An Alphabetical Look at Places and Spaces around Centre County
Aaronsburg (Haines) — Philadelphia land speculator Aaron Levy laid out the village of Aaronsburg in 1786. It was the earliest town in what would become Centre County, along its earliest road. Aaronsburg’s location near the geographic center of Pennsylvania probably prompted Levy to propose it for the state capital. He laid it out in a grid pattern of alternating streets and alleys with a wide central street, broadening into Aaron Square in its center, to allow room for public buildings. Surrounded by fertile farmland, it developed into a bustling commercial post village. Broadsides circulated by Levy noted that some lots would remain open for churches of all denominations. His early advocacy for religious freedom became the basis of The Aaronsburg Story, a pageant attended by 30,000 people in 1949.
Agricultural College (State College) — The college building is built of limestone, seated on a piece of rising ground. It is beautifully located, and from the cupola one of grandest landscape scenes is presented to view that the imagination of man can picture. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
Antes (Rush) — Located on the Bellefonte-Philipsburg portion of the Philadelphia to Erie Turnpike, or more commonly known as the Rattlesnake Pike, Antes is associated with the lumbering communities of Beaver Mills, Star Mill, and Underwood Mills. A busy tollgate tavern, the Black Bear, was located about five miles north of Antes, serving passenger stage coaches and freight wagons carrying iron east and supplies west.
Axemann/Boiling Springs (Spring) — In 1829 Harvey Mann began an axe-making operation along Logan Branch at Boiling Springs. Iron furnaces and forges were within a mile either way of his factory, and Logan Branch supplied the water needed for trip hammers. In its heyday, the plant at Axemann made single and double billed axes and employed 50 men, turning out 350 axes a day.
Baileyville (Ferguson) — The founder of this small community was Richard Bailey of Chester County who came to the area in about 1790. His son John, an energetic businessman, built a large gristmill in the center of town, powered by a stream whose source was Rock Spring, about a mile away. A sawmill, tannery, carpenter shop, and blacksmith shop were all part of the Bailey family operation. In the 1880s Baileyville began to hold annual picnics, traditional family gatherings that have continued for more than one hundred years. The Baileyville schoolhouse, built in the 1890s, was purchased in the 1930s to serve as a community hall.
Bellefonte Borough/Big Spring — Bellefonte’s advantageous location on Spring Creek and near the principal water gap leading into the Nittany Valley favored the town’s development as a center of industry and commerce. The Big Spring was, according to local legend, the origin of the town’s name — Beautiful Fountain — given by exiled French statesman Talleyrand when he visited the area in 1794-95. James Harris and James Dunlop laid Bellefonte out in a Philadelphia-style grid pattern with the main intersection widened into a market diamond. The County Courthouse became the diamond’s architectural centerpoint. Early Georgian-style stone houses were built close together and close to the street. When Bellefonte grew in wealth, political prestige, and population, particularly during the 1860s to 1880s, new residential neighborhoods and commercial buildings were designed in a cosmopolitan range of the latest in Victorian architectural styles. Bellefonte was for many years the pivot of central Pennsylvania politics; its prominence is evidenced by its having been the home of five Pennsylvania governors.
Benore (Patton) — The post office name for the village of Scotia.
Blanchard/Eagleville/Quigley’s Mills (Liberty) — This community, located on the Centre-Clinton county line, is the largest in Liberty Township. With vast timber stands nearby, lumbering has been its major industry. During its busiest years, the community hosted three hotels, a cigar manufacturer, an undertaker and cabinet shop, a wagonmaker, shoemaker, and a blacksmith. It was originally known as Quigley’s Mills, but later was renamed Eagleville. It became Blanchard, named for attorney John Blanchard of Bellefonte, when it was determined that there was another Eagleville post office in Pennsylvania.
Boalsburg/Springfield (Harris) — Originally called Springfield, Boalsburg was renamed for early settler David Boal. It was laid out in 1809 on a grid pattern with a center diamond, surrounded by 60 quarter-acre lots. A post village for crossroads leading to Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, the first tavern was built on Main (Pitt) Street in 1804, the Boalsburg Tavern (Duffy’s) was added in 1819, and Wolf Tavern, which served drovers, was built in 1825. The James Logue Coach Factory, now the Harris Township building, also reflects Boalsburg’s early transportation history.
Buffalo Run (Patton) — Early survey maps show this village near the intersection of what are now Routes 322 and 550. Its name is reputedly derived from an early buffalo lick located nearby.
Centennial (Halfmoon) — George Wilson and his family came to the Centennial area in 1792 from southeastern Pennsylvania, the first Quakers to settle in Halfmoon Valley. He was joined by other members of the Society of Friends. A small log and then a larger frame meeting house were built, as well as a school with membership reaching its peak of between 100 and 150 people in the 1860s.
Centre Hall Borough — It is one of the prettiest villages in Centre County, the private dwelling-houses being tastefully built and very attractive in appearance. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
The Borough of Centre Hall has served as the market center for the farming communities that are located in richly agricultural Brush and Penns Valleys. The Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad, later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad system, brought its passenger service into Centre Hall in 1884. The Grange, an organization promoting farming and farm life, formed a local chapter in 1873 under the leadership of Centre Hall area farmer Leonard Rhone. The first Grange Fair started as a basket picnic in Leech Woods, west of town, in 1874. It has evolved into the annually held Grange Fair and Encampment, the oldest of its kind in the country.
Centre Mill (Miles) — Operated by water power from Elk Creek, this substantial mill was built in 1802 to serve area farmers who until that time had traveled as far as Kishacoquillas Valley, across two mountain ridges, for their milling needs. A community developed around the mill, one of the largest structures in the valley. It is the only remaining stone mill in Centre County.
