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History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania
edited by John F. Meginness; 1892

CHAPTER XLIII.

MCINTYRE AND MCNETT.

MCINTYRE. - ERECTION - GEOLOGY - SETTLEMENT - ASTONVILLE - CARTERVILLE - THE MCINTYRE MINE - RALSTON - PRESENT SAW MILLS - RED RUN COAL COMPANY - POSTOFFICES - SCHOOLS .

MCNETT. - ORGANIZATION - MINERAL RESOURCES - ROARING BRANCH - PENBRYN - ELLENTON - CHEMUNG - SAW MILLS - SCHOOL.

MCINTYRE TOWNSHIP.


THIS township was formed out of territory taken from Lewis in 1848, and named after Archibald McIntyre, of Philadelphia, who was one of the corporators of the Williamsport and Elmira railroad. It is the second township in size in the county, and has an area of 46,260 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 845. It is bounded on the east by McNett, on the north by Tioga county, on the west by Jackson, and on the south by Lewis township.

Geologically McIntyre consists chiefly of formations (Nos. X, XI, XII, and XIII), which constitute the McIntyre coal basin, (See chapter on Geology) lying at an elevation of about 2,000 feet above tide. There are some agricultural lands on the mountain plateau, but the soil is thin. A small area of Red Catskill (No. IX) is found along the valley of Pleasant stream and in the southeastern part of the township, while along the northern edge there occurs a narrow belt of Chemung measures (No. VIII) which carry the fossil ore belt (VITI f) inclined at a high angle. There are some fine bottom lands along Lycoming creek.

There was a good outcrop of bog manganese observed in this township. Iron ore (No. VIII f) of the coal basin exists, with a number of beds of fire clay, while much building stone has been quarried and shipped. The surface of the township is generally mountainous, except along the valleys of the streams. The glacial moraine left many marks of its passage on the hill tops.

The early history of that portion of the township lying along Lycoming creek would be but a repetition of the history of Lewis township. The only difference would be that its mountains are higher, its rocky declivities more precipitous, its gorges deeper, and its scenery wilder and more attractive. The great Indian trail crossed and recrossed the creek, and in some places, on account of the dense thickets in the valley, crept along the face of the mountains. In the rear of the village of Ralston is a perpendicular ledge of rocks. On the summit, for a mile or more, is a level notch in the face of the mountain. Over this notch the Indian trail passed in order to avoid the impenetrable thickets in the valley below; and along this trail, in later years, a tramway was laid, to convey ores from Red run to the furnace at Astonville. And over these rocks Conrad Weiser's Indian guide came near falling when they were passing up the creek, March 25, 1737, on their way to Onondaga,

Lycoming creek runs through McIntyre township from the north to the south. Its principal tributaries are Pleasant stream, which forms the dividing line on the east between McIntyre and Cascade townships, Rock run, which emerges from a wild, rocky glen on the east at Ralston, Dutchman's run, and Ibbot's run. On the west side of the creek are Roaring branch, Red run, and Frozen run. Gray's run also passes across the southwestern corner of the township.

Settlement progressed slowly, on account of the density of the wilderness, in penetrating what is now McIntyre township. The first survey was made on what is now the site of Ralston, September 11, 1794, by Aaron Levy, and Michael and Hyman Gratz located lands north and south of Ralston. It is claimed that John Smithkontz was the first man to settle at the mouth of Pleasant stream; about 1805), he cleared a patch of land and made an improvement. He died there in 1818. John Blackwell settled at Roaring branch about the same time, lived there for thirty years, and &n moved into what is now Bradford county. A man named Abbott settled south of Roaring branch about the time Smithkontz located at Pleasant stream and lived there nearly half a century. In 1821 a party named Loper located on the site of Ralston and built a log cabin, which was the first dwelling erected at that place. The first improvement in the township was made by the Now York Iron and Coal Company, which erected a saw mill a little south of Astonville in 1831. At one time there were several important and active industries in this township.

Astonville. - Mr. Aston, manager for the New York Company, established a furnace at the mouth of Frozen run about 1831, although attempts had been made here, in a crude way, to manufacture iron many years before, but by whom is not now remembered. When Aston took charge of the works he erected a number of buildings and the place was named Astonville. It no longer exists, having succumbed to the ravages of time.

