The History Center on Main Street

61 North Main Street, Mansfield, Pennsylvania 16933

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History
1883 Tioga County PA History

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania, (W. W. Munsell & Co., New York : 1883), 
If You Have Photos of People Mentioned on the Page, Send Them In For Inclusion

Return to 1883 Table of Contents




In the year 1806 a State road was ordered to be laid out from the Moosic mountains westward, passing through the counties of Bradford, Tioga and Potter. This road entered Tioga county in the present township of Sullivan and ran west through that township to Covington borough, thence west through the townships of Covington, Charleston and Delmar to Wellsboro; thence west into Potter county. This public thoroughfare contributed largely toward the settlement of the county, and gave its inhabitants a more direct communication with the citizens of Bradford county and the towns on the north branch of the Susquehanna and eastward.

Immediately after the war of 1812 the idea of making the Tioga River navigable as far south as Blossburg was thoroughly discussed. Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Tioga River, was declared a public highway in 1817. The Tioga River, running north into the State of New York, it was thought could be so improved as to render it navigable and safe for arks of coal (which had been discovered near Blossburg in the year 1792 by Robert and Benjamin Patterson) and also for lumber and any other product of the valley of the Tioga and the county in general, and thus a thorough communication be opened with towns along the river in New York and the southern points along the Susquehanna to tide water. The Laurel Ridge of the Alleghanies obstructed a convenient passage directly south into Lycoming and Northumberland counties and central Pennsylvania, and to avoid climbing the mountain and descending its declivities it was deemed feasible thus to improve the river navigation. Committees were appointed in Tioga county to confer with the citizens in the adjoining counties in New York (Steuben and Tioga), to enlist them in the enterprise. Aaron Bloss and others in the year 1817 petitioned the Legislature to appropriate $10,000 toward improving the Williamson road over the mountains from Blossburg to the Lycoming. The petition was not granted, and there seemed no alternative for the citizens of the Tioga valley but to improve the Tioga River and make it navigable. This theme was under discussion several years, some portions of the river being cleared and widened by individuals living along its course. In view of its ultimate consummation Judge John H. Knapp, of Elmira, erected a furnace at Blossburg in 1825, and commenced the manufacture of iron from ore found in the hills near by.


The Citizens of Tioga county, as we have before stated, were public spirited and in favor of any project calculated to improve the facilities for transportation or any thing which would tend to develop their resources. The building of the Corning and Blossburg Railroad in 1840 up the valley of the Tioga accommodated those living along the line of that road, while towns in the valley of Crooked Creek and the central portion of the county, surrounding Wellsboro, were not as well accommodated as they desired. Plank roads at that time were being constructed where railroads were not feasible, and were highly beneficial in many localities where a large amount of "teaming" had to be performed. In April 1848 the Tioga and Elmira Plank Road Company was incorporated. The object of this road was to connect with a plank road leading out of Elmira up Seeley Creek to the State line, the distance over the mountain to Elmira from Tioga being only about twenty-three miles. Work not having been commenced by the Tioga and Elmira Plank Road company in 1848 a supplement to the act was passed April 5th 1849, extending by seven years the time for building the road, and the following named persons were appointed additional commissioners to complete the work: James Miller, Seth Daggett, Edsell Mitchell, Levi J. Nichols, Henry H. Potter, Josiah Emery, Stephen L. Parmeter, John Stowell, Wright Dunham and Hector Miller.

This act was supplemented by another May 14th 1850, creating the Tioga and Law-

renceville Company, with power to extend its road to Wellsboro, and repealing the acts of 1848 and 1849 incorporating the Tioga and Elmira Plank Road Company. The supplement created a new body of incorporators, consisting of W. B. Clymer, William E. Dodge, Edward Bayer, George McCloud, Levi J. Nichols, Josiah Emery, R. G. White, H. H. Potter, Edsell Mitchell, Daniel Holliday jr., D. G. Stevens, Sylvester Beckwith, Seth Daggett, David A. Clark, Vine Depuy, T. J. Berry, T. L. Baldwin, C. H. Seymour, Joseph Aiken, Abel Humphrey, Austin Lathrop, Moses S. Baldwin, Pardon Damon, William K. Mitchell and Lyman Fish; and empowered them to take possession of the highway, etc. The portion of road from Tioga to Wellsboro was put under contract and soon finished. For many years this road was extensively traveled. Before the building of the Lawrenceville and Wellsboro railroad (in 1872), now known as the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim, immense quantities of lumber, merchandise and agricultural products were hauled over it. A number of years afterward, the plank becoming worn out, the company obtained a supplement to its charter allowing it to convert the road into a turnpike. It is thus used now.

