Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
The Romance of Old Barclay by Clarke
Chapter Seven - The Inclined Plane
The Romance of Old Barclay

By Staley N. Clarke

Originally Published 1928, Towanda PA

Photos by Joyce M. Tice October 4, 1998
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Richard Harris and Connie Unganst and Formatted by Joyce M. Tice

Tri-County Genealogy & History Sites Home Page
How to Use This Site
Warning & Disclaimer
Romance of Old Barclay - Table of Contents
Barclay Township page
No Unauthorized Commercial Use
Say Hello to Joyce



The inclined plane over which the coal was carried from the top of the mountain to the foot where it was picked up by the old Barclay railroad, now the S. & N. Y., was one of the most interesting features of Barclay. A railroad line a mile in length ran from the town to the head of the plane with the coal, which was then sent on down the plane under its own power. As a full car went down an empty one came up. The speed was controlled by a man at the head of the plane by use of great steel brake bands on the drum where the steel cable holding the cars was wound. Once in a while this would let go and the cars would dash to the bottom and pile up in a wreck, but not very often, and luckily no one was hurt.

On the railroad at the top of the mountain they had a good sized engine for those times. Sol Talada was the engineer along in 1880 and his son Charles was his fireman. Another son and Dite Havens were the brakemen. At that time Enoch Luther was foreman over the plane, Edward Sabin ran the plane, and Jim Stalford drove the team which hauled the cars into position. Henry Strope and Jerome Alexander scaled the cars and William Minto, a one-legged fellow, weighed the coal. At the foot of the plane working were Henry Blend, his son Steve and a Mr. Parks.

The first coal cars used on the Barclay railroad and the plane were small ones, holding about five tons. Couplings consisted of three links and a hook. They ran three of the cars over the plane at one time. The dumps were changed in 1881 to cars holding from 15 to 20 tons each.

Along toward the last only three men were necessary at the head of the plane where ten had been employed before. Charles Sage of Towanda ran the engine. William Strope of Towanda, now a special officer here, acted as fireman, brakeman and weighed the coal, and Henry Strope, his father, ran the plane. They had a small engine at Barclay which drew the coal from the various mines to the chutes. The first one weighted only five tons but one later weighed ten tons. The small engine was driven by George Talada.

William Strope weighed the last car of coal sent over the plane and he remembers the incident well to this day.

In the days when Bill Strope was a boy carrying water for a gang of Towandians at work along the old Barclay railroad, they used to sing a song, which though not particularly poetical, gives some idea of the life around the "Foot of the Plane." If Bill’s memory is right, it was as follows:

Song About McCraney’s Mill At Foot of Plane.

Come all my friends, I’ll sing you a song

And I mean to sing it plain,

It’s all about that little place

They call the Foot of the Plane.


You can talk about the foot of the Plane

And call it what you will

But I’ll tell you that’s a – of a place

Around McCraney’s Mill.

Sometimes we have the good fat pork,

Sometimes we have the lean,

But when we have the good fat pork,

We’ll sweep the logs up clean.

Elmer Champion bought him a coat

And hung it on the wall;

That one-eyed wretch, he stole that coat

And wore it to the ball.

George Archer, he’s the laziest man

That ever stood on dock;

He spends his time in that 3c store

On a piece of a hard wood block.

Here comes Henry Strope’s son,

He’s a perfect little dude;

He carries water for them Pools,

I’m afraid it makes him rude.

The working men of the foot of the Plane

And the working men of far,

They went to town and all got drunk,

And stove up the Barclay cars.

[Page 11]


Fall Creek was about two miles from Barclay and it bore a hard name. Most of the homes were log houses and the seams were plastered up with mud.

Foot of Plane, the settlement at the bottom of the incline, became quite a large, hustling community. It was a great lumbering place. William McCraney was the jobber. Jimmy Cox was the station agent. There were two stores, postoffice in the station and a school. Among the teachers were Eliza O’Brien and Nellie Lyons.

Now the place is inhabited only by deer and rattlesnakes, as is Long Valley, another village which grew up in the township about three miles from Barclay. At Long Valley John Carroll was foreman and Seville Travis took care of the mules. Mack Finney, now a resident of Towanda, worked in the store and Joe Foyle, now in the meat business here, cut the meat. The coal from Long Valley went down over the Long Valley plane and hit the Barclay railroad at Long Valley Junction. There are no houses left in Long Valley at the present time.

About 3,000 acres, formerly belonging to the Fall Creek Coal Co., around the Foot of Plane are now owned by Lieut. Gov. Edwin Corning of New York, Parker Corning, representative in congress, and James A. Burden, of New York City.


Carbon Run lies due west of Barclay about two miles, and three miles from LeRoy. It is about two miles from Sunfish Pond where the game preserve is now situated. Carbon Run was noted for fine coal. It had plenty of what was known as peacock coal with all the colors of the rainbow. It was a very common occurrence to see lumps as large as two strong men could load into a car. In fact many had to be broken up. There were three openings at Carbon run – the Frazer drift, the Flynn drift, and the Curry drift. William R. Jones was mine foreman and George Blaksley, store manager. Selah Plummer was the butcher and John Fassett ran the little engine.

