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The Rail Archived
Treasures Along The Rail Archived Issues
Fall & Winter 1997
Fall and Winter 1997

While On the Go in Connellsville
by Joan Kriek, President, Connellsville Historical Society

(Ed. Note: Joan's doing a continuing story of the city's development. Last issue covered Zachariah Connell - City Founder.)

The proximity to the heard of navigation on the Youghiogheny River assured the new settlement of a steady business of flat boat building. As more people settled in the area, necessary supplies for daily living were beginning to be made by cottage industries. Grist and sawmills were among the first required.

Boat building was an important industry for 50 years with much of the lumber being supplied by McCormick Sawmill that had been built prior to 1794. Raw materials were found in the needed quantities to have many iron furnaces. Charcoal made from the abundant forests was used in these furnaces.

An outgrowth of the iron industry was nail-making. The first spike machine made in Pennsylvania was made here by the Nortan & Stewart Co. James and Campbell Johnson started two nail shops soon after they arrived in 1818.

The first tannery was built by Anthony Banning, an itinerant Methodist preacher, between 1791 and 1799. The first house made of locally produced brick was built by Mr. Banning shortly after the town was started. By 1823, David Barnes had a brickyard that made bricks for the town, and Joseph Soisson started making fire brick for coke ovens in 1865. Artificial stone was made in "Dutch Bottom."

Carriages and road wagons were made beginning in 1839. Many diverse industries have been located in this city: chemical products, lumbering, candy making, tin plate, locks, automobiles, steam engines, safes, cotton, woolen and silk mills, aluminum coating, flint glass, breweries and distilleries.

The boating industry had to compete with the railroads for cargoes. With the continuing influx of new railroads into the City, the rates for shipping soon made the railroad industry a more feasible method of transporting good to market. Shipping by river could also be slow and hazardous. (Ed. Note: The Yough River's height is highly regulated today, not so years ago. Even today it has an extremely strong current, which in days of old combined with heavy rains, especially up-stream in the mountains, turned the river into a churning nightmare. - Joan's story moves to the railroad industry which we will publish in our next edition.)

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