Pennsylvania Ghost Towns: A-G
Town: #8 • County: Jefferson
Outside of Punxsutawney, there was a coalmine known as #8. There was also a mining company town, with company owned houses and a store. Miners lived there for a fee. If they were lucky, a miner earned $5.00 a month, so they often bought from the store on credit.
Regarding the ghost town, the scenery alone is well worth the trip, particularly in autumn. Little of the mine and a few stone steps to where the company houses were are all that remain.
Town: Alvira • County: Union
No current residents. The old munitions bunkers are a must see. Old town-tomb stones date back to the early 1800's. In 1942, the U.S. government took over the town and a large area of the surrounding countryside to construct an explosives manufacturing and storage facility. It operated there for less than two years until the end of WWII.
The town of Alvira was situated on the present site of State Game Lands 252 near Allenwood. The bunkers used to store explosives, building foundations and several old cemeteries are all that remain on the site.
Town: Azilum • County: Bradford
A Haitian/French town established in 1793 along the Susquehanna River, three miles east of SH 187 at a point ten miles east of Towanda. Azilum, or Asylum, was appropriately named, for it provided a natural setting of undisturbed calm and pastoral serenity for a group of French exiles who settled here in the autumn of 1793.
Some of the refugees, because of their loyalty to the King, had left France to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of the Revolution. Others had fled the French colony of Santo Domingo (Haiti) to escape the carnage of the mulatto and slave uprisings inspired by the declaration of equality of the radical French Assembly. According to an unverified story, even Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, and her two children were to settle here.
In time, several small shops, a schoolhouse, a chapel, and a theatre appeared around the market square; dairying and sheep raising were begun; orchards and gardens were planted; a gristmill, blacksmith shop and a distillery were erected; and the manufacture of potash and pearlash was established. Today this historic site contains over 20 acres of the original settlement. Although no structures from the original town survive, an original foundation has been left exposed for public viewing. A reconstructed and relocated log cabin, circa 1790, serves as a small museum with artifacts pertaining to the settlement.
Town: Barclay • County: Bradford
On top of Mountain Road, just south of Rt. 414 near Frankendale. Mountain Road turns into a gravel road, so take it slow to the top. You will cross a small creek, which was the center of town, nothing there now. Go a little further till the road splits into three directions; take the center road to an abandoned cemetery (very cool).
This ghost town of Barclay, in Bradford Co., PA was a coal-mining town, not a logging town. Coal was transported down the mountain by an incline plane rail system.
To the best of our knowledge, the original location of the town was later obliterated by later strip mining operations. But, as you mention, the cemetery still exists, and is an eerie, interesting place to visit. The late NY financier, Jay Gould (of Erie Railroad fame) is rumored to have stayed there while working on one of his railroad schemes, and allegedly tipped the waitress $100 for the fine meal he received during his stay.
Barclay, and Laquin (another ghost town) are in close proximity of each other, but Barclay came into existence before Laquin. The long defunct Susquehanna and NY Railroad served both. The railroad ran between Monroeton, PA and Williamsport, PA. The railroad is quite an interesting story in itself, and most of the track bed, and bridges are still very much in evidence throughout the valley of Schrader Creek. Although many graves remain in the cemetery, it hasn't been used in decades.
Town: Bennington • County: Cambria
Follow route 22 to Gallitzen take the exit to Gallitzenthen take the first road to your right. Take the second left on to a dirt road. Park and follow the rest of the way on foot. Follow the rail tracks for about 300 feet, you will see a Flag in the woods off to your left. Follow the dirt path on your left it leads to the Bennington Cemetery.
The town of Bennington was a railroad town begun during the Late 1880's. It was abandoned in the early 1900's. When the Red Arrow train jumped the tracks in the 1930's, the town was long done. The only remains are the cemetery, and a few old Coke furnaces. There are no current residents and all that remains is the old family cemetery.
Town: Betula • County: McKean
Betula was founded around 1910 when a barrel factory moved to the area. In Betula's prime, 1915-1921, there were 3,000-4,000 people living there. Many of those people were what was called wood hicks - fellas that cut the logs, peeled bark, and hauled it in. The wood hicks had camps up in the woods. They wouldn't come in to town until payday (once a month) and when they came in, they caroused until they spent all their money, then they went back up into the woods until they received next month's pay check.
