Please select various resources on this site from the menu below.

Please select various resources on this site from the menu above.

Research Aids

From History of the Lumber Industry of America, Volume 2, by James Elliott Defebaugh (Editor of the American Lumberman). Chicago: The American Lumberman, 1907.

Transcribed for this site by Lyn Magill-Hoch. We are grateful for her assistance.

Page 538

The following is a good description of Clarion County, in so far as its timber is concerned, as it was in 1887:

"The primeval forests of pine, hemlock (Abies Canadensis) and oak are fast disappearing. South of the river [the Clarion], with one or two exceptions, they have entirely vanished, and a secondary or tertiary growth taken their place. The ax of the pioneer, the mills and iron furnaces have done their work well there. Still, in the southern division there is considerable woodland of a later age, with oak predominating. Chestnut is abundant in almost every township, intermixed with hickory, ash and common sugar maple. The northeastern quarter of the county contains yet some forests of pine and hemlock, but they are being rapidly depleted. In many places forest fires have assisted the ax in the work, and many a spot where once stood a majestic forest." [Source: History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, edited by A. J. Davis, 1887.

Page 539

"Clarion County contains a village known as Pitch Pine, which is built on an eminence formerly covered with pitch pine trees, from which it took its name." [Source: History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, edited by A. J. Davis, 1887.

Page 541

Location of Species

Inasmuch as hemlock, besides mingling more or less with pine throughout the pine belt, seems to have formed a border entirely around the pine, the extent of the hemlock woods, as well as the quantity of hemlock timber, has always been much greater than of pine. Beginning in Wayne County, in the extreme northeastern corner of the State, the original hemlock forest extended westward through the northern tier of counties as far as Warren County, in the vicinity of Lake Erie. Thence its bounds may be traced southward through Forest, Clarion and Jefferson, and thence eastward through Clearfield, Center, Clinton, Lycoming and Sullivan counties. Now the northeastern counties are for the most part cleared, and not only have the outskirts of these woods been cut off on all sides, but their continuity has been completely broken up throughout its whole extent by countless clearings and settlements. Yet, however much the hemlock forest has suffered, it possesses today greater value than did all the pine standing in 1850. . . . Lumbermen classify hemlock into two kinds, red and white, according to the character of the wood, but the more intelligent among them attribute the difference to soil and situation. . . . The quality of the hemlock seems to deteriorate west from the center of the State. The Pine Creek hemlock is considered better than that of the Sinnamahoning, and this better than that on the Allegheny. . . .

Pages 559-560

Chapter XXXII: Pennsylvania -- Early Lumbering

The date of Clarion County's earliest sawmill was 1805. Some of the northern and northwestern counties of the State, that .later cut so prominent a figure in the lumber business, were not settled until 1800 and later and, consequently, the erection of their sawmills was at much later dates than those mentioned. In many instances it was the superior growth of timber that drew settlers from the older sections to the untried wilderness. The sufferings that these sturdy pioneers underwent are almost inconceivable at this day, and their recital alone would fill a large volume. They suffered the attacks of wild animals in search of food and of the savage Indians in search of white men's scalps; many died from the rigors of the climate; for clothing they wore the skins of beasts; for food, at times they were compelled to mix the bark of trees with their corn meal so it would hold out the longer, and also at times they dug up the potatoes they had planted -- so near were they to starvation. Furniture they had none, except rough boxes and boards; some rode, if fortunate enough to possess a horse, or walked, miles (in some cases 100 miles) to the nearest grist mill to have their handful of corn ground, while others did their own grinding by means of the hollowed out stump of a hardwood tree and a stone, or a wooden pestle. But in spite of their hardships they persevered, and within a short time thriving villages dotted the forests, and the hum of the sawmills and the shouts of the raftsmen told of the business the forests were creating -- a business that later placed Pennsylvania at the head of the great lumber producing states of the Union.

Page 608

Chapter XXXVI: Northwestern Pennsylvania

The counties of Northumberland and Allegheny were created by act of the Assembly March 27, 1772, and September 24, 1788, respectively, and comprised all of the northwestern part of Pennsylvania. The Six Nations of Indians, at a council held at Fort Stanwix, Oneida County, New York, October 23, 1784, conveyed this territory to the State of Pennsylvania for $10,000. By a confirmatory treaty with the Wyandots and Delawares at Fort Mcintosh, in Pennsylvania, in January, 1785, formal possession was given to the white people of the vast section from which has been created the counties of Tioga, Potter, McKean, Warren, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Clarion, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Crawford, Erie and portions of Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, Clearfield, Indiana, Armstrong, Allegheny and Beaver, being known as the "Later Purchase," by the Commonwealth and not by William Penn or his heirs.

