THE first requisites in a new country are roads and methods of transportation to facilitate improvements and civilization. It has been shown in the Vth chapter of this work how the court at Sunbury, when Northumberland county was organized in 1772, authorized the opening of a public road through to Lycoming creek. In 1792 Williamson cut his famous road through from Trout run to the Block House and beyond, (See Chapter XIII) to enable him to conduct a company of colonists to the Genesee country.
The first "pack horse" road into the valley of Loyalsock, of which we have any account, was cut across the mountain from Muncy to Hillsgrove, for the use of explorers and surveyors. It was called the "Wallis road," because it was made by Samuel Wallis. In 1793 another "pack horse" road was cut, It left the Wallis road at the foot of the Alleghenies, then ran northward to the left of Hunter's Lake and on to the forks of Loyalsock, where Forksville is now situated. It was called the "Courson road."
In 1791 the "Society for Promoting the Improvement of Road and Inland Navigation," (organized in 1789) submitted through Robert Morris, who had become an extensive land owner in what was afterwards the territory of Lycoming county, a report and memorial to the Assembly, giving a comprehensive view of the various routes for canals and roads, with estimates of the expense. The preliminary survey of the West Branch in the summer of 1790, by Maclay, Adlum, and Matlack, resulted in the building of the canal forty years afterwards.
In this chapter it is proposed to refer to the opening of some of the early roads in Lycoming county after its organization in 1795, the modes of transportation on the river, the building of bridges, and, lastly, the advent of the canal and railroads.
FIRST ROADS IN LYCOMING.
Soon after the organization of the court one of its first duties was to hear petitions and appoint viewers to lay out roads. In the earliest records we find that at May sessions, 1706, James Crawford, William Montgomery, Robert Hamilton, Andrew Carson, James McMicken, and Samuel Harris, who had been appointed at a previous session–probably February–to view and lay out a road from Lycoming creek to Queneshaque, reported that they had laid out said road and the court confirmed their report. The road commenced at the house of Amariah Sutton, on the east side of Lycoming, and ran to Queneshaque, and crossed it to the house of Samuel Torbert. Previous to this the only road was an Indian path which had been widened by the first settlers, but was not legalized. The road of today leading along the base of the hills to Linden is the road laid out by those viewers ninety-six years ago.
At the same court Michael Ross, James Thompson, and John Winter, who, on petition, had been appointed to view and lay out a road from Roland Hall's to Thomas Mahaffey's fording on Lycoming creek, made report that they had laid out the road asked for, "which they adjudged necessary for public use," and the court confirmed the same.
At August sessions, 1796, Jonathan Benjamin, B. Benjamin, Peter Marshall, Nathaniel Pierson, William Landon, and Joseph Wilson reported that they had laid out a road from Williamsport to "Stephen Cooke's saw mill," which received the approval of the court. Just where this saw mill was situated is not positively known but it probably was on Lycoming creek.
Several new roads were reported to this court. One led from Newberry to Thomas Brooks's; another from Robert Crawford's to Antes's grist mill, and still another from the same mill "to the great road leading up the river." When December sessions convened Hugh White, William Montgomery, and others reported that they had laid out a road "from Love's gap to Shade's mill;" and other viewers reported - that a road had been laid out from the bank of Loyalsock creek through the lower end of Andrew Carson's meadow across the mouth of a "gut" and thence straight forward until it intersected the old road.
The year 1797 saw a number of roads projected. There were several in what is now Clinton county. Among them was one from the Great Island to Centre Furnace. At September sessions viewers reported a road from" Bundy's bridge through Williamsport to Mrs. Winter's," which the court confirmed, but at April sessions, 1799, it was vacated.
THE STATE ROAD.
