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Clearfield County

 

Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

 

Chapter 10

 

Copyright

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Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

Ex-Supervising Principal

Boggs Township Schools

 

Library Edition

Published by Author

 

Copyright 1925

by

T. L. Wall

 


 

Transcribed for the Clearfield County PAGenWeb Project by

Ellis Michaels

 

 Chapter 10

Pages

163

164

165

166

167

25 year old white pine trees

30 year old windbreak on farm of D.H. Watts

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CLEARFIELD COUNTY - PRESENT AND PAST


CHAPTER X


Natural Resources


     Soil Fertility. The fertility of the soil is the most permanent, as it was the first to be utilized of all the abundant natural resources of the county. Without this resource, it would have been impossible for the pioneers to live or for other resources to have been developed as they have been by succeeding generations. Literally by the sweat of their faces did they eat bread.


     At first the pioneers were forced to draw upon this natural fertility without trying much to conserve it. Too many of the later generation have, under easier physical conditions thoughtlessly followed their example. That is why we see so many unproductive fields and so much weed grown land. Soil fertility may be mined out the same as coal or clay is mined out, and many farms show that this has been done. But unlike the coal or clay, this natural resource of fertility may, under right management, be made perpetual. There are a number of farms in the county whose continued production of good crops prove the truth of this statement.
 

     The natural forest growth is kept up by natures method of enriching the soil with leaf mould, etc., so that the balance is kept between growth and decay.


     Water Power. The streams of the county are generally

 

 

 

 

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swift-flowing, the fall in their beds being ample. This condition makes it possible to utilize the water power. We have found that the stream valleys are narrow, affording a good opportunity to build dams for storing water, which it is especially necessary to do on account of the extreme variation in the amount of water in the streams. There are certainly some fine opportunities for building power dams on the river and other streams. At some points on the river dams could be made from fifty to seventy-five feet high to hold a great volume of water.


     In early times, before the advent of cheap steam engines and when labor was not valued so highly as now, there were many water mills in the county. For many years all the lumber for building in the county was manufactured on these small water mills, some of them on quite small streams where the supply of water to run the mill was only sufficient in the spring or during a rainy time. But in this way many farmers through whose place a stream of water flowed could occupy spare time by sawing out a little lumber. For years there were a number of grist mills supplying the sparse population of the county with flour for bread and chop for their live stock. These mills were at first run entirely by water power, later in many cases supplemented by steam power to be used when the water was low. A typical example of a grist mill run by water is the Hagerty Mill at Madera, one of the few remaining land-marks of a former industry. There are also grist mills run by water power at Cherry Tree and at Burnside. Yet who knows but the day may come when electric power produced by the developed water power of the streams, and especially by the river, may supply current for light, and to electrify the railroads traversing the county.


     Timber and Forest Growth. The permanent value of timber and other forest products is only beginning to be realized as the disappearance of these valuable resources

 

 

 

 

165

 

(By Courtesy of Dept. of Forests and Waters)

 

A 25 Year Old Stand of White Pine Trees.

 

 


A 30 YEAR OLD WINDBREAK
On the farm of D. H. Watts in Ferguson Township
 

 

 

 

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calls their necessity to mind. Between 1805 and 1905 about twelve and one-half billion feet of lumber that had grown in the county since about 1605 has been cut into lumber or destroyed, it is estimated. As three-fourths and more of the land in the county is again covered with forest growth, it is quite evident that the timber is still a valuable resource, and if properly conserved, will be a continuous source of revenue. If properly managed the timber growth of Clearfield county should in the near future bring in a revenue of from one to five million dollars per year without at all impairing the value of the capital resource of standing timber.


     Coal. Although much of the easiest mined coal has been taken out, and a good deal wasted by careless methods of mining, much still remains in the earth in the county. Of late not so much has been mined as otherwise might have been because, on account of the high cost of operating, this region could not compete with other sections where the higher coal has not been mined out to the same extent as here, and also due to the fact that the cost of mining such coal at a scale rate to the miner which he believes will give him a living wage is more than the operator is willing to pay. This checking of mining operations, while it seems to work a hardship to all concerned just at present, may serve as a check upon the too rapid exhaustion of our coal resources. Then if the day comes, and it seems probable that it will come, when coal will be converted into electric power at the mouth of the mine and the energy carried by wire to the factory many miles away, or to the factory and farm located near by, as many are now prophesying, it will be a distinct advantage to our county that the coal has not been mined and shipped out. It would be particularly advantageous if in this way the small veins, now unprofitable to work and ship on account of transportation costs eating up the small profit left after the heavy cost of digging is paid, could be then utilized to advantage.

 

 

 

 

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     The coal found in this county is bituminous or semi- bituminous, and the workable veins vary from two to six feet in thickness. There is also considerable variation in the thickness, as well as in the quality of the same vein in different localities. What is known as the Moshannon vein has the reputation of being the best coal in the Clearfield region. This vein received its name because it was first mined near Moshannon Creek, though it is found in many other sections of the county.


     It is a curious fact that a section of the county in the north-central part, is barren of coal, although almost entirely surrounded by valuable coal deposits.


     Fireclay and Other Clays. Clearfield county is famous for its fire clays. The Morgan Run clay is said to be some of the best in the world. The veins of fire clay range from five to twelve feet in thickness. The usual workings are from four to six feet. The so-called hard clays are the scarcest and therefore the most valuable. In many places these hard clays are too deep to be readily workable. There are extensive deposits of soft clay of good quality.


     There are also deposits of swamp or red clay, suitable for making red building brick or the coarser kinds of pottery. There are also deposits of fine potter's clay.


     Building Stone and Limestone. There are plenty of building stones to be found in different sections of the county, principally sandstones.


     There are a few thin veins of limestone of rather low quality that have some value for agricultural purposes where they are not too hard to get at, but their value is not great.


     Gas and Oil. The gas and oil sands are found in many places in the county at different depths, but not much oil has been found. Some gas is found in the north-western section and lately in the south-central part, and it may yet be found to occur in other parts.

 

 

 

   

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