Tuesday, December 23, 2014


      On behalf of the website, I want to personally thank all the good visitors for coming in for a while out of the wind and snow to spend some cozy time in this corner of the internet. I will be back soon with more posts.

      Take the time now to do a little last minute shopping, maybe bake some sugar cookies and enjoy the presents. Give and Receive. The twinkling holiday lights, that magic look on Christmas morning in a child's wide eyes reflected in our own, that first whiff of delectable stuffing from a juicy turkey, one of the finer nuances of our culinary lives. I hope you experience a late Nutcracker dream on a silent, holy night. And to imagine in those olden times when laborers and merchants took a full twelve days for all the festivities!

      Please, take a special moment out of the exhilarating rush by midnight for a carol or hymn with the peel of church bells and ponder the deeper side of your own holiday history and the miracle underlying the shared celebrations of Yuletide.


I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a most Happy New Year !

     ~ Histbuffer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turkey Foot Road Remnants South Of Quail Hill Near Hawk Road

  INTRO  and A Newspaper Article

   This is a further travelogue of Jeff Hann's fieldwork of the Turkey Foot Road in Bullskin township of Fayette County, PA. This would be a strong candidate for an antecedent route, an earlier road that was a part of the modern Hawk Road and the region to the south of the area covered in detail in the preceding post.

   First up, I need to relate the fact that there is going to be a milestone newspaper    article about Lannie Dietle's book coming out THIS WEEK on this very subject! Jeff Hann, Kim Brown of the Bullskin Historical Society, and I were also interviewed by A. J. Panian, the editor of the Mount Pleasant Journal for our perspective on the Turkey Foot Road and the aspect of our involvement and relationship to each other. In part, this concerns how we initially met and got together and became colleagues. While the bulk of the article is Lannie's explanation of the origin of the 'TFR' itself here in this branch of fascinating research. Mr. Panian was very intuitive and perceptive to this whole situation.

   My position was a little more peripheral in that I was invited to participate and so get involved in walking the routes. In this relationship, I offered to write a post on this material to further the interest in what is a very fresh discovery of historical significance. So, you really should check the newspaper for yourselves. The article can be accessed online on Wednesday the 17th of December at 9:00 p. m. The Newspaper will hit the stands on Thursday the 18th. Here is the online website, http://triblive.com/news/. Click on 'Neighborhoods' and then pick out 'Mt. Pleasant' and click the icon. There you will find the article.

 The Hawk Road Evidence

   Here is some of Mr. Hann's photos and descriptions of what he has discovered further to the south of the alternate, or short cut route he discovered to the north that began at latitude 40.052507°, longitude - 79.501598°. That segment of the blog post which also connects to the route below the Spruce Hollow and Breakneck intersection thus maintains a course near Breakneck and bends to the north. As mentioned above, that segment of the TFR is already documented elsewhere, specifically on the last post.

   This is a graphic depiction of the route Jeff walked, approximately a half mile, near Hawk Road.

highlighted overhead photo of this route of the TFR, courtesy of Verizon

   1. Here is where Mr. Hann first encountered an apparent route of the Turkey Foot Road from Hawk Road:

According to Jeff Hann, this would be
looking southeast toward Hawk Road

  This is southeast toward Hawk Road. Coordinates are 40.049866, -79.499577. Anyone can check with modern maps to observe this route closer with the interaction of the modern road. Satellite imagery can help give confirmation as well.  Jeff states that one of these may be a logging road, but the other surely should be a connection to the TFR.

    Here is how Jeff describes the following photos:

"I walked the road between Quail Hill Rd. and Hawk Rd. this evening and I don't think there is any doubt that it is the Turkey Foot Road. Although I didn't get to walk the whole thing I did walk it to to the just a little beyond the 'Y'. I did do a path track but my phone went dead before I saved it and I lost the path but I still managed some pics and some coordinates. So these two pics are of the more western part of the 'y' just as it breaks over the ridge and before it runs into the high wall of the stone quarry. The first pic is looking east toward Hawk Road and the other pic is looking west toward Lilley hollow. You can clearly see the typical deep rut probably about 4 to 5 feet deep". 

 2.  Latitude and longitude for the approximate location on the photo below is 40.046058, -79.498645.

   3.  Next, this is a stone wall Jeff found near the road at 40.046058, -79.498645:

   4.  This photo is at 40.049288, -79.499394 and is looking northwest toward Quail Hill Road:


Jeff Hann's photo looking northwest toward Quail Hill

   5.  This photo is heading southeast toward Hawk Road at 40.048741, -79.498450. Here he observes "you can see the Turkey Foot route on the left side of the photo, the other may be an ATV trail or logging road":


    6.  This photo below is at the 'Y' in the road "starting at the left side of the pic is looking east toward Hawk Rd. and to the right is looking west toward Lilley hollow."



The end of the Hawk Rd. route at latitude 40.058391, -79.518253


    As Lannie Dietle observes, the Turkey Foot Road crossed through what was the 1796 Vought property and as an early form of the Quail Hill Road route across the old 1794 Peter Smith and James Smith property surveys. I certainly agree that some of the gradual descent of 'riding the ridges' witnessed on these routes would lend credence that they were clearly used by wagons. Of course, this entails the arrival of settlers and the further activity of farmers, drovers, mail and coaches for travelers and business in the region's early days. What a great, but fleeting glimpse through a window to the past we have here. There is the distinct possibility some of the Turkey Foot routes in Bullskin were originally related to various Indian paths and were very likely original pack horse routes, changing over time with weather conditions and heavy usage and convenience of access.

    I find myself thrilled by these discoveries. Nothing less would explain my reactions. Surely, I echo the sentiments of my colleagues I have recently so frequently collaborated with, when I state the importance of the additional insight we gain from having more evidence of these old routes of the Turkey Foot Road.

    Jeff Hann is a man determined to add to the known route of the Turkey Foot Road. With his efforts and in sharing these photos and descriptions along with the GPS coordinates, he has succeeded. Subsequently, everyone can convert these online and check the areas for themselves and be a part of this too.

  Further Investigations

   Jeff Hann has pointed out that he is not totally decided on the interpretation of the evidence from the three way 'split' that shows up on the 1816-1821 Melish-Whiteside Map.  He specifically wants to check further into the stone quarry area and gather more information on the exact relation to each other of these split routes.

   Jeff states that "because the southern most part of the split up there turns pretty hard toward the south and I found another old road just recently...that comes out onto Breakneck Rd. at the old Breakneck furnace. What I'm saying is I think there were three roads coming down the chestnut ridge...". He clarifies this in relating the routes near Mick Lilley's, Lilley's Hollow area and one coming down the ridge at Rich Hill. He feels this route has much the same appearance as the road I walked with him for the first Bullskin post on his discovery north of Quail Hill, thus, the Rich HIll route is a good candidate for a continuation of that route. So saying, you can grasp that more investigation will likely take place. I report here that any extenuating research he can add to this, already fairly considerable body of material, will be promptly included here as an update. If this does not seem to suffice, then it will be documented in a future post.

  In summing up, regional history of all layers and types are what the blog is all about. Fresh research, which has been so prominent in the recent months, is a more urgent and pressing matter for us to study. Here the chance has nicely presented itself for our interest, and, yes, for our entertainment. More information was needed and has been provided here. I hope visitors have been half as caught up in the uncovering of this ongoing eye opening material, as I have been. Then, my part of the job is accomplished and well worth the time.