The houses in Carbon Run were mostly double, two story buildings with cellars. They had laths and were plastered, according to Mrs. Mary Hines, nee Frazer, who has assisted considerably in preparing this sketch of the village.

They had two school houses, both of two rooms and graded. Teachers included Maud McDougall, Nora Fassett, Maud Hawkins, Fanny Kelly, Marian Miller, Minnie McCarthy, Nellie Ronan and Nan Burchill.

The first mining was done in Carbon Run about 1871. The land at that time was owned by the firm of Abbott & Davis but later went into the hands of the tanning company.

An Evangelical Methodist Church was organized about 1876 and a fine little church was erected. Before that, the Welch people had a Congregationalist minister come there to preach every two weeks. Later the Welch became very active in the new church. Some of those who filled the charge there were Mr. King, Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Brader.

The population of the town was about 500 at the peak.

Mining at Carbon Run on a large scale closed down about 1886. The next year William Frazer, who had been employed by the company, leased the mines from the Union Tanning Company through their agent, the Hon. Joseph Powell of Towanda, and with the assistance of his son, James, continued to operate them until about 1920.

After the boom of Laquin began, Mr. Frazer saw an opening for business. He put about 40 cows in the fine pasture around Carbon Run and furnished milk for the people at Laquin. He also sold coal there for the homes and the various factories, etc., besides the engines used on the railroad. Mr. Frazer finally retired and bought a home in Monroeton where he died in 1919. He had operated the Carbon Run mines continuously for 43 years.

The Inclined Plane at Barclay - Scanned from original copy of Beers 1869 Atlas of Bradford County


The big newspaper that everyone read in the mining settlement was the Williamsport Grit. It sold for five cents then, just as it does today, and it was handled by Fred Cameron, now chief of police at Arnold, Pa., who was one of the first carrier boys put on by Grit 42 years ago. Cameron sold 150 papers each week. On Saturday night he would meet a carrier with them at the top of the mountain and then peddle them through Barclay. Sunday he peddled through Long Valley and Foot of Plane. During the week Cameron carried mail from Barclay to Long Valley for $8 per month and he often made his way through when a horse couldn’t make the trip for two weeks because of snow.

Mr. Cameron was back for the Barclay reunion this year and he declared if possible he will be back again next August when it is hoped to swell the attendance to 500, possibly more.

Another old Barclay resident who is very well know today, is R. D. Williams, the furrier of Sayre. Mr. Williams was born in Barclay where his father ran the store for some time.

One of the very old residents of Barclay was John Davis. He and his wife in later years conducted the postoffice. Another of the older residents was James Crawford who went there as a boy under Supt. Waget and tended door in the mines.

Young Jack Slavin will be remembered as a great quoit pitcher. He and Davy Bread had a good many matches.

John Cantwell was constable for many years and was never known to make an arrest. He is now a resident of Youngstown, Ohio.

Henry Haggerty was a fiddler and a good one. He was four feet, 10 inches tall and his wife towered more than six feet. He and a Spaniard named McDowell went one Sunday over on Cahill mountain and got home about 6 p.m. Upon their return, they got in some kind of dispute and the Spaniard threw a pitcher which struck and killed Haggerty. This occurred in Sand Run a short time after Barclay shut down.

Uncle John and Aunty Davis were two of the best known characters of all on the mountain. "Aunty" was always present whenever there was distress of any kind. No kindlier soul ever lived. The sick always knew they could depend on her and when death occurred she was always among the first to help those left behind. Nearly always at funerals [Page 12] she was called upon to sing and the song she chose was "We Shall Die But Not Forever." Her death in later years caused general sadness for hundreds of people.

W. H. Crayton of Powell R. D. 1 recalls that they used to sell straw on Barclay for 10 cents to $1.00 a bundle. The ten cent bundle was straw; the 25 cent bundle had a half pint in it; the 50c bundle had a pint and the $1.00 bundle had a quart bottle in it.


Once a lynching almost took place on Barclay mountain. A. B. and William Burchill of the Burchill Brothers Monument Works in Towanda, remember the incident well. They believe it was in 1874 and the man’s name was John Jenkins. Jenkins was believed to have committed a brutal assault upon a little girl and the mountain residents were so aroused by the crime that they demanded his life without waiting for the formality of a trial. The mob had Jenkins and was rushing him off to be hanged, when Redmond Roche, father of Mrs. William Ronan of Towanda and Mrs. Hugh Hogan, of South Bend, Ind., formerly of this place, a man of strong personality and character, appeared on the scene.

"In the name of God, stop!" Mr. Roche shouted. "Let the law take its course." According to the Burchills, the crowd was almost immediately subdued and Jenkins was brought to Towanda where he was tried and acquitted.

Later Jenkins was accused again of an attack upon a girl and that time he was shot dead without further ado.
Barclay Cemetery Listings
Barclay Cemetery Photos
Table of Contents
Coal Mining Photos

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 9/13/99
By Joyce M. Tice