Lumber and Coal Industries in Clarion County, Pa.
From: History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
Edited by: A. J. Davis
Published By: D. Mason and Co., Syracuse 1887

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JAMES LAUGHLIN and Frederick Miles, at the mouth of Piney Creek, in 1805, built the first saw mill in the country, and it is probable rafted some timber to Pittsburgh. In 1811 Benjamin Gardner, sr., a carpenter by trade, attracted by the wealth of virgin pine on the banks of Toby's Creek, came from Philadelphia to engage in the business of lumbering on the homestead tract and on Turkey Run. The work of stripping the steep and rugged hillsides, even now an arduous one, was then, when so many labor saving appliances were lacking, exceedingly toilsome. Early lumbering was accompanied by hardships, testing severely the stoutest frames and the most robust constitutions.

Mr. Gardner continued in the business till his death, and introduced the use of steam into the Clarion region at his double upright mill, at the mouth of Beaver Creek.

The first circular steam mill in the county was the Jamestown Company's at the mouth of Mill Creek, built in 1853.

Thomas Peters, in 1822, erected a dam for lumbering purposes across the Clarion at the mouth of Turkey Run, under the following act:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, etc.: That from and after the passing of this act, it shall and may be lawful for Thomas R. Peters, his heirs, executors, and assigns, to construct, erect, support, and maintain forever, a dam or dyke across Toby's Creek (or Clarion River), at or near the mouth of Turkey Run, emptying into the said creek (or river) in Venango county, in the Commonwealth aforesaid: Provided, That the said Thomas R. Peters, his heirs and assigns, shall at all times keep, support, and maintain a race or canal, at least sixteen feet wide, with a lock or locks if necessary, the gates of which shall not be less than eighty feet apart, which lock or locks shall be effectually supplied with water for boat and canoe navigation, out of and from the said creek or river, in such a manner as that boats and canoes may pass along and through the same, both ascending and descending, with as much ease and as little impediment to the navigation as may be: And provided further, That the said Thomas R. Peters, his heirs and assigns, shall construct and maintain a slope of at least forty feet wide and two feet below the summit level of the dam, over a convenient part of the said dam, for the passage of rafts descending the said river, and that the slope shall have an apron or inclined plane of six feet for every foot of the said dam above the ordinary level of the water in the said creek or river."

The succeeding section provides that if complaint be made that the dam seriously obstructs navigation, viewers shall be appointed by the court to pass judgment; from whose report an appeal may be taken, and the issue tried before a jury.

The richly wooded slopes about Turkey Run and Callensburg were the scenes of the first active lumbering operations. The southern half of the county never possessed the pine and hemlock in the abundance found in the north; and the furnaces stripped it of nearly all that it had.

Prior to 1860 one or two steam mills, and a multitude of small water mills of the upright style, on the tributaries of the Clarion, supplied the moderate demands of the market with their quota of sawed product. We may instance Porter's, Gilmore's, Walter's, Sarvey's, Griebel's, all on Little Toby.

The first mills had single sash saws; "muley" and gang saws were the next improvement.

Hahn & Metzgar. In 1848 Jacob and Charles Hahn; of Philadelphia, purchased the old mill at Piney, together without about 100 acres, from Mr. Allen Wilson. The mill was of the primitive order, with two upright saws and worked by water power. At that time the timber had already been pretty well culled from the country about the mouth of Piney Creek. The Hahn brothers were chiefly engaged in turning out heavy timber, and the manufacture of boats for the iron trade. The mill was capable of cutting about a million yearly.

In 1853 the property was sold to Corbett and Wynkoop, and rebought the next year by Mr. Hahn, who retired again in 1867, but on starting Paint mills in 1870 with John Metzgar and others, he regained a half interest in this mill, which he retained a few years, and then sold to Mr. Krause. This mill has been a singularly fatal one to two of its proprietors. Mr. Metzgar was drowned in the dam during an ice gorge; and Mr. Krause some years after met his death by drowning in the river, at the loading place. The mill was converted into a steam one, under Mr. Krause's management; it now belongs to Messrs. M. Wagner and Jno. Hahn.

