Back to Ben's main page.

Ben Sauter, a character, in his own words

A book report on a book that's never been written

 
Farrandsville, Pa., is a small settlement on a mountain off the Susquehanna River. To get there from here, you would take the Susq. trail to a pleasant town named Lock Haven, Pa. There you cross the Susq. [W. Branch] and go north following the river 7 miles, turn right and cross the railroad tracks and you're in Farrandsville, a village of less than 100.

One road chiseled in the side of the mountain, wide enough for 2 cars to pass carefully. All the houses are on the steep side of the road and the other side is a drop-off. The road is a dead end. It stops at a long deserted CCC camp, Civilian Conservation Corp.

The CCC was started by Roosevelt in 1933 or so to give young people jobs during the Great Depression. They did road work and planted trees and improved streams. They did a lot of good public work.

The workers received $30 a month plus room & board. Twenty dollars was sent home to Mom & Dad. The members could not stay in for more than a year. They figured he should be trained enough to make it in the real world.

One can still see how the road circled in front of the barracks, and where the flag was flown.

Farrandsville was a busier place 110 yrs. ago. They were mining coal and iron ore and very good clay.

The clay was used to make fire bricks, those yellow bricks that line fireplaces and other furnaces.

The iron ore was melted into pig iron. And the furnace is still there, a beautiful stone thing which is now a historic site. And there was an inclined plane. A device that lowered full iron ore cars down and forced empty cars up.

The third business was cigar making.

All these businesses and the school were located near the river and railroad tracks where the ground was more level.

Then along comes the great Johnstown flood [May 31 1889, but see note] destroying everything in its path along the Sus. river.

This was the end of all the businesses and any houses on the flat ground.

There was one nice house among all these shanties. It was a beautiful 2-story house with a huge front porch.

I don't know who built this house, but it wasn't a miner. Maybe one of the business owners.

70 years ago it was owned by my sister [Bernice] and her husband J. M. Dick, the minister of the local church. They had a nice barn where they kept cows and laying hens.

Pastor Dick needed an operation in a hospital in Lock Haven. My sister couldn't drive, so I was sent up there to drive her to see her husband every afternoon. I was 17.

Our country was at war. There were 2 factories in Lock Haven where the locals could work. They were the Piper airplane factory and Sylvania Electric Plant.

70 years ago, the mail was brought by railroad. The railroad car had an arm sticking out with the mail bag attached. There was a pole beside the track that hooked the mail sack. Then the postmistress would pick it up and take it to her house. Then the residents would go there for their mail.

There was a tiny, relentless insect here. And it gave a nasty bite. The people called them nettles and they wouldn't give up.

About 20 years ago I decided to visit Farrandsville again. So we rented a nice little house on flat land near the stream. We took our daughter and her husband and 5 grandkids. Now remember, we are in the valley lower than the road through town.

After supper, we heard a lot of commotion from above us. so we decided to walk up there. All these kids were playing in the only flat place, the road. There was someone on horseback and a couple of adults in the group.

Here, one of the adults was the town historian. He invited us to his home the next evening. He and a couple of friends would put on a program about the history of Farrandsville complete with old, old newspapers and other historic stuff. We learned that long ago that the Queen of Spain bought thousands of acres of mountains up here. She was being kicked out of Spain and she built a great house here. She said: If I can't be the Queen of Spain, I'll be Queen of Pa.

The Queen never got to the U.S. and the house got struck by lightning and burned. We didn't visit the site. Actually, we would have needed one of the locals to guide us.

So now I've seen Farrandsville as a youngster and as an old person.

Some of the houses have rotted away. The mail is now delivered by truck. The nettles are still there.

 


Contact Ben's fifth kid: send an email; view guestbook; sign guestbook.
Back to Donald Sauter's main page.

Article written ca 2012. Pop spelled it Farandsville throughout. My road atlas has two R's. Interesting that there's a town called Queen's Run 2 miles east of Farrandsville. The Johnstown flood was nowhere near Farrandsville; did Farrandsville have its own flood?

Helpful keywords not in the main text: bernice dick; bernice sauter; susan bossom, ron bossom.