Page 615

The great timber sections of Potter, McKean, Elk, Clearfield, Jefferson, Clarion, Forest and Warren counties have been operated continuously for a period of eighty years and still produce considerable quantities of lumber. The original growth was of a very high quality of white pine and hemlock.

Pages 620-621

The eastern portion of Forest County is the section containing the vast forests of pine, hemlock, chestnut, beech, ash, maple, oak and other timber, being essentially different in the character, size and superiority of its timber from the western part. Tionesta and its tributaries are lined with this timber far back into the highlands, the evergreen timber standing clear through to the Sinnamahoning, a distance of nearly 100 miles, and a writer well observed that, "Eastern Forest, and parts of Clarion, Warren, Elk and McKean counties contain a body of hemlock timber of gigantic growth, the very largest of the kind in the world, there being nothing to compare to it in Russia, British America, or the islands of the seas." This is literally and actually true. There is no such continuous body as this on the face of the earth. If any one disputes this statement, let him state where any similar immense and valuable forest territory exists. The finest of this gigantic body of hemlock timber lies in the Tionesta Creek Valley, and through this channel must find its way to market.

Pages 624-625

Clarion County

One of the most famous lumbering streams of Pennsylvania is the Clarion River, from which the county was named. This was essentially a white pine stream, and until 1890 considerable quantities of pine were put into it for manufacture at the mills along its course. It drains portions of Forest, Elk and Jefferson counties as well as Clarion. The southern boundary of the county is the famous Red Bank Creek.

According to the History of Clarion County, by A. J. Davis, published in 1887, Clarion was then the third lumber county in the State, being second only to Lycoming and Clearfield in the production of pine, and exceeded only by Allegheny and Northumberland in oak.

Located on the Allegheny, which forms part of its western boundary, and the Clarion it was largely cleared at an early date, although lumber manufacture did not begin there as soon as it did in the counties located on the upper Allegheny. It contains 462,240 acres and as long ago as 1872 it was estimated that there were only 93,394 acres of unimproved woodland remaining. In 1885 there were only fifteen sawmills, and in 1907 there were eleven which the commercial agencies reported as using a capital of $15,000 or more. There have always, however, been some good sized mills in the county. The chief center of lumber manufacture has been the town of Clarion, the county seat.

Sawmill construction began about 1805. In that year James Laughlin and Frederick Miles built a mill at the mouth of Piney Creek. In 1815 Henry Myers erected a mill in Beaver Township. About 1820 one of the first lumber women on record, a Mrs. Black, built a sawmill in Elk Township. In 1818 Alexander McNaughton put up a sawmill on Little Toby Creek. An important milling district was Mill Creek Township, through which Mill Creek runs. One of the earliest Mills in the county was built in 1812 at Reidsburg, on Piney Creek. In Richland Township the first mill was built by Henry and John Neely about 1820, on Alum Rock Run.

The early mills were all run by water power, the first circular steam mill built in Clarion County being that of the Jamestown Company at the mouth of Mill Creek, which was erected in 1853.

One Thomas Peters, in 1822, under a special act of the State Legislature, erected a dam for lumbering purposes across the Clarion at the mouth of Turkey Run. This act was interesting inasmuch as it provided for the maintenance of the Clarion River as a navigable stream. While the grant of the right was in perpetuity it was specially provided as follows:

"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. . . . 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 incline four or six feet for every foot of said dam above the ordinary level of the water."

The northern half of the county was heavily timbered with pine and hemlock and furnished the basis for most of the lumbering operations. The timber was more scanty in the southern half of the county and what there was was chiefly used by the furnaces.

Clarion County, as will be seen from the above, long ago ceased to be a lumber producer of importance, although the Clarion River until a comparatively recent date was one of the great lumbering streams of Pennsylvania, depending, however, upon the territory on its headwaters for supplies after those of Clarion County had been largely exhausted.

Click the link below to share this site with your friends. A new window will open. (We don't collect e-mail addresses.)
We recommend...

Copyright Information

Unless otherwise indicated, all content and images contained in this domain path [] are copyrighted exclusively to Billie R. McNamara.  All international rights reserved. All material donated by others or located on-line is identified, and copyright in those items is vested in the owner(s).  No copyright infringement is intended by the inclusion of Web-available information on this site for the benefit of researchers.

Neither the Webmistress nor the PAGenWeb Project is responsible for the availability or content of any external Web sites or pages linked from this site.  All links are provided for information purposes only.