Clarence (Snow Shoe) — Lumber and coal have been the major products of this community on the Appalachian Plateau. In 1871 P.B. Crider and Son of Bellefonte built a sawmill on the north branch of Beech Creek, and a few years later the Weymouth-Byers lumber company built a large steam sawmill. Coal in the region turned the Bellefonte and Snow Shoe Railroad company’s mines into a thriving business. In 1881 Berwind White leased forty-eight thousand acres of coal land in the Snow Shoe region and built eighteen houses to accommodate the miners. The first of these miners came from Scotland; a few years later, Slovak immigrants took their place. By 1900 there were 13 mines operating in and around the village of Clarence during the Mountaintop coal boom.
Coburn/The Forks (Penn) — At the confluence of Penns and Pine Creeks and originally called The Forks, early settlers used the creeks to carry farm and lumber products on rafts to markets downstream. The town known as Coburn developed a century later, in 1886, as the result of James Coburn and the Lewisburg, Centre, and Tyrone Railroad connecting this location with Spring Mills. In its heyday, four daily passenger trains and two daily freight trains stopped in Coburn. Flour mills and factories were established, and Coburn became a distribution center for nearby Millheim, Aaronsburg, Madisonburg, and Rebersburg. Surrounded by dense forests, a brisk lumbering trade became the area’s core industry. Most of the houses were built between 1880 and 1896; almost every house has gingerbread detailing.
Coleville (Spring) — In the 1860s a rich vein of limestone, called the Valentine vein and named for ironmaster Bond Valentine, began to be mined above Buffalo Run near Bellefonte. John Cole, a Houserville carpenter, bought land nearby, laid out a village to house limestone mine workers, and called the community Coleville. The lime was shipped to local iron furnaces. By the 1880s the Buffalo Run, Bellefonte, and Bald Eagle Railroad was shipping lime and also providing a connection between the nearby Bellefonte Furnace and iron ore mines in Patton and Ferguson Townships.
Colyer (Potter) – William Colyer built a sawmill, and lumbering became the chief industry of this small community at the edge of Tussey Mountain. A post office, general store, and two churches served area residents. In the 1960s the Pennsylvania Fish Commission placed a dam on Sinking Creek to create a recreational area, Colyer Lake.
Curtin/Roland (Boggs) — Roland Curtin first built Eagle Forge, about three-fourths of a mile east of Curtin, in 1810, and in 1817 he built Eagle Furnace. He also built Curtin Forge in 1807 and in 1830 a rolling mill. It is hard to realize the obstacles that these early Bald Eagle makers of iron were obliged to overcome in getting their product to market. They either had to convey it by pack horses, or crude wagons westward over steep and rugged mountains and rough, dangerous trails or roads, or float it in rude arks down the Bald Eagle Creek, to the Susquehanna at Lock Haven, and then to Port Deposit where it would be reloaded in sloops or steamers for Philadelphia or Baltimore. Roland was the post office name for Curtin.
Dales Mills (College) — The tiny village of Dales Mills has disappeared; only the Cornelius Dale house and the Dale Cemetery remain as reminders of this early community on the old road between Lemont and Oak Hall. A gristmill and sawmill once were part of this community along Cedar Run.
Earleystown (Harris) — Its exact location is not clear, but Earleystown has been described as being on the old road that ran from Sunbury around the end of Nittany Mountain to Bellefonte. William Earley laid out a town site, established a hotel/stagecoach stop, and served as a justice of the peace for several years. Dr. William Irvine Wilson, the first president of the county medical society, also had a home there. Dr. Wilson’s farm, identified by the deed as located in ‘EarliesTown,” was about two miles west of Centre Hall on the Brush Valley Road to Linden Hall, near the Black Hawk trailer park. A new turnpike, built over Nittany Mountain in the early 1820s and slightly east of the old Black Hawk Gap Road, bypassed Earleystown and the community eventually disappeared.
End of the Mountain/Lemont (College) — Lenont, a pretty little village . . . or, as our fathers called it, “the end of the mountain,” was an important point in the early days of the county, being on the trail leading from the settlements on the West Branch and Bald Eagle to those in Penns Valley and being at the junction of the two valleys. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
Fairbrook/Tadpole (Ferguson) — A station on the old Fairbrook Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, two passenger trains passed daily through this tiny village traveling between Tyrone and Scotia. The post office was established in 1887; the area of nearby school was called Tadpole.
Farmer’s Mills (Gregg) — Several mills were built along Penns Creek to serve the needs of area settlers, the first of these in 1815 at Farmer’s Mills. Rebuilt in 1864, it still stands along the creek, about two miles northeast of Spring Mills. In the 1890s a store and post office were opened in the mill house, and three blacksmiths, a shoemaker, a tannery, and a schoolhouse became part of this busy community. St. John’s Union Church, dedicated in 1853, still has an active congregation; the Bethesda Evangelical Church, built in the 1880s and commonly called the Swamp Church, is a short distance away.
Fillmore (Patton) — Four-horse coaches carried the daily mail first (1833) to the Buffalo Run Inn and later (1851) to the Fillmore post office also along the Bellefonte-Tyrone Road. For many years it was the only post office between Bellefonte and Stormstown. It became a stop on the Bellefonte Central Railroad.
Fountain (Snow Shoe) — This tiny community was named for Fountain Crider, the owner and operator of a large sawmill. It also was the site of a coal mining operation at one time.
Gatesburg (Ferguson) — Named for Henry Gates who laid out the village, his land contained iron ore which he mined for Centre Furnace and other local iron furnaces. Central to the village is the Gatesburg Church and cemetery.