The history of this enterprise, from its conception in 1845 to its completion in the year 1851, was at times exciting, and much spirit was manifested during the progress of its various phases. More than thirty years have passed; the animosities and warm blood stirred up have cooled down, the rough and jagged points in the controversy have been worn and smoothed away by time, and it is better that they be not revived again in this history. The road accomplished the end desired. It aided the lumbermen in Middlebury and Delmar to get their timber to market; secured to the merchants of Wellsboro an easier mode of transporting their goods from the depot at Tioga, and enabled those who had begun lumbering on Pine Creek to obtain cheaper supplies for their camps. This in fact was the first public thoroughfare to Wellsboro which had been improved since the building of the State road in the year 1806, to which we have already referred. It will be seen that the list of names of the incorporators includes that of W. B. Clymer, the agent for the Bingham estate, who had in 1845 established the general land office of that estate at Wellsboro, and who was anxious that settlers upon the lands already sold by him should have increased facilities for communication with those of the valley of the Tioga, as well as that there should be additional inducements to new settlers. The name also of William E. Dodge appears as one of the corporators. The firm of Phelps & Dodge owned thousands of acres of pine lands, through which the road passed, and it afforded them great facilities for getting their lumber to market, especially from those lands facing Crooked Creek Valley and the waters of the Tioga. It also benefited H. H. Potter, of Middlebury; Daniel Holliday, of Holliday’s; Vine Depuy, T. J. Berry, C. H. Seymour, Joseph Aiken and Edward Bayer, of Tioga; and Hon. R. G. White and Josiah Emery, of Wellsboro; while contributing generally to the convenience and prosperity of those along its line and at its terminus, Wellsboro. Perhaps no small investment made in the county contributed more to advance the price of lumber and lands, or was of more benefit to the community within its influence, than the Tioga and Lawrenceville plank road. The road from Lawrenceville to Tioga was never finished – only that part leading from Tioga to Wellsboro, a distance of seventeen miles.


The Legislature had passed an act in March 1823 for the improvement of the Susquehanna from Northumberland to Columbia, in Lancaster county, and had appointed Jabez Hyde jr., John McMeans and Samuel L. Wilson to superintend the work, 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 lawmakers of the State. Raftsmen who had descended the Tioga and Susquehanna Rivers were returning with glowing accounts of the progress of internal improvements in central Pennsylvania. In fact, the great States of New York and Pennsylvania were preparing for the grand career of public improvements for which they were subsequently distinguished, and the pioneer of Tioga county felt his pulse quickened in view of the pleasing prospects before him.

At the session of 1826 the Legislature passed what has been generally known as the General Improvement act, which aroused the people from the Delaware on the east to the Ohio and Lake Erie on the west and northwest. Steamboat and navigation companies were chartered, also companies for building railroads and canals besides those that were undertaken exclusively by the State. New York had with like public spirit about completed the Erie Canal, leading from Albany on the Hudson to Buffalo on the shores of Lake Erie, and was contemplating the construction of lateral canals, that would serve as feeders. One of these was to commence at Binghamton, near the north line of Susquehanna county, and another would connect the waters of Seneca Lake with the Chemung River at Elmira, eight miles north of the Bradford county line, with a branch extending to Painted Post, ten miles north of the Tioga county line. The atmosphere was completely laden with canal projects. In consonance with a general plan of canal navigation, which was to connect Philadelphia with the waters of the Allegheny and Ohio, canal routes were surveyed from the "City of Brotherly Love" to Lancaster; then to Harrisburgh on the Susquehanna; thence to the mouth of the Juniata, up that beautiful stream to the base of the Alleghanies, crossing the mountains by inclines, and thence down the Conemaugh or Kiskiminetas to Pittsburgh, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. Another route proposed led from the mouth of the "blue Juniata" up the main branch of the Susquehanna to Northumberland; and while one arm of the grand trunk would extend up the north branch to Wilkes-


Barre and thence northward, passing through Pittston, Tunkhannock and Towanda, to Athens or Tioga Point, on the northern boundary of the State, the other arm was to reach up the west branch from Northumberland, passing through Milton, Muncy, Williamsport and Jersey Shore to Dunn’s Island (now Lock Haven). There dividing, one branch would follow up the Bald Eagle, and the other up the west branch of the Susquehanna to Queens Run, even passing the mouth of Kettle Creek, and extending up the Clearfield and Sinnamahoning branches. Another projected canal was to leave Philadelphia and run parallel with the Schuylkill through the counties of Montgomery, Chester and Berks, and have its terminus in the coal regions of the upper Schuylkill at Pottsville; while another was to leave the Delaware at Easton, and by means of slack-water navigation ascend the Lehigh through the counties of Northampton, Lehigh and Carbon, touching the borders of Luzerne at White Haven.

As an earnest of the intention of the State to carry out these projects, on the 14th day of March 1827 the corner stone of Penn lock, named in honor of William Penn, was laid at the city of Harrisburg with great ceremony, in the presence of Governor Schultz, ex-Governor Findlay, the governor of Tennessee, the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (Hon. Joseph Ritner), members of the Senate and House, the masonic fraternity, the borough councils, the military organizations and citizens generally, who turned out with music and banners to celebrate this important event in the history of internal improvement in the old "Keystone." The stone thus placed contained the names of the members of the Legislature at the time of the passage of the act and the name of the governor of the State, J. Andrew Schultz, who approved the act.