The neighbors were smart enough to build themselves a poolroom, a barbershop, and other entertaining facilities. Betula also had a hotel, a jail, a theater, livery stables, and even a taxi. The taxi was a 1912 Stanley Steamer. It commuted between Norwich, Betula, and Colgrove. There weren't any saloons though, as prohibition was in full swing. From 1915 to 1921 Betula had everything a big town had only rather small. In 1922 everybody moved out of there, everything went down. They had stripped the land, all ten thousand acres. There was nothing more for the big mills to run with.
Town: Blacklick • County: Indiana
The water-powered Blacklick/Wheatfield Iron Furnace was built in 1846, and was located in the Blacklick Creek Valley. The iron was shipped by wagon to Ninevah and Johnstown on the Pennsylvania Canal. This is just one of the 100+ iron furnace and forge communities that dotted the southern half of the state from the 1700s-1800s.
Town: Camp Givens • County: Franklin
A Civil War era training center located a ½-mile west of Chambersburg.
Town: Cashtown • Location: Gettysburg
Built circa 1797, the Cashtown Inn served as the first stagecoach stop west of Gettysburg. During the Gettysburg campaign of 1863, the Inn served as Confederate headquarters for General A.P. Hill. Recently the Inn has appeared in the movie Gettysburg, in the Mark Nesbitt book and video Ghosts of Gettysburg and on the cover of Blue and Gray magazine.
Town: Celestia • County: Sullivan
Peter E. Armstrong founded a religious community here in 1850. He envisioned his followers as "wilderness exiles" in a "City of Heaven" on this mountaintop. In 1864 the land was deeded to Almighty God "and to His heirs in Jesus Messiah." Because of the owner's nonpayment of taxes, the county sold the land in 1876 to A.T. Armstrong, Peter's son. Peter Armstrong himself struggled to continue this community before he died in 1887.
The date of His arrival was set – Tuesday, October 22, 1844. On this day, Baptist minister William Miller told his Adventist followers, Jesus would return to earth and usher in the new millennium. Those who were sanctified would be carried up to heaven. Those who were not – the sinners of the world – would be burned alive in the immense fires God would send to destroy the earth. On the night of October 21st, Millerites dressed in white robes gathered on hillsides in western New York and climbed trees to meet their savior. Unfortunately, He didn't come.
One of those on a hill that night was a young Pennsylvanian named Peter E. Armstrong. Armstrong was disappointed that the Second Coming didn't happen according to Miller's prediction, but his faith remained unshaken. In 1850, Armstrong and a small band of followers established a new home outside the town of Laporte in the Endless Mountains of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. In honor of the great heavenly event that he predicted would occur on that very site, Armstrong called this place Celestia. Within three years Armstrong sold more than one hundred 20 by 100-foot lots to his followers, then purchased more land between Laporte and Eagles Mere. By 1860, the Christian utopia of Celestia was spread over 600 acres. The small but thriving village included a machine shop, a meetinghouse, sawmill, and store, which members owned communally. To make their purpose plain to all, Armstrong deeded all of Celestia to "Almighty God and to his heirs in Jesus Messiah for their proper use and Forever." Then they waited for signs of Christ's return to earth.
They didn't have to wait long. To the residents of Celestia and other millennialist Christians across the nation, the opening guns of the Civil War in 1860 were a sure sign of Christ's Second Coming. Reasoning that his followers lived apart from the world as peaceful "aliens and wilderness exiles," Armstrong forbade the young men of his holy community from registering for the draft. For four years, the War of the Rebellion raged on. The residents of Celestia continued their private mission of devotion, prayer, and watchful waiting, but still their Christ did not appear.
After the Civil War ended, the great national wave of religious revivalism that had inspired Armstrong and his followers had become a distant memory for most Americans. But in this isolated corner of the Endless Mountains, a handful of the faithful held on, determined that Christ would come to Celestia. Because he considered this land the property of "Almighty God," Armstrong had not paid property taxes for years. In 1876, the county demanded payment of back taxes, and when Armstrong's followers were unable to come up with the funds, sold the land for back taxes. Armstrong's son purchased the property, but the spirit and faith of the community began to evaporate, and by 1887 Celestia ceased to exist. Abandoned and forgotten, it became a ghost town. Over the years, homes collapsed and fields returned to forest as nature quietly reclaimed the sacred mountain village.