Germania/German Settlement (Burnside) —A small German colony came from Cumberland County in 1847, and purchasing a few hundred acres of land in the Gratz tract, lying along the southern line of Burnside Township, began at once to clear the tract, put up improvments and till the soil . There were about six families, all told, . . . Their tract was laid out into lots of fifty acres each, and to each family one lot was apportioned. The locality has been known as Germania, and remains to this day the exclusive abode as it was originally of the Germans. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
By the middle of the 20th century, the last residents had moved away, and only a barn and a few outbuildings remained of the once-flourishing little agricultural village of German Settlement, or Germania.
Glass City (Rush) — This community at the western edge of Centre County was once considered the possible site of a glass manufacturing plant because of the quality of white sand found in the area.
Hannah/Hannah Furnace (Taylor) — This charcoal iron furnace was built in 1830 along Bald Eagle Creek and named for Hannah Lloyd, daughter of the senior partner of the firm, Lloyd, Steele and Co. In operation from 1832-1850, wood was charcoaled on lands in the township, limestone was quarried on Muncy Mountain, and the iron ore was hauled over the mountain from Half Moon Valley.
Hecla Furnace/Hecla Park (Walker) — Built in 1820 by Isaac McKinney along the Indian trail Logan’s Path, Hecla Furnace used the water of Little Fishing Creek for power before ceasing operation in 1864. In 1893 a new railroad, the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania, was put into operation to connect Bellefonte with the New York Central line in Mill Hall. Using the furnace’s name, the railroad established a park to serve as a resort for picnickers with a fine wooded area, a large dam providing water for bathing and boating, and a dance pavilion.
Houserville (College) — Located along the old road that connected Bellefonte and the Rock Iron Works with Centre Furnace, Pine Grove Mills, and Huntingdon County, Houserville was settled by Jacob Houser in 1788. Houser built a saw and gristmill, and later a fulling mill, which he quickly expanded into a highly successful woolen mill and factory — the first of its kind in the county. Local farmers sold raw wool to weave blankets and fabric by the yard. High quality finished products as well as surplus wool were shipped to Harrisburg, Baltimore, and elsewhere. The woolen factory operated until 1912.
Howard Borough — William Tipton, a millwright, keel boat operator, and first settler in the area that would become Howard, built his house along Bald Eagle Creek in 1800. Following his lead, settlement and industrial development began to occur along the creek. It provided power not only for a gristmill, but also for the Howard Iron Works and the Howard Brick Company. It also provided the location and the community’s early access to the Bald Eagle and Spring Creek Navigation Company canal system, in operation by 1837; and most recently it provided the water corridor for the John Foster Sayers dam and lake. Howard became an agricultural, commercial, and industrial center and, for a century, was served by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Hublersburg (Walker) — The site of a mill as early as 1812, Hublersburg became the largest community in Walker Township. In 1830 it was laid out along a main road between Lock Haven and Bellefonte and named by Jacob Hubler. While the highway has bypassed the community in recent years, a hotel that was built for travelers using the early road system is still in operation. In its heyday Hublersburg also had two stores, three churches, a foundry, a machine shop, two blacksmith shops, two shoe shops, and a school.
Hunter’s Park (Benner) — A dam was built on Buffalo Run by owners of the Bellefonte Central Railroad to create a small lake for boating and swimming and an area for picnics and baseball. This popular train excursion destination also had a carousel and other rides. It closed in 1911.
Ingleby/Fowler (Haines) — Above Coburn and surrounded by mountains, Penns Creek runs through the tiny settlement of Ingleby, once a flag station on the Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad. Lumber and lumber products were carried out of the mountains and railroad passenger service provided access to this scenic high valley. In the 1880s Dr. Frank Barker, a veterinarian, purchased 500 acres to lumber, establish fruit farms, and breed horses. He built a large home and opened a resort in the mountains, Barker’s Resort for Health and Pleasure, and later sold land for cottages and hunting camps. Fowler was the railroad station name for this community.
Jacksonville/Walker (Marion) — Located at one time at the intersection of the main road through Howard Gap and a major route between Bellefonte and Lock Haven, the village was named for ex-president Andrew Jackson. The Jacksonville Road, built in 1791, ran directly through this early commercial, industrial, and agricultural center. Iron ore was mined in the immediate vicinity and a large gristmill, several stores, and taverns were located there. The Fairview Female Seminary was once located in the village. It was established in 1845 and operated until 1857 with some 20 boarders a year; in 1859 it expanded to become an academic school for some 70 students; and from 1865-69 it served as a school for orphans of Civil War soldiers.
Julian/Julian Furnace (Huston) — This charcoal iron furnace was built in 1832 at Julian by James Irvin and partner John Adams, one-time foreman of the Valentine and Thomas plant. It was named to honor a daughter, Julia Ann, but when the railway station was completed, the name was changed to Julian. The furnace employed from fifty to one hundred men in the various branches including teamsters hauling ore from Buffalo Run Valley, and those engaged in coaling. Under the ownership of Moses Thompson & Co., it was abandoned in 1858.
Kato (Snow Shoe) — Little evidence remains of the once-thriving coal mining center of Kato. Two New York Central Railroad passenger trains traveled each way daily through this little community, but no one has lived there for more than sixty years. In its heyday, a double-tracked inclined railroad took coal down off the mountain. Coal cars on each of parallel tracks were linked together with a cable passing over a pulley at the mountaintop. When one car was loaded at the top and run down the incline, its weight pulled the other one up. The railroad operated without any other power source.
