Showing posts from 2017


COLUMBUS - Founded 1800.  Like many other towns that share the name nationwide, the Warren County community of Columbus was named after Christopher Columbus.

Photo taken by Doug Kerr.


BEAVER - Founded 1778.  Named after King Beaver of the Lenni-Lenape Indian tribe.  Lenni-Lenape are known to us as the Delaware Indians and "Lenni-Lenape" means "true man" or "common people".

Photo taken by Doug Kerr.

Poole Forge

Among the picturesque countryside of Lancaster County is a historic iron forge called Poole Forge. Founded around the time of the American Revolution by a Welshman named James Old, Poole Forge produced armaments and other iron goods by various owners for a burgeoning nation from 1775 to 1852.

These days, Poole Forge is a park, has a covered bridge that was constructed over the Conestoga Creek in 1859, hosts weddings from some of the remaining original buildings and a chance to learn about early industry in this part of Pennsylvania.

Historic Poole Forge - About Us


Pennsylvania has a good number of uniquely named villages, townships, boroughs and cities. On PA 487 in Sullivan County, between Dushore and Ricketts Glen State Park is the little settlement of Mildred. It was founded in 1870 and named for one Mildred McDonald. I am finding it interesting that Mildred is a mile down the road from Bernice. I wonder if they were somehow related. Listed below is a link to old photos to show what Mildred (the town) looked like in the days of yore.

Sources & Links:

(1) Rootsweb. "Mildred, Sullivan County, PA.." Accessed on October 17, 2017.

Allegheny Aqueduct

Having spent a significant chunk of my life residing near New York State's canals, such as the famous Erie Canal and the lesser known, yet still important Champlain Canal, I've become interested and acquainted with historic canal infrastructure. During a trip I made into Pennsylvania in April 2011, I stumbled across the Allegheny Aqueduct Historic Park just outside of Reading, in the town of Gibraltar, so I had to check it out.

The Allegheny Aqueduct was built in 1824 as part of the Schuylkill Canal, which went from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. The aqueduct was constructed to allow boats to travel across the Allegheny Creek, which could not be incorporated into the canal itself. At 112 1/2  feet long, the aqueduct features five stone arches as it crosses over the creek and was in use until 1919. These days, the aqueduct is part of a county park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Allegheny Aqueduct Historical Park - County of Berks, Pennsyl…

Fells Church Cemetery - Fellsburg

Throughout Pennsylvania there are many small cemeteries.  Some are rural and some are in many of the old towns and villages that are throughout the state.  The Fells Church Cemetery in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County is one of them.  Established in 1785 on the grounds of Fells Methodist Church, Fells Cemetery is the final resting place to those who fought in the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I, and World War II.  Three centuries of Pennsylvanians are buried here.

Both Fells Church and the village of Fellsburg have a long history.  Fellsburg is located within Rostraver Township which is one of the original Westmoreland County townships dating back to 1773.   Fellsburg is named after Benjamin Fell, and upon land donated by George Washington, Fells Methodist Church was built.   Known as "The Lighthouse on the Hill", the historic stone church that was built in 1834 still stands; however, the congregation moved to a new building in 1967.

Coming across the gra…

Donora - Webster Bridge

The Donora-Webster bridge was like many bridges once found in Southwestern Pennsylvania - old, narrow, and full of character.  Built around the turn of the 20th century, this bridge did more than just connect two Monongahela Valley towns, it had a unique charm that depending on who you spoke to - was either soothing or downright scary!