Town: Centrilia • County: Columbia
Located along PA Route 61 about 1.5miles north of Ashland. A few isolated row houses. Centralia was once a coal-mining town with 1,100 residents. In 1962, the coal under the town caught fire as a result of garbage being burned in an old mining pit. The fire still burns today. Smoke rises from cracks in the ground. The state relocated most of the residents, but a few holdouts remain today. Their isolated row houses stand scattered around the street grid, as the state demolished the houses of those who moved out. The houses are propped with brick columns on each side. The ground is hot to the touch in many places. The town consists of a street grid with almost all of the buildings gone, giving it an eerie twilight-zone feel. The government is currently trying to evict the last few residents. The nearby town of Ashland is similar to the way Centralia was before the fire.
Town: Crumb • County: Bedford
There is not very much known about this town. There are no residents. All that remain are a few foundations, an old cemetery and a few chimneys. From its location you would guess it was an old mining town. As far as the dates not sure, but it was not far off the old wagon train trail to Fort Bedford.
Town: Curtin Village • County: Centre
No residents, PA 150 (former 220) 2.8 miles NE of Mileburg. See the historic town of Bellefonte nearby. Old Mill, 1830 Plantation house, couple of houses. Curtin Village was an iron plantation community about 1810. Founded by Roland Curtin, the last old-style furnace in the U.S. was in "blast" here. Curtin's 30,000 acres provided food for the entire community, and Curtin Village became largely self-sufficient. The furnace ceased operation in 1922. The 1830's Federal-style mansion is restored and furnished in the period.
One of the older and better preserved historic sites in Boggs Township is Curtin Village and the Eagle Iron Works. Roland Curtin, father of Andrew Gregg Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War, purchased 11,000 acres of land and with Moses Boggs erected the Eagle Iron Works in 1810. Their first iron was packed on horses and sent to Pittsburgh.
The Eagle Iron Works was an iron-producing center from 1810 until 1921. By the mid 1800's, the self-sufficient iron "plantation" consisted of over 60 structures including the Ironmaster's Mansion, a charcoal-fired iron furnace, rolling mill, a forge, and a worker's village.
Roland Curtin constructed the Ironmaster’s Mansion in the Federal-style in 1830. The Mansion possesses fifteen rooms, ten of which have been furnished with antiques and are open to the public. There are ten operable fireplaces in the Mansion, which retains its original woodwork, flooring and hardware. The Mansion walls are two (2) feet thick and are constructed of native fieldstone. The Curtin family from 1830 until the early 1950’s occupied the Mansion continuously.
The Pleasant Furnace was erected in 1848 to replace the original Eagle Furnace, which was built in 1818. The furnace as destroyed by fire in 1921 and is believed to have been the last cold blast charcoal furnace to operate in the United States. The restored furnace complex includes a charging house, a blast house with overshot waterwheel, a flume, casting rooms and a tapping shed. During its heyday, about 600 tons a year of pig iron and cast-sheet and bar iron were produced.
The Worker's Village is the focus of the most recent restoration efforts, and boasts a furnace worker's log cabin, which has been restored to its original appearance circa 1825. Most employees of the Eagle Iron Works were given similar company housing during their employment at the iron works. In its heyday, the village contained over a dozen similar structures arranged around the communal "village green".
Now, on approximately 60 acres of land, Curtin Village and the restored Eagle Iron Works are owned by the State and administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Admissions, special events, patrons and the work and contributions of volunteers and members of the non-profit Roland Curtin Foundation support the Curtin Village historical site.
Curtin Village opens on Memorial Day. Guided tours are available Wednesday to Sunday. Special events are planned at the Village beginning in Mid-June with the Arts Festival. Mid-July begins the Antique Car Show, Mid-September brings the Civil War Encampment and Mid-October offers Apple Butter Day. The special events close out in Mid-December with Christmas at Curtin. The Bellefonte Historical Railroad offers train excursions to Curtin Village making a most enjoyable summertime family outing.
Town: Deserter Camps • County:
Along the west side of the Delaware River from Dingman's Ferry south to Stroudsburg several temporary settlements were established in the swampy backwoods by deserters, draft dodgers, and others trying to avoid fighting in the Civil War. They were deserted after the war ended.
Today only 19 people live in the village, you can see about 30 buildings, mostly houses, mostly uninhabited. In the backdrop is a movie prop, a coal breaker, from the movie The Molly Maguires. That prop stands where one of the 3 original coal breakers for the town stood.