About 1837 a charcoal furnace was started at Astonville. The "white ore" was hauled over a tramway from the mines on Red run, which ran along the face of the mountain, and charcoal burned in the neighboring mountains was used to reduce it. The ore was tough and intractable, being filled with fire clay which could only be gotten out by letting it freeze, the action of the frost disintegrating the matrix and making it workable. As the ore was brought here and piled up in heaps to lie over winter and freeze, probably gave the name of Frozen run to the little stream which empties into Lycoming creek, where Astonville stood. The iron made there was what is known as "hot short;" that is, when it was heated very hot it became too brittle to work, and would fly into pieces, but when cold was quite tough and of fine quality. For several years the furnace made a quality of iron that satisfied J. & J Essington, who had a rolling mill at Crescent, a few miles below. The furnace was continued in active operation for ten years and did a fairly prosperous business, when it was burned in 1847.

The New York owners in the course of a few years built a larger furnace and, made preparations to resume. business, on a large scale. They put up a number of houses, erected a small church, and soon the place became a lively little village. But it required so much time to wait on the disintegration of the ore by frost, that the work moved slowly.

In the meantime Lieb, Martin & Company, the owners of the old furnace property, sold out, and a new firm called the Lycoming Iron Company was organized. This company invested about $300,000 in improvements and new buildings. A large furnace, supplied with modern apparatus for working ores, was built and started in 1853. The latest devices in iron making were resorted to, charcoal was thrown aside and anthracite, mixed with bituminous, found near by, was tried, but it proved a failure, and the furnace chilled. This was just before the Northern Central railroad was built.

But the failure of the Lycoming Iron Company did not deter others from taking hold of the plant. In 1855 William Thompson, of New York, attracted by the. opening of the railroad through to Elmira, and the former success of the old charcoal furnace, got control of the property and put up a new furnace. It proved a failure, after being operated about a year and a half, and was suffered to fall into decay. Soon after the railroad company dismantled it by taking the large blocks of stone to be used in bridge construction.

In 1864 Jervis Langdon of Elmira and W. Albright re-opened the abandoned furnace and tried, by mixing ores brought from a distance with the native ores, to manufacture iron profitably. The experiment was not successful, and when the great flood of 1865 came, the waters of Frozen run invaded the premises and chilled the furnace. There was talk of reviving it again in later years, but it was not done, and Astonville went into decline and today scarcely a trace of the place is visible.

Carterville. - Less than two miles above Ralston the ruins of another old furnace stack are still visible, with a few tumble down buildings in the neighborhood. This is all that remains of Carterville, once a place of some pretensions. The Red Run Coal Company opened a mine near this place in 1854, built a plane, and operated the mines for three years, taking out about 20,000 tons annually of coal, when they abandoned the mine. A Mr. Carter, of Tamaqua, built an iron furnace of Mauch Chunk sandstone and called the place Carterville. The furnace was ready for blast in 1854, but was not started in consequence of a tragedy in Philadelphia, resulting in the death of Carter by a pistol shot.

This put a stop to the enterprise. The iron ore mine, which had been opened near by, soon caved in and twenty years passed away without anything being done, when a Mr. Williams from Minersville got hold of the property, put the furnace in repair, and blow in the first blast, May 20, 1874. For two months the furnace ran with anthracite for fuel, operating on the "white ore," the red ore not being found good enough, or too full of slate and clay. About 500 tons of the "white ore" were used, and then the furnace closed, probably never to open again. Thus ended the experiments of making iron on Lycoming creek, stimulated as it was in an early day by seeing hundreds of tons of crude and bar iron hauled past these ore beds from Bellefonte to points north.

The McIntyre Mines. - The next great enterprise in this township was the working of the McIntyre Coal Mines on the summit of the mountain, a short distance northeast of Ralston. The McIntyre Coal Company was founded by Jervis Langdon and operations were commenced in 1870. Several years previous to this, however, coal had been mined on a small scale, and it was brought to Ralston on a tramway which wound around the mountain in a zigzag fashion. Scarcely a trace of this road is now to be seen. The officers of the McIntyre Coal Company were: President, Charles J. Langdon; vice-president, J. D. F. Slee; treasurer, W. L. Kingman; secretary, W. D. Kelly; engineer and superintend, G. H. Platt. The main office was located at Elmira, where nearly all the officers resided.

The McIntyre Coal Company invested a large sum of money and operated on a big scale. They constructed a plane 2,300 feet in length, down which the coal was lowered in cars to the valley below. This plane was very steep, the angle being nearly 45, and it was an interesting object as viewed from the car windows of passing railroad trains. The loaded cars from the summit were lot down by a powerful cable running over an immense drum, and empty cars ascended at the same time. The momentum of the cars was controlled by a system of levers and a steam engine of fifteen horse power located on the summit. The wire cable was two inches thick and weighed ten tons. The drum house was about 806 feet above tide. Beyond this was another railroad 1,500 feet in length, which reached the shutes. From this point the mines were reached by another inclined plane 500 feet in length, and rising to an elevation of 170 feet.