   Historical research owes a palpable debt of gratitude to Jeff Hann for his recent findings and evaluation of these intriguing routes in Bullskin Township. As does the extra input from Lannie Dietle, stemming from his five year quest and absorption of voluminous contributions in this field.  Do you not agree with my assessment? Actually, it is spot on! *

     ~  Histbuffer

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Forgotten Turkey Foot Road in Bullskin Township


  Jeff Hann of Bullskin township in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, excitedly contacted me a while back. He became aware of an old rutted path from Quail Road heading in the direction of Spruce Hollow and Breakneck intersection in Fayette County, Pa. Mr. Hann works for Upper Tyrone township and as an auditor for Bullskin. He and his friend, Mick Lilley have hunted deer in the area for 20 years. One day, sitting up in his tree stand, he suddenly realized what he was looking at was more than a logging road.

A photo south of the Breakneck Spruce Hollow intersection
appr. latitude 40.061183, -79.521361 longitude

  To give a quick taste of what is to be apprised in this post, the above photo is likely a part of the route shown on the James Smith survey. In describing this photo, Jeff Hann states, "This one is interesting, as the road makes a hard turn at the point, and the hard bend is deeper than the straight part."

   I was very intrigued with this story. Soon I was convinced he had made genuine and meaningful finds there and had much justification in getting excited. We soon got in touch and compared information. He said he hunted along the region for 20 years. When he happened to access the February guest post on my blog, he realized that this was right smack where a short cut route of the TFR could be located. There is always satisfaction in helping point others toward deeper research.

 Point Of Order

    This article mostly documents a somewhat shorter, yet more level road discovered by Mr. Hann connecting the roundabout 1700's route, portions which were originally documented by Mr. Dietle. Among much other material, his book uses original surveys. As to this route that came to the Chestnut flat/Vought survey area from what was the Turkey Foot Road or path, much of which traversed what is known as Hawk Road, Mr. Dietle's book uses the James Smith survey to substantiate the part of Quail Hill Road and Breakneck Road as the route would cut north to the intersection of Spruce Hollow Road and Breakneck Road. He also relates that the Hezekiah Lindsey survey shows the Turkey Foot Road. Anyone that has information or traditions to add to our knowledge of the region, please relate what you know! We would be most appreciative.

   When Jeff related this find to me, my immediate instinct was, of course, to contact Lannie Dietle, the author of "In Search Of The Turkey Foot Road." The book is in its fourth edition and he has now updated his addendum to include Jeff's ridge line route, and a description of my shared route theory toward Walnut Hill where Bullskin township borders on Upper Tyrone. As he stated it, he was "stoked' over this find.

    To share with you some added insight into our research, I later wrote in an e-mail to him:

"Well, Jeff and I, and Mick Lilley, the school teacher, walked the old road this
afternoon. I advised him it would be best if he sent his
pics and what coordinates that can be estimated with
whatever pertinent info he has, directly to you. Especially,
considering he knows the area so well and the people there
and his sense of direction is better and more acute than
mine. His and Mick's photos are good quality and we
walked the whole thing. There are a few puzzling deviations
and parallel roadbeds in there. Possibly, the route became
too deep and rough and alternated the main road; we're
not at all positive of the cause. You can examine those. My
point would be that it looks good and much of it appears
genuine. This remnant passes through there in an impressive
beeline to the Spruce and Breakneck intersection. They had
to of had good experience with a compass. We didn't get
to the area around South Spruce,
  And in another e-mail I wrote to him, "Well, I do appreciate
the statement that the bulk of the Walnut Hill post
research looks solid. Your assessment mirrors mine too and
it's good to hear you found it interesting. What I added
east toward Rice School Road was mostly an estimated
conjecture to give a basic outline for the projected
routing; and obviously, the routes were subsequently
traveled in both directions. And you are spot on, that much
of this hinges on Veech's, Baker's and the Uniontown
Principal's theories and to exactly where and how they
originated...it is nice to be
able to block in anything with some degree of certainty that
will add a little to all your careful southeastern research
of the Turkey Foot Road and that of any of the Braddock Road
research. This intrigues me a lot with the appearance of
overlapping roads. It's odd too, that I didn't
previously expect to address much about the Braddock Road.
To be candid, I found this scenario surprising, enjoyable,
satisfying and addictive.

    The premise of this report is a combined determination from facts and observations of fresh research backed by Lannie Dietle's and his co-author, Mike McKenzie's original investigations. Some settlements along the route were made as early as the 1770's and others, for example, originating as late as 1804 and even more recent.

 Background of the Turkey Foot Road In Fayette County

  Early Days


    I made a promise in the last post not to continually repeat information for various and obvious reasons, at least in principle, so I will try to adhere to that to some extent. Do keep in mind, this historic, though largely unknown and forgotten road, was cut and cleared over quite a few years. This is already well documented with supplemental information from the early surveys as well as much local tradition. There were also different route variations, as there are with more modern roads. Let me be clear, this is not concerned with the Ohio Company routes that were connected to the Braddock Road.

     Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, the Glade Path or Pike from the east and what became Route 31, with Bouquet's route or Forbes' Road, the National Pike and Route 40, and the Ohio Company's and Braddock's roads, from the southeast; these were the first real roads in our historic region.

    With alternate routes and branches in key areas, there was what was called the Turkey Foot Road. The old route was most likely first cut and traveled by horse packers, and improved for wagons and coaches starting in the early days of the mid-1700's on through the 1780's, 1790's. When the Ohio Company got involved in intrepid pursuit of land and the control of trade with the Indians by road making in a parallel area, changes were made in the varying branches of the different roads. 

    The term originates from the appearance of a 'turkey foot' branching out from at Confluence, on the very border of Somerset County, basically from the south as the crow flies. The Laurel Hill Creek, Casselman river and the Youghiogheny river flow through this old place known for its Indians and the Sloane Ford. (You will find a few photos I provided in Mr. Dietle's DVD, included with his book).

   A northern route we are most concerned about here, was once cut and cleared in the 1790's by Colonel Providence Mounts and Colonel Clinton. This came by way of special orders of Nathaniel Greene on advice from the Commander In Chief, George Washington. Consequently, there are clear Revolutionary War era historical connections. Mounts lived at one time in the location that soon was to become Connellsville at White's Run, which was once a part of Bullskin Township.

   So, understand, this route was begun in Cumberland, Maryland by the militia and cut to Fort Pitt at what became the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Avoidance of the Youghiogheny crossings of the probably, deteriorating Braddock, (or we could say 'Washington's'), Road, would be a main advantage of the Turkey Foot Path and plus being shorter with better forage. It was used early by pack horses and by traders with some stretches used early by the Indians. Passing through and leaving Somerset and Turkey Foot and arriving near Fayette County at Confluence which was one of the earliest known settlements to the west, it crossed Laurel Hill to Mill Run, near Indian Creek and traversing the Chestnut Ridge, proceeded past Saltlick township into Bullskin. This is according to Dr. Paul Wallace in his 1965 book, "The Indian Paths Of Pennsylvania", with his association with guide Jack Pyle. By the way, I have that one and recently acquired the companion book, "The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylvania."

    With more evidence we believe is herein provided, the Turkey Foot Road passed through this part of the  Bullskin area of Fayette County, with some minor variations, through Hawk Road to Quail Hill and past the Spruce Hollow area and on toward the Shenandoah Road. Keep in mind, road names are relatively new to the times we are discussing. There was a possible connecting route with bearings from the Chestnut Ridge area to Connellsville. It is referred to in the Cornelius Woodruff's 1788 survey, Zachariah Connell's 1794 survey, and Thomas Meason's 1795 property survey. This could be grounds for more fruitful future research.