Is it any mystery, then, that the citizens of Tioga – the Fords, Ryons, Guernseys, Parkhursts, Manns, Spencers, Blosses, Morrises, Knoxers, Putnams, Bakers, Tubbses, Beechers, Nileses, Davitts, Knapps, Norrises, Wellses, Baches, Lambs, Dyers, Wilsons, Mitchells, Berrys, Bushes, Daniel L. Sherwood, R. G. White, and a host of others – should in their Tioga homes become inspired with the spirit of improvement, when on every hand, north and south, east and west, both in New York and Pennsylvania, the State governments were exercising their whole energies to develop the resources of their several States? The agitation of this subject finally resulted in the incorporation of the Tioga River Navigation company, and, by a series of supplements, the Blossburg and Corning Railroad Company. Under their charter as a navigation company the parties interested attempted to improve the navigation of the Tioga, and called to their aid Miller Fox, of Towanda, an eminent civil engineer, who subsequently was chief engineer of the Blossburg and Corning Railroad. He made a survey and an estimate of the cost of putting the stream in a navigable condition. Considerable work was done, and in 1836 arks were built at Spencer’s Mills, at Canoe Camp, by Christian H. Charles and Charles Sykes, intended for the coal trade between Blossburg and Syracuse, N.Y., the Chemung Canal having been completed to Corning, near Painted Post. One report of these operations, which we have before us, states that "they only got as far as Chimney Narrows" on their route to Syracuse. This mode of navigation was soon abandoned.


Railroads were then attracting the attention of the civilized world, and their utility and feasibility were being demonstrated. Alive to any know means whereby the citizens of Tioga county could obtain a safe, reliable and effective mode of transportation for their products, the Tioga Navigation Company caught the spirit of the hour and obtained from the Legislature a supplement to its charter, allowing it to construct a railroad from Blossburg to the State line at Lawrenceville, a distance of about twenty-five miles, to run parallel with the Tioga River. This was one of the most important events which had transpired in the history of this new county. The settlement of the county had been rapid before this event. The census of 1830 had shown a population of 8,978, with quite a number of grist-mills and between thirty and forty saw-mills, a furnace for the manufacture of iron from the native ores, a foundry, and several other industrial establishments. Semi-bituminous coal had been discovered in great quantities at Blossburg and vicinity; it had been conveyed to Albany and examined by the members of the New York Legislature, and its usefulness for blacksmithing and steam generating had been demonstrated. This in fact had been one of the great levers applied to the New York Legislature to influence it in the passage of the bill for the construction of the Chemung Canal; and now, when the people of Albany were familiar with the use of the coal, a company was formed, prominent among the members of which was Hon. Erastus Corning, to construct a railroad from the head of canal navigation near Painted Post to intersect the Blossburg railroad at Lawrenceville. This step on the part of the capitalists of Albany was the initial one in the founding of the now enterprising and thrifty town of Corning, the half-shire of the county of Steuben; while the action of the Pennsylvania company resulted in the building up of the villages of Blossburg, Covington and Mansfield and other towns along its line in the valley of the Tioga, and finally culminated in the establishment of the immense coal trade of Tioga county, and its present lines of railroad communication. The entire line from Corning to Blossburg was completed in 1840. In the year 1852 a railroad was completed from Blossburg to the coal mines at Morris Run, a distance of about four miles, under the direction of Colonel Pharon Jarrett, for the Tioga Improvement Company.

In 1862 and 1863 it seemed that almost every able-bodied man had left the county and gone in defense of the "old flag;" in consequence of the great drain upon the hardy yeomanry of the county labor commanded a high price. From 1860 to 1872 a large accession to the business interests of Tioga county was realized. In 1862

The Salt company of Syracuse leased the coal mines of the Tioga Improvement Company at Morris Run, and commenced business on a larger scale. This company operated the mines two years; then sold its interest to the Morris Run Coal Company, which made still larger improvements, and increased the capacity of the mines to more than two thousand tons per day.

By an act of the Legislature approved April 11th 1866 Constant Cook, John Arnot, Charles Cook, Henry Sherwood; Franklin N. Drake, Ferral C. Dininy, Henry H. Cook and Alonzo Webber were incorporated under the title of the Blossburg Coal Company. Immediately thereafter a contract was entered into by the company with Sherwood & McLean to build a railroad from Blossburg to the company’s coal fields, which were situated on Johnson Creek, about four miles southwest from Blossburg. The railroad was completed during the summer and a mining town founded, which bears the name of Arnot, in honor of Hon. John Arnot, of Elmira, one of the company. A full history of the operations of this company will be found in the history of Arnot.

