The Story of Galeton
If one takes a ride today throughout north central Pennsylvania and Potter County in particular, one would find very little to indicate that the area has not always been a glorious destination point for a peaceful vacation of hunting and fishing.
Galeton's history had a late start compared to some other Potter County towns. The county was originally settled from the north, starting about 1804 in the Ceres and Shinglehouse areas. Settlement also started about 25 miles north of Galeton in the northern areas of Ulysses and the Cowanesque Valley, as the land was better suited for farming.
The Pine Creek Valley was thickly covered with pine and hemlock forests and there were no roads up the narrow valley. Because of this, the people settling further to the north overlooked the Galeton area. The first settlers in the Galeton area came around 1810 to 1815. Some of the first people to settle in this area were Samuel Losey, who lived on a farm east of town. John Ives, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, settled somewhere near the present location of Galeton. Another early settler was John Phoenix, who located near the mouth of the present-day Phoenix Run.
The Galeton Area was known as Pike Mills in 1825, and about 1830, it became known as Pike Center.
Who would ever guess that only a little over 100 years ago, the major portion of lumber and leather used in the United States came from this area of Pennsylvania, leaving the now-beautiful mountains a vast wasteland. In traveling to Galeton at that time, one would have found logging camps throughout the mountains, with wood hicks cutting the timber and skidding the logs to small, local sawmills or creek side for the spring log drive to the Williamsport Mills. Before Frank and Charles Goodyear came to Galeton, Potter County's logs helped make Williamsport the lumber capital of the world. Once they arrived on the lumber scene in 1894, they bought the Clinton Mill and put their own crews and logging railroads into the mountains. These railroads brought the logs to their mills to be sawed locally and not floated to Williamsport via the creeks and river. They operated a three blade band-style sawmill in Galeton that is said to have been the largest mill producing hemlock lumber in the country at the time.
In addition to a kindling wood factory, other large industries associated with the lumber industry were chemical plants, hub factories, and stave and heading mills. The town of Galeton had all of these plus many smaller industries.
The preceding Galeton History is an excerpt from the book Around Galeton and Coudersport, a Postcard History series, used with permission from the author, Ronald W. Dingle.