   We do know Judge Veech claimed the road was said to cross Mount's Creek further north at the Kithcart/Hemminger/Spaugy Mill at Wooddale and on to "about a mile below the chain bridge" at what became the hamlet of Iron Bridge. There, at a location not far from what is today Dexter Road, the route crossed Jacob's Creek and on into Westmoreland County. From there north and west somewhere between Mt. Pleasant and Sewickley Creek the Turkey Foot route met up with the Braddock Road.

   As settlers began moving in along this path, there came local traffic through drovers, wagoners for the fur trade, supplies. farm goods, produce and various types of millers, and farmers. And soon came the mail coaches. Some parts of the route became associated with and used by the back roads we see today in our rural regions.

    Eventually, some routes were deviated from, abandoned and sometimes reused, by farmers and by  loggers and the mining industry, making it more difficult to sort out the genuine article. This brief outline should serve for a better appreciation of this specific find. Since I have previous articles referring to the route of the Turkey Foot Road, and am working on various articles at one time, for now, I must of necessity simply give proper links to those and other websites for more of the background material.

    As a brief relation, I have personally taken the supposition that it crossed at, or very near to the cut stone bridge I surprisingly located a while back. From there conjecturing that the road passed through where the Monongahela Railroad crossed into East Huntingdon to where the old Southwest and Scottdale Branch of the Pennsylvania tracks ran to the west of Iron Bridge and the Y pond. There is a distinct consideration the path was followed by these tracks on toward Morewood to the west of the Mt. Pleasant community. Possibly, a variation ran near to what is called old Route 119 and toward Central outside of Tarrs.Unfortunately, much of this evidence may be irrevocably lost to us.

  Some Associated Links

    Here is the "Turkey Foot Road" guest blog of Lannie Dietle. He notes citations to the Smith survey on page 477 of his book.

    This is a VERY fresh link to my newest post about "A Very Old Bridge" with information about the key area where the Turkey Foot Road should cross Jacob's Creek at Dexter at the border of Upper Tyrone and East Huntingdon townships of Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

    Here is a link to my recent article on "The Braddock And Turkey Foot Roads"; and everyone can check out the  "Lost Cemetery On The Braddock Road", also recently posted!

   This is an early 1900's topographical map with added animation to help with a perspective of the the route Jeff originally found and the route north of the intersection later covered by Mr. Hann, Mr. Dietle and Mr. Wilson: 

  This is a click-able schematic map of Jeff's route superimposed on  the modern area. Certainly, saving me some work, this was made out by Mr. Dietle showing the 1794 survey route and the route Jeff Hann discovered for comparison:

The yellow lines are from the old surveys. Jeff Hann's route is in red

  For what it is worth, there has been speculation by Jeff Hann and myself as to whether this could be an older route unrelated on the James Smith survey, or if this is actually a later short cut, though apparently common sense alone would ascribe the 1794 route as the earlier.

   As Lannie Dietle and Mike McKenzie recognized and related on page 349 of their book, when "people claimed land or settled along the Turkey Foot Path or road, they might of used the road as a property boundary, or alternatively may have placed the road at the property boundary." This is a key place to look for added confirmation.

A Walk In Bullskin With Jeff Hann and Mick Lilley

  This exclusive segment is restricted to the area to the south of the Spruce Hollow and Breakneck Road intersection.

  I headed up there some time later on a Sunday and walked the whole road, logging roads crisscrossing, and with parallel remnants included. Jeff took photos with his Nikon and I, as well, with my 'less expensive' Sony cam.

  Here you will see the fascinating photos Jeff took and the story of the finding of the road. Some photos are in the 'panorama' format and very large and clear. I had to crop and adjust these to better fit the Blogger format, but they are breathtaking in full.

  The downhill westward facing photo below shows Mick Lilley on the old road. Mr. Lilley is commendably teaching of this route to his class at the local elementary school. This was taken southeast of Breakneck Road further near the top of Quail Hill. 

Turkey Foot Road remnant with Mick Lilley

    Mick Lilley is a Social Studies school teacher for sixth grade students at the Bullskin Township Elementary School and owns a part of the Chestnut Flat region where the road bed is located. Jeff and Mick are friends and hunting companions. Jeff has hunted deer in this region for years. Mick's wife of 12 years is Natalie (Myers) Lilley, originally from Normal, Illinois, and he has 3 children; an 8 year old daughter, Ryann, and 2 sons, Luke 6, and Jake 5. They live on Quail Hill Road.

    In Jeff Hann's own words, "One day I'm sitting in my tree stand deer hunting, looking down at the old road when it struck me that this was no logging road. Mick and I discussed it and decided it must be the Turkey Foot Road." This is a good hunch and a serious candidate.


Roughly midway between Quail Hill and Breakneck Road

      Next up, according to Jeff, this is the visible end of the road as it comes out near the present Jay, (Jack), Shultz property looking north. Coordinates are approximately, 40 degrees 03'44.30, -79 degrees 31'21.93. Basic Latitude and longitude are in the photo caption.The start of the climb up the Chestnut Ridge, (from Breakneck), the rut here is two feet deep as seen in the left side of the photo.

According to Jeff, the GPS coordinates here would be
 latitude 40.062306, -79.522758 longitude

     This is a panoramic photo toward the intersection of Spruce Hollow and Breakneck roads. You can spot the area of the fields to the far right hand side. You will need to click the photo for a better perspective. The sunken road to the left is about two feet deep here.

      Here we have another example of the split route and this photo is taken by Jeff Hann further down toward the Spruce and Breakneck road crossing. Approximate coordinates are 40.061183, -79.521361. This could be an area for lighter baggage or horses to pass, or as the route became deeper and more damp and rutted, and the alternate road was built to compensate.

One fourth the way up Chestnut Ridge the rut splits, perhaps for a detour or passing zone.

    In Jeff Hann's words, this is looking southeast, about a quarter of the way up Chestnut Ridge.  The rut being about four feet deep. The road seems to split right here, but comes back together 50 yards further up the hill. Jeff states, "my reasoning would be there was probably a rough spot in the road here causing them to move over onto new ground."

Mick Lilley and Alan Wilson. Photo courtesy of Jeff Hann.

   A photo of Jeff Hann and his wife, Amy:

Jeff Hann, the discoverer of the variant
route of the 'TFR' with his wife, Amy.

     Since I had a camera along on our first journey, here a few extra photos to help flesh out various aspects of the roadbed:

A deep part of the sunken roadbed east of
Breakneck near  40 03'17.60" n  79 30'26.32.


Jeff Hann up Quail Hill on the TFR roadbed he discovered.

A more southern region of the old trace looking south
toward the Quail Hill Road.

Looking northerly toward the Spruce and
Breakneck intersection to the right.

   On the above photo, the house to the right near Shultz Lane is approximately at 40 03'50.71 n  79 31'24.46" w. Jeff Hann's route and the Smith survey route may of used the same roadbed through this location, and it is also indicated here to of joined southeast of the intersection beyond the house to the right. Jeff and Lannie both have noted traces from online maps and satellite photos.

     Below is a crop of the old Smith land surveys in this region. Specifically, your attention should be drawn to the James Smith survey mentioned further above in this article, as it contains a route of the Turkey Foot Road. There was an abandoned farm in the region that would appear to be connected to the TFR route. It leaves this property at roughly latitude 40.067423°, longitude -79.524547° :


     On November 29,after receiving phone calls from Lannie Dielte, Mr. Hann invited us to travel the Bullskin region with him in his Sierra. Say no more, we were on our way to a unique experience.