Marvin, Rulofson & Company. This extensive and enterprising firm own about 8,000 acres along both sides of Mill Creek, much of which, however, has been cleared of valuable timber. The first saw mill was erected at the mouth of Mill Creek about 1817, by Thomas Guthrie, in connection with his gristmill there. It was a small one, with a flutter wheel of the oldest style. It was sold to John and Herman Girts, who ran it a short while, when it was purchased by the brothers Workman, with about 1,000 acres of timber land. They built a larger mill, and rebuilt it twice, but were unsuccessful. In 184J. W. Guthrie became proprietor, and constructed a large double water power saw mill on the river immediately below the mouth of Mill Creek, but Mr. Guthrie met with similar misfortunes as his predecessors; the mill was repeatedly destroyed and damaged by freshets and ice gorges.

The property not realizing the investment, was sold in 1850 to Nathaniel Lowry, of Jamestown, N. Y., and on his death, in the following year, passed into the hands of Benjamin Davis, W. Wheeler, M. Burnell, ____ Marvin,
and others of that vicinity. These gentlemen had scarcely finished repairs on the mills when they were again swept away. Convinced that the old site was an impracticable one, they moved up the stream, a short distance above its mouth, the site of the present mill, and in 1853 built a double circular steam mill, which was operated till 1857, and ceased running, till September, 1858, when Mr. Rulof Rulofson purchased an interest in it and revived business. By the death of several members of the company, the property became vested in a few who compose the present firm of Marvin, Rulofson & Company, Mr. Rulofson, manager. The latter, on assuming charge in 1858, put in a gang mill. In 1883 the mill was remodeled and equipped with the latest improvements in machinery, increasing its capacity to 3,000 feet per hour. It is now, if not the largest, one of the largest and most complete mills in the lumber region.

The land at the time of Rulofson's purchase had been enlarged by various conveyances to about 8,000 acres; a large portion of this was sold off in farms, and 4,000 acres purchased from the Blake lands, so that the area of the tract remains about the same. The bulk of the tract consisted originally of Bingham warrants, purchased by Algernon S. Howe, and which from Howe passed to Thomas Perley, Marshall Cram, G. Biake, and others, of Cumberland county, Me., his copartners in the Maine Lumber Company, a syndicate of lumbermen, who invested in large timber tracts along the upper Clarion and its tributaries.

Mr. Rulofson estimates the amount of timber cut before the beginning of the present ownership in 1853, as 20,000,000 of feet; since then 80,000,000 of pine have been manufactured. There yet remain on the tract 50,000,000 feet of pine, 30,000,000 feet of hemlock, 10,000,000 feet of oak.

Penn Mills, a short distance from the mouth of the Toby, was one of the earliest steam saw mills in the country. It was built in 1858 on a large and complete scale for that date, with a cutting power of 15,000 a day. The proprietors were Reynolds, Pritner, Curll and Myers. In 1865 a water spout devastated the valley of Little Toby, undermining the mill, carrying away the boiler, and destroying the road and tramway to the river. The mill was not rebuilt.

Shoup & Seigworth owned a large tract of timber land, about 500 acres on the headwaters of Paint Creek, between Tylersburg and Lickingville; and in the sixties had a steam mill on it, but cut comparatively little. Before 1865 they sold to Ludlow & Verman, an eastern firm, but rebought in a few years, and pretty effectually rid the land of timber between 1868 and 1875, sawing about 10,000,000 feet of pine.

Cobb & Sons. Jno. Cobb and sons were among the earliest of the extensive operators in the lumber region of Farmington. They stripped the Guthrie and Fleming lands on Tom's Run in 1873-75. Later they built Red Hot Mills, on Little Coon Creek, on the Ford and Lacy tracts; warrant 5502, and about 800 acres adjoining east. Five years were spent in clearing this of pine, at the rate of 3,000,000 a year. All this product was taken into Forest county and marketed there. Cobb & Sons also had an extensive tract on Hemlock Creek, part of which extended into Clarion county.

Paint Mills. In 1870 Jacob Hahn, Martin Wagner and Jno. Metzgar purchased 1,600 acres in Paint township from Jacob Black, esq., for $37,000, and established Paint Mills, which are capable of sawing 20,000 feet per day. They have been marketing lumber yearly ever since; their boat wharf and rafting ground being on the Clarion River, a little above the pike bridge. In oid times they disposed of the most of their timber at Elk City and Edenburg. The timber is now all but exhausted, and the year 1887 shall probably see the completion of the work. Metzgar's interest was purchased by D. B. Cull about 1878. Mr. Hahn retired from the partnership in 1883, Mr. Wagner taking his interest.