A company was formed during the year 1881 called the Arnot and Pine Creek Railroad Company, which is constructing a railroad from Arnot to Babb’s Creek in the township of Morris, a distance of about fourteen miles. This road runs through a wild and unsettled county – in fact an unbroken forest – and is designed to be used as a coal, lumber and freight road. At its terminus is the Woodland Tannery of Hoyt Brothers, one of the largest tanneries in the world, a description of which will appear in the proper place. The building of this new railroad has more significance than appears at first. It has been the wish and desire of the people of Tioga county to obtain direct railroad communication with Williamsport and the southern portion of the commonwealth. The completion of this road will place them so much nearer the consummation of their object.

The people of Elmira had long wished for direct railroad communication with the valley of the Tioga, and on the 23d of April 1872 the enterprise took a definite shape. At that date, through the exertions of Stephen T. Arnot, George M. Diven, S. T. Reynolds and others, the Elmira and State Line Railroad Company was incorporated, to build a railroad from Elmira to a point at or near Lawrenceville. The charter directors of the company were George M. Diven, Silas Haight, Jefferson B. Clark, Robert T. Turner, Erastus P. Hart, John T. Rathbun, Thomas J. Lormore, W. R. Judson, Stephen T. Arnot, Samuel H. Wadsworth and William M. Gregg; and the officers were : president Stephen T. Arnot; vice-president and treasure, George M. Diven; secretary S. T. Reynolds.

Enthusiastic meetings were held in the court-house in Elmira, and speeches made by General A. S. Diven and others, who showed the advantages to be derived from the proposed road. A committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions, to make a survey, etc. The citizens of Elmira responded with alacrity. All the necessary steps were finally taken, the Tioga Railroad guaranteeing the bonds; and in due time the work commenced. The chief engineer was S. M. Seymour, with James M. Morris and Frederic Leach jr., assistants. The contractors were A. Wallace & Co.

The road was finished in October 1876, and the officers invited a company to celebrate its opening by an excursion from Elmira to Arnot and back. The train provided for the accomodation of the excursionists consisted of seven cars. The engine was a ten wheeler, No. 14, with Joseph Schusler engineer, an old and trustworthy employe of the Tioga road, and William Wallace fireman. The train was in charge of Henry F. Shattuck, assistant superintendent of the road, as conducter.

The road was finished in October 1876, and the officers invited a company to celebrate its opening by an excursion from Elmira to Arnot and back. The train provided for the accomodation of the excursionists consisted of seven cars. The engine was a ten wheeler, No. 14, with Joseph Schusler engineer, and old and trustworthy employe of the Tioga road, and William Wallace fireman. The train was in charge of Henry F. Shattuck, assistant superintendent of the road, as conducter.

The road proved to be substantially built, well ballasted at every point, and the cars ran as smoothly over it as on an old road. It is about 19 miles in length. From Elmira it rises by a grade of about seventy feet to the mile to the summit, and the descent of six miles to the Tioga Junction is about one hundred feet to the mile. There are two notable iron trestles on the road: one at Alder Run, thirteen miles from Elmira, 732 feet long and 70 feet high, and the Stony Fork trestle, about a mile from Alder Run, which is 480 feet long and 50 feet high.

At the various stations along the road there were large assemblages of people and additions to the party. Arriving at Blossburg the excursion was greeted with cheers, while the proprietors of the Seymour House, Messrs. Morgan & Ward, displayed a fine national flag in honor of the auspicious event. At Arnot coal mines, the southwest terminus of the road, the whole population turned out to welcome the train, the Arnot cornet band playing "Hail Columbia" and other national airs. After spending a short time in examining the coal mines and appliances the excursionists prepared to return. They had taken a new engine at Blossburg, in charge of George Lewis, engineer, and Mart Van Houten, fireman.

At Bush’s Park four hundred of the party left the train to partake of the hospitalities which had been provided by A. C. Bush in the park. This park is on the hillside overlooking the beautiful village, and the view of the winding waters of the Tioga and the level and fertile lands of the valley was in the soft autumn sunlight very beautiful. Tables were spread in the large dining hall and theatre hall. After dinner the company assembled in a meeting. Hon. A. S. Diven presided and made a short speech. A preamble and resolutions were passed complimentary to Mr. Bush, who modestly acknowledged the honor. Then followed congratulatory speeches by Fred. E. Smith, of Tioga; F. N. Drake, president of the Tioga Railroad; Judge Williams, of Wellsboro, and W. H. Bogart, of Aurora, N. Y. The company then adjourned to the cars, and were safely returned to their several localities, well pleased with the excursion and with the prospects of benefits to be derived from the new road by the people of Chemung county, N. Y., and Tioga county, Pa.

The road deflects from the Tioga Valley about three miles south of Lawrenceville, and ascends Inscho Creek


To the summit of the mountains in the township of Jackson, where it attains an elevation of about fifteen hundred feet above tide. From this point it descends to the valley of the Chemung, intersecting the Northern Central about two miles south of Elmira, and thence continuing to the city, delivering its passengers and freight at the union depot.