    Here on a search for Turkey Foot Road continuations to the north, Jeff and I had the accompaniment of Mr. Dielte.

   The Investigation North Of Shenandoah Road

    First we attempted to locate traces near Shenandoah and Gault School Roads but met with little success. There was less in the way of clear connections to go on.

    Below we observe a part of the somewhat questionable north draw route past the fence looking south. I believe this is at Butler's:

fenced area of a steep candidate for the TFR
toward the Londonderry Lane

    This is a photo of Jeff's looking downhill toward the north draw. This may be an unlikely location for the Turkey Foot Road and though it is steep and fairly straight, one of the only known possible related candidates for a variation of the Turkey Foot Road at this time. For this reason it had to be checked out thoroughly.

A variation or alternative route  of the draw
not far from the Gault School Road

the west draw near Gault School Road
 The above photo is of the steep area to the south of the old fenced road long possibly connected to the old Detwieler property looking south, of Jeff's grandfather's, (Eugene Butler), property NW of the Londonderry lane when it was last used as such in the mid to late 1930's. This photo taken by Jeff Hann when we had Lannie Dielte accompanying us for this woodland journey. The grade appears steep, but it is not too steep a terrain for wagons, according to Lannie Dietle, who has much experience between his grandfather's farm and various hilly routes of the Turkey Foot Road. The origin is not properly known.

     Mr. Dietle recently wrote to me in an e-mail:

     "The place where the 1794 route exits the north side of the James Smith survey is on the west side of the ridge, and a 1939 aerial photo shows a road entering the field from exactly that exit point and going to the now abandoned farmstead on the west side of the ridge. Based on these two matching facts, I think that the 1794 route of the TFR followed the west side of the ridge. I don't know where it crossed Shenandoah Road, but it might have been the sunken road at David Butler's. If that is where it crossed, it might have used the west draw that we walked, but the road we walked up the draw has been worked over by modern machinery and there's no way to tell if it's the route."

     Click on these photos to see a closer view of the Butler deed. It might be worth reading :

The Butler deed


   As intimated above, as this segment of the investigation ran on, and leads were followed, it was decided there was, as of yet, no definitive conclusions for evidence of the route at Shenandoah Road and further north. There is always a possibility the route, or a variation, descended to the Pleasant Valley Country Club area.

   Documenting A Route Toward Shenandoah Road

    Below is a highlighted overhead Yahoo maps photo of this curved, heavily used variation of the Turkey Foot Road discovered further north of Spruce Hollow Road:

From Jeff Hann's Verizon phone application

    We sauntered north of Shenandoah Road through very rocky fields on to the north draw area; checked out Hawk Road to the south and as Jeff is so familiar with his 'neighbors' and works with these townships, it was a great advantage. Later, we got the chance to talk to Matt Shultz just north of the Spruce Hollow and Breakneck Road intersection. We would still like the opportunity to talk to his father and hear of more traditions of this region. Matt promptly informed us, YES, indeed there is an old road behind the house! A red letter day for extenuating advancement of our cause.

    Off we went at a fairly brisk pace, climbing hills and ducking through undergrowth, stretching over logs, mud congealing to our shoes. Wonderful stuff. This was a such a gain for our knowledge base, I can tell you, and another reason for thanksgiving! You might imagine the smiles on our faces in between ducking the thorn bushes. We quickly realized the strength of the case had grown considerably that the TFR extended north with this route. We were surprised to find the road so high up and close to Breakneck Road itself when we would of considered it nearer to the more northerly ridge.

    Below, is the early stage of the route of the area to the north past the Spruce Hollow and Breakneck intersection of the Shultz property that without going into too much detailed explanation, matches up quite well with the southerly sunken roadbed route documented earlier:

entering the road location at the Shultz property

   Below is a photo Jeff took from the Shultz home back from the area of the above photo connecting up to the southern route. You can see the Spruce Hollow Road on the left side of the home and Breakneck Road heading out to meet up with the Quail Hill Road in a general southwest direction:

Just north of the Shultz property, coordinates are approximately
40.064994°,  -79.523871°

Shultz Lane area along the route of the
James Smith Survey,courtesy of Yahoo maps.

        An Ancestral Niche

     The GPS coordinates for the old Frank Wilson store, (a great uncle of mine), near the intersection of Breakneck and Quail Hill Road, are at approximately 40 03'06.25 n. 79 31'36.58" w. He discontinued his business in 1971 and passed on a few years later. It certainly has the appearance of a well made stone structure:

My great uncle Frank Wilson's old store was on the first floor
   It wouldn't hurt to relate, Histbuffer, (Alan Wilson), is proud of having an extensive ancestral background surrounding the area, though I am temporarily deviating from the main purpose of the post.

   This includes various relatives, most who knew each other of the different branches. My g, g, grandfather, James Wilson, who lived south on Shenandoah Road; g, grandfather Shed Wilson, who lived across from Mt. Olive United Brethren church; a g. grandfather and g, grandmother John and Tullie Bowser; two g, grandmothers, Mary Wilson, Louisa Grim, and g, g, (etc.), grandfathers like Amzi Miner, a slew of John Miner's, (or Minor), and George Hatfield's who lived on Spruce Hollow Road, the northern segment; and Adam Hatfield himself. As far as I could discover, he appears to of ended up in the Ohio country, but may of also moved on from there. More on this at another time on another post. Just to add a few highlighted maps of my relatives here, folks might sympathize when I fess up to a small degree of bias. As Lannie Dietle is surely extremely well aware of on a personal level these discoveries become that much more insightful. They do so here for me. Comparatively, for Jeff Hann and Mick Lilley also, and are gravy on the potatoes:



The Researchers

    Here are a few photos taken after our miles of field research and a special trip over to the Normalville area and Mill Run with extra meaningful commentary by the indefatigable expert, Lannie Dietle, who was able to take some precious time out from the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in Annapolis, Maryland and coming into our region from visiting in Pittsburgh:

Colleague Jeff Hann with Mr. Dietle to the right.

Author Lannie Dietle here with Histbuffer.

    Ever ready to offer some guidance, as Lannie himself stated his feelings toward this article in an e-mail, "As the TFR book indicates, I had high hopes that the book would serve as a catalyst that inspires local research by individuals who are more familiar with the area than I will ever be. I thank you both for your on the ground research, and look forward to reading about it, and seeing pictures on Al's blog. If you need any editing assistance on this blog topic, don't hesitate to ask." 


     It is not definitively known at what period the Turkey Foot Road was cleared and used beyond the 1779 and 1794 references, but the depth of the sunken road and the points it connects with the fact that there are passing areas or route variations of alternate sections of road along the route, lays much groundwork to the theory that it was used heavily as a through road. It may have served mining and logging activities at various times during its long period of use, as many old abandoned roads were from time to time. The fact that the Quail Hill region of the road appears to be a through route strongly suggests that it did not begin as a mine or logging road.

   With the added discovery of the Turkey Foot Road to the continuing route to the south, Lannie Dietle and I, along with Jeff Hann, are that much more certain we are dealing with the real thing. We who have studied it, based on its location and condition are convinced that it was a variation or route of the Turkey Foot Road that may have been developed after the 1794 route that is shown on surveys above, and there is a remote possibility, even before that. The exact timing of this route is not specifically known for absolutely certain. We are happy to of been a part of this new and insightful addition to the road's whereabouts.