Lambs Crossing (Spring) — William Lamb built a gristmill at Lamb’s Crossing in 1786. Lamb’s Mill played a central role in the frontier life of what would become Centre County and served as an attraction for settlement. In 1834 a greatly enlarged mill became a center for commercial-industrial activity, first served by the canal and, later by the railroad. The current Gamble Mill was built on the same site in 1894.
Lemont/End of the Mountain (College) — The village of Lemont was laid out in 1870 at the base of Mount Nittany by Centre Furnace ironmaster Moses Thompson. In 1880 railroad service and a hotel were added to the community’s collection of several stores, a wagon and carriage shop, and the Thompson bank. Shipping and storage facilities, including a grain elevator and coal shed, were built along the track; a train depot for passengers served Penn State students.
Linden Hall (Harris) — Located in Cedar Run Valley, Linden Hall was the shipping point for timber cut in the Bear Meadows area. In its heyday the village had four stores, a grain elevator, lumber and coal yard, gristmill, distillery, shoe manufacturer, and a station for the Lewisburg & Tyrone Railroad. The mill pond and millrace, railroad bed, and the Rock Hill cemetery and school provide reminders of Linden Hall’s past.
Livonia (Miles) — Adam Stover came into Centre County in 1800. His home, near the junction of roads converging from Union, Centre, and Clinton Counties, began to be used by overnight travelers and eventually served as a hotel known for its good food and hospitality. Livonia later became a mountain retreat with city visitors staying at the Stover Hotel well into the 20th century. Purchased to become a hunting camp, it burned in the 1960s.
Loveville (Halfmoon) — Founded in 1855 by Jacob Love of Philadelphia, this community had a gristmill, blacksmith shop, carriage shop, and store. Later nearby iron ore was mined, washed, and hauled to the Loveville Siding/Fairbrook Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Madisonburg (Miles) — In the 1770s and 1780s Colonel Samuel Miles, a Philadelphia land speculator, acquired substantial land holdings in Brush Valley and laid out a road that became a major transportation route for travelers and local families. Madisonburg, named to honor James Madison, became an agricultural center along the new road and at the intersection of another road leading into Little Nittany Valley. A stone house built in 1833 by Simon Pickle at this intersection served as a post office, general store, and tavern to accommodate travelers.
Marengo (Ferguson) — Once an important station on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Fairbrook Branch between Scotia and Tyrone, little remains of the village of Marengo.
Martha/Martha Furnace (Huston) — In 1830 a charcoal iron furnace was built by Roland Curtin for his son James, and named after his daughter Martha. James Curtin built a large brick home, the Martha Furnace Mansion; the furnace employed fifty or more men. The manufacture of iron at Martha was not a profitable undertaking to the Curtins, however, because of transportation expenses in hauling distant ore and sending pig iron to the forge at Curtin. In 1848 the Curtins abandoned the furnace and eventually sold it to Moses Thompson & Co., who put it in blast and operated it until 1855. Martha later became a stop on the Bald Eagle Valley Railroad.
Milesburg Borough — Located at the junction of Bald Eagle and Spring Creeks, Milesburg was founded in 1793 by Colonel Samuel Miles, a Revolutionary War officer, land speculator, early mayor of Philadelphia, and part owner of Centre Furnace Iron Works. In 1795 Miles put the Milesburg Forge into operation in order to forge Centre Furnace pig iron into a transportable and marketable form. Iron products were at first precariously floated on arks from Milesburg down the Bald Eagle Creek to the West Branch of the Susquehanna. By 1846 a canal system linking Bellefonte with Lock Haven was completed, providing a safe and cheap means of transporting iron to Baltimore and other eastern markets. Later the Bellefonte Central and the Bald Eagle Valley Railroad passed through Milesburg on their way to and from Bellefonte.
Millbrook (College) — About a mile east of State College, Millbrook was the location of the Centre Furnace mill.
Millheim Borough — During the 1770s Jacob Hubler built a gristmill and sawmill along the banks of Elk Creek, the first of many to flourish in Millheim, the Town of Mills. The importance of the town was further enhanced by being at the junction of four roads, one out of Brush Valley, one from Union County, another from Mifflin County, and the other from the west. By the 1870s Millheim had become the industrial, commercial, and residential center of Penns Valley with thirteen mercantile establishments and twelve major industries including new mills, two foundry and machine shops, two tanneries, a cement/lime kiln, and a chair factory. Two large hotels were added (one of them at the site of the current Millheim hotel), and the Lewisburg, Centre and Spruce Creek Railroad connected Millheim to the area and beyond. A large hosiery mill and a silk mill continued into the 20th century.
Mingoville (Walker) — Mingoville, located at the mouth of the gap that was named for Mingo Indian Chief Logan and on one of the earliest county roads to pass through to Penns Valley, served as the post office for Hecla and Hecla Furnace.
Monument (Liberty) — The discovery of nearby clay deposits suitable for making brick resulted in the founding of Monument in 1903 by Judge Ellis L. Orvis of Bellefonte. It was named for “Monument Rock,” a huge rock in the middle of Beech Creek said to have been an Indian landmark. Judge Orvis sold his interest to the Harbison Walker Refractories of Pittsburgh, and for fifty years the community prospered. During its busy years, up to 200 laborers were employed by Harbison Walker as Monument grew to be the second largest community in Liberty Township. As the clay deposits became more difficult to mine, the brick operation shifted away from Monument and in 1953 the operation moved to Ohio and the local plant closed.