This line was soon consolidated with the Tioga road as the Tioga and Elmira State Line Railroad. The general office of the company is at Elmira. The officers are:

F. N. Drake, president, Corning, N.Y.; H. H. Cook, vice-president, New York city; D. S. Drake, secretary, Elmira; H. H. Cook, treasurer, New York; L. H. Shattuck, general superintendent, Blossburg; S. B. Elliott, general engineer. The directors are F. N. Drake, J. A. Drake and A. S. Kendall, Corning, N. Y.; M. B. and I. W. Bush, Buffalo; H. H. cook, New York; E. C. Cook, Bath, N. Y.; C. C. and D. S. Drake, H. D. V. Pratt, and S. T. Reynolds, Elmira; and L. H. Shattuck, Blossburg. C. C. Drake, Elmira, is general passenger and freight agent, and H. F. Shattuck assistant superintendent.

The capital stock of the company is $1,000,000. The total cost of the road up to December 31st 1880 was $1,545,620.78 The average cost of the road per mile was $22,530.91.

The company transports the entire product of the coal mines and coke ovens at Arnot, and the product of the mines at Morris Run, which with other freight make the average annual tonnage from 700,000 to 900,000 tons. The company owns seventeen locomotives and about one thousand cars of all descriptions. The number of men employed is from 260 to 300. The car shop, machine shop and round house are at Blossburg, and a description of them appears in the history of that borough. A telegraph line extends from Arnot to Elmira. The fare for both through and way passengers is at the rate of three cents per mile. The charge for through freight is at the rate of four cents per ton per mile, but to shippers of quantities of 100,000 tons one and one-half cents; way freight per ton per mile, five cents. The length of the road from State Line Junction, N.Y., to Arnot is 50.6 miles; length in Pennsylvania, 44; from Blossburg to Morris Run, 4 miles; aggregate length of main line, branches, leased roads, sidings and other track, 68.6 miles; length in Pennsylvania, 59 miles. The road has a three-rail track – both broad and standard gauge. The United States Express Company operates on the line. At Blossburg the road connects with the Fall Brook Railroad, at Lawrenceville with the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad, and at Elmira with the New York, Lake Erie and Western, the Northern Central, the Lehigh Valley and the Utica, Ithaca and Elmira railroads; and it is presumed that ere this is placed in the hands of the reader connections will be made with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, and the Arnot and Pine Creek Railroad will have been completed to Babb’s Creek from Arnot. The tonnage henceforth will be large, for there will be during the next year fifty million feet of hemlock lumber manufactured and transported along the line. The shipments of glass will also be increased; not less than sixty thousand boxes manufactured at Blossburg and Covington will pass over this road on the way to market. The passenger business will also increase, for the country through which the road passes is rapidly gaining in population, as well as the localities at its termini. Could the members of the old Tioga Navigation Company, from which the railroad company derived its origin, arise and see the great coal, lumber and passenger trains that daily pass over this road they would be as much astonished as poor Rip Van Winkle after his long sleep. Enterprises are projected which it is confidently expected will still further develop the resources of the southern portion of the county and increase the business and tonnage of the road.


In 1851, Hon. John Magee, of Bath, N. Y., obtained by lease the coal mines at Blossburg, and became the owner of the Corning part of the Blossburg and Corning Railroad, or that portion of the railroad from the State line at Lawrenceville to Corning, N. Y. The railroad was originally laid with a strap rail on sleepers. He immediately commenced relaying the track with durable and substantial T rails, and induced the stockholders of the Pennsylvania portion to do the same. This insured a first –class road from the mines at Blossburg to Corning, and stimulated the mining and sale of coal to a very great extent. Mr. Magee continued mining for several years and shipping from Blossburg to Corning, where the coal was distributed east and west by canal and railroad, wherever the demand required.

In the year 1856 his eldest son, Duncan S. Magee, commenced the exploration of coal lands situated in the township of Ward, about seven miles east of Blossburg, on the waters of Fall Brook, a tributary of the Tioga River. The exploration after much trouble and expense proving finally satisfactory, the Legislature of Pennsylvania granted a charge March 9th 1859 to John Magee, James H. Gulick and Duncan S. Magee as the Fall Brook Coal Company; the charter was vetoed by Governor W. F. Packer, and passed over his veto by the Senate and House April 7th of that year. The following gentlemen were subsequently elected officers: President, Hon. John Magee; treasurer, John Lang; superintendent, Duncan S. Magee; civil engineer, H. Brewer.

A railroad was constructed during the year 1859 from Blossburg to Fall Brook, by the Fall Brook Coal Company, and the business of mining was prosecuted with vigor.

These mining enterprises did much toward increasing the wealth and population of the county, and toward stimulating the farmers in the vicinity to increase their facilities for production, by creating a ready cash market for every article raised upon the farm.

In 1860 the population of the county was 31,044, an increase of 7,057 since the census of 1850.