In the late 1860s, Vital and Amelia were again in New York, working with
Amelia's relatives in the Fall Brook railroad and coal mining enterprise.
On their return to California, they settled in the Pala area, a short distance
from their future homestead.
By the early 1870s, the US government had surveyed the land, which became Fallbrook District and homesteading could begin. Vital and Amelia Magee Reche homesteaded 160 acres (including today's Live Oak Park) adjacent to the northern boundary of the Monserate Grant. Their land was located along a creek, which Vital named Fall Brook Creek. Vital and Amelia opened a hotel for other settlers who were looking for land to homestead. Amelia's brother, Henry Magee and his wife and children also homesteaded in Fallbrook District, but closer to the Santa Margarita Grant (which included today's village of Fallbrook). Henry and John Magee and Vital's brother mined coal in the Temecula Valley.
In 1876 Fall Brook School District was organized in now Live Oak Canyon, and the wife of Henry Magee, in the Magee home, taught school. Two years later Fall Brook Post Office was established located in Vital and Amelia's hotel. Vital Reche was the first postmaster.
In 1880, there were 25 families homesteading in Fall Brook District, within three miles of the Post Office. In 1881, railroad developers surveyed the eastern Fall Brook area (which included where I-15 is now), to connect the southern coast with the transcontinental railroad, but a route to the north, along the Santa Margarita River was chosen instead.
Several years later, the railroad had been built from San Diego to the mouth of the Santa Margarita River, and up the river to a wide level place where Fallbrook Depot was established (at the intersection of today's Sandia Creek and De Luz Roads). Fallbrook Depot, which was about three miles northwest of the Reche's post office, was granted its own post office, named Howe.
The floods of 1883/1884 caused so much damage around Fallbrook Depot that merchants moved to the bluff above the river (at the location of the present village of Fallbrook). Teams of horses could use the old Santa Margarita road (now De Luz Road) to bring in supplies. By the time rail service resumed, there was a settlement on the bluff and a town was proposed.
In 1885, Fallbrook, where we know it today, was laid out in streets and lots from Elder to Kalmia, and from Hill (today's Mission) to Vine. The town's promoters wanted to call it Fallbrook, but Reche already had the post office (Fall Brook) by that name, so town fathers had to settle for West Fallbrook. The new school district, granted in the same year, was also called West Fallbrook, as the post office located in the new town.
Several years later, Reche's homestead, with its hotel, store, post office and school, was also surveyed to become a town, but it never developed. Reche's post office was discontinued in 1888 and moved to West Fall Brook. The name became West Fall Brook Post Office, but the spelling was not changed to Fallbrook Post Office until 1950.
While Fallbrook, California was developing, the fortunes of Fall Brook, Pennsylvania, were waning. The coal ran out, the population declined and in 1900 Fall Brook's charter was annulled. Today only the Fall Brook Picnic Area in the Tioga State Forest notes the town’s location.
Town: Ginalsburg • County: McKean
This 1850s Palitinate German socialistic colony was near Clermont, which is on SH 146 south of Smethport. The second village to be established in accordance with the general plan was Ginalsburg, two miles west of Clermont, on Instanter Creek. The location was at Woodvale, a former railroad station of the abandoned Johnsonburg and Clermont Railroad. A number of log houses; a barn and a large steam powered saw mill had been erected. The community did not exist beyond the early stages of development.
Town: Gold Mine • County: Schuylkill
Take US 72 north to “Gold Mine” road turn left then go over mountain into next valley to railroad bed, turn left follow railroad bed on foot about 3 miles. Just foundations remain was a railroad repair point there. Then go another 4 miles in along bed and you come to cold springs also just foundations. Left was an old resort above where you turn in at is “Gold Mine”. On top of the next mountain on the left is rumored to have a gold mine there and Indian burial caves somewhere near by. In all 3 places all that remains are foundations. In “Gold Mine” it was said to have a been a the mainstay of the town was a gold mine. Just below “Gold Mine” was a logging camp of Rausch gap also had the railroad stop and repair point. And, the resort of cold springs was just that the rich used to go there to relax. This whole area is now state game lands and is also part of the Appalachian trail. This whole area has been dated to the 1830's due to an old cemetery that was found in the area.
Continue to Pennsylvania Ghost Towns: H-Z (coming soon)
©2006 The Greater Pittsburgh Parnormal Society™