Moshannon (Snow Shoe) — Originally called Moshannon Mills, settlement in its early years focused on the many mills that dotted the area. According to local stories, an Indian trail passed through town, with trees bearing Indian picture writings. Later the town of Moshannon, on Black Moshannon Creek, was developed for its lumber reserve. It was laid out in 1849 by James Gilliland and Henry Van Dyke on land purchased from the Graetz family of Philadelphia. A sawmill, gristmill, tannery, store, and even a foundry and a match-stick factory were once located in this community.
Mount Eagle (Howard) — J. B. Leathers of Howard Township created a pottery business in Mount Eagle before the days of Sayers Dam. The crocks he manufactured over the years have become among the most sought-after antiques made by Centre County craftsmen.
Nittany/Peck’s Store (Walker) — Located near the northeastern edge of Centre County, the tiny village of Nittany was a stopping place along the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania line that linked Centre with Clinton County and the New York Central Railroad. Most of the village activities centered around Peck’s Inn and Store, at the western end of the village. At the intersection of Routes 64 and 445 leading to Madisonburg, this large building with decorative ironwork has been a familiar landmark for many years.
Nigh Bank (Spring) — The source of ore for the Dunlop and Valentine iron furnaces at Bellefonte, ore was hauled to the furnaces by wagons and later by the Nittany Valley Railroad.
Oak Hall (College) — One of the county’s oldest communities, Oak Hall is also on the road that led from Bellefonte along the base of Mt. Nittany into Penns Valley. Fertile limestone soil and milling operations along Cedar Run served the agricultural needs of the area. The 1825 Georgian stone house and barn built for General James Irvin, the county’s most active ironmaster, is at the western edge of the village. Next to it, the remains of an early gristmill serve as a modern residence. A large portion of the village was razed in 1971 to make way for the Mt. Nittany Expressway.
Old Fort/Potter’s Fort (Potter) — Old Fort became the anchor in the chain of three forts at the foot of Nittany Mountain for defense against Indians. Captain James Potter, the discoverer of Penns Valley, returned to the site of his explorations in the early 1770s and built a home near here. In 1777, when Indian raids in the area became more frequent, he erected a stockade around his home and the nearby spring. In later years, Potter’s fort was used as a tavern, and in 1825 a new tavern was built. It still stands at the intersections of routes 45 and 144.
Orviston (Curtin) — This community, named for its founder, was established by Judge Ellis L. Orvis in 1905 to manufacture bricks from nearby clay deposits. Soon after he sold his interest to General Factories Co. of Philadelphia. As clay became more difficult to mine locally, it was shipped in from the company’s Clearfield mine. Over the next four decades, brickmaking continued as improvements were made at the plant, including the construction of a brickshed and hammer mill, as well as the conversion of the original steam engines to electric motors. In 1962 the operation shifted to Ohio and the Orviston plant was closed.
Penn Hall (Gregg) — The Robert Cooke Tavern provided an early stop on the Bellefonte – Aaronsburg – Youngmanstown (Mifflinburg) Turnpike, providing refreshments and accommodations for travelers. It, the Jared Fisher house, and the Penn Hall Academy are a few of the buildings on either side of Route 45 that make up the village of Penn Hall. The first Presbyterian Church in Centre County, organized in 1795, was located near Penn Hall.
Pennsylvania Furnace (Ferguson) — Lyons, Shorb and Co. began charcoal ironmaking at Pennsylvania Furnace in 1810 and continued its operation until 1888. The company held vast landholdings in both Ferguson Township and nearby Huntingdon County, with the stack located on approximately the county line. As with other ironmaking locations, the village of Pennsylvania Furnace grew up around the operation. While little remains of the stack area, the ironmaster’s mansion serves as a prominent reminder of the importance of this industry to central Pennsylvania.
Philipsburg Borough — Lying in the mountainous region of Rush township, on the Moshannon Creek, five hundred and forty-five feet above Tyrone, and six hundred below the mountain summit, is a stirring enterprising town of about eighteen hundred inhabitants. The interests that sustain it lie chiefly in the lumbering and coal mining operations carried on in the adjacent territory. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
The largest community in Moshannon Valley, Philipsburg was laid out by Henry and James Philips in 1797, and prospered under the leadership of their younger brother, Hardman. In addition to its associations with lumber and coal mining, Philipsburg was also home for the celebrated wood-screw mill, built by Philips in 1821 and the first of its kind in the United States. In 1828 Philips and Dr. John Plumbe built Plumbe Forge on Six Mile Run to supply iron for the screw factory and other enterprises. Pig iron for the forge was hauled over the mountain from Bald Eagle Valley; the forged iron was then hauled to Alexandria and Petersburg in Huntingdon County to be shipped elsewhere on the Pennsylvania Canal.
Pine Glen (Snow Shoe) — Tremendous stands of fine timber attracted settlers to Pine Glen in the 1840s, in Centre County’s most northern Burnside Township, where first lumbering then coal provided economic incentives. More recently, in the 1950s, a new community was laid out to house employees of the Curtis-Wright Corporation. A research and development center was planned but not completed at Quehanna, north of Karthaus in Clearfield County.
Pine Grove Mills/Pattonville (Ferguson) — Near the headwaters of Slab Cabin Run, Pine Grove Mills was another early ironmaking site as well as the location for several mills. Tussey Furnace, put into blast in 1810, had a short industrial life (it closed in 1815), but Slab Cabin Run provided the water power for a series of mills to serve the area’s agricultural needs. The first of these was built in 1800; the Ard Mill, built on the same location near the present intersection of Routes 45 and 26, was destroyed by fire in 1928. A plaster mill, located just above the old gristmill sites on Slab Cabin Run, a distillery, the Pine Grove Mills Academy, and a passenger station for the Pennsylvania Railroad were all part of this busy community.