The village of McIntyre, in the busiest times of coal mining, consisted of about 300 houses, one large store, a Church, school house, saw mill, office, boot and shoe shop, public hall, and other buildings, together with half a dozen or more buildings at the foot of the plane. There was a good supply of water from a great spring on the summit, which was conducted through the village by pipes, and there were hydrants at the street corners. A fine public road wound up the mountain to the village.

Mining was carried on largely until about 1886, the output sometimes exceeding 200,000 tons annually, when the mines were found to be running low, and it was decided to cease operations and go elsewhere. The plane was dismantled, the machinery removed, the houses abandoned., and the busy population of nearly 1,500 departed. The village is now a ruin, and in a few years more, if work is not resumed, it will pass into oblivion like Astonville and Carterville.

Ralston, situated on Lycoming creek, at the mouth of Rock Run, derives its name from Matthew C. Ralston, of Philadelphia. He was largely interested in the iron works and in the construction of the railroad to this place from Williamsport, and sacrificed his fortune, in these enterprises. He was the original president of the railroad which was opened through to Ralston in 1837. William P. Farrand was the engineer, and through his visionary ideas Ralston became involved. When Ralston was laid out though never incorporated-great expectations were entertained for its future success by its founder. The plot as recorded shows that its principal streets were named Maine, McIntyre, Green, Thompson, and Rock Run, with the requisite number of alleys.

Among other enterprises projected was the erection of a great hotel for summer visitors, as it was n expected at that time that the road would soon be, built any further. The hotel was built of stone, with columns in front, and presented all imposing appearance for the time. It was named the Ralston House, and being at the terminus of the railroad, and situated in an extremely wild and secluded spot, became quite famous and was long a favorite place of resort. It still stands in stately pride, the monument of a past enterprise, and is still used for hotel purposes.

Ralston never fulfilled the rosy expectations of its founders. When the railroad was completed through to Elmira, and the McIntyre Coal Company ceased operations, it came to a standstill almost, and its growth for several years past has &en slow. Its leading industry now is the great tannery of J. E. Proctor, which gives employment to about 250 men - J. C. Woodworth, superintendent. About 16,000 cords of bark are ground per annum and 1,000 sides of leather are turned out daily. The town has four hotels, viz: Ralston House, Thomas Dunlop; Mountain View, P. J. Egan; Lycoming House, William Skally; Eagle Hotel, Michael Walsh. There are two justices of the peace, S. C. Myer and J. P. Walsh. The former was long the proprietor of the Ralston House. The Methodists have a church in the town and the Catholics worship in the school house. There are no other churches in the township. J. E. Proctor keeps a large company store, J. W. Kilbourn runs a general store, and there are several shops besides. At Langdon James Holmes and James Egan have stores, and W. K. Heylmun has one at Marsh Hill. At present Ralston has about 106 families, with a population of 500; also one lodge, No. 961, I. O. O. F.

The Saw Mills now operated in the township may be enumerated as follows: Peter Miller, steam, at Ralston; Charles Evans, Pleasant stream; Thomas Lundy, Pleasant stream; near Roaring Branch, a mill operated by Mr. Beardslee; and Proctor's large mill on Gray's run.

The Red Run Coal Company has recently constructed an inclined plane up the face of the mountain and a railroad to their mines, for the purpose of getting out coal. They are operating on a large scale.

Ralston is 860 feet above tide and 24, miles north of Williamsport by railroad.

Roaring Branch is 940 feet above tide.

Postoffices. - The first postoffice in McIntyre township was established May 5, 1838. It was called Oakville, and Samuel Oaks was appointed postmaster. It was changed to Ralston, December 11, 1839, and James Batchelor was appointed. His successors have been as follows: Daniel W. Canfield, appointed September 10, 1840; Peter Thompson, July 16, 1842; Clark E. Conley, August 14, 1845; John L. Scott, December 23, 1847; Charles W. Butcher, May 9, 1848; John Hepburn, July 6, 1854; Cowden Hepburn, March 10, 1858; Jennie H. Conley, October M, f863; Julia H. Spencer, September 16, 1868; Jennie H. Conley, April 10, 1869. She is the present incumbent.

A postoffice was opened at Langdon, January 11, 1878, and B. F. Irvin was made postmaster. His successors have been E. C. Towner, appointed November 17, 1879; F. W. Towner, June 26, 1882; John J. Holmes, December 4, 1,884. He is still in office. Langdon is at the foot of the abandoned inclined plane.

The last postoffice in the township was established at Marsh Hill, December 29, 1884, and W. K. Heylmun was appointed postmaster. On the 28th of May, 1890, he was succeeded by Richard T. Paris, who is the present incumbent.