In 1866 the Fall Brook Coal Company commenced exploration of coal lands on the mountains near Wilson’s Creek, a tributary of Babb’s Creek, about twelve miles south of Wellsboro. The exploration was conducted by Thomas Farrer and John Smith, gentlemen experienced in that line. A large coal field was discovered through their investigations, which discovery resulted in the purchase of the lands by the Fall Brook Coal Company and the incorporation April 4th 1867 of the Lawrenceville and Wellsboro Railroad Company; H. Brewer, of Fall Brook, president, and James Heron, of the same place, secretary and treasurer. A preliminary survey of the road was commenced September 23d 1867 by A. Hardt, civil engineer, under the direction of the president of the road. In December of that year Mr. Brewer died, and he was succeeded as president in January following by Hon. Henry Sherwood, of Wellsboro, who continued to act in that capacity until the road was finished from Lawrenceville to Wellsboro, and then to the mines – a distance of about fourteen miles from Wellsboro by rail. In May 1872 the railroad was completed from Lawrenceville to Wellsboro, and on the 28th of October to Antrim, as the new mining town was named.

About the same time that the last mentioned road was under construction the Cowanesque Valley Railroad Company was chartered. Its line extended from Lawrenceville west to Elkland, in the Cowanesque Valley, a distance of eleven miles. It was completed and opened for business September 15th 1873. For years the subject of a railroad up that most fertile valley of the county had been agitated. As far back as 1840, when the New York and Erie railroad was located in the western portion of the State, it was thought by many that the Cowanesque Valley was the most feasible route to Olean and the lake. Ten years ago some public spirited gentlemen of Corning, among whom were C. C. B. Walker, Austin Lathrop jr. and Stephen T. Hayt, together with the Fall Brook Coal Company and gentlemen living at Elkland, Nelson and Osceola, among whom were Joel and John Parkhurst and C. I. Pattison, put the enterprise in motion and employed Horatio Seymour jr., ex-State surveyor of New York, to lay out the road, which was promptly completed and became a part of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim line, being leased for 21 years from September 15th 1873.

John Parkhurst is president, S. T. Hayt vice-president, C. L. Pattison secretary and treasurer, and A. Hardt chief engineer. A telephone line is established between Elkland and Lawrenceville, which serves the public instead of a telegraph line and is less expensive.

The officers of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad are: George J. Magee, president; Daniel Beach, secretary and treasurer; directors – George J. Magee, Daniel Beach, John Lang, Daniel C. Howell, Horatio Seymour, Alfred L. Edwards and Henry Sherwood. The capital stock of the company authorized by law and by votes of the company is two million dollars. The length of the main line, from Corning to Antrim, is 53 miles, 37 ½ miles in Pennsylvania; the Cowanesque branch, extending from Lawrenceville to Elkland, 11 miles; the track from Blossburg to Fall Brook about seven miles; other sidings make the entire length of the road 76 miles, 54 miles being in Tioga county. The cost of equipment $500,000. The road is leased and operated by the Fall Brook Coal Company. That company and the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad Company also operate the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning Railroad and the Geneva and Lyons Railroad, making a total of 144 miles. They have 24 locomotives and about 1,100 cars. The road bed used by the company is the one built in 1840 by the Blossburg and Corning company, which the Hon. John Magee, deceased, president of the Fall Brook Coal company, obtained in the year 1851. The Fall Brook Coal Company owns and operates the mines at Antrim and Fall Brook, besides having a large interest in the mines at Morris Run, operated by the Morris Run Coal Mining Company. The product of the mines at Fall Brook is run over the road of the owners to Blossburg, and thence on the Tioga railroad to Lawrenceville, tonnage being paid the Tioga Company; the Morris Run Coal Mining Company sends it coal over the Morris Run branch of the Tioga road, and the main line to Lawrenceville, where it is taken upon the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim road, conveyed to Corning and there distributed according to orders.

The tonnage of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad is large, consisting of six or seven hundred thousand tons of coal, besides a large amount of lumber, leather, bark, agricultural products, etc. Fare is three cents a mile; through freight per ton per mile 6 ½ cents; local freight 8 cents, and through coal per ton in quantities of 100,000 tons 1 ½ cents.

The opening of this railroad in May 1872 was one of the historical events of the county, as it marked an era in the development of its commercial, industrial and mineral resources. On the 22nd of May the road was opened from Corning to Wellsboro. It had been built from Lawrenceville to Antrim by General George J. Magee in fulfillment of a plan conceived by his father, the late Hon. John Magee, and Duncan S. Magee, his brother. Hon. John Magee died April 5th 1868. Duncan S. Magee’s health failing in the autumn of that year he departed on a trip to Europe to recuperate, but died in the spring following. The whole responsibility of carrying forward to completion the work already begun and in contemplation devolved upon General George J. Magee, one of the executive trustees of the estate. This was a great task for a man of thirty; but Mr. Magee proved equal to the responsibility. Under his direction A. Hardt completed the survey and location of the road.