The most important thoroughfare projected at this time was what has. always been known as the State road from Newberry to the State line, near Painted Post. The act authorizing its construction was approved, April 8, 1799, and may, be found in Smith's Laws, Vol. III, page 375, as follows:
WHEREAS, Many respectable inhabitants of the county of Lycoming…… have presented their petitions to the legislature stating that the present road from the town of Newberry near the mouth of Lycoming creek to the Genesee country is extremely bad, so as to be passable with great difficulty, and judging that a road might be opened by a new course-and it is reasonable that the prayer of their petitioners should be granted upon the terms hereinafter mentioned, therefore
Be it, etc., That the Governor be……. authorized to receive proposals for laying out and opening a road, not less than twenty feet wide, from the town of Newberry ............ to Morris's Mills; from thence by the best and most direct route to the northeast corner of Strawbridge's marsh, or as near thereto as may be; and from thence by the nearest and best route to the 109th mile stone on the line dividing this State from the State of New York, or as near as may be, which road, when surveyed, laid out, and opened, as aforesaid, is hereby declared to be a public highway.
That the expense of laying out and surveying the said road, and all charges incident thereto, shall in the first instance be paid by such of the citizens of the county of Lycoming, or other persons as may think proper to subscribe for the purpose of delaying the expense thereof.
That after the said road shall have been laid out and opened…… the Governor shall appoint a suitable person to view the said road and make report to him; and if it shall appear by said report that a road or cartway is actually laid out and opened between the town of Newberry and the 109th mile stone in the State line,…… then in that case the Governor is hereby authorized to draw his warrant on the State treasurer for the sum of $3,000 to re-imburse the person or persons who were the subscribers for opening and laying out said road.
The road was put under contract, July 26, 1799, and finished late that year or early in 1800. The contractor was Benjamin Wistar Morris, with Gideon H. Wells and Thomas Greeves as sureties. Mr. Morris was a member of the Pine Creek Company and was interested in improving the interior of the State. He owned 800 acres of land near Wellsboro. He was the eldest son of Samuel Morris, an eminent citizen of Philadelphia. His only daughter, Rebecca, married William Cox Ellis, of Muncy. Wellsboro was named in honor of Mrs. Mary (Wells) Morris, wife of Benjamin W. Morris, and sister of William and Gideon Wells.
The State paid the $3,000. By this road it was nearer to Painted Post than by the Williamson road. At this time Newberry was the center of business in the county, and had bright prospects of becoming a place of commercial importance. The draft of this road, which is still preserved in the Land Office, shows the courses and distances throughout. It was protracted from the notes of Samuel Scott, by William Gray, the celebrated surveyor of that time, for submission to the Governor. The distances from Newberry are given as follows: To Brooks's house, four and one half miles; to Hoagland's run, eight and one-half miles; to Larry's creek, or Cogan's, sixteen miles; to crossing of third fork of Pine creek, at the marsh, twenty-four miles; to Morris's mill, twenty-eight miles; to the 109th mile post, seventy-three and one-half miles.
The completion of the road was reported to the Governor by William Wilson. It was little better than a "cartway" through the wilderness, but it became the great highway of the time and there was much travel over it for many years. Portions or it are still in use.
Another important road for that time was projected in the northeastern part of the county. It was called the Genesee road. The parties interested were Joseph Priestley, Jr., and others, who owned a large body of land. William Ellis, the Surveyor, was the most active agent. The road started at Muncy, passed Abraham Webster's, near Huntersville; then over the Allegheny by Highland Lake; Skirted the summit of the mountain for some distance; passed Lincoln Falls; ascended Burnett's ridge by heavy grades, and came out at Towanda creek, where it intersected another road. The division of Shrewsbury township was caused by a dispute among the settlers regarding the expense of keeping up this road. The trouble commenced as early as 1802.
At August sessions, 1803, viewers reported that they had laid out a road "from the mouth of Queneshaque to the State road," and it was confirmed; at May sessions, 1806, the court received and confirmed a report of the laying out of a road from Larry's creek bridge to the State road. This was undoubtedly from the mouth of the creek, and it appears, to have been bridged at that time.
The records show many more roads laid out from year to year, but they are generally unimportant. At May sessions, 1818, sundry persons of Mifflin and Nippenose townships petitioned that they needed a road from the lower part of Antes Narrows to John Knox's lower grist mill, and after being viewed the request was granted. at the November term. During the same court (May) petitions were received requesting the erection of bridges across McClure's and Eder's runs, "on the road leading from Loyalsock to Williamsport." The State having been authorized by legislative enactment to assist in building roads, there were many applications to secure these improvements. The war of 1812-14 put a stop to this work, however, and it was not renewed to any great extent until several years after peace.