Pleasant Gap Borough/Connelley’s Gap — Once called Connelley’s Gap and named for an early tavern keeper, the village of Pleasant Gap did not receive its official name until 1845 when a post office was established. Its mountain gap location, however, has served as a transportation route for more than 200 years. Native American paths, pack horse trails, and an early turnpike all crossed through this gap connecting Penns Valley with Nittany Valley. Nearby Blue Spring, reputed to be a one-time camp of Mingo Chief Logan, is the origin of Spring Creek’s Logan Branch. A rich vein of limestone, an outcrop of the same high-grade limestone that is found along the Muncy Mountain near Belelfonte, has been mined since 1905.
Poe Mills (Penn) — A booming logging location in the 1890s, Poe Mills had a population of more than 300 and provided employees with houses, stores, and a post office. A few nearby hunting cabins were originally loggers’ homes.
Port Matilda Borough (Worth) — Squire Clement Beckwith laid out the town in 1850, naming it to honor his daughter, Matilda. Why he chose to call it Port Matilda is not clear, but it may have reflected his hope that the town would eventually be connected to the Bald Eagle and Spring Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania canal. While the canal did not reach Port Matilda, the Bald Eagle Railroad did, and the community became a market center in the Bald Eagle Valley for agricultural and lumber products.
Potter’s Mills/Potter’s Bank (Potter) — Three generations of Potters are associated with this community at the northern end of the gap through Seven Mountains. General James Potter built a log house and tavern in 1788, to serve travelers along the early road that connected Bellefonte and Lewistown. A year later he added a gristmill and sawmill. His son, Judge James Potter, opened a store in 1790 and a few years later built a stone gristmill. In 1824 grandsons John and James Potter replaced the early log tavern with a brick hotel, now substantially enlarged and known as the Eutaw House. Judge Potter’s early Georgian-style brick home, substantially enlarged with an 1850s Victorian addition, is nearby.
Poweltown/Nuttallville (Rush) — John Nuttall purchased a piece of land on the northern slopes of the Alleghenys in 1857, originally part of the Hardman Phillips tract, to develop coal mines. With the completion of the Tyrone-Clearfield Railroad in 1862, coal began to be shipped and a village grew up around the mines. First called Nuttallville, it later was named Powelton for R.H. Powell who bought the mining interest.
Puddintown (College) — About a mile west of State College and just north of what was known as Millbrook, Puddintown is said to have gotten its name from a local family that particularly liked a boiled and seasoned white pudding. It is located near Millbrook Marsh, where Thompson Run merges with the waters of Bathgate Spring, and then joins Slab Cabin Run and Spring Creek.
Quigley’s Mills (Liberty) — Quigley’s Mills was the first post office, established in 1828, for the area around Blanchard and Eagleville in Liberty Township.
Rebersburg (Miles) — Rich farm land and a nearby water supply encouraged early development by German settlers from southeastern Pennsylvania along the early road that Colonel Samuel Miles built from Union County into Brush Valley. Conrad Reber acquired a portion of Miles’ land and laid out the village in 1809, in a series of uniform 60- x 90-foot lots spread in a thin ribbon along each side of Brush Valley Road. When the road lost its prominence as a thoroughfare, village growth and change stopped.
Rock (Benner) — The rocky precipice on the south shore of Spring Creek gave its name to the iron works built by General Philip Benner. Benner, in turn, gave his name to the abundant spring located there. Known as one of the richest and most influential of Pennsylvania’s early ironmasters, Benner came to this wilderness in 1793 with 100 ironworkers from Chester County. During the next seven years, he built two forges, a furnace, a rolling mill, nail factory, gristmill, and a sawmill. Benner shipped his high quality iron made at Rock to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New Orleans; in 1815 inventor Eli Whitney described it as “some of the best in the world.” Benner’s large and handsome limestone mansion stood on a knoll on the north side of the creek facing the Rock. It was razed in the 1940s.
Rock Spring (Ferguson) — Located at the headwaters of Spruce Creek, a spring gushes from an overhanging Tussey Mountain rock ledge.
Romola (Curtin) — Romola is one of only two communities located in sparsely settled Curtin Township. Its name is said to derive from a novel written by George Eliot.
Roopsburg (Spring) — A few miles south of Bellefonte on the Buffalo Run Road, Roopsburg has been an industrial location since 1795 when Daniel Turner established the Turner Iron Works, Spring Creek Forge, and grist and sawmills. Thirty years later, Jacob Roop built a small brewery, the only successful brewery to operate in Centre County in the 19th century. It remained in business until 1902. The large three-story brick Brockerhoff Mill was built in 1862 by Henry Brockerhoff and occupies the site of earlier mills.
Rote’s Mill (Penn) — In 1900 Simon Rote purchased an existing milling operation on Penns Creek, just west of Coburn, one that had been in operation for more than fifty years. He, his sons, and his daughter-in-law kept a gristmill and sawmill in operation until the 1960s, the last mills to operate in the area.
Runville (Boggs) — The village of Runville, located along the Snow Shoe Highway, was laid out in the early 1800s along the major route used to carry coal and lumber from the Mountaintop area to the central part of the county. At the headwaters of Wallace Run, its name, Runville, may reflect the fact that the run extends through the village.
Sandy Ridge (Rush) — Coal, timber, and refractory products all have been part of Sandy Ridge’s history, with the first brick works established there in the 1860s. Railroad branch lines carried these products to the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Vail, in Clearfield County.