Growing up in Mon Valley, there are two things I recall about this bridge.  The steep incline onto the bridge from the Webster side (shown below) and the hum of the narrow open-grate bridge.  On a wet, snow or icy day, the thought of crossing the bridge would put a fright into many local drivers.  However to those that crossed the bridge daily, the unique sound of the bridge meant that they were home
Built in 1908, the five span truss bridge consisted of four shorter Parker through trusses and the main span - and also the longest at 518 feet - was a Pennsylvania through truss design.  The unique design of the bridge was one of the many features to t…

Log Jammer Memories

Like many Pittsburghers (present or former), I was surprised when I found out today that Kennywood will be retiring the Log Jammer ride after 42 years of service.  The last chance to ride this Kennywood mainstay is this Sunday, September 17th.  Kennywood intends to replace the Log Jammer with a new ride, rumors have it as a new roller coaster or a return of the beloved Turnpike ride.  The log chute water ride first opened in 1975 and was the park's first million dollar ride.  It was one of three water rides within the park - the Pittsburgh Plunge and the Raging Rapids being the other.

Compared to the park's other two water rides, the Log Jammer was the most gentile. The ride was a 1,650 foot out and back consisting of two drops - a 27 foot plunge about halfway through and the final 53 foot drop which was the main feature.  The ride was a great family ride for those that didn't want to get drenched but still wanted to cool off on a hot summer's day.  Most of the spill…

Glen Campbell

With the recent passing of legendary musician, Glen Campbell, it's only fitting to share a post about the Pennsylvania village that shares his name.  The tiny Indiana County village of about 250 was founded in 1889 and named after Cornelius Campbell who was a superintendent with the Glenwood Coal Company.

The borough flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century with over 1600 residents at the time of the 1900 census.  However, the town was hit hard by the Great Depression and never recovered. 

The more famous Campbell made a surprise visit to Glen Campbell in 1971 giving the town its own five minutes of fame. 


Camptown was originally settled in 1793 by Job Camp, an early settler and carpenter by trade who came from Connecticut. Job Camp built the original homes that made up Camptown and as of 2004, one of his original barns that he built in Camptown was still standing. There are a few homes and a church of more recent vintage that made up today's settlement.

Camptown, Pennsylvania is located some five miles north of Wyalusing in eastern Bradford County at the junction of PA 409 and PA 706. The small town may be best known for the inspiration behind Stephen Foster's classic American folk song Camptown Races.  In modern times, instead of a minstrel song, Camptown Races is the name of a local running race that mixes road and trail running.

Sources & Links:

(1) Tom Camp. "Person Sheet for Job Camp." Accessed on August 8, 2017.(2) University of Pittsburgh. "Stephen Foster Biography." Accessed on August 8, 2017.(3) ThoughtCo. "The 'Doo Dah' Song: "…


The Washington County Town of Claysville is like many along the National Road.  Small and rural with US 40 serving as its main street.  Numerous old homes that date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Small and unique businesses that celebrate the heritage of the National Road.

Claysville was founded by John Purviance.  Purviance started a tavern in the general vicinity of the town around 1800.  When he learned that the plans for the National Road had the road going near his tavern, he laid out the town.  The town's name of Claysville in in honor of Henry Clay who is considered by many as the "Father of the National Road."
Claysville annually celebrates the National Road with their "Claysville Pike Days" held the third weekend of May.  This festival is one of many festivals along the National Road during National Road Festival, a celebration of the National Road now entering its 45th year.  The two day event features local entertainment, food, and craft …

Mail Pouch Barn - PA 18 in Washington County

One of my favorite subjects are the old Mail Pouch Tobacco Barns that can be found throughout rural Pennsylvania.  This Mail Pouch Barn is located on PA 18 near Old Concord.

Day Covered Bridge

The Day Covered Bridge is similar in style and length to many other Washington County covered bridges.  The 36 and a half foot queenspost bridge over Short Creek can be easily accessed from PA 18 between Sparta and Prosperity.  The bridge was built in 1875 and in 1979 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1999, the bridge was closed until a rehabilitation project in 2003 enabled the bridge to once again carry vehicular traffic.

Bridge Specs:
Number: 38-63-12Built: 1875 Design: Queenspost through trussLength: 36 1/2 FeetCrosses: Short CreekSources & Links:
Washington & Greene County Covered Bridges Driving Tours ---Washington & Greene County Tourism Promotion Agencies

Washington and Waynesburg Railroad - Washington Station

As I have been going through old flickr albums that are providing the material for this blog, I come across various buildings and subjects that I didn't know much about when I took the photo, but now have an opportunity to learn more and obviously write about.  Such is the case with the former Washington Terminal Station for the Waynesburg and Washington Railroad. 