As early as 1816 the legislature granted a charter for building a road from Jersey Shore to Coudersport. Fourteen hundred shares of stock at $50 a share were authorized to be issued. John Keating, Thomas Stewardson, and George Vaux, of Philadelphia, were at the head of the enterprise, assisted by citizens of Lycoming and Potter counties. In the apportionment of stock 600 shares were to go to Philadelphia and 800 to the counties through which the road passed. The road was not built and the charter had to be extended by act of February 5, 1820. It still languished, and the number of shares was reduced to 1,100. The road was ultimately built and was known as the Coudersport turnpike.
The act of March 22, 1817, authorized "Henry Antes, Jr., and his heirs and assigns to have the right of maintaining a ferry across the river opposite Nippenose creek." The same legislature passed a law declaring Larry's creek a "public highway from the mouth to where the State road crosses it, for the passage of rafts, boats, or other vessels."
By act of March 26, 1821, an appropriation of $2,000 was made to improve the road from Williamsport to the head of Towanda and Sugar creeks. And April 2, 1821, an act was passed appropriating all road taxes received in Lycoming for four years for building a road from Carpenter's mill in Loyalsock township to Hoagland's mill, in Elkland (now Sullivan county) township, and John Turk and William Watson were appointed commissioners to superintend the work at $1.50 per day. This was long known as the Turk road.
A bridge was authorized to be built across Pine creek "near Hayes's," by act of April 2, 1816, the State to pay one-half of the cost under the act for the improvement of the State. The bridge was built in due time and has been maintained to, the present day. It has long been an inter-county bridge, Lycoming and Clinton paying half the expense.
On the same day an act was passed authorizing the heirs of Michael Ross to establish a ferry across the river opposite Market street, Williamsport. Nine days later Anthony Kleckner, of Centre, and Joshua B. Alder and Hugh Donnelly, of Lycoming, were appointed commissioners by legislative enactment "to view and lay out a State road from Pennsborough (Muncy) by the nearest and best route to intersect the road from Bellefonte to the mouth of White Deer creek, near Kleckner's mill."
By act of April 14, 1827, Robert H. Hammond, Joseph R. Priestley, Henry Frick, Anthony Armstrong, and Andrew Straub, of Northumberland county, and Andrew D. Hepburn, Samuel Shoemaker, and Matthew McReynolds, of Lycoming county, were appointed commissioners to lay out by courses and distances a State road beginning at the town of Northumberland, by the nearest and best route through the boroughs of Milton, Muncy, and Williamsport, to the borough of Jersey Shore. This road had been laid out years before, but this act of the legislature legalized it, and the State aided in bettering its condition. At the Same session an act was passed appointing commissioners to lay out the State road from Pennsborough (Muncy) to Meansville, Bradford county, which had been surveyed and marked by William Brindle and Edward J. Eldred, March 13, 1824. The commissioners were required to give bond in $1,000 each, and they were to receive out of the road tax of each county $1.25 for every day so employed.
John L. Sexton, the historian of Blossburg, thus writes of Alfred Jackson, an early schoolmaster, who cut a path through to Roaring Branch from what is now Union township, Tioga county. For many years it was traveled by raftsmen on their return from trips down the river, and as it was a "out off" to Blossburg and points beyond, it came to be known as the "Yankee Path." A fine road now runs over it and a line of stage coaches passes four times a day to and from Roaring Branch. Alfred Jackson, though eighty-five years old, still lives to see what an important thoroughfare his path has become.
Tunison Coryell, in his autobiography, informs us that in 1827 Colonel Howard, a government engineer, was ordered to make a survey up the Susquehanna river and northward, with the view of building a national road. He made the survey and recommended the route via Williamsport to Elmira. A part of his survey was afterwards used by the engineers in building the railroad northward.
The first bridges over Loyalsock and Lycoming creeks were built in 1812-13. The former was constructed by James Moore, who became noted as a bridge builder. The Lycoming creek bridge was built by Isaac Lyon. A statement of the orders drawn by the commissioners for 1812-13 shows that they paid him "in full for the bridge over Lycoming creek." What the total cost was is not stated, but the last payment was for $125. This bridge stood until the great flood of 1865, when it was carried away. These bridges were the first timber arched structures in the county over these large streams.