Scotia/Benore (Patton) — From 1790 on, iron ore scattered throughout the Barrens provided raw material for dozens of iron furnaces that dotted the central Pennsylvania landscape. In 1881 Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie purchased 400 acres of Centre Furnace land from ironmaster Moses Thompson to build a model company iron mining town called Scotia, Little Scotland. But within twenty years, ore supplies dwindled, technology changed, and by 1911 most traces of the community had vanished. It was reopened, briefly, during World War II; remaining traces of buildings date from that time.
Shingletown (Harris) — In 1883 Centre County historian John Blair Linn described the village of Shingletown on Roaring Run as “A quiet and peaceful village . . . near the mountain which towers heavenward . . . (boasting) a beautiful stream, which abounds in the speckled beauties.” The Shingletown area was a source of wood for charcoal for the early iron industry.
Snow Shoe Borough — Snow Shoe has for many years been a popular summer resort, where mountain air and mountain scenery invite and charm hundreds of visitors yearly. The village occupies an elevation of eight hundred and fifty feet above Bellefonte and about two thousand feet above tide-water. The water is excellent, the roads superb, and hotel accommodations ample as well as agreeable.
The Bellefonte and Snow Shoe Railroad came into this area in 1859 and promoted rapid growth for the Snow Shoe area, establishing hotels, coal mines, and other businesses as well as providing new housing, and accumulating vast tracts of land for lumbering. In 1881 the railroad and property holdings were sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad and their coal interests to Berwind White Co. In 1885 the Lehigh Valley Coal Company took over Berwind White’s coal lands and became the area’s prime employer for the next 65 to 70 years. Reflecting a diminishing role nationwide, the Pennsylvania Railroad abandoned its entire line here in 1957.
Snydertown (Walker) — Located on the old highway between Hublersburg and Nittany, Snydertown was also a station on the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania that operated between Bellefonte and Mill Hall. named for John Snyder, a teamster during the Revolutionary War.
Spring Mills/Rising Springs (Gregg) — Israel J. Grenoble is at present busily employed in constructing a large and beautiful hotel. Its dimensions are one hundred feet long and fifty feet wide, and when completed will accommodate 100 guests. It is to cost $5000. It is located east of the village, upon a slight eminence. From its roof one can gain a view of the entire valley. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
With a sawmill and gristmill built at the confluence of Sinking Creek and Penns Creek in the early 1790s, and several sizeable springs also located nearby, it seems appropriate that first settlers gave this early community the name Spring Mills. When, in 1883, the Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad made Spring Mills a destination point along its route, what had been an agricultural center changed to that of a resort town. Rising Springs became the name of the railroad station.
State College Borough — The Borough of State College grew from a small assemblage of homes located across the road from the main building of the Farmers High School into a town large enough to warrant incorporation in 1896. Businesses opened along College Avenue to serve the needs of a growing student body and college personnel. Rooming and boarding houses initially provided housing for both students and faculty, but within a decade several subdivisions were developed to meet the needs of a growing community. By the 1920s large and elaborate fraternities were added, as were a wide variety of early 20th-century single family homes, some designed by area architects, some chosen from pattern books, and many selected from a variety of styles offered in mail-order catalogs. State College, despite its comparative youth, has grown to be the largest community in Centre County.
Stormstown (Halfmoon) — The village of Stormstown, founded by Jacob Storm, was located on one of the area’s earliest roads. A main route from Bellefonte to Tyrone and the west, it opened in 1804 through Halfmoon Valley. Abraham Elder’s tavern became a stopping place just east of the village, especially for iron haulers transporting Centre County iron toward Pittsburgh. Village enterprises included a gristmill, sawmill, distillery, tannery, wagon maker, and several craftsmen’s shops — blacksmith, weaver, potter and chairmaker. In 1867 a fire from an overheated stovepipe in the village tavern destroyed twenty-six buildings, many of which were never rebuilt, as railroad transportation lessened the importance of this early community and its early road.
Stumptown (Rush) — Virgin trees were so large and dense, according to one of Philipsburg’s first settlers, that trees would interlock with each other as they fell, and he found it necessary to fell seven trees before one fell to the ground. While trees were cut as close to the ground as possible, stumps remained — leading to part of the Philipsburg area being called Stumptown. The caption for the photograph in this exhibit from the Philipsburg Historical Foundation collection is, “Escaped slaves in Stumpstown.” There are several historical references to Underground Railroad activity in Centre County, particularly in Philipsburg, Unionville, Bellefonte, and Half Moon Valley.
Tow Hill (Halfmoon) — Tow Hill was part of an iron mining operation in the area of the Barrens between Scotia and Gatesburg in the 1880s and was served by the Fairbrook Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The operation closed down in the 1890s.
Tusseyville/Churchville (Potter) — Three churches in and near the village of Tusseyville gave it its original name, Churchville. A store and school were the only other public buildings in this tiny rural community.
Underwood Mills/Beaver Mills/Star Mill (Rush) — Much of the Black Moshannon area served as a lumbering region early in its history, with logs splashed into the McCord Dam on Forge Run and rafted to Williamsport. Other lumber went by wagon and sled to Philipsburg, Julian, and Unionville. During the peak of the lumbering industry, a school accommodating 65 pupils was built at Star Mill. Later fire clay was located on Six Mile Run. Some fifty miners were employed there in the early part of this century with a tram road and dinkey carrying the clay to the mouth of Six Mile Run where it was shipped to a refractory at Beech Creek. In 1930 the region was sold to the Commonwealth and developed as the present Black Moshannon State Park. The Black Moshannon airport was constructed just before World War II.
