HISTORY OF THE ELK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Elk County Historical Society was founded May 21, 1964 and incorporated
in 1974. We are located in Ridgway, the county seat of Elk County, in
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ELK COUNTY
history of Elk County dates back many years before it became a separate
entity on April 18th, 1843. The Indians lived here for centuries before
European settlers came; Near Russell City (in Highland Township)
evidence can be found of Indian fort ruins which date back to the
thirteen hundreds. Elk County is named after the large animal that
was in this region in large numbers. The county has an area of 807
Today, Elk County consists of three boroughs and nine
townships. The Allegheny National Forest, State Game Lands and State
Forest occupy approximately 47 percent of the land area. The rainwater
from one side of the former County Home, Elk Haven, goes to the
Susquehanna River and from the other side to the Allegheny River.
RIDGWAY - the county seat, was incorporated as a borough in 1880.
- the area surrounding Ridgway, also includes Montmorenci area,
Whistletown, and German Settlement, This was a great lumbering
- the oldest of the three boroughs, was founded in 1810 and
incorporated in 1891. It is well known for its paper making history.
Rolfe is now part of Johnsonburg.
CITY OF ST. MARYS
- founded in 1842 by the German Union Bond Society, is the largest of
the boroughs and was incorporated in 1848. It has recently absorbed
Benzinger Township into the borough. The first convent of the
Benedictine Order of the United States was established at St. Marys.
St. Marys is known as the “Powdered Metal Capital of the World.”
FOX TOWNSHIP -
once known as “Sinnemahoning.” Kersey, once called “Irishtown,” was
laid out as Centerville. Kyler’s Corners, Coal Hollow, Dagus Mines, and
Shelvey are part of the township.
- named for United States Supreme Court Justice John Jay, the township
was settled in the early eighteen hundreds. It consists of Brynedale,
Weedville, Force, and Caledonia.
- an original township and town of the same name, was founded in 1812
by Reuben Winslow. This area can be very crowded during the season of
“elk watching.” Grant, Medix Run, and Wilmer are located in this
- named for Isaac Horton, who settled on Brandy Camp Creek in
1818. Brockport, Shawmut, Elbon, Challenge, Hyde, Drummond, Helen’s
Mills, and Blue Rock are part of Horton Township.
- the largest district in Elk County, settled in 1835. Wilcox was
settled in 1858 by pioneer lumbermen and hunters. President Ulysses S.
Grant was arrested by Elk County officials for fishing out of season in
Straight Creek. Also located in Jones Township are Lamont, Glen Hazel,
Ketner, Tambine, Dahoga, Rasselas, and Upland. At present, both
Instanter and Straight are under the waters of the East Branch Dam.
SPRING CREEK TOWNSHIP
- formed in 1846. Portland Mills was named for Portland, Maine,
landowners. Sea scorpion tracks were discovered near Hallton, replicas
of which are owned by the Elk County Historical Society. Also in this
township are Vineyard Run, Bear Creek, Beech Bottom, Carmen, Arroyo,
and Lake City. Several of these are now “ghost towns.”
- settled in 1835 and so named for its high altitude. The American
Plate Glass Company was located at James City (Durant City). Chaffee,
Highland Corners, Sackett, Russell City, Nansen, and the Owls Nest are
located in this township.
- first settled in 1826 by John Wynkoop and added to Elk County in
1870. Belltown and Loleta, with its state park, are in this township.