Star Mills. Leeper & Co. (Leeper, Bowman and Curll), was situated on land purchashed from C. Osterreid in southern Knox township, on Paint Creek, in extent about 300 acres. The mill was built in 1875, and is now abandoned, the timber tract being stripped.

P. Haskell, originally Leeper & Haskell. This timber tract lies in northern Farmington township and consists of about 750 acres. The mill, erected in 1871, has a capacity of 20,000 feet a day. About 15,000,000 have been already cut. Adjoining this property H. H. May operated some years for Root & Gillespie, of Forest county, taking off about 7,000,000 feet.

Byrom, Minor & Gordon. This firm lumbered on Blyson Run, their tracts embracing 1,300 acres. The mill was situated at the mouth of the run. They began operations in July, 1872; cut about 5,000,000 feet, and ceased in 1878.

Higby Tract. This contained 1,453 acres, situated southeast of Tylersburg, and joined Arnold, Leeper & Co. on the northwest. It was originally Peters land, and was bought by Zara H. Coster, of Allegheny. In 1846 Coster conveyed it for the consideration of $15,000 to Henry, Enoch I. Higby and George Higby, also of Allegheny. Enoch I. and George assigned their interests to Henry. It was purchased in October, 1879, by Charles Leeper, David Bowman, M. Arnold, and F. M. Arnold, for $38,000. They obtained 35,000,000 feet from it. It is now entirely stripped.

The Blake Tract. After Marvin, Rulofson & Co.'s, this the largest and most valuable piece of timber land in the county, contains 1,500 acres. It lies in Farmington township on both sides of Toby Creek, and consists chiefly of portions of Lewis and Peters's warrants, Nos. 3683, and 3684; and two irregular strips of Bingham territory, extending from these to the north and east, comprising about goo acres. An offsetting tract, called the "Wing Tract," lies to the west; this was originally owned by Elliot & Gray, who had a small mill on it at an early date. It was purchased by G. Blake. The Peters portion of the tract was sold in 1846 by Richard Peters to Zara Coster, and thence passed to Henry Higby in the same manner as described in the Higby tract. Higby shortly sold warrants 3683 and 3684, embracing 2,005 acres, to Robert Barber and W. L. Packer. On their failure in 1848 it fell under the sheriff's hammer to Tobias Myers, and through him to David Richey, who sold in January, 1856 to Grinfil Blake for $9,000. The Bingham portion was conveyed in 1840, by the Bingham trustees, to Algernon Howe, one of the Maine company; by him to Elizabeth Blake and Grinfil Blake, her husband, and finally became the sole property of the latter. In the winter of 1880 Blake began preparations to put a mill on the tract, but on May 6th a sale was effected, whereby, for the amount of $50,000 Elias Ritts obtained a one third interest, and P. Graham and R. Buzard, a third. Graham really owned but a twelfth interest, the other twelfth belonging to P. McCullough, of Pittsburgh, but nominally held by Graham. May 31, 1880, Hon. James Campbell purchased the remaining third from Blake for $50,000. October 14, 1884, Chas. Leeper purchased R. Buzard's interest (one sixth) for $40,000, and shortly after G. W. and F. M. Arnold became the owners of Ritts's third (including some finished lumber) for $85,000. In January, 1886, Hugh McCullough, heir of P., conveyed his one twelfth share in the property to Manasseh Arnold. The proprietors now are James Campbell, one third, G. W. and F. M. Arnold, one third, Charles Leeper, one sixth, M. Arnold, one twelfth, Graham heirs, one twelfth. The firm is known as Leeper, Arnold & Co. The first mill was built in 1880, and replaced by a new one in 1883, which has a capacity for cutting 30,000 feet per day; there is a lath mill in operation also. The boat wharf is at Porter's landing, two miles distant from the mill. About 50,000,000 feet of pine have been taken off this splendid tract; as much yet remains; the total stumpage exceeds the estimate at the purchase from Blake, by 25,000,000 feet. There is about 50,000 feet of oak. Arnold, Leeper & Co. employ thirty hands. Mr. Leeper is superintendent, with pay.

