Glen Hazel/Middle Fork - Jones Township

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Glen Hazel/Middle Fork

History
Glen Hazel - Middle Fork

Immigrants, leaving Europe on September 8, 1849, arrived to the area. They were assisted to an American port-of-entry by the Belgian government. Arriving in New York December 19th Victor Van Ham, a local entrepreneur, arranged to have the immigrants settle in the Glen Hazel area. They attempted to establish a colony of immigrant glass workers that eventually settled in the area now known as Glen Hazel.  This settlement was first given the name of “New Flanders”.   On December 23, 1849 the workers departed for St. Marys. They were welcomed with a feast in St. Marys on News Years Eve 1849. January 4, 1850 the immigrants traveled to News Flanders by foot 8 miles from St. Marys only to find one large house, that being owned by Mr. Van Ham.

Soon realizing the failure of the settlement and harsh living conditions the workers later found work elsewhere at the lumber mills in Elk and Jefferson County. Many of the original 57 immigrants later moved to the Brookville area.

It wasn’t until 1888 that Ben F. Hazleton began construction of a lumber mill at the confluence of Crooked Creek and the East Branch near the St. Marys / Olean Turnpike. It was at this location that Thomas Kane, a few years earlier, had erected a small sawmill.   

Hazleton soon renamed the town “Glen Hazel”.  Soon workers began to settle in the village. By 1891, Hazleton hired a surveyor by the name of J. L. Brown to layout the village building lots and streets.   People started coming to the area building stores and homes for their families. In July of 1891, the Post Office was moved from Ketner to Glen Hazel.  The St. Marys / Olean Turnpike was designated as the main thoroughfare thru the town.  By 1892, Glen Hazel was on of the largest settlements in northeast Elk County.  There were several stores, offices, freight stations, restaurants, and jewelry stores.

Prior to World War II, the area even had a privately owned airstrip located just north of Middle Fork.  

The village boasted of a well-tuned brass band and had it’s own baseball team, each competing with other nearby towns.


A typical family in Glen Hazel



The Clawson & Sons General Store in Glen Hazel

Above is a view of Hazleton’s Dam across the East Branch at Glen Hazel.  Since water was required to operate his steam-powered mill, he rebuilt a crude log dam across the East Branch at the same location of  the former Kane sawmill dam.

A View of Hazleton’s log pond  in Glen Hazel

The first two-room schoolhouse was erected in 1892 near today’s East Branch Bridge.  It was soon outgrown and a new two-story, four room schoolhouse was built.  About 200 students attend school here up to the eighth grade.  This building was later destroyed by fire in February of 1913.  The Jones Township School Board erected another school at the former location of the Bridge School.  This would be a single-story four-room school building.  Just a few years later, in January 1916, fire also consumed the Wilcox School building, in Wilcox.  The Township school districts then re-build a larger school in Wilcox.  The kids from Glen Hazel were then transported to the new Wilcox school to attend class.  The Bridge School in Glen Hazel was later sold to a group from St. Marys who established the Riverside Lodge.  Now, it is used as a private residence.


Another picture of the Reid Hotel (House) this situated on the south corner of the current Bendigo & Glen Hazel Roads.

Chas Woodly Barber Shop & Restaurant on the right and the Straessley Harness & Livery Barn on the left.  These buildings were located between the current Bendigo Road and Jefferson Ave.

Jacob Silfies House in Glen Hazel. Was located directly across from the current Bendigo Road intersection.

Two oxen pull a wagon up to the Post Office in Glen Hazel
(Date Not Known)

Shown in this picture is Glen Hazel Postmaster Mr. Andy Anderson.  In this May 23, 1913 photo, he is arranging to start a store at this location.

An aerial view of Glen Hazel looking south towards St. Marys

In the photo above, Weavers Inn (now the Dam Inn) is shown on the right. A jack dam on the Clarion river is situated in the foreground. Photo was taken form Ketner Road and is dated September 1979.

 Oil & gas fields were also developing in the area, and still continue to do so today.  A large machine shop was located on the east side of Main Street.  Here the David Manufacturing Co. erected a two-story structure that also contained a plumbing and pipe business.  An 18-mile pipeline was installed from the Pumpkin Hill oil fields to Kane, which transported the oil to refineries in Warren.  A spring was developed on the west hillside of Dutch Hollow to supply water not only to the town residents, but also to provide steam for the large pumping stations needed to move the oil.  Today, this spring still serves about 25-30 residents and camps in the area.  

Even today, the area is experiencing gas exploration of the Trenton / Black River and the Marcellus  Shale natural gas reserves. Several gas well have been recently drilled near Glen Hazel as much as 2-miles deep to reach these gas reserves.

   
Above left is the second pump house and oil tanks (center photo), they were torn down in 1978.  They were located on the left side of Kilgus Road, just below the dam.  The main pump house is shown on the right.  Many of these old wells have just recently been plugged.  However, even today the smell of natural gas escaping from these old wells can be detected.

Soon the area would see development of other timbering operations, including several wood chemical factories.  These chemical factories would convert logs into charcoal, methanol (wood alcohol), and acetate of lime or acetic acid.  They utilized the smaller diameter hardwood that lumber mills had no use for.  

The basic process was to heat, in the absence of oxygen, the wood to a very high temperature that would drive off its chemicals, via smoke, and turn the remaining wood to charcoal. The smoke would be cooled in a vessel called a “retort” or still.  The chemicals were treated so as to produce methanol and acetate of lime.  The charcoal was cooled, and most of it subsequently sold to iron producers.  Charcoal was important because it contained no sulphur, as did coal.  Sulphur is detrimental to nickel and chromium so that high grade steels and stainless steel had to be smelted by charcoal.

