Then & Now- a PA Lumber Museum Virtual Photography Exhibit (Pt. 2)

Part 2- March 2021

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is please to provide our audience with the second installment of this new virtual exhibit. It centers around the museum’s extensive archive of historic photographs. Select archival images were paired with modern images of the same location, in many instances taken in nearly the exact spot as the historic image. It is truly amazing how the lumber industry transformed the landscape of Pennsylvania, and how things have changed in the intervening years.

Leetonia Tannery

The foundation on the right is some of what little remains of the sprawling tannery complex pictured on the left. Leetonia, Tioga County, was founded in 1879 and named after Creighton Lee who built the first tannery there, along Cedar Run. By the turn of the 20th century, the town had grown into a bustling community that included multiple sawmills, a railroad depot, over fifty homes, a store and a school that doubled as a church. Several tombstones from the church cemetery can still be seen today.

A railroad that employed an impressive array of switchbacks was constructed in 1899, traveling 7 miles from Leetonia to Tiadaghton at the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge. This allowed leather and lumber to be shipped to market by rail via the Penn Central line that followed Pine Creek. When timber resources were finally exhausted, the mills and tannery closed in 1921.

CCC Cabin #4

The photo on the left was taken in 1992, when a log cabin that was originally built by enrollees from Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-135 (Dyer Farm) in 1936 was dismantled and moved to the PA Lumber Museum. The photo on the right was taken in 2020 in the spot where Cabin #4 once stood.

The CCC put millions of unemployed young men back to work during the Great Depression (c. 1933 – 1941). Cabin #4 was intended to be available for vacation rental at the never-completed Black Forest State Park. Museum volunteers raised over $30,000 to have the cabin relocated to the museum to save it from demolition. Of the eight cabins that were initially built in this complex, only five remain there today; Cabin #3, shown above, is one of them.

CCC Camp S-135 operated between 1933 and 1937. An interpretive trail located near the former location of the camp and the cabin colony marks its footprint and includes interpretive waysides with historic images of camp activities.

Entrance to Leonard Harrison State Park

The image on the left is a postcard from the late 1940s/ early 1950s that shows the concession building at Leonard Harrison State Park, serving as the entrance to the overlook at the “Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.” The image on the right was taken in 2020 and shows the current visitor center building, which contains restrooms, a gift shop and education center. Over 200,000 visitors will pass through this building on a yearly basis.

In 1922, local lumberman Leonard Harrison gave this land to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to operate as a public park. When Mr. Harrison donated the land it was already being used as a picnic grove and lookout area. The park was much improved in the 1930’s by the enrollees of Civilian Conservation Corps from Camp S-155, Darling Run.

Leonard Harrison State Park is popular year-round for its views of the Canyon, but it is especially popular as a place to view fall foliage in late September/ early October.  

Pine Creek Valley at Babour Rock

Itinerant photographer William T. Clark took the photograph on the left around the turn of the 20th century. The photo on the right was taken in the early spring of 2020; a bit to the east of the original location.

Barbour Rock is purportedly named after Samuel Barbour, a log driver who died trying to break a jam on the Owassee Rapids at the bend in the river below. The PA Youth Conservation Corps established a 1-mile loop hiking trail to the overlook at the rocks in 1978. This trail links with other hiking trails in the vicinity of Colton Point State Park, located about 1 mile south of the overlook.

Published in 2016, the book Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers presents a comprehensive collection of the photography of William T. Clark along with a history of the regions in north-central Pennsylvania where he worked.

Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad- Mt. Broadhead Switchbacks

The Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad was established in 1893 as a conglomeration of multiple logging short lines built and operated by Charles and Frank Goodyear; owners of the Goodyear Lumber Company. A section of this railroad built to link the Goodyear lumber mills in Austin and Galeton needed to cross the Eastern Continental divide or “Hogsback” ridge. Railroad engineers briefly considered building a tunnel underneath the mountain before settling on a more cost-effective series of switchbacks.

The historic photo above depicts the lowest switchback lead on the east side of the mountain, near a small (historic) community of track workers and woodhicks called Van Heusen. Going left at the switch would take trains through the community of Corbett and then on to Galeton. The track on the right led to more switchbacks up and over what is today called Mt. Broadhead, and down the other side to the community of Hull. The modern photo on the right was taken in roughly the same spot during the summer of 2020.

Today, nothing remains of Van Heusen or Corbett. A portion of a stone and concrete footer is all that is left of the water tower in the historic photo. The Deck Lane and Burrous hiking trails interest near the point of the historic railroad switch.

The grade of the switchbacks is readily apparent on the modern mountainside. A bit higher up on the second switchback terrace hikers will cross a small clearing that marks the cleared corridor for a buried fiber-optic communication line. This was the former location of the Tidewater oil pipeline. The historic image here shows a view of the community of Corbett from the point where the pipeline and railroad grade cross.

Corbett was founded around the Hammond and Fish chemical wood factory in 1893. When the factory closed in 1910, the residents drifted away to other employment opportunities. A handful of hunting camps are all that remains today.

Main Street- Wellsboro, PA

The Image on the left is a postcard from the late 1940s/ early 1950s showing Main Street in, Wellsboro, PA. The Image on the right was taken near the same location in 2020. Today, Wellsboro is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to numerous state parks and other public lands (and the recreational opportunities they bring).

Wellsboro, PA was settled in 1806 and incorporated in 1830. The town is said to have been named after Mary Wells Morris, one of the original settlers. The town became seat of Tioga County in 1806, just two years after the county was founded; despite the fact that Benjamin Wistar Morris, along with his wife Mary Wells and their family, were the only residents of the town at the time.

Ole Bull “Castle” Vista

The Norwegian and United States flags depicted in the historic photo were erected by enrollees at CCC Camp S-87 in the 1930s. The men of this camp helped to create the trails, vistas and other recreational infrastructure that would become Ole Bull State Park. The modern image was taken at the overlook in September 2020, near the former location of the “castle” (actually a log cabin) built for pioneer Ole Bull.

Ole Bull was a world-famous violinist that bought land in southern Potter County, upon which he sought to establish a colony of immigrants he termed “New Norway.” The colonists started to arrive by 1852, but a series of unforeseen challenges led to the abandonment of the community not quite 2 years later. Today, this popular and beautiful State Park bears his name.

Brookville Locomotive, Model UD-18

This locomotive was manufactured in 1945 for the Keystone Tanning & Glue company in Wilcox, Elk County PA. It was used as a switch engine, transferring railcars of raw materials and finished product at the tannery railyard. When the Wilcox tannery closed in 1966, the engine was sold to Kovalchick Salvage in Sykesville, PA. The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates purchased the locomotive in 2002 and began a multi-year restoration, partially funded by the PA Lumber Heritage Region. The Brookville is now part of an exhibit at the museum which discusses the story of the leather tanning industry in Pennsylvania.