    Importantly, the ridge route identified by Mr Hann is a superior through route, compared to the 1794 one shown on the Smith surveys. Shorter and with less grade.

    Jeff Hann theorizes that the north draw from the southern Londonderry Lane with it's variation is a possible, though steep continuance of this route, but considers a route that would deviate to the E. Keefer area that would include that road from there on to the Wooddale mill as a more appropriate alternate route. He is furthering his search into areas to the north and south and expanding his travels through these places to find more evidence of the Turkey Foot Road and it's variations near Bullskin and we heartily wish him much good luck in this quest. There is also a distinct possibility the Turkey Foot Road headed through the Spruce Run Valley near to the Pleasant Valley Country Club and what use to be the Hatfield Mill area and bearing on what became the Medsger Road north of Rt. 982. This is conjecture until some evidence presents itself through further investigation.
    Matt Shultz referred to a tradition of some stagecoach place nearby, and there was a schoolhouse across Breakneck falling to ruin when I was a teenager. The Firestone place further west on Breakneck Rd. has a local tradition of being an old stagecoach/tavern stop also. An old map, though I haven't yet gotten the date posted for you, shows what appears to be 'Gut's', or 'Guzzy's' tavern on the Gault School Road. This allows for some credence to the early activity there in Bullskin.

    On the southern route variation from the James Smith survey, the idea that the usage had shifted more to the shorter route should be taken under consideration. Jeff Hann's alignments to the south appear to be in general harmony with those to the north.

    In certain key areas, I may, or may not, differ from my colleagues in factoring in circumstantial evidence and to what degree this is pertinent. Once varying amounts of research evidence is accumulated, one must decide how precisely this provides additional information into the equation over all and to what extent that is readily acceptable. Under ideal conditions it is always best to correlate the highest documentation possible, but when this is often severely lacking, one needs to reevaluate everything with much caution, yet gather it into a reasonable foci to substantiate the essence of what is most relative to the potential level of decision making. Thus, making the pronouncement this is in in the realm of the circumstantial, but may correlate well to the facts in a given situation, not necessarily the only answer to be found thereby. In other words, basically leaving nothing out in the explanatory process, allowing for different levels of importance. When there is less to go on, one might have to rely more heavily, for better or worse, on what clues that do exist and attempt to interpret the evidence as best as is deemed possible.

    It is hoped that this article goes a fair way to enhancing knowledge of the Turkey Foot Road in this piece of Fayette County as we relate the establishment of these recent discoveries and do some justice to the research of those directly involved.

   Be sure to check back soon for a further update with more research by Jeff Hann of the Turkey Foot Road route south of Quail Hill. This will involve the Hawk Road path he has discovered!

   A special hello goes out to Mr. Lilley's sixth grade class and all the kids at the Bullskin Elementary School at 125 Pleasant Valley Road!

 If anyone has additional information, please contact us. Thank you.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Necessary Delay

    I need to check in to give a brief explanation that a new post is due, but unfortunately, it isn't completely ready for prime time.

   More information has to be included and is only now becoming available, so the delay is a necessity. There is a newspaper inquiry involving fellow researchers that I may be required to participate in around the ninth of December concerning Jeff Hann's discoveries and possibly other material, and for this reason this  post will need to be made before any other by that date. I do apologize to the inconvenience to readers and visitors to the site.

   Now for the bright side: what is forthcoming will be enlightening with substantial and quality information. Don't worry, I will only be willing to take so long and then will publish what I have. So, we will have a new post right around the bend. I will also plan to add more posts this month.

    See you soon,

    ~  Histbuffer


Thursday, November 20, 2014

NEWSFLASH: A Very Old Bridge Just Discovered!!!


  Hello, history buffs! YES, a Newsflash is a fair description what is being related below.

  I confess to resembling a bulldog, but only in habit. On the trail, sniffing away, chasing things around. When I am on the scent of unique significant items, there is no let up, hardly time to eat or sleep. And this time, ladies and gentlemen, I struck pay dirt!

A photo of the fallen dressed stones from Jacob's Creek

   Scroll down to see the many photos I captured here near Dexter.

  Not long ago, I made a unique discovery! Just how important over all, remains to be decided. Maybe it's the hand of fate, or I simply got lucky. I do not claim to be knowledgeable on every aspect of the subject, but a very excited amateur historian who happens to run a regional history website. This is a fairly sudden experience, and was hurriedly undertaken, as I desire for my visitors to learn of this remarkable structure first! This is the type of object that has the adrenaline pumping. You will want to read on and understand this for yourselves.

   Coincidentally, I was exploring this area for an upcoming post on Kingview, and the Stauffer family. Now that must wait on a back burner. A similar post was being created in preparation for the West Overton area and the Overholts and H. C. Frick. Having so many irons in the fire proves one thing- I am keeping busy! Further information  constituting the exact meaning of what was found at this place might yet become available as extenuating research, and will be added as need be. I have been deeply concerned with the task of other important posts lately and working much overtime on the job. This is a bit rushed. Any noticeable errors will soon be promptly corrected, warts and all.

   Whether this was a definite extension of the Turkey Foot Road, hopefully, time will tell, though it appears there is some evidence provided by Jeff Hann that there might of been a R x R spur from the PA railroad to the north running to the south and the Monongehala R x R ran through the area. This is almost precisely where the 'elevated road' is located. The difficulty arises that this is also where it is conjectured the Turkey Foot Road extended into East Huntingdon in Westmoreland County, on its course to Mount Pleasant. This would make gathering further evidence difficult.

    It has also been brought to my attention that this old bridge and elevated path might be considered to be only the old road to McClure and the Diamond Mines, down from the Dexter Mines, and probably nothing more. I relish the chance to put this to rest, and it is constructive for this post that the issue was raised.

     The McClure road led to the trolley station to the north of Jacob's Creek, where I have photos of the remnants of a very different type of bridge that crossed Jacob's Creek, made of concrete on the Iron Bridge article, "The Meeting Of The Townships", and some mentally sharp old timers made recent claims that it was used to go to catch the trolley, or street car there. (The names can be provided, if necessary). I haven't located a definitive map that includes this stone bridge near Dexter. Therefore, I  entertain some doubts of any such theory.

    The stone blocks of this bridge, some of which appear roughly cut, do strengthen the case of it's vintage age. And I have observed the McClure bridge on one map, and as the McClure bridge was clearly still in existence at least by 1939, the year the overhead black and white photo was taken, and, I believe this is on later photos, but must check to be sure. Lastly, these people are in their 80's, so the recollections do substantiate the placement, direction and use of that road and compliments my contrasting view by the age of the photo of the McClure bridge.

     Below is a schematic representation of the above statement (click to enlarge):

McClure road and the street car tracks from a 1902 map

 Basic Background and Orientation

   A little background is certainly in order. The Glade Path, or Pike from the east and what became Route 31, with Bouquet's route or Forbes' Road; The National Pike and aligning with much of Route 40; and the Ohio Company's and Braddock's roads, from the southeast were the first roads in our region beyond the confines of the Indian paths.

    With alternate route and branches in key areas, there was also what was termed. the Turkey Foot Road. Now, this was first cut and travelled, most likely by horse packers and traders, and then slowly improved for wagons and coaches starting in the early days of the mid-1700's on through the 1780's, 90's, and as the Ohio Company got involved in intrepid pursuit of road making in a parallel area, changes were made in the branches and routes varying here and there. The term originates from the appearance of a 'turkey foot' at Confluence, on the very border of Somerset County, basically from the south as the crow flies. The Laurel Hill Creek, Casselman River and the Youghiogheny flow through this old place known for it's Indians and the Sloane Ford. (You will find a few photos of this at Confluence I provided in Mr. Dietle's excellent DVD that is included with his book).