The first movement to bridge the river at Williamsport was made by securing the passage of the act of April 8, 1833, which appointed Joseph B. Anthony, James Armstrong, Joseph J. Wallis, William Wilson, Jeremiah Tallman, William Piatt, Jr., Hugh Donley, Henry Hughes, and William F. Packer commissioners to open books and solicit subscriptions, (on or before September, 1833) at the rate of $25 per share, $1 to be paid down, sufficient to enable the Governor to incorporate a company to build a toll bridge over the river at Williamsport, and a turnpike to the line of Union county. Two thousand shares were required to be subscribed, and three years were allowed to begin the improvement, and seven in which to complete it. If not done at that time the franchise was to revert. By supplemental act of April 8, 1834, the time was made to date from the first Monday in January of the year 1836; and by act of June 3, 1840, the books were required to be opened and 2,000 shares of stock, of $25 each, subscribed. After this the work seems to have been pushed, for the act of incorporation was passed, June 9, 1840, with the following corporators: Nicholas Funston, Thomas Updegraff, Tunison Coryell, Thomas C. Parsons, Charles Allen, Charles Lloyd, Abraham Updegraff, James H. Huling, William J. Lyon, and Joseph S. Williams. Five years were allowed in which to begin the work and ten to finish it. The time was extended five years by act of April 7, 1845. The money was raised and the bridge completed and opened for travel, July 5, 1849, at a cost of $23,797. This bridge was carried away by the flood of March 17, 1865. Steps were at once taken to rebuild it, and by December 1st of the same year a wire suspension bridge was completed at a cost of $58,068. It continued to do service until the great flood of June 1, 1889, when it was destroyed. The company at once built a finer iron bridge and it was managed by the corpora-tion until November 7, 1891, when it was purchased by the county commissioners for $113,700 and declared free of toll.
The Jersey Shore bridge was authorized by act of April 15, 1835. The corporators were Robert J. Foresman, Robert Shuler, Samuel Stewart, Elias P. Youngman, George Crane, Abraham Lawshe, Solomon Bastress, John Pursell of Lycoming, and Daniel Caldwell and William Hayes of Union. The title was The Lewisburg and Jersey Shore Turnpike Road and Bridge Company. One thousand shares were to be issued at $25 each, and a charter could be issued when 300 shares were taken. The work could commence in five years and be completed in ten. Slow headway was made in getting the requisite amount of stock to secure a charter, and the legislature finally passed an act, May 14, 1838, authorizing the Governor to subscribe for stock amounting to $3,200. The bridge was finally completed. Like the one at Williamsport it was twice destroyed by floods and rebuilt. On the 23d of November, 1891, it was purchased by the county commissioners for $32,250 and declared free. The bridge across the river at Muncy was authorized by act of March 13, 1835, and Jonathan Smith, John Peale, John Gortner, Robert Risk, Isaac Bruner, William Taggart, William Piatt, Henry Ecroyd, and Thomas Maxwell appointed commissioners to solicit subscriptions. Like the others the enterprise languished for years, but it was finally completed. After the flood of June 1, 1889, the stockholders refused to rebuild, but offered to transfer their charter and franchise to the county. On petition the proper legal steps were taken and the commissioners were forced to rebuild it, which they did at a cost of $42,043.73 and made it free.
In August, 1878, the Maynard street suspension bridge was completed across the river at Williamsport. It was built by an incorporated company with an authorized capital stock of $60,000. Its total length is 1,050 feet. Floods and winds damaged it at different times. After the flood of June 1, 1889, it was rebuilt, and, finally sold to the county commissioners, November 14, 1891, for $41,552 and made free to the public. All bridges in the county are free, but the Loyalsock Gap. Turnpike Company, which was incorporated, by act of April 16, 1840, still charges toll. In 1851 a plank road was built by a company incorporated May 8, 1850, from the mouth of Larry's creek through Salladasburg, to English Centre. Whilst affording a thoroughfare through to Little Pine creek, it never proved a very profitable investment, and after sustaining great damage by the flood of 1889, the stockholders decided to repair it no further than Salladasburg. It is a toll road.