Unionville Borough/Fleming —The town wears an air of thrift and substance. (John Blair Linn, 1883)
In 1848 William Underwood left his business as a Bellefonte carriage maker to lay out the village of Unionville. A Quaker originally from York County, he operated a gristmill, large lumber mill, managed a store, and for a few years served as the community’s only doctor. Other members of the Society of Friends joined Underwood in the 1840s, making Unionville a major Quaker settlement in the county. The Bald Eagle Valley had been an important lumbering area before 1848 — with lumber camps providing charcoal for nearby iron furnaces. Unionville was excellently situated at the junction of the Old Plank Road (now Rt. 220) along the foothills of the Allegheny Front, and the Rattlesnake Pike (Rt. 504) westward over the front, and along Bald Eagle Creek and DeWitt Run. The Tyrone and Lock Haven Railroad, completed in 1864, enhanced its role as an agricultural and trade center, as well as carrying passengers until after World War II.
Valley View (Boggs) — Built along the southern slope of Muncy Mountain, above Coleville and Bellefonte, Valley View is the longest village in the county. It offers an excellent view of the Nittany Valley and Mountain to the south.
Waddle (Patton) — Waddle is three miles north of Scotia along Buffalo Run Road, the old road that connected Bellefonte with Tyrone. The village was named for Thomas Waddle, manager of Philip Benner’s iron operation at Rock. It was at the height of its commercial and industrial activities between 1890 and 1910, and included a creamery, general store, and guest house. An ore washer handled nearby iron ore and a sawmill served the lumbering activities of this tiny village. Daily stops of freight and passenger trains also are part of its history.
Wingate/Snow Shoe Intersection (Boggs) — Intersection of Wallace Run and Bald Eagle Creek, as well as Routes 220 and 53; and two railroads — the Bellefonte and Snow Shoe RR and the Bald Eagle RR.
Wolf’s Chapel (Haines) — The first school in what would become Centre County was established at Wolf’s Chapel, about two miles east of Aaronsburg, in 1789. A gift of seven acres of land “for use of a school and the master thereof” was given by Jacob Stover, one of the first Pennsylvania Germans to come into the area, “to promote literature and learning.” A small church and cemetery adjoined the school property. While the name has been retained, nothing remains of the church or school.
Wolf’s Store (Miles) — In 1844 Thomas Wolf opened a store just east of Rebersburg, at the corner of Fox Gap Lane and Route 192. A small community grew up around it. The store was in operation for more than 100 years, closing in 1948.
Woodward/Motz’s Bank (Haines) — Situated along Reuben Haines’ early road and at the western gateway through the Woodward Narrows to Lewisburg and the east, this village was originally known as Motz’s or Motz’s Mill. It was renamed for George Woodward, a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. The Woodward Inn served as an overnight stopping place along early this road laid out by Reuben Haines, the Northumberland, Youngmanstown, and Aaronsburg Turnpike. Inns such as this one not only provided food and lodging, but also served as collection spot and deposit of goods and a gathering spot for area residents.
X marks the spot! — Centre Furnace
The ironmaking community of Centre Furnace matched in size and activities the 18th-century iron plantations of southeastern Pennsylvania. Huge landholdings provided the natural resources to operate the furnace — high quality iron ore, limestone for flux, and hardwood (an acre a day) for charcoal. A large labor force was essential to the operation. Woodcutters, colliers, hostlers, fillers, gutterman, and forgemen, the artisans of the operation, were needed to make the charcoal, mine and deliver the ore and limestone, and process and transport the iron. The village of Centre Furnace included: an office, store, gristmill, sawmill, housing for workers and their families; barns, grain fields, and orchards to help make the community self sufficient; and a post office, church, and later a school. The mansion house was the center of the community where the ironmaster and his dependents lived and worked.
Yarnell (Boggs) — Believed to have been named for Samuel Yarnell, who came from Chester County in 1820. He opened a blacksmith shop and cleared a good farm. Yarnell and his neighbors are said to have tramped frequently to Curtin’s Mill at Curtin with grist, and back home with supplies.
Zion (Walker) — West end of Walker Township, named for Zion church. Founded in 1852 by Daniel and Conrad Struble, the village of Zion is located at the intersection of two roads, now Rtes. 550 and 64.
These are some other community names that appear in Centre County’s history. Do you know of any others? We would like to know more about them. What role do you think they played in Centre County’s history?
A: Aqua, Alto
B: Bear Rocks, Beaver Dam, Black Hawk, Bloomsdorf, Boogersburg, Briarly, Bush Addition, Bush Hollow, Buttermilk Falls
C: Centre Hill, Centre Line, Clarks
D: Dale’s Summit, Dry Top, Dunkirk
E: Eagleville, Erbtown
F: Fetzertown, Fiedler, Frogtown, Fruittown
G: Gillentown, Gorton, Green Briar, Green Grove, Gregg Station, Gum Stump
L: Locust Grove, Logan Forge, Lyonsville
M: Marysville, Matternville, Moose Run, Musser
P: Pancake, Panther, Paradise, Peru, Petersburg, Pine Hall, Pine Swamp, Pleasant Valley, Pleasant View, Plum Grove, Poormanside, Prossertown
R: Ready Cash, Red Mill, Red Roost, Retort
S: Shiloh, Smullton, Sober, South Philipsburg, Sterling Landing, Struble, Strunktown, Sunday Corners, Sunnyside
T: Twigg Settlement
W: Walkerville, Whitehall, Woodycrest
If you can tell us more, please do! If you have photographs of these or any of the communities in this catalog, we would like to be able to make copies of them for the Centre County Historical Society photographic archives. Please join us on the third Friday of every month, from 1-4 pm here at the Centre Furnace Mansion, or call the Historical Society at 234-4779 to make arrangements.