   These approximate directions can only be applied as spokes from the general border region of Westmoreland and Fayette counties. Of course, when observing a map from other places and states, you will adjust your position, accordingly.

  Granted, there are more early traditions that survived connected with the Turkey Foot Road due southeast toward Somerset County, with evidence of early Indian trails that were slowly cut and used by the white man for pack horses and eventually cleared for wagon routes.

   More knowledge has also survived concerning many of the Indian and trader towns further north near Pittsburgh and to the north and east toward the Susquehanna, Genesee area, Bedford and Lancaster. Much has been documented in Maryland, near particular and conspicuous places. This is a relatively neglected area in Fayette County; economically and to an extent, historically. There is some reason to conclude this road system was abandoned early with the creation of the 'chain bridge' on what is termed "old Rt. 119". Less tradition remains here compared to the more rural places like Jones Mill and Mill Run, etc., where the Springfield Pike, once known as the Clay or Mud Pike, was one of the main thoroughfares off the mountain to Connellsville.

    As I have been presenting here for a year, Westmoreland, as well as Fayette, have a rich past as proud and influential as most any in the nation, bordering on the gateway to the Northwest generally, and the Ohio Valley more specifically. More investigation is needed to dig down to deeper layers, and this endeavor is worth every effort. The hunting ground of the Seneca and the watery routes to the Mississippi River. A land of boundary disputes, fueled with Scotch moonshine and tempered with the admiring land surveys and excursions of our first President, no less. All this and surrounded by great states as well, Virginia, New York, the mounds of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland.

1939 overhead photo containing location of structure near Dexter

    It appears likely that a R x R track once ran through the area of the elevated road.

    There is a fair amount of railroad and coke oven historical knowledge available in our region, to the degree that this hasn't been examined as heavily on this site. That may change in time, but I do concentrate on the oldest material I can reach when this appears pertinent. I feel that is partly the case in this situation.

  Recent Posts With LINKS About This Subject

    Instead of unnecessarily repeating myself with material from former posts, (SEO and Google can be a bit unforgiving for doing just that), I will gladly link you up with further information. Visitors will be well advised to check the February guest blog post of the author of "In Search Of The Turkey Foot Road", Lannie Dietle. I have had the privilege to collaborate with him. So much the better, in fact, for here is an exclusive interview on this very website that I also conducted with Mr. Dietle in September. This would be a good start for those who want to learn more of this subject. His website is referred to on these posts as well.

   ALSO, when you can, please check the post I uploaded on October 20, "The Braddock and Turkey Foot Roads", and from October 7, "The Lost Cemetery On The Braddock Road." These two articles will help clue you in for a broader scope of background information leading up to this post. Having said that, I don't envisage myself as any kind of expert on the Braddock and Turkey Foot Roads. Rather, my research encompasses and associates freely to the extent when it is encountered.

    I have made mention recently of this older layer of history. Forgive me if I make any repeated statements again, I'll try not to continually do so in the future, but it is hard to completely avoid. Over the months of combing old and newer books and recent research and such, looking in dim realms catching snatches of this or that, I learned more of many things, branching out into the very paths of comparative history, literal and figurative, to the very places often described here. So, from a minor chronicler of regional hamlets and musty archives, I felt myself transformed into a bit of an Indiana Jones for a day. This was accomplished simply by digging around Jacob's Creek for a few hundred yards. I would add this area near to East Huntingdon was not posted when the photos were taken.

overhead image of the region, courtesy of Google maps

Research and Synopsis

     I want to include a look at the old warrantee surveys for this region of Upper Tyrone township:


    Frankly, I never dreamed of bing enabled to make a valuable contibution to the region. One subject earnestly delved into between blog posts, would be humbly, and sometimes closely, studying those that have been there with a broader brush and larger canvas while maintaining a semiautonomous position. Lannie Dietle comes swiftly to mind as the most recent of a long brilliant line, especially when we are talking of precise details and disciplined scholarship. He and his team's excellent and laborious work on this fascinating subject helped guide my instincts on one side, as time went on. I also felt curiosity toward the details of the historical underpinnings of the Braddock Road. The specific function and course have been plotted out in the past in many areas already.

   At the same time, I will be quick to point out, I make a habit not to limit my curiosity because of other influences. Independence can be a lonely thing. One advantage it holds is in keeping a clarity of self reliance necessary to form your own opinions and stand on your own two feet. For instance, I've included recent articles on the Braddock and Turkey Foot Road in October on the website where I struck off on my own a bit. Maybe I am sticking my neck out here farther than is usual.

  Admittedly, my main venue of research had naturally enough retained it's focus on the Westmoreland and Fayette County corridors and townships of this region's great addition to those days of awesome power struggles and stories of the French and Indian War, Pontiac's Rebellion, the Revolutionary days and the Whiskey Insurrection, to the coal and coke days, the railroads and into the 20th Century, and beyond. A natural progression. Nearby, were the expeditions of Trent and Burd, a glimmer of the presence of Daniel Boone; explorations and missions of a young George Washington. On my website are included some of my own ancestral material that is meaningful as it relates to certain aspects of local areas. I will be updating this in upcoming months.

  On the northerly route where the Turkey Foot Road crossed over the Chestnut Ridge, we find less to go on, only in old deeds and vague traces do we find a hint of the path. Nonetheless, we know from Washington's journals and many tidbits of historically significant and valuable writings that the roadways were much built and improved with military guidance with the trader and settler activity.

   Providence Mounts, of whom Mount's Creek was named, was one of the main protagonists associated with the northern branch of this "TFR". He and his name sake lived at Connellsville, in what once Bullskin Township, before the family traveled on and into the Kentucky territory of Daniel Boone and other early pioneers. During the Revolutionary War era he was given charge in this lengthy process by orders of Colonel Morgan, passed down the chain of command from General Nathaniel Greene, as advised by no other than George Washington. So he did much to develop one of the original roads in this broad region of rivers, swamps and mountains. A truly amazing achievement. This led to the successful northern campaigns of Brodhead and Sullivan against the British and Indians. It began at Cumberland as a military supply route, traversing parts of Maryland generally to the northwest and heading northerly into Somerset County and northwest to Fayette County of the State of Pennsylvania, in some ways rivaling the Braddock, or Washington Road and Bouquet's more northerly route of Forbes' Road. The route came through the mountains to Mill Run and Normalville and entering Wooddale via Hawk and Quail antecedents to the northwest. It ended at what was then, Fort Pitt. This road was much used by settlers to these counties, at least until the early years of the nineteenth century when with congressional approval, the National Road was put into effect and created. With the creation of the railroads, these thoroughfares took a back seat for many years until the days of the automobile. The bustling stage coach and wagon stands and noisy taverns saw little traffic and were slowly closed down.

  True, there are a few people of particular importance that weren't immediately filled in on this post. To you, I'm sorry this find had to be sprung it on you in this way. For better or worse, this was certainly meant as a surprise and called for a quick release. I personally am partial to surprises and this is an early Christmas gift!

  Again, the structural photos and location are released publicly because I received such swift responses for the request of experts in the field from The Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission. They have a great site with the state archives and early documents. Also the Fayette County Historical Society. The involvement from those interested parties can be crucial to advancing this research. This is their pony show, and their due, if only they take advantage of it.