The celebration of the opening of travel was in all respects a grand success. An excursion train left Corning at 10 o’clock, carrying Governor Seymour, William E. Dodge and other prominent citizens. The excursion was reinforced at every station, while thousands of citi-


Zens from Tioga county flocked into Wellsboro to see the iron horse steam into the valley of Crooked and Marsh Creeks, to listen to the speeches of the distinguished gentlemen and otherwise celebrate the important event. As the train arrived in Wellsboro, it was saluted by the waving of flags and handkerchiefs, the firing of cannon, and cheers.

A platform had been erected in front of the present depot. Judge Stephen F. Wilson acted as chairman and Colonel A. E. Niles as marshal of the day. Hon. Henry W. Williams delivered an address of welcome.

The Hon. William E. Dodge was then introduced. Among other things he said: "Last evening at 7 o’clock I entered the Erie Railway cars at Jersey City, and here I am in Wellsboro. It took about the same time that it did to get into Westchester county before the railroads were built. It is, therefore, as if you had been taken up and set down in Westchester county. I have seen many railroad openings, but never one like this. Many towns were impoverished by bonds, subscriptions and donations to get their railroads. How is it here? Where are the stockholders? They are all on this platform. There is wherein this opening differs from others. It has not cost you a dollar except perhaps the right of way, which you have cheerfully given. You have subscribed nothing, you have given nothing, you have bonded nothing, but you have got your railroad. What are you going to do about it? I do not suppose that noble and truly great man John Magee built this railroad to gratify Wellsboro. No. He built it for an object. He might have got out his coal by a tram road behind the hills, but he preferred to build a passenger and freight road and ask you to support it. This is what he expected of you. Thanks are well, but something more is needed. You must support this railroad. You must not keep on in the old way before it was built. You must clear more land, raise more grain, build more factories. The more you do of this the cheaper will you get your railroad facilities. If you use it but little the cost will be high. It you use it much the cost will be less. This railroad will add to your comfort and to the value of your property. You make good butter here – as good as in Orange county. It will enable you to compete with Orange county in New York. Twenty years ago you had to send it by the way of Chemung Canal, and it was old butter when it reached the city. Now you can get it down to New York city in fourteen hours. It is so with everything else, you are right in market. You have been set down by the side of New York city."

At the conclusion of Mr. Dodge’s speech the Hon. Horatio Seymour was introduced. He said his relation with this great work was slender and remote. Its projector, that great man John Magee, was living now, even in his grave. It was natural to dwell on the changes which had taken place in this valley. Thirty-five years before, the speaker came into the valley of the Tioga, a young man, on horseback. He knew something of the early settlers. They were men of remarkable power and vigor, men of great self-reliance and enterprise. Their works were quite equal to any accomplished since. There was a class of leading men among the early settlers of southern New York and northern Pennsylvania of wonderful native energy. Among them was John Magee.

Governor Seymour’s remarks were received with great satisfaction and delight, and he was enthusiastically cheered at the conclusion. At an opportune moment James Stoll, conductor on the road, presented A. H. Gorton, superintendent, with a beautiful and costly gold headed cane. General George J. Magee was then called for; he arose, thanked the multitude, and retired amid applause. A procession was then formed and marched to Bowen’s Hall, where a sumptuous dinner was served, after which toasts were read and responded to. About 5 o’clock the excursionists left Wellsboro for Corning.

Closely allied to this road is the Syracuse, Geneva and Corning, giving the people of the county direct communication with central and eastern New York. This road was completed late in the fall of 1877. On the 10th of December 1877 the first through train from New York via the new line arrived in Corning. Two Wagner palace coaches were attached to the train, and the party included Mr. Wagner himself and other prominent railroad men. An impromptu reception, under the charge of Charles G. Dennison, greeted the party on its arrival. A salute was fired, and Pier’s band gave some of its liveliest music, while the citizens assembled in large numbers and expressed their pleasure in cheers and congratulations. F. A. Williams made a brief address of welcome, to which General G. J. Magee responded in a happy manner. James A. Rutter, of the New York Central, and others also spoke. After a little delay the party continued to Antrim, stopping at Wellsboro a few minutes, and returning to Corning in the evening.


For many years the people of Tioga county have been trying to secure the building of a railroad along the line of Pine Creek to Jersey Shore, on the west branch of the Susquehanna, there to connect with the Philadelphia and Erie, or to continue to Wiliamsport and connect there with the Philadelphia and Erie and the Catawissa branch of the Reading Railroad. That object will not be consummated. At a meeting of the stockholders of the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway Company, held at the Ross land office, in the borough of Coudersport, Potter county, January 23d 1882, the following officers were elected: President, Henry Sherwood, of Wellsboro; vice-president, George J. Magee, of Watkins, N. Y.; secretary, William Howell jr., of Antrim; chief engineer, Anton Hardt, Wellsboro; treasurer, Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York city; executive committee, Henry Sherwood, Jefferson Harrison, Anton Hardt, W. H. Vanderbilt, W. K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, George J. Magee; directors, W. H. Vanderbilt, W. K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Augustus Schell, George J. Magee, William Howell jr., E. G. Schiefflein, Henry Sherwood, Walter Sherwood, Jefferson Harrison, Jerome B. Niles, Anton Hardt and John W. Bailey.

