Did You Know??
Fun Facts as published in past newsletters
Did you know?
Did you know?
That we have a famous tree in our community?
You may have noticed the huge silver maple tree at the intersection of Rt 45 and Deibler Road – at what was called Bailey Square. This tree was recognized in 1988 as a Notable Tree and is included in the book of the same name, published in 1992. Over 100 years old, this magnificent tree is the largest, still standing tree in Centre County found by the Notable Trees Committee.
Did you know?
Baileyville had a racetrack????
That’s Right! One of the lesser known local historical facts is the infamous one-day racetrack built on the old “mud dam” - a low, flat area created by the clay from the iron-works ore washer. The area is located off what is now Deibler Road.
According to local legend, the race track was a small oval track with banked turns and a few rows of plank benches on the hillside for spectators. It was the summer of 1953 when the first (and only) day of racing was held here. Dust from the racing cars created havoc, and even after an attempt to water-down the racing surface with a tank truck, the races were called-off during the event because of little or no visibility both for the participants and the spectators. Locals remember farmers rushing in from the fields, thinking the dust was smoke and that there was a fire.
In later years, locals used the field for playing football as it was nice and level. The land is now owned by Dean and Linda Dreibelbis.
1958 Arial photograph showing racetrack, Courtesy Penn Pilot Historical Aerial Photo Library
Did you know? The main office of the Pennsylvania Furnace operations still stands?
The Pennsylvania Furnace was in operation from 1813 to 1888, and was one of the largest operations in the area. In its early days, the furnace produced up to 1,500 tons of high quality iron. As the business expanded, an office was built in 1833 and still stands today – as a rental property on Furnace Lane.
The building was used as the office for the iron company, as well as the residence of the superintendent. As many as 400 employees
worked for the company. In early times the workers were paid from $12 to $16 a month in cask and store goods available from the
company store, which was also located on what is now Furnace Lane. A. M. Brown farmed the property after the iron company went out of business. In 1897, he built the barn and the windmill, which was used to pump water for the barn and the house until 1946, when both were converted over to electricity. The windmill still stands but it is in the “brake” position to keep it from moving in the wind.
Did you know? The Pennsylvania Furnace Post Office has had a “moving” history?
Many of you know that the Pa Furnace Post Office is a relatively new building – but did you know that this is it’s fourth location? The original post office for Pennsylvania Furnace was established on May 19, 1882 by John Lynn Hamill, the first postmaster. It was located in the furnace grist mill, now the site of the picnic pavilion on the Fairbrook Manor property on Marengo Road. In 1912, Francis W. Archey built a frame building to house his farm implement, feed and coal dealership on Marengo Road, across from the Manor. On April 14, 1914, the Post Office moved to the building and continued to operate from there until September 1973, when it moved to the former Ward Store on Whitehall Road in Baileyville. In December of 2000, the new post office was built on Whitehall Road. So now you know!
Did you know?
There are at least 9 cemeteries in the general Pa Furnace area?
Most visible are Fairbrook, Gatesburg, and Graysville, but there are a lot
of little cemeteries around that are not as well known. Like the ones on
the Marion Sheridan farm (Tadpole Cemetery) and the Chuck Harpster
farm - both on Tadpole Road, and the Goheen Cemetery and Rock
Spring Cemetery – both on Penn State land. Then there is the small cemetery at Ross Church on Marengo Road. And the Pennsylvania Furnace cemetery off Whitehall Rd, near the Whitehall/Rt 45 intersection. In addition, there is a monument on Rt 45 commemorating the graves of three Revolutionary War soldiers who are buried in the Rock Spring Cemetery. These cemeteries hold a lot of history for our area. Directions to each can be found at http://pagenweb.org/~centre/graves.htm.
Note: If you want to visit any of the ones on private property, please contact the property owner for permission.
Did you know? there were 4 schools in the Pennsylvania
Furnace area during the early 1900’s?
