Video Presentation

Find the Early Industries video here.


Image:            Newmaker's Mill, Dunn Run, Brokenstraw Twp.

Text:   Work is at the heart of every community.  People work in offices, in stores, at home on farms, and in the woods.  Work allows us to make and buy the things we need to live.  Without work our community could not exist.


Bayer Furniture Co. circa 1898


The work that is done in a community makes it different from other places; it makes it special.  Over the past 200 years, Warren county has had many different businesses and industries.  These have shaped the way the land looks and the way we look at ourselves.  Today we will talk about four of these important industries: lumber, tanning, oil, and farming.


Roger's Mills


When settlers form the east first began moving into Warren County, they found much of the land was covered with forests.  Cutting these tress and selling them for ships' masts, building lumber, and shingles quickly became the most important industry in Warren.


Bucher's Mills, Clarendon Area, circa 1900


Many people were part-time lumbermen, cutting and selling the trees on their own land.  Some men worked in lumber mills, while other men worked in lumber camps.


Lumber Cap, 1887


A lumber camp was a group of buildings in the woods where people lived while cutting the surrounding forests.  Lumbermen usually worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day.  They stayed in camp through most of the winter cutting season, often away from their families.


Fred Klenck & Team at his mill at Wardwell, circa 1900


When a tree was cut down, it had to be moved out of the forest.  Loggers used many different methods to move them.  They could use teams of oxen or horses to drag logs, or pull sleds filled with lumber.


Pole corduroy road  in Warren County, 1966


In warmer weather, when the trails were too muddy to sled, they might make roads by laying down boards or cut logs side by side.  These were called corduroy roads.


Putting logs in a mill pond at Central Lumber Company, circa 1939


At first, logs were taken to rivers and streams to be floated down to mills and markets in the spring.  Later, trains and then trucks, carried many logs to their destination.


Mill Pond, Kinzua Mill


Logs were taken to mills located on streams and rivers throughout the county.  The water provided the power to run the mill machinery.  Mills turned logs into building lumber, shingles, and other materials.


Tannery & Sawmill, Clarendon


Not only was wood considered valuable, the bark of some trees was very important for the tanning industry.  Tanning is the process of taking animal skins and making them into leather.  Tanneries are the factories where this is done.


Stoneham Tannery, near Clarendon, early 1900s


In order to turn a skin into a piece of leather, a special ingredient called tannin is needed.  Tannin is found in the bark of hemlock trees.  Because there were so many hemlock trees in Warren County, especially in Sheffield Township, tanneries were built there.


Man removing Hemlock bark with a "spud," Sheffield


After a hemlock tree was cut, the bark was removed with a special tool called a spud.  The bark was put in large piles, ground up, and taken to tanneries to be used to make leather.


Bailer Rig near NW DAV crossing, early 1900s


People not only found wood on the land in Warren County.  After 1859, they found oil in the ground.  There are many uses for oil.  In the nineteenth century, it was used as a medicine, to lubricate machinery, and to light people's homes.


Glade Oil Field, 1880s


Oil was found in many parts of the county, like Glade, Tidioute, and Cherry Grove.  These discoveries, called strikes, caused great excitement as people moved into the area, bought and sold land, drilled wells, and hoped to become rich overnight.


Cherry Grove Oil Operations


Oil was found by drilling into the ground, often hundreds of feet deep.  It then flowed, or was pulled up to the surface.  Oil was stored in tanks.


Grasshopper Oil Field, East Side Flats, Warren


Look at the barrels in this image.   They are filled with oil.  Oil packed in barrels was shipped on wagons, boats, and trains to places all over the United States.  Later, oil traveled through pipelines to its destination.


Oil Well before torpedoing, Asylum Farm, North Warren


When a well stopped flowing oil, people tried many things to get it flowing again.


"Shell" being loaded with nitroglycerin


One way was to carefully place nitroglycerin, a very explosive and dangerous material, into a well.  Here a man pours nitroglycerin into a tube which is being lowered into a well.


Oil Well after torpedoing, Asylum Farm, North Warren


Imagine the explosion when the nitroglycerin was set off, and with luck, the oil flowed again.


Clarendon Refining Company, Clarendon


Although crude oil might be used straight from the ground, most products, such as kerosene and gasoline, have to be taken out of the oil.  This is called refining, and oil refineries like this one were built throughout the county.


Tiona Refinery Fire, 1901


When oil was around, fire was a constant danger.  A careless cigar or a dropped lamp could burn down a town or destroy a refinery.


Barn on Schuler-Coyle Farm, Yankee Bush, 1974


However, many people came and lived in Warren County, not to cut trees or drill for oil, but to farm.  A farmer's day depended on the season and the weather.


Walker Creamery Co. materials, Warren


A farmer might rely on one type of animal or plant to succeed.  Dairy farms, like the Walker Creamery Co., depended entirely on cows.  However, most farmers in Warren County relied on a number of different animals and crops to support themselves.


Chandler's Valley apple harvest, early 1900s


A crop is anything that is grown or created in one season.  Crops that Warren County farmers might harvest include: berries, wheat, corn, maple sugar, apples, and more.  Notice these apples harvested in Chandler's Valley are piled as high as a man's shoulder.


Geracimo's fruit & confectionary store, 1890s


What a farmer grew was used at home, sold, or traded.  Farmers might sell products at farmers' markets and grocery stores in nearby towns.  When railroads came, the food grown in Warren County could be shipped to cities hundreds of miles away.


Early excavating equipment being used at Ferrie Farm, Scandia


Like the lumber and oil men, early farmers also relied on teams of oxen or horses to help them work.  These teams were needed for planting, harvesting, pulling loads and other work, which required strength.  Later, machinery replaced many of these animals.


Sugar Shack on the farm of Mr. Paul Lindell, near Russell;


Special building and equipment helped farmers do their job.  Here is a building in which sap from maple trees is boiled down in the spring to make maple syrup and sugar.  Notice the smoke rising from the top of the building.


Barn at Starbrick, Yankee Bush Rd., 1974


Some of the most important buildings on a farm were the barns.  Barns are used for many things, including housing animals, food and equipment, and storing and processing some of the crops.


Pig Sty, Walker Farm


Farmers depended on help from their neighbors and sometimes hired workers.  Farmers might come together to get a large job done, making the work go much faster and taking the opportunity to have fun as well.  Killing hogs like these, gathering a harvest, or even sewing a quilt allowed people to eat well, talk, dance, and visit.


Race, Warren County Fair, South Side, 1894


Farmers also might get together at Agricultural Fairs to look at new equipment, talk about new ways of farming, and show off their animals and their skills.  And, of course, enjoy a horse race or two.


Warren County Fair material


Today, you can still visit the Warren County Fair, buy fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers' stand, see oil wells working in the fields, and watch trucks moving wood from trees grown in the Allegheny National Forest.  The work of Warren's past helps us to understand how our communities look and feel today.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society