Aside from the river bridges, Lycoming county, on account of its numerous streams, has forty creek bridges, the majority of which are handsome iron structures. Little Pine creek has four iron bridges which cost $64,000. Two of these at English Centre, about one-third of a mile apart, cost $42,000. The cost of the bridges now owned by the county amounts to several hundred thousand dollars.
While roads were opened and streams Bridged in early times for the convenience of the people, they had no means of reaching distant markets except by wagon and the river. The Susquehanna was declared a "public highway" by act of March 21, 1783, and Pine creek was declared the same by act, of January 14, 1833, fifty years later. From the earliest times boats were used for the transportation of stores and produce up and down the river, and many of the first settlers brought their families here in boats, which were poled up the stream by strong men. Grain and manufactured goods were sent below in arks and keel-boats constructed specially for that purpose. The most popular was the keel-boat. They were constructed with a hull like the modern canal boat and would carry twenty-five and thirty tons. Oars and poles were used to propel them, and sometimes they were towed by horses. Many keel-boats were in use on the river, and several parties made a business of running them. Warehouses were built at points along the river where grain was brought and stored to be sent to market at Columbia and Baltimore. The return load consisted of merchandise. Sails were introduced in 1805 by Captains Jordan and Blair, and as they proved of considerable benefit they immediately became popular with boatmen. Flat-boats were also used, and the canoe never failed to be of service for light and quick work.
It was not until 1826 that steamboat navigation was attempted. This experiment was brought about by Peter Karthaus, who had started a furnace at what is now the town of Karthaus, in Clearfield county. He had lost so much iron by the sinking of his arks that he conceived the idea of introducing steamboats. He visited Williamsport and conferred with Tunison Coryell, who was favorably impressed and lent him all the aid he could. Two small steamboats, the Codorus and Susquehanna, were built, the former under Baltimore and the latter under Philadelphia auspices. The Codorus, commanded by Captain Elger, experienced great difficulty in reaching Williamsport and Farrandsville, after which it returned to Northumberland and ascended the North Branch as far as Binghamton. The Susquehanna, which was larger, exploded her boiler while trying to ascend Nescopee rapids and was lost, May 3, 1826. The appearance of the Codorus at Williamsport caused quite a sensation and the construction of wharves and landings was talked of. On the way up people gathered on the shores to view the new river craft. It stopped at Bailey's island for wood, and as none could be found the firemen proceeded to tear down a fence for fuel. Bailey appeared with a gun and forbade such liberty. A compromise was effected and the boat proceeded. These trial trips demonstrated the impracticability of navigating the river by steam and the project was abandoned. And with the departure of the Codorus the hopes of the people that Williamsport was about to become a port of entry vanished. The mails, which were light, were carried on horseback in saddle bags, and boys did the riding. They traveled by the shortest routes on paths across the mountains. The late A. Boyd Cummings related that when a small boy he often carried the mail to White Deer valley on horseback, and his route was by the Culbertson path from DuBoistown.
THE STAGE COACH.
The next step to secure swifter travel was the introduction of the stage coach, and to James Cummings belongs the credit of starting the first line between Northumberland and Williamsport. This was on the 25th of August, 1809. The stage only made one trip a week. In his advertisement Mr. Cummings says: "The stage will leave Williamsport on Friday morning at 4 o'clock, and arrive at Northumberland at 6 P. M. Start from Northumberland at 5 o'clock A. M., and arrive at Williamsport at 7 o'clock P. M. Fare between Williamsport and Northumberland, $2.25. All way passengers six cents per mile, each entitled to fourteen pounds baggage, gratis." The appearance of the first stage was an event of unusual interest, and many persons assembled to greet its arrival. It marked the beginning of a now epoch on the West Branch in the transportation line. In 1814 Mr. Cummings extended his stage line to Jersey Shore, but the venture proved a loss, and the people of that town had to raise a purse to reimburse him in order to, keep the stage on the road. As late as 1838 but one trip weekly was made between Williamsport and Northumberland. That year Bailey & Eder underbid Samuel H. Lloyd & Company for the contract to carry the mail from Harrisburg and an opposition line with four horses was started. Passengers were carried for a nominal fare and there was much strife for a time between the rival parties. In those days stage coaching reached high water mark in this valley.