The stockholders passed a resolution to the effect that operations should be commenced at once for the building of the road from Williamsport, via Jersey Shore, up Pine Creek to the mouth of Marsh Creek, in Tioga county; thence up march Creek to Stokesdale, in the township of Delmar, near the north line of the borough of Wellsboro, connecting with the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railway. The charter for this road formerly belonged to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, but by a late business arrangement it is now practically in the hands of the Vanderbilts, George J. Magee and their associates. The road will be constructed as speedily as money will do it, and will open up a country rich in timber and minerals, and afford a connecting line from the New York Central Railroad at Lyons and Geneva to the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania, the semi-anthracite of Dauphin county, and the vast deposits of iron in Lebanon, Lehigh and other portions of eastern and central Pennsylvania. It will also run through the great glass sandrock belt of Tioga, and the hemlock lumber regions of Tioga, Potter and Lycoming counties. When completed it will mark an era in the history of Tioga county, and will stimulate business along its entire line.


The locomotive has not entirely superseded the stage coach in Tioga county. Along the valleys of the Tioga and Cowanesque and Crooked Creek it is partially banished; but from Elkland, on the Cowanesque, there are two lines, one running up that river and off into Potter county, Pa., and another running north over the hills to Addison, in New York, on the waters of the Canisteo.

From Wellsboro there is a line west and south; from Mansfield one east and one west; and from Blossburg two lines, one leading over the mountains to Roaring Branch, on the line of the Northern Central Railway, and another to Liberty. There it intersects a line from Canton, touching at Gleason and Ogdensburg in Union township, and Liberty, Barfelden and Nauvoo in Liberty township, and passing on by the way of Babb’s Creek to Antrim, with a branch leading down to Jersey Shore, in Lycoming county. A line also leads from Morris Run, in Hamilton township, to Fall Brook, there connecting with a line to Canton by the way of Chase’s Mills. There are one or two other short lines in the county.

The stage routes therefore have not outlived their usefulness, but they are modest in their pretensions and equipments. None of the coaches have more than two horses attached, while many have only one, the mail being carried in a buggy or cutter. They have none of the eclat, pomp and circumstance of the old four-horse Concord stages of forty years ago, when such men as John Magee, of Bath, and Cooley & Maxwell, of Elmira, had lines extending all over southern New York and northern Pennsylvania, and such men as J. C. Bennett, of Covington, or the late Benjamin R. Hall, of Blossburg, drew the reins over their prancing steeds, and made their trips from Painted Post to Lawrenceville, up the valley of the Tioga to Blossburg, and away to the Block House by the Williamson road, ascending the Laurel Ridge Mountain, descending its steep and dangerous declivities to Trout Run on the Lycoming, thence continuing to Williamsport, on the west branch of the Susquehanna, and there connecting with a line leading south by the way of Muncy, Milton, Northumberland, Sunbury and Selingsgrove to Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Those were halcyon days. In a large portion of Tioga county the horn of the stage driver is forever silenced by the whistle of the locomotive; yet here and there is to be found a gentleman of the "old school", to whom the mention of stage coaching brings pleasing memories of the past, like some faint and far-off music, dying sweetly on his ear. To such an one the present generation owes respectful deference, and it should humor his partiality for the days of "auld lang syne."



The coal discovered in 1792 by the Patterson brothers within the present limits of the borough of Blossburg, and which was pronounced "good" by the German and English immigrants whom they were conducting to their wilderness homes on the Pultney estate in western New York, has ever since maintained the character which they gave it ninety years ago. In the year 1801 Aaron Bloss came from the eastern portion of New York, on the Hudson River, and settled where the borough of Covington is situated. In 1806 he removed to "Peter’s Camp," on the Williamson road, which was near where the foundry and machine shop of T. J. Mooers is located; and erected a hotel, purchasing the lands upon which the coal had been discovered. Being situated midway between Painted Post in New York and Williamsport in Pennsylvania this hotel soon became a famous resort and stopping place. He immediately proceeded to open the vein of coal, mining it for his own use and securing quite a local trade. The coal, however, began to gain more than a home demand, and its fame soon reached southward into the interior of Pennsylvania, even as far as Philadelphia; and northward and eastward into the State of New York, attracting the attention of the legislators of that State. A Mr. Clemmons had also opened up a vein of coal. He resided about two and a half miles north of Aaron Bloss. Thus was taken the initial step in the development and use of the now celebrated Blossburg semi-bituminous coal, which is know far and wide in America and Europe for its superiority in smishing, tempering of steel, generation of steam, domestic 

site created and maintained by Joyce M. Tice

Home | About | News | Calendar | Photo Gallery | Links | FAQ | Contact