    I can surely use all the support I can muster. This is your history folks, and your region!

   Those of you who desire to become more directly a part of this fascinating find by sharing your own interest in this research, by all means, do pass on your stories and local knowledge by writing the above organizations in charge of the history of the state of Pennsylvania. Anyone with more info of this location can also leave a comment here, or you can e-mail me, (you'll find both contact forms below).

Directions And A Hint Of Another Post Soon To Come

  The location of this old structure can be reached from Mt. Pleasant easiest by exiting US Rt. 119 south at the Scottdale exit, turning right on 819, and after a mile, make a left at West Overton on Overton Drive. After passing a stop sign you will cross the old street car track and come to Dexter bridge and the PA railroad with the old saw mill to the right. It is to the left down Jacob's Creek and the tracks for about 100 yards. It is 6.4 miles from Connellsville where from Rt. 119 north, you will take the next exit past the Everson exit to the left at the stop light, up Walnut Hill and down into the Kingview valley, making the next right to Dexter Road. This will lead you to the train tracks and the location is to the right after traversing a small steep hill. The basic coordinates adjusted for online searches are 40.106458, -79.570136.

   With the recent work of Jeff Hann of Bullskin on the area of the TFR up near Quail HIll Road toward the intersection of Spruce Hollow Road and Breakneck Road in Bullskin Township, I too, had the opportunity to walk an historic branch that is surely closely connected with the Turkey Foot Road. Mr. Hann was responsible for bringing this find into the realm of documentation and making contact with the website by e-mail.

    Truly his contribution is such a bonus. And with guidance lent from Lannie Dietle, (who is including the information as an addendum to the fourth edition of his book), will very soon be covered in detail on this website. and hopefully, elsewhere.

    Over the mountains this road was cut from the Normalville area to Hawk Road and on toward the Quail Hill Road area where you find Shultz Lane near the old Smith surveys. Here where there appear to be traces and evidence od the roadbeds were recently visibly discovered, the basic road is estimated from the year 1794. Running on to Shenandoah Road, where my great, great grandfather happened to place his residence, theoretically, it moved through the hilly draw toward the Gault School Road to where the old trace had crossed Mount's Creek at what last went by the moniker of Spaugy's Milll as was the old road name there near where my grandfather lived. The oldest name for this mill was Cathcart's. From there the Turkey Foot Road  meandered on a course to Jacob's Creek, bypassing the Braddock Road to the northeast, yet crossing it for an apparently easier, dryer route and on toward the north and the Mount Pleasant area. This specific research would hardly of been possible without the knowledge given previously of, "In Search Of The Turkey Foot Road' to prod me to make my find a reality.

    I began this specific search while finding extra hours to check this out and the more interesting this became. Here on the borders of these townships, a part of another road that vanished that once traveled down Walnut Hill from the south, and yet another road, wending it's mysterious way up Walnut Hill from the east. This is where I concluded one would of crossed the other before meeting up later. Traditionally, the Turkey Foot Road headed into Westmoreland County on a different route. From a 1939 survey of black and white photos and consulting old maps, there is some substantial traditions on the edge of what was Tyrone township. From the south near Everson and the Bullskin, Upper Tyrone township line, arriving from the Wooddale area, the two routes meet. Here, in what is now such a hamlet that is deceptively normal, was a secret piece of the Braddock Road, and a very likely route of the Turkey Foot Road.

 Fieldwork With A Caution

  So, thank God, I decided to walk through the bramble and thorns of centuries. A player, and no longer just an observer. Taking a closer look at this surprising region of the deep Connellsville Coal Fields, with it's multi-layered historical tapestry marred by much of the very subject it was an historical part of. Too much history! Imagine the irony. To the point that anything beyond the train tracks and strip mines is difficult, nay, practically impossible to fathom.

   Here I believe I got lucky, and at the same time, downright nosy. Impetuously, I simply determined to search out what I could with little thought of what waited hidden. With this discovery, or possibly, re-discovery, though it would be an unpopular decision, I was adamant to not IMMEDIATELY divulge all the details of the exact location UNTIL proper authorities were informed and brought to the knowledge of it. That was the position taken.

   The above is adjusted slightly from what I wrote a few days ago, before gaining some assurances from the proper authorities this will, indeed, be investigated further. As I am satisfied to of gained more interest, I am happy to get this off my chest in revealing the whereabouts of this old stone bridge and wall remnant that lurked under our very feet all along. So very close, but buried for many years. Neglected, lost and unacknowledged.

Here is a cropped 1902 topographical map of the region:


      As much as could be ascertained, the old bridge was languishing, completely forgotten, as if caught in a time warp, and had never existed. Though there was some cut stone work in the late 1800's, and depression era, such as the Cunningham bridge remnants near Creek Hills that had concrete abutments, and obvious stone block supports on BOTH sides of Jacob's Creek, this structure certainly has little appearance of modernization connected with it's origins. The angle of the projected crossing is somewhat unique as well. The fording area has a similarity to the Sloan Ford crossing at Confluence in my opinion. But, as I stated, this requires more careful verification, and possibly, excavation.

      So I stepped toward legend and found a bridge to the past. Literally.


A view of the stone blocks from the northern,Westmoreland side of Jacob's Creek

Close up of a frontal view of the partially cleared, roughly cut stone blocks

      Do you see any hint of mortar or concrete? I do not.

  A Few Speculations

    From our way of peceiving what is valuable, this is better than gold or silver. The old saying is appropriate here, "I was in the right place at the right time."

    This does give you folks a good idea of what might well be right around the bend, and ,as often stated, 'down the road.' Who knows what else can be found? So, keep your eyes wide open and when something looks old and neglected in your neighborhood do try to check it out. The ideas that ran quickly through my head. DO you want to be privy to  my thoughts? I wondered if my parents guided me to this place to finalize a category of old history that had entranced and obsessed me to no end for months and months. Ask anyone that knows me personally at how consumed I was with the varying levels of our local history, and they would be sure to confirm this is no exaggeration. Or, this was simply facilitated by a chance encounter on a small excursion, and that was that. The mysterious moving of what we call chance, fate and luck do occasionally give a more than casual entrance into and out of our lives from a rarefied viewpoint. Regardless of these random musings, I am satisfied in the sense that my late night readings with old books off and on for the archaic space of forty years and collaborative involvement with others of like mind, with the aim of this fairly new website, led indirectly to this investigation.

view of old road and bridge stones from the southeast Fayette side
      I ask, does this have the appearance of a railroad spur? No mortar or concrete here. You can decide.

     One thing I can relate with some confidence, concerns Mr. Rob Doolittle of the CSX in Fayette County, who informed me, in response to my inquiries on the subject, that he has no evidence of B&O involvement with this structure from the property department archives. That research is highly appreciated.

    What Is Here Documented:

     Much might be conjectured and realized over time about the usages of our Jacob's Creek site. What we can document with alacrity and assurance is this: an old partially crumbling, stone bridge exists at the location. The noticeable crossing alignment. The fording area without a hint of stonework. The relatively small size of the blocks used. The lack of observable pylons or stumps as in other places near here. The interfering elements of railroads and mining operations, saw mills and coke ovens. The tight fitting stone wall. The elevated road, possibly from the West Overton area, but likely from the 'Mon' railroad which somehow passed through parts of what contained swampy places. Quite a feat of engineering. And the absence of mortar. It should only require stating this once, all will agree, what the bridge and wall unquestionably are not, are hypotheses, theories, or probabilities. Whatever their exact interpretation in the historical record, they are there to ponder.