The Clawson Chemical Company built a sawmill as well as a chemical plant near Middle Fork and had their offices in Glen Hazel.  The plant was located just north of Glen Hazel at the mouth of Middle Fork. This was the only facility to utilize the new “jumbo retorts” patented by the Quinn’s.  Quinn introduced his jumbo retorts into the Lackawanna Chemical Company plant at Straight, a few miles north of Glen Hazel.


View of the Clawson Chemical Company at Middle Fork

Clawson's log yard at Middle Fork



Above, the Clawson Chemical Company at Middle Fork.


The Clawson Chemical Company near the mouth of Middle Fork

The Wright Chemical Company was a small operation located on the north side of town between Middle Fork and Glen Hazel, shown in the three photos above. George Bayless ran the plant and it was commonly referred to as the George Bayless Chemical Plant.

Cherry Ridge Lumber Company near Otto Glen.  Otto Glen was a small lumbering camp located on the west side of North Fork, two miles north of of Swissmont, in Jones Township. Note the wooden barrels located on the peak of the roof.  This barrel system was used as a primitive fire suppression system.  The Jones Twp. School Board also constructed a one-room school house here.  This mill was in operation for several years and was later torn down when the timber on the 3000-acre parcel was cut around 1895.

Above is the W. Weed & Company mill in Glen Hazel about 1892 when Cartwright was operating the company under contract.  This mill, along with much lumber was destroyed  by a forest fire in May of 1895.

The Glen Hazel and Shawmut Railroad photographed near Glen Hazel where the current Ketner Road is situated.

Tragedy struck the Glen Hazel in the spring of 1895. A forest fire developed along the railroad between Glen Hazel and Ketner destroying the Weed sawmill as well as another mill owned by Kaul & Hall from St. Marys.  The forest fire also destroyed about twenty-acres and over five million feet of stacked lumber.  

Fire had struck the community several times prior the great forest fire.  On December 3, 1891 two general stores, the barbershop, five-cent store, drug store and two houses burnt.   On March 16, 1893 the railroad depot and freight station and another general were destroyed by fire.  Then on July 19, 1894 nine homes and a sawmill, along with eleven million board feet of lumber were destroyed.  Other fires destroyed a restaurant, meat market, jewelry store, a laundry building, doctor’s office, and a large storage building.  

Most all buildings built at the time were constructed of the native hemlock.  With a limited supply of water, fire often raged out of control.  

As the timber became in short supply, the wood factories and sawmills began to close up shop. The Pennsylvania Game Commission in 1920 purchased 6288 acres from the former Wright Chemical Co. Most of the now barren land will be used as State Game Lands and is now known as SGL #25-A.  This tract of state land was the very first purchase of land by the Game Commission. These state lands were originally established to provide a wildlife refuge area. A monument stands in Glen Hazel dedicating this purchase.


Dedication of the John Phillips Memorial in Glen Hazel

left to right - two standing -unknown - PGC Director Ross Leffler, Governor James H. Duff, John Phillips - Mrs. James Phillips dedicate the first state game lands purchase. Dr. M. L. Kilgus, Game Commissioner from Brockway, served as master of ceremonies.  August 1, 1948
John Phillips, who at the age of 87, was described "the grand old man of Pennsylvania conservation and considered as the father of the state-wide system of state game lands".   According the August 3, 1948 edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, over 500 persons from all across the state were on hand to pay homage to the 87-year old Mr. Phillips.


The Game Commission constructed a utility building and a residence for the the Elk County District Game Protector in charge of the game refuge.  Mr. John Seifert was the first Game Warden assigned to the project, later Vern VanOrder occupied the game warden's residence.

 

The Game Commission constructed a utility building and a residence for the the Elk County District Game Protector in charge of the game refuge.  Mr. John Seifert was the first Game Warden assigned to the project, later Vern VanOrder occupied the game warden's residence.

   

The house was located near the former site of Clawson's operation up Middle Fork.  The utility building still stands today and a few foundation remains of the old chemical plant can still be observed.  

The game warden's residence was dismantled by the Game Commission around 1977.  At that time, the residence was occupied by  Bob Rea and his family.  Mr. Rea was also employed by the Game Commission as the Refuge Land Manager.  The above three photos were provided courtesy of Caroline (Rea) Seguin.

The area further developed recreationally with the development of  Bendigo State Park and, in 1948, the Federal Government began construction of the  East Branch Lake, just above Glen Hazel.   

Mr. Seifert, the game refuge keeper,  was also the original owner of Seifert's Inn in Glen Hazel. This establishment has been known under various ownerships and different names as well, including  Weavers Inn owned by John & Jane (Seifert) Stanton then the East Branch River Restaurant and currently the  Dam Inn.  The original Inn was gradually demolished and replaced with the current structure in the late 1980's.  

Very little, if any, of the original town exists today. A few families still reside in the village. The only commercial business still operating is the Dam Inn that is currently owned by Don Wenner and still provides a great meal, a cold beer and weekly entertainment.  Kliaber’s Kabins once provided lodging and accommodations at five camps / rental cabins for visitors and tourists from all over the world.  Although no longer in business, tourists form as far away from Germany and Japan have stayed here to enjoy the outdoor opportunities the area offers.

 
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