Gatesburg, Marengo, Tadpole and Baileyville Schools
While some of the earliest history of our region’s “rural schools” is
sketchy, the education of our school age residents is part of our legacy. Records show evidence that 4 different schools operated between the mid-1800’s and early 1900’s in our area – Gatesburg, Marengo, Tadpole and Baileyville – with Gatesburg records as early as 1835. Students attended these one-room schools from first through eighth grades. Pot belly stoves provided early heat for classrooms and the historical “out houses” were the porta-johns of their day. By 1932 all four of the schools had been de-commissioned and students
began attending the current Ferguson Township Elementary School in Pine Grove Mills. Tadpole and Marengo schools no longer stand, but the Gatesburg school (with some modifications ) is now a personal residence and the Baileyville school is now the Baileyville Community Hall.
Photo - Baileyville School 1914 - 1918
Did you know – There were two local Axe factories?
As many of you are familiar with Axemann near Bellefonte, did you
know that is where the “axe man” made axes? Did you know that there
were axe factories in our area as well? Not much is known about them,
but local history indicates that there were two – one at Shawl’s Gap and one at Pennsylvania Furnace Gap, although no ruins have been found. There was also a foundry in Erbtown, located in Kepler Gap that manufactured plow bottoms, cook stoves and iron cookware. Ruins of the foundry have been found. If anyone has more knowledge, we’d love to hear from you.
Email BaileyvilleCommunityHall@gmail.com Now you know!
Did you know?
Former President of the United States JIMMY CARTER played softball at the Baileyville Softball Field/Harpster Picnic Grounds off Marengo Road in 1983. He joined the players of the Baileyville Softball Team. Prior to the game he met with team manager Ken Rudy to sign the league roster and Amateur Softball Association team roster. By doing so, the game counted toward
the team’s overall league record. The Secret Service detail mingled among the crowd and were only recognizable by their patent leather shoes. President Carter pitched for the Baileyville Team. Home plate umpire Bill Keough was heard telling opposing batters “you better be swinging because every pitch is going to be called a strike.” Following the game the President signed many autographs for fans. The Carters have made numerous trips over the years to our country community as guests of the Wayne Harpster family. (Photo courtesy of CDT)
Did you know? There used to be a Grist Mill in Baileyville?
Not much is known about the original grist mill other than it was built by John Bailey and his older brother, Richard in 1812 and that it operated until the late 1800’s. It was located just off Whitehall Road at the Baileyville bridge. The building itself can be seen in pictures, showing a covered water wheel, which was common in Pennsylvania as that allowed the mill to run year round. In its later years, the mill was converted to a turbine and the water wheel use was discontinued.
One of the grinding wheels is set in the sidewalk of 264 Deibler Rd. The sidewalk was installed by the previous owner, Sam Homan. Sam liked to travel and collect rocks. In addition to the grinding stone, the front sidewalk contains a plaque explaining the grind stone, and rocks from 49 states. A map of the sidewalk is included in the book, Baileyville: The
Town, the Furnace and the Railroad, available through the Community Hall Association.
Did you know? There used to be a Community Picnic – called the Baileyville Picnic?
The first picnic was held in a grove of pine trees between the old schoolhouse (Baileyville Community Hall) and the mill dam around 1888 as a reunion for Civil War veterans.
For some time it was sponsored by the Graysville Presbyterian Church. As the event grew, it was held near the "mud dam" in a grove of pines off Deibler Road. It then moved to a wooded area off Marengo Road, which is now the Baileyville Softball field, home of the Baileyville Slo-Pitch Softball League, who continued the tradition until the late 1980's or early 1990's. It was so popular in the early years, people would ride the train from State College and Tyrone to attend. It has been reported that they had to put three extra cars on the train that day just to accommodate the numbers of people!
Did you know – Fairbrook isn’t really Fairbook?
