steam," and Fate was folding its arms about the North Branch Canal. The work on the canal had not been done in the best manner; from one end to the other it was leaky viaducts embankments and reservoirs soon, began, sadly, to need expensive repairs, and these called for immense outlays, and the tolls were not sufficiently encouraging to justify them. It bad been operated only four years (1858), then public sentiment had undergone such a change as to authorize the sale of the canal, the first moment when a sale would promise them a. railroad to be built along its towpath.
A pet scheme of Philadelphia's great financier, Nicholas Biddle, was to connect Philadelphia and the lakes by a line of railway. In 1858 the Legislature passed an act authorizing the sale of the North Branch Canal to the Sunbury & Erie Railroad Company, which sale was at once effected, the consideration being $3,500,000.This was the
218 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
inception of that State problem that in time assumed portent us proportions, and came to be known as the " tonage tax" law. That was finally repealed when Pennsylvania's great railroader, Tom Scott, had succeeded to the place of Nicholas Biddle, both as a financier and as a railroad operator.
The canal from Wilkes-Barre to the State line had been contracted to be built by Welles, Mercur and Hollenbach of this county, and other parties of Luzerne county.
The Pennsylvania & New York Railroad & Canal Company was formed, and purchased the canal ; they were little else than successors r purchase expressly permitted the to the Canal Company. Their building of a railroad on the towpath, and putting a new path on the brim side of the canal, and this was the end of the canal to all practical intents.
The North Branch Canal had attracted attention, and was. a subject of great interest to the State; and, from first to last, in its vicissitudes it lasted forty years, or nearly so-though its actual useful life was very brief. Its defects in construction were apparent to the first trip boats ever made over its waters. In 1872 an act was passed allowing its abandonment by the company, and now only the dimmest traces of where it once was can be pointed out by the old residents over the few spots where a vestige is to be seen.
When the North Branch Canal was building, it Was seen that some. Way should be provided to connect it with the canals of New York, and this would require sixteen miles constructed in that State. The Junction Canal Company was formed, and of this company were Laporte and Mason, of this county. The others were from WilkesBarre and New York. The canal was built, and went down with the North Branch Canal.
Railroad- In 1858 a company was formed, as above stated, and purchased the canal from Wilkes-Barre to the State line; the purchase was made and soon the company realized that as a canal it Would never be successful. In the face of innumerable obstacles they determined to convert it into a railroad, and the old canal company was succeeded by the Pennsylvania & New York Railroad & Canal Company, now the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
The railroad was surveyed in the summer of 1866, and the road building from Wilkes-Barre up the river was completed, and a train was run to Towanda, November 26,1867, and the road opened from Wilkes-Barre to Waverl , September 20, 1869-thus filling in a connecting link from the Lehigh Valley Railroad at Wilkes-Barre to a connection with the Erie road at Waverly. In fact it was but an extension of the Lehigh Valley from Wilkes-Barre to Waverly.
Barclay Railroad.-In order to develop the large coal deposit in the southwestern portions of the county, the Barclay road was constructed in 1857, starting from Towanda, at the canal basin, and running to the Foot of Planes, in Barclay township. A junction was formed with the railroad when built: built a narrow-gauge road, and has been extended in branches at its southern terminus so as to best
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 219
reach the different mines. It was leased out for a term of years to other roads, but in 1890 it passed to the control of the owners.
Sullivan and State Line Railroad.-In 1865, in consequence of the discovery of valuable coal deposits in Sullivan county, a railroad was built from Towanda to the coal fields of Lopez a distance of twentty-eight miles. The road runs over the Barclay road track, to Monroeton. It was opened for business in 1871.
Southern Central Railroad.-A part of the Lehigh system that branches at Sayre and runs to Auburn, N. Y.
G. 1. and S--The Geneva, Ithaca & Sayre, built by the Lehigh, commences at Sayre, and runs to Geneva.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad is building from Geneva to Buffalo, and they expect to have the work completed this year (1891). This will give them their own track to their Western connections, and relieve them of using, as now, the Erie track from Waverly.
The Lehigh is at this time building many other branches and connecting links, extending rapidly in new territory in every direction, ect is already one of the great -railroad systems 'of the world. Richind powerful, with a keen eve to advantages, as well as to inviting territory. The main line is now double tracked its entire length, and the vast trains constantly flying each way begin to point already to the necessity of yet another track to accommodate the ever increasing traffic and transportation over the line.
Northern Central Railroad. This was the first railroad built in Bradford county. It runs from Williamsport to Elmira, through the western part of the county. Canton and Troy are the chief towns on the line in this county. This is a single-track road, but is well constructed and operated liberally, and is the convenient outlet to all the western part of the county to the outside world.
Tile topography of the county-New York on the north, and the lower Susquehanna, Philadelphia and Baltimore on the south-pointed out this locality as a natural highway, reaching and connecting the two rich sections. In the latter part of the last century, the keen-eyed pioneers found a stream heading Dear Canton, that ran a due course to Williamsport, and they wanted to trade at the latter place, and soon a path was worn, to be followed by a rough wagon track. The State saw the importance of this highway and aided in the construction of a road, and the work had proceeded north as far as Canton in 1805, and was soon pushed on to Troy, and thence to Elmira. At that day this was the most important improvement in the county.
The railroad idea grew out of this State road, and one of the first roads built in this part of the State is now the Northern Central. It taps a rich region of country all along its line, and between the north and the south in the State, and the east and west of the Union, is one of our great trunk lines.