I took photos of the former railroad station on a July 4th explore trip into Washington County.  On my blog entry describing the trip, I had posted about the abandoned building that appeared to be a railroad terminal.  Fortunately, I had a few comments that informed me that the building was the former Washington station for the Waynesburg and Washington Railroad (W&WRR). So now seven years later, I did some additional research and learned a lot about the history of this station and the railroad it once served.

The Waynesburg and Washington railroad was the brainchild of John Day in 1874.  Issued a charter in 1875, w…

Archer No. 1 One Room Schoolhouse

The one room schoolhouse was a key part of rural life for much of Pennsylvania and America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Their are many in various shapes of repair throughout rural Pennsylvania.  One is the Archer No. 1 school house in Morris Township in Washington County.

The school house appears to have been built around 1900.  It currently sits within Morris Township Community Park in Prosperity.

When I took these photos in July 2009, the building needed a little TLC.  Some more recent photos I have found online show that the schoolhouse has received a fresh coat of paint and additional upkeep.

A nice feature of the Archer schoolhouse is that the original bell and bell tower remain.  You can understand why it may be easy to confuse these with small rural churches from the same era.

Cox Farm (or Lippincott) Covered Bridge

Located just off of PA 221 in Greene County, the Cox Farm (or Lippincott) Covered Bridge is unique in two ways.  First, by covered bridge standards, it is a rather young bridge - as it was erected in 1940.  Second, it's very short - around 32 feet in length.  This bridge over Ruff Creek was built as a wooden covered bridge because of the shortage of steel in the years leading up to the Second World War.  After receiving a $650,000 federal grant in 2012, the bridge was rehabilitated the following year. (1) The rehabilitation replaced the deteriorating parts of the bridge including replacing the wooden stringers with steel I-beams.  The bridge has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

Bridge Specs:
Number: 38-30-25Built: 1940Design: Kingpost Through TrussLength: 32 feet Crosses: Ruff Creek All photos taken by post author - July 5, 2009.

Sources & Links:
(1) "Cox Covered Bridge receive $650k rehabilitation grant." Greene County Messenger. August 10, 2…

Searights Toll House

As you head west on US 40 from Uniontown, there is a second historical toll house that remains standing.  The Searights Tollhouse was one of six toll houses that once stood along the historic route.  Similar to the Petersburg Toll House in Addison, Searights was built in 1835 after the federal government transferred the maintenance of the National Road to the states.

Searights Toll House is named after the nearby village of Searights.  The village is named after William Searights who lived nearby.  In later years, a coal company town would be built just to the south of the toll house.  The toll house is a two story facility and is open for tours.  The toll house is currently owned by the Fayette County Historical Society.

After collection of tolls ceased in 1905, the toll house went into disrepair.  Today, it has been fully restored and has many artifacts that give a glimpse of life as a toll keeper during the 19th century.  The toll house was added to the National Registe…

Somerfield and the Great Crossings Bridge

West of Addison, US 40 crosses the Youghiogheny River at what once was the town of Somerfield.  When crossing the current modern two lane bridge, you many not realize that it is actually the third to cross the Yough at this site.  The first - a stone arch bridge - was known as the Great Crossings Bridge.  Built in 1818, this three arch bridge was part of the original National Road.  The name Great Crossings comes from the men who forded the Youghiogheny here - George Washington and George Braddock. (1)  If you cross the bridge at the right time, this historic bridge and what was once the town of Somerfield will appear out from underneath this massive man-made lake.

The Great Crossings Bridge was located in the town of Somerfield.  Somerfield, originally named Smythfield until 1827, would develop as a result of the National Road. (1)  Somerfield would go through various stages of growth and decline throughout the 19th century.  In the early 20th century, Somerfield would d…