The Arthur Coal and Lumber Company, held 1,110 acres of land in the northeast corner of Paint township, purchased from Ralph Bagaley and J. C. Reid. The company were Ralph Bagaley, Robert Arthurs, S. E. Gill and Elisha Mix, all except the latter, who was manager, residing in Pittsburgh and vicinity. They began operations early in 1880, and ceased in 1886, having exhausted the timber. About 16,000,000 feet were sawed. This company took the initiative in introducing railroad facilities into the lumber region. In 1881 they constructed a branch from Clarion Junction to their mill, five miles distant.

T. W. Raine. In 1882 Messrs. Carrier and Raine, of Troy, Jefferson county, purchased the Corbett and Wilson tract, 913 acres, along both sides of the river near Clarion, and also 263 acres four miles above on Toby. March, 1885, Mr. Thos. Raine bought out Carrier's interest. The mill, first built by Thos. Baker, about 1863, has a present capacity of about 20,000. Carrier and Raine, and T. W. Raine have cut about 10,000,000 feet of pine.

F. Vowinckel. In the northeastern corner of Farmington township, on the P. and W. Railroad, Mr. Frederick Vowinckel's tract is situated, being land purchased from Rick, Taylor and Zagst, and comprising about 1,100 acres. The mill is a modern one, having a daily capacity of 30,000. It was erected in March, 1883. Since that time Mr. Vowinckel has turned out 7,000,000 feet of finished product. The construction of the Kane extension of the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad revolutionized the lumber trade of Clarion county. The river is no longer the great highway for the traffic; with the exception of Marvin, Rulofson & Company, and Raine, all the larger firms have sidings and ship their products by the more convenient and always available rail, sending only empty coal boats by water. The increased cost of transportation is compensated by shipping to order, thereby saving the delay and expense of waiting for purchasers.

It requires no degree of foresight to see, from the facts and figures given above, that seven years hence Clarion county shall be completely stripped of its pine and oak timber of value. Already there is a demand for stray lots of timber, previously overlooked on account of their comparative insignificance. The age of the portable mill is upon us.

The stave mill industry has assumed prominence of late years, and many portable stave mills are scattered over the country, especially in the south where oak is more abundant. The only large lumber areas of any kind there are the W. Craig pine tract, near Greenville, and Howley, Reid & Company's tract of oak on Leasure's Run, Porter township.

Clarion is the third lumber county in the State, being second only to Lycoming and Clearfield in the amount of pine lumber manufactured, and exceeded by Allegheny and Northumberland in oak. In 1873 there were 93,394 acres of unimproved woodland in this county. In 1885 there were fifteen saw mills in Clarion county, employing 369 persons. Of the mills, thirteen were steam. Saws, twenty two. These cut, during that year, 17,15,000 feet of pine, 2,388,000 of hemlock, 1,000 feet of ash, 6o,000 of chestnut, 2,455,000 of oak; other timber, 50,00o feet; shingles, 30,000; pickets, 29,000. Value of products, $273,998.


The collieries of Clarion county:

The Fairmount Mines. In 1873, on the completion of the Low Grade Railroad, R. W. Jones and J. M. Brinker, composing the Fairmount Coal Company, opened drift No. 1 on land purchased from John Hilliard. This was worked until 1879, when the present No. 2 was opened on the farm of Philip Doverspike. J. M. Brinker was the general manager of the mines. In 1882 the property changed hands, and is now operated by the Fairmount Coal and Iron Company, of which B. K. Jamison, of Philadelphia, is president; John A. Wilson, of the same city, vice president; Ensign Bennet, of Buffalo, general manager; S. Taylor Sheaffer, of Fairmount City, superintendent.

In 1876 Brinker & Jones produced 55,014 tons, of the value of $77,522. One hundred and twelve persons were employed, and the mines were operated every day. At present the company have 250 miners and about fifteen mules and horses in their employ, and the average daily output is fifty cars. The greater part of the coal is sent to Canada by way of Buffalo. No. 2 is an extensive opening on the double heading system. The upper Freeport, and the Kittanning lower, or Catfish vein, are worked. The first is about six, the latter four feet in thickness. The furnace system supplies air, and the drainage and ventilation are good. In 1885 there were two fatal accidents.