A photo of the  stone wall from the east

      Old Historians

      As was prominently claimed for this area of Jacob's Creek, this is presumably very near where Judge Veech said the Turkey Foot Road crossed Jacob's Creek "about a mile below the chain bridge", (Iron Bridge), and a few others made similar claims, are the cut stones of a bygone age, where they were partly uprooted by trees and falling into the stream bed. Franlin Ellis on page 756 of his book, "The History Of Fayette County", when referring to the route of the TFR states, "...it bore to the northwest across Chestnut Ridge to Mountz' Creek, which was crossed at Andrew's, (now Long's mill); then northwest across Bullskin to Jacob's Creek, in Tyrone, intersecting Braddock's Road near the old chain bridge." The coincidence, if you could call it that, is very striking indeed. This must be taken seriously as circumstantial evidence presents itself.

     Though, it is doubtful the elevated road is older than the railroad tracks as this is not the sunken type one would expect, past the B&O, now CSX tracks to the creek named after Captain Jacob's, a Delaware Indian chief, I indicate that this might follow part of the TFR.  On the other side one can see a road continuing toward the northeast, where it seems to lose focus in the undergrowth. As this appears to be part of what was the Monongehala R x R, again, this would seriously damages traces or scars of the old road, projected to run to the northeast and west of the Y pond region where the Southwest railroad crossed Sherrick Run beside what is today the Coal and Coke bridge to Iron Bridge. This does not destroy the idea of former use. The Pennsylvania Railroad apparently leased the West Overton tracks, but as to the particular significance of this in relation to the age of the bridge, I remain skeptical. There is an impressive old stone wall that I am not expert enough to do more than contemplate about it's age and use. It might be a retaining wall. As of now, the function is not known.

The wall of close fitted stone blocks on the Westmoreland side of Jacob's Creek

view of cut stones in Jacob's Creek near top of photo
  It is possible many of the bridge stones were removed on the Westmoreland side, if there ever were any in the first place, but this is unconfirmed. Again, it is to be kept in mind the elevated East Huntingdon township road may not be directly connected to the bridge and where it crossed. As near as I could ascertain, the stone bridge road on the Fayette side is, approximately, 20 to 25 yards of stone blocks. This is not a large width or huge blocks usually associated with a railroad which suggests an earlier verson may lie near here or under this bridge.

   The structure may of been used for other purposes, which is always a remote possibility. This could include mining purposes or hauling material. That wouldn't necessarily take away from its being a candidate for earlier historical importance. I noticed no pylons or abutments in the water myself, as stated above.

  Does anyone recognize the type(s), of material you observe here?

A southerly view of the stone blocks from the Fayette side of Jacob's creek 

schematic markings of the elevated bridge angle toward the creek to the right
     Above is a view of the elevation of the stone blocks approaching the creek from the Dexter Road at a southwestern angle, leading toward a northwesterly crossing area

good view of fallen bridge stones

close up of one stone. Some are as large as 32 by 20 inches
slightly newer angle of stone road heading west from Jacob's Creek
    From the trajectory of the stone roadway toward Dexter, the descent to which appears from the south around Penny Hill above the old bridge and to the north. By this observation, the report of the Walnut Hill area, is considerably strengthened, near where the Turkey Foot Road is said to of crossed the Braddock Road which was presumably, laid partially on a branch of the Catwba Path from the Narrows near Connellsville. The circumstantial evidence grows more clear.

    On the photo below this elevated path or road, does not appear to derive directly from the creek bed, but an indeterminate distance to the west. The significance of this oddity, or lack of any, is not yet completely understood. It may inply the fording site, or bridge roadway toward E. Huntingdon is separate from the elevated road. This would further the probability it is a piece of the Monongahela rail track and less indicative of a link to the Turkey Foot Road crossing.

elevated path on Westmoreland side looking east

discarded stone collapse of bridge way from tree roots

view up the railroad tracks to the right of the stones toward McClure

road on north side of Jacob's Creek fading in brush

remains of old logs on Westmoreland side near the waters edge

road bed at an angle on Westmoreland side of creek to the northeast

elevated road looking west toward Dexter

      The road on the East Huntingdon bank of Jacob's Creek travels toward the east from parallel to Jacob's Creek and is not covered in, or made of any stone, as well as I could observe. As stated elsewhere, an outside chance exists this road was indirectly connected to the old cut stone bridge, though, this is less attributable to a haphazard occurrence.

       Below is the clear image of the uniquely angled road way continuing from the watery depths. The elevated road runs from farther to the left of the photo which might be puzzling. In recent memory, the creek was much higher before dredging. The fording site might not be directly connected to the bridge structure we see today.

Where the road comes from the southwest to the Westmoreland side of Jacob's Creek

stony road elevation from southwest to the east

fallen TFR bridge stones on bank of Jacob's Creek
    Above is a clear photo of the stacks of stone work toward the stream near the northeast corner of Upper Tyrone township in Fayette County, PA.


    So, there you have it folks; kit, bang and caboodle! This has all the look of real age, and one could conjecture it was placed long before the modern Dexter Road and Overton Drive and the railways, Dexter Mines and the coke ovens were put into use. This would incorporate additional support as a serious candidate of the route of the Turkey Foot Road at the very place it would of had to cross by taking the circumstantial considerations seriously while including the research and tradition of Veech and Ellis. The path of the road on the other side may well be older, as a part of it approaches from the west beyond the area of the decrepit bridge landing area, though it might be connected later to a railroad. The deep stream might of beeen forded for some time and then bridged by Providence Mounts,  as his militia assisted. Or it might of been built by others from this area, possibly the Stauffers, early pioneers here.The stones could of conceivably of been brought a good distance. There are no well known areas where stone of this type should of been hauled from in this vicinity. There is the Quarry Street area at Mt. Pleasant as a remote consideration. There is some reason for a supposition of a previous bridge even more primitive than this, if you can go by other crossing sites. This is only speculation.

   Appropriately, I might throw into the mix, that Indian artifact collector, Duaine Fouss claims that this area was populated long ago with Indians. There were unverified stories Abraham Stauffer had relations with local tribes. He was a majpr personage in what became the Kingview area of Stauffer's saw mill and further up Dexter was the grist mill, giving a hint of things to come. This can help pin down some evidence of the age of the road. The Turkey Foot Road was part and parcel of the migration into the Ohio country. Unfortunately, the traditions concerning what could be termed the old Turkey Foot Bridge, are lost here at the border of Fayette and Westmoreland Counties.

   With the sturdy nature of this type of structure, this is different evidence than a landscape scar, however appealing and meaningful. Here we are on the firmest of ground. A veritable document in stone. I am adamantly thrilled to of been able to bring this to the attention of others with a degree of relative accuracy. Remember, YOU have been the first, so far, to of shared in this find, whatever the potential importance. This is an historic occasion in the existence of this old cut stone bridge, with evidence mounting, and correlating to a famous old road.

  It is time to finalize contact with the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission, state archeologists, and Laurel Highlands.org, etc. Those experts will be tasked to undertake a proposed further investigation of this road and bridge. We can anxiously await further revelations.

 First and foremost, we need experts to verify it's age and archeological work is required. Not many ancient bridges are discovered anymore. This is just what we need for better verification. Serious attention is a must by the authorities on such matters.

   ~  Histbufffer


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