Most of us know Fairbrook as the intersection of Whitehall and Tadpole Roads. However, if you check GPS or most maps, you will see Fairbrook located at the intersection of Tadpole Road and Gatesburg Road. Why is that you say? According to Mike Bezilla, our local railroad historian, the Pennsylvania Railroad completed what eventually became known as the Fairbrook Branch in 1881. It was approximately 20 miles long running from Tyrone and ending at the Fairbrook Station, near what is now the intersection of Tadpole Road and Gatesburg Road. The PRR for many years anticipated extending the line to State College. The "temporary" end of the line at Fairbrook may help to explain why the Fairbrook station never had an agent, telephone or telegraph. It was basically a small shanty and platform where freight cars could be loaded/unloaded – perhaps similar to the one in the photo above. The agent at the Marengo station would have handled the billing and associated paperwork. When the railroad closed the Marengo station, the agent at Pennsylvania Furnace would have handled such work. In 1882, the PRR constructed a 5 mile extension -- known as the Scotia Branch -- to serve Andrew Carnegie's iron ore mines. Service on the Fairbrook Branch continued until 1933. Track salvage operations began in 1937 and continued until all the rails were removed by 1941. There are no known photos of the station.
Did you know – or in this case, DO you know?
During our recent renovation to the coatroom we discovered something underneath the wallpaper - names written in pencil on the wall! It was very exciting to uncover!
Do you recognize the names, Roy, Vera and Maxwell - who could they have been? Were they some pranksters or workers or someone else?
If you know, please let us know at BaileyvilleCommunityHall@gmail.com!
Did you know – Baileyville once had a country club?
The big stone mansion on Marengo Road was used as a country club from 1910 – 1924.
The mansion was originally built in 1834 by John Lyon, one of the principal owners in the Pennsylvania Furnace iron ore works. The Lyons called their home "The Cedars." It is reported that John Lyon selected this site so he could see his furnace from the mansion. Three generations of the Lyon family lived there until 1910, when it was purchased by a group of private investors and renamed the “Fairbrook Country Club." They replaced the original iron porch, reportedly made with iron from the furnace, with a large wooden one in an L-shape around the house, as it is today. People from as far away as Pittsburgh would come by train to stay at the country club. The country club operated until 1924, when Frank Albright bought the mansion and used it as a boarding house for a year and afterwards, for private dances and parties. For several years after this, it stood vacant and overgrown, until, on August 7, 1944, Mr. Robert L. Harpster and his wife, Juliet Ellenberger Harpster bought the house and 41 acres of surrounding land. They renamed it "Fairbrook Manor." Today, it remains in the Harpster family, owned by Wayne Harpster, son of Robert and Juliet.
Picture of Postcard of Fairbrook Country Club courtesy of Centre County Historical Society.
Did you know – The walls can talk?
The name William B. (Bailey) Glenn carved in the weathered boarding of the Harpster barn next to the "horse stable" at the intersection of Deibler Rd. and Rt. 45. William Glenn was the only remaining son of Robert Glenn and Nancy Bailey Glenn, who owned the farm during the Civil War. At age 19, William enlisted in the local unit, Company E of the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on February 29, 1864. (Company E was organized at Baileyville in September of 1861.) William was captured at the Battle of Poplar Springs Church, Virginia in September of 1864 and sent to one of the worst prison camps in the Confederacy, Salisbury North Carolina - known for its atrocious conditions. William died there Dec. 10, 1864 at age 20. William was buried in the mass grave of the prison camp. His name is listed on the family memorial stone in Graysville Cemetery. You have to wonder when you look at this carving, now over 150 years old, whether it was carved there by a happy teenage boy, or by a father memorializing his fallen son.
Daniel B. Harpster, a distant ancestor of Larry Harpster, was captured at the same battle and died in the same prison camp a few months after William. Both he and William died just before the war ended in April 1865.
At the farmhouse, more history can be found in signatures penciled onto the stones and into the grout between the stones on the front porch. Apparently, this was the “guest book” registry for the home. Some are faded with age, but dates go back to 1849 and continue up through 2018 – so the tradition continues.