The Fairmount Company contemplates making another opening soon, and increasing the capacity of the collieries to double the present. In connection with the mines, there are fifty coke ovens in operation, employing a number of men.

Mineral Ridge. This company have had two drift openings at West Monterey. The Mineral Ridge Coal Company at present consists of Messrs. Thomas Skidmore, of Fredonia, N. Y., and W. H. C. Eicke. The latter is superintendent. In 1876 they employed 100 miners, and dug 51,390 tons, of the value of $81,056.99. In 1885 109 men were at work, and the colliery was operated 267 days out of the year; mules, 7; 36,977 tons of bituminous coal were mined, and 20,412 shipped. Drift No. 1 is ventilated by a furnace, and No. 2 by natural means.

New Catfish. This is a drift and connected by an inclined plane with the tipple at the railroad. It is owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company, Wm. Mullen, superintendent. This company opened three drifts, but all but one are now abandoned. About ten years ago they also operated mines at Lower Hillville, further up the Allegheny. In 1876 these mines gave employment to 116, and produced about 50,000 tons per year. In 1885 their one opening employed twenty six men, was worked 16o days, and put out 18,564 tons, of which 16,521 were exported. It is ventilated naturally.

Hardscrabble. Operated by the Brady's Bend Mining Company, of East Brady, C. F. Hartwell, superintendent. Hardscrabble is a drift opening immediately above East Brady, and in 1885 employed about ninety men, and five mules; approximately 50,000 tons were excavated that year, and 30,000 marketed.

Clarion Shaft. This was fifty feet in depth, and was opened in 1877 to reach the Lower Kittanning coal, by the Clarion Coal Company, W. W. Greenland, manager. Operations ceased some years ago, and the shaft is now abandoned.

Pine Run, near East Brady, owned by Stephenson & Mitchell, Thomas Mitchell, superintendent. This is a drift. In 1885 it gave work to ninety six men, and seven mules. It was 'operated 145 days out of the year, produced 43,146 tons, and shipped 34,390. Ventilated by a furnace.

Church Hill. Operated by Church Hill Coal Company, J. McCollum, and others, West Monterey; George Homer, superintendent. Formerly Monterey Coal Company, Samuel Sherwin & Sons. This is a drift opening, and in 1885 employed seventeen hands, and worked sixty days, producing 5,040 tons and shipping 3,600.

Sligo Branch. Rimersburg, a drift, Coon & Craig, proprietors, S. Coon, manager. In 1885 they employed eight men, working sixty days, 2,500 tons were mined, and 2,109 marketed. Work is now suspended.

Star and Long Run. These mines, both drifts, are situated on Long Run, and are near each other. They are operated by the Northwestern Coal and Mining Company, which likewise controls the Fairmount mines, though there is a separate organization. S. T. Sheaffer is superintendent. The Star, the first opening, was made in 1882. In 1885 these mines employed 172 men, and ten mules; operating 232 days in the year, 109,828 tons were produced; 74,545 tons of lump coal shipped. Both colleries are ventilated by furnaces.

Western Shaft. This shaft, the only one in operation in the county, is about thirty five feet deep; sunk in the property of Isaac Hicks, at Arthur's, in 1883. The proprietors are W. C. Mobley and J. D. Callery, of Pittsburgh, owners of the Western Drift near Karns City; J. W. Dawson, superintendent. It supplies the northern division of the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad with fuel. In 1885 it employed nineteen men and produced 7,000 tons of coal; shipped 4,200. In 1886 the tipple was destroyed by fire and rebuilt. Subsequently one man was killed by a boiler explosion. The mine is ventilated by a steam exhaust.

In 1876 Clarion county's mines produced about 150,000 tons, representing in value a little over $175,000.

In 1885 in Clarion county there were nine mines in operation, averaging 200 days of the year, employing 6n persons; $185,831 was paid in wages; 373,504 tons were mined; 6,127 tons of coke produced from forty ovens; twenty five ovens were idle. The introduction of natural gas has affected only the country banks which supplied the towns now using it.

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