The construction of canals had been long advocated by prominent men. As early as 1790 surveys had been made to ascertain if Lake Erie could be connected with the West Branch. It was foreseen by leading men that water ways could be built to facilitate the transportation of goods. By act of March 31, 1823, the State appropriated $50,000 to improve navigation on the Susquehanna between Columbia and the mouth of the river, and appointed John McMeens, of Lycoming county, one of three commissioners to disburse the money. Other experiments were made but without success, when it was determined to resort to the construction of canals as the only feasible means of transporting the increasing products of the in prior of the State to market. The legislature therefore passed a law, March 24, 1828, authorizing a board of canal commissioners to proceed "to locate and contract for making canals, locks, and other works necessary thereto" from Northumberland to Bald Eagle on the West Branch. Surveys were made and the work commenced, but delays occurred. The famous Muncy dam was put under contract at once and completed that year. The canal reached Williamsport in 1833 and Lock Haven in 1834. The superintendent of the Lycoming line, as it was termed in the reports, was William F. Packer. Under date of November 1, 1833, he submits an interesting report in which the condition of the improvement is given, together with a, statement showing that the total cost of the "Lycoming line, Bald Eagle side cut, and Lewisburg side cut" was $1,158,580.84. The chief engineer was Robert.
Faries, assisted by James D. Harris. On the 8th of July, 1833, the canal commissioners met at Williamsport to hear reports from the engineers, settle claims for damages, and give instructions to the superintendent. The meeting, according to the minutes, was an important one and lasted two days.
By act of April 1, 1836, the Muncy Canal Company was incorporated. This company was organized for the construction of the branch to the town; and in order to give ample time for its completion the date was extended by act of March 30, 1838, to November 1st of that year.
For many years the canal was an important water highway, and it gave an impetus to business that was felt in commercial circles throughout the country. Packet boats for the transportation of passengers were also introduced. They were fitted up neatly and towed by horses, relays of which were provided at certain distances, so that the teams would always be fresh. They were driven swiftly by mounted riders and the packet always had the right of way. The mail and express were carried on these boats. The captain of the packet took special pains to look after the comfort of his passengers and he was regarded with great favor by travelers. Capt. D. B. Else, of Williamsport, was one of the last of the line of these packet commanders. The landing wharf in Williamsport was at the Exchange Hotel of Robert Hughes, on Market street, and the approach of the boat was announced by the vigorous ringing of a bell. Hundreds of persons were always present at the time of arrival, and the bustle and excitement which ensued never failed to be great.
The canal was operated until the great flood of June 1, 1889, when it was so badly damaged above Muncy dam that it was abandoned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, which had bought it from the State in 1857, nearly a quarter of a century before. It is now partly filled up through Williamsport and a railroad track has been laid to facilitate the shifting of freight cars. The canal packet supplanted the stage coach, and in time it was supplanted by the locomotive.
ADVENT OF RAILROADS.
The State canals had not been in operation many years until a sentiment in favor of railroads began to develop, and many charters were sought and obtained from the legislature. Among the first we find a charter granted by act of March 31, 1836, for the Jersey Shore and Willardsburg railroad. This projection ultimately developed into the railroad of Pine creek. The Williamsport Railroad Company was chartered, May 20, 1837. This company had many ups and downs before it became established. The road was opened through to Ralston, January 12, 1839, and a locomotive named the "Robert Ralston" was brought from Philadelphia on a canal boat and placed on it. Eighteen months afterwards a second locomotive was purchased and named the "Williamsport." The road was poorly constructed. The track consisted of strap iron spiked on stringers, and the wear and tear caused by the locomotives was so great that they had to be taken off at the end of nine years and horses substituted. This railroad was the outgrowth of the coal and iron operations on Lycoming creek, on which Mr. Ralston spent his fortune but founded a town which perpetuated his name. When the road was rebuilt and iron rails placed on the track, the discarded locomotive, "Williamsport," was resurrected and put on the road again. After many vicissitudes the road was completed through to Elmira and called the Williamsport and Elmira railroad. It is now known as the Northern Central.