Schools. - There are four school houses in McIntyre township, viz: Ralston (first and second grade; the school has a principal at a salary of $60 a month and two assistants, with salaries of $50 and $40 a mouth; it is also supplied with a circulating library), Marsh Hill, Langdon, and Gray's Run. The statistics for 1891 show an average of eight months taught.

MCNETT TOWNSHIP.

At September sessions, 1877, H. It. McNett and others petitioned the court praying that a new township might be set off from McIntyre, because the distance residents in the eastern part of the township bad to travel to attend the elections was too great. The court appointed James Thompson, Carson Clendenin, and Samuel Bodine as viewers. They reported in favor of a division, December 4,1877, and an election was ordered to be held January 26, 1878. It resulted in 120 for division, with barely one vote in opposition, and on February 10th court ordered a new township to be erected and called McNett, after H. IL McNett, one of the petitioners.

McNett is the tenth in size in the county and contains an area of about 23,500 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 619. It is bounded on the east by Bradford and Sullivan counties, on the north by Tioga county, on the west by Jackson township, and on the south by McIntyre. Its principal streams are Lycoming creek, Rock run, and Pleasant stream, all of which have several small tributaries. The source of Lycoming creek is in a morass half a mile east from Penbryn (Carpenter) station. When the railroad was built there was a pool or spring in this swamp and the water ran both to Towanda and Lycoming creeks. Hawk's switch, of the Northern Central railroad, is built over the source of Lycoming creek.

The greater portion of McNett consists, geologically, of formations (Nos. X, XL XII. and XIII), containing that part of the McIntyre coal basin lying west of Lycoming creek, which has been but little developed and shows a larger connected area of a coal basin than that on the eastern side of the creek, and is known as the Red Run coal district. Along the north edge of the township is the prolongation of a belt of Chemung fossil ore measures (VIII f), on which ore was opened and mined; while in the south part of the township formation (No. X) makes up the bulk of the area.

This township is noted for its coal, iron ore, etc. From 1837 until 1847 iron was successfully made in this region from the carbonate iron of the coal basin, which, when reworked, made good, tough bar iron, which was much in demand, and there is still some of it in use at the present day. Fire clay and good building stone also occur.

Along Lycoming creek there are some fine bottom farms; above them, on the side hills, and up the valleys of the small streams are small areas of Red Catskill (No. IX). The surface of the greater portion of the township is mountainous. The glacial moraine passed over the mountains of McNett. There is much metamorphism of the measure along Roaring Branch and there are many good exposures for obtaining fossil plates and casts.

Roaring Branch. - The little town of Roaring Branch is partly in McNett township and Tioga county. The railroad station, two hotels, two stores, and the tannery of John A. Innes are in McNett. It is a lively place and its business interests are considerable. The postoffice, called Roaring Branch, serves both divisions of the town. It was established February 10, 1862, and Lloyd L. Washburn was appointed postmaster. His successors have been as follows: Charles S., Green, appointed January 19, 1863; Harvey A. Thornton, January 24, 1867; Charles S. Green, September 21, 1869; William A. Weaver, April 24, 1883; Andrew J. Gosline, September 23, 1885; Charles Bubb, December 7, 1888. He is the present incumbent.

Penbryn. - A postoffice was established at Carpenter, November 8, 1869, and Elisha W. Sweet was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded July 25, 1888, by Eli L.. McNett, who is still the incumbent. The village and station are called Penbryn. This is a Celtic word meaning "Head of the Mountain." It is very appropriate, as the railroad has just made the ascent of the mountain at this point. The railroad station and store of Mr. Sweet are in Tioga county, while the other buildings are in Lycoming. At one time a hub manufactory was carried on here. Penbryn is located near where Lycoming, Tioga, and Bradford counties unite in a point or angle.

Ellenton postoffice, situated on Pleasant stream, was established in the eastern part of the township August 21, 1883, and Curtis E. Helms was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by Daniel D. Davidson, November 12, 1890, who is the present incumbent.

Chemung postoffice was established January 29, 1889, and John J. Smith was appointed postmaster. He is still in office. No other township in the county has as many postoffices as McNett. Chemung is at the head of Rock run.

Saw Mills. - At Carpenter there is a steam saw mill run by E. W. Sweet, and John Crandall & Son have one on the second fork of Rock run. Mial E. Lilley also operates one by steam on the third branch of Rock run. The lumber in this township is nearly exhausted.

Schools. - There are no churches belonging to any denomination in the township. There are four school houses, however, named as follows: McIlwaine, Carpenter, Rumsey, and Pleasant Stream. The report shows seven months taught in 1891, by one male and four female teachers. The male teacher was paid $30 a month and the females $35.


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