Jackson Township
Cambria County, Pennsylvania

Chapter 7

Annals of Jackson Township

Mrs. Betty Burkhart
Nanty Glo Journal

May 21, 1942

n township and was the principal reason that so many came from the city to live here.  Along its right-of-way, many new homes were built and small communities sprang into existence. In our township, we had the following depots Bluebird, Ogden, Millwood, Burkhart's and Vinco Roads.  Ogden was named for John Ogden of Johnstown, who owned a large dairy farm at that place.  Millwood was named by David Burkhart, it being on his farm, and he also had a saw mill there at the time. Burkhart's Crossing was named for Daniel Burkhart through whose farm the right-of-way ran, and Vinco Roads was named for the road leading from the main road to Vinco, three miles away.

The railway connected the towns of Nanty-Glo, Ebensburg, and Johnstown. Many men from this community were employed by the company.  The first
car ran over the tracts of this railroad on January 23, 1912.  S.E. Crane was the first motorman and "Bob" Lytle, for many years the tipstaff at the county courthouse in Ebensburg, was the first conductor.  Attorney P. J. Little, prominent Ebensburg attorney, was the superintendent of the company.

In August, 1916, a tragedy occurred when the brakes of a Southern Cambria car, loaded with people returning from a family reunion at Woodland Park, failed to hold and the car ran away, plunging down a hillside near Echo and killing most of the occupants of the car.

After the automobile came into general use by the local inhabitants and roads were improved, business fell off for the electric railroad, which operated for a time, however, at a loss and finally discontinued service entirely after twenty years of operation.  In several places, particularly in the Millwood section the old right-of-way has been made into a public thoroughfare.

At one time, and for a while the shook shop was a "paying" little industry in our township.  There were many oak trees at that time and that was the kind of wood needed to make barrel staves which they specialized in.  A bundle of shooks consisted of enough staves to form a hogshead which were completed entirely, then taken apart and bound with hickory to facilitate delivery.  Jackson Rager, son of Michael Rager (a first settler, if not the very first), after whom the Jack Rager school was named, owned a shook shop for many years.  Later, when oak trees were not so plentiful the trade ceased to flourish and in 1875 it disappeared altogether.

Between Nanty-Glo and Shoemaker's Inn, in 1911, chemical works were
established.  Many of the land owners around, cut wood and hauled it to the plant for use in the making of chemicals.  The wood would be of hardwood (beech), cut 4 feet long. Many chemicals were made that were used in the making of dyes and other products.  The chemical works stood on the Davis brothers ground and employed ten men.  The foundations of the old buildings are still there.

Although there have been many sawmills erected for a time in the township, having exhausted the wood later in that particular place and going out of existence, one that is of interest was erected by Thomas and Timothy Davis near what is now the rear of the Margaret Rose property at Wellview, on what was then known as the "Bill Rager field."  This spot of ground, now overgrown with brambles, was once a busy little mill settlement of eight or ten families, who built near the mill where they worked.  Among the families listed we find the names of Israel Rager, Edward Burkhart, Daniel Kerr, Mark Kerr, Milt Jones, Abe Byers, David Burkhart, and several others in addition to the Davis families.  The Children attended school at a little school located across the road from where the recently vacated Gray school now stands.
(To be continued next week)

Note:  The following correction was not a part of  the original chapter seven and was added by R.E. McDowell in 2006.  Some of his early McDowell relatives were injured in this wreck. The account of  the Southern Cambria Railway wreck on August 12, 1916, is not completely correct.  The runaway car did not plunge down a hillside.  The runaway car number 102 traveling downhill toward Johnstown, crashed head-on into car number 104 that was traveling uphill out of Johnstown transporting people to the reunion at Woodland Park.  The wreck happened a short distance below Brookdale, near the village of Echo.  28 people died from their injuries and another 60+  were injured, but survived.  The railway was mostly a single track with sidings at special places that allowed two cars traveling in opposite directions to pass.  This required one of the cars to stop on a siding and wait for the other car to pass.  In this case the runaway car could not stop.  The costs from this wreck  and others contributed to the financial ruin of the Southern Cambria Railway Co.

To Be Continued Next Week

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