The charter for the Sunbury and Erie was obtained April 3, 1837, but the part between Sunbury and Williamsport was not completed until 1855. It was known by this name until 1861, when the road was leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the title changed to the Philadelphia and Erie.
The Catawissa railroad was extended from Milton to Williamsport in 1871, under the superintendency of George Webb, and November 1, 1872, it was leased to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, which has since operated it. The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo railroad, now known as the Fall Brook, was opened to Williamsport, June 4, 1883. It unites with the Philadelphia and Reading at Newberry Junction.
The Beech Creek railroad, which enters the county in Porter township from the west, was completed and opened for traffic in 1884. It unites with the Fall Brook at Jersey Shore Junction and runs into Williamsport over its tracks.
By act of June 24, 1839, George Grant, Robert S. Grant, Thomas G. Morris, John Knox, Bernard Duffy, and Abraham Lyon were "constituted a body politic and corporate" by the name of "The Larry's Creek Railroad and Coal Company," for the more convenient ownership and mining of coal, etc. To have a seal and hold 2,000 acres of land. The capital stock was fixed at $200,000, divided into 4,000 shares. When it was shown that the parties named had subscribed for the whole number of shares and paid in fifteen per cent., the Governor was authorized to issue a charter. It is scarcely necessary to add that the road never was built.
Another road, entitled "The Loyalsock Railroad Company," was chartered by act of 1839, but it shared the same fate as the Larry's Creek road.
What was originally known as the Muncy Creek railroad was chartered in 1864, and Michael Meylert, H. R. Merhling, Robert Taylor, George Bodine, and A. J. Dietrick were constituted a body corporate to lay out and construct the road along Muncy creek and ultimately extend it to Laporte, and from that point connect with some line running east. Steps Were at once taken to push the enterprise by appointing Joshua Bowman, Michael Meylert, and H. R. Merhling commissioners to open subscription books and canvass for the sale of stock. The first organization was composed of the following officers: President, Michael Meylert; treasurer, Joshua Bowman; secretary, B. Morris Ellis; superintendent, H. R. Merhling; directors, Edward Lyon, Baker Langcake, B. Morris Ellis, Robert and D. W. Taylor. Opposition was early manifested by the citizens of Muncy, which resulted in the withdrawal of Messrs, Bowman and Langcake. B. M. Ellis was then made treasurer and James Taylor director. Slow progress was made in construction on account of a scarcity of funds. In 1867, after three miles of track had been laid from Hughesville, work was stopped, and the prospect of getting a road up the creek was not encouraging.
In 1870 an act was passed authorizing the sale of any improvement of this kind under execution for debt, no matter how small the amount. But the friends of the road managed to have a bill passed exempting the Muncy Creek from the sweeping effects of the law, and in June, 1872, a new organization was effected as follows: James K. Boak, treasurer; E. Livingston, secretary; H. R. Merhling, superintendent; B. Morris Ellis, Dr. M. Steck, De Witt Bodine, James Taylor, and Henry G. Warner, directors.
A renewed effort was made to push the enterprise, and the road was finally built to Hall's. The cost, including equipments, was $148,640. The total earnings for 1872 were $7,493.33. After encountering many vicissitudes, the management, on, account of lack of means, was unable to extend the road, and creditors becoming clamorous, it was finally sold, about 1880, and B. G. Welch became general manager. Since that time the road has steadily been gaining in strength. It has been extended to Nordmont, in Sullivan county, and with increased rolling stock, has made considerable progress. Its business is gradually increasing, and when a connection is made with the Lehigh Valley it will become a through route and open up an extensive region of country. After the road passed into new hands a reorganization took place and the name was changed to the Williamsport and North Branch railroad, under which title it is still operated. Some time after the first reorganization George L. Sanderson became president and served in that capacity until the winter of 1892, when another change took place. The present officers are: President, H. C. McCormick; vice-president, John Satterfield; treasurer, J. Henry Cochran; secretary, S. T. McCormick; general manager, B. G. Welch; directors: H. C. McCormick, John Satterfield, J. Henry Cochran, E. R. Payne, H. L. Taylor, and S. T. McCormick. Connection is made with the Philadelphia and Reading railroad. at Hall's, ten miles east of Williamsport.