Stony Valley - Ellendale Forge - Rattling Run - Yellow Spring - Cold Spring - Rausch Gap - Gold Mine Run
Compiled by J.W.Via


Nested between the second and third mountain north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is the second largest roadless area in the state that many today refer to as Stoney (Stony) Valley. After visiting the area one can easily conceive how it got its name. Stoney Valley encompasses an estimated fourteen thousand acres and its divided into State Game Lands 80, 210, Swatara State Park and Weiser State Forest. Running along its estimated 30 mile length is the Appalachian Trail that accounts for much of the areas popularity among outdoor people of all type. Those who venture this wilderness eventually stumble upon one of the many ruins of old stonework’s. These stone ruins represent a earlier time when untold numbers of men worked the valley, stripping it of all trees and digging deep holes to extract minerals in support of early American industrialization.

A Brief Early History of Pennsylvania

The regions first real settlers were Native American Indians called Saosquahanaunk. Their original Indian name Saosquahanaunk means "long crooked river" which has been re-spelled and pronounced by English settlers to Susquehannock or Susquehanna. (see early petroglyph's on the Susquehanna River) Little is known of their early origin or lifestyle except that they were a proud warlike nation. Around 1675 the Susquehannocks suffered a major defeat to the Iroquois Nation and they fled Pennsylvania to seek refuge in Maryland. Their numbers continued to diminish in the years to follow from wars with neighboring Indian tribes, epidemics carried over from Europe, and attacks from both settlers and the Maryland Militia. In 1706, the Susquehannock now numbering less than 300 were permitted by the Iroquois to return to Pennsylvania and settle in Lebanon County. From this time forward they were known as the Conestoga Indians.

The first European exploration of the Susquehanna Valley is thought to have occurred in 1608 by Captain John Smith who journeyed up the Susquehanna River and visited the Susquehannock Indians. Etienne Brulé a Frenchman, completed a similar journey in 1615, "who during the winter of that year descended the river to its junction with the sea and returning the following spring by the same route." (Bell's History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania)

In England, King Charles II owed William Penn £16,000, money which Admiral Penn had lent him. Seeking a haven in the New World, Penn asked the King to grant him land in the territory between Lord Baltimore's province of Maryland and the Duke of York's province of New York. With the Duke's support, Penn's petition was granted. The King signed the Charter of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, and it was officially proclaimed on April 2. The King named the new colony in honor of William Penn's father. It was to include the land between the 39th and 42nd degrees of north latitude and from the Delaware River westward for five degrees of longitude. After William Penn's arrival at Philadelphia in 1682, he quickly learned that the land belonged to the Indians. With the assistance of Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York they negotiated with the Lenape to complete the purchase. The Iroquois quickly stepped in stating that they were the rightful landowners and their permission was required to complete the sale. They conducted negotiations and the purchase was peacefully resolved resulting in the Treaty of 1682. William Penn returned to England and died in 1718 leaving the land to his sons.

1722 local Indian tribes formed an alliance called the Five Indian Nations that included the Oneidas, Senecas, Cayuga, Onondaga and Mohawk Tribes. In the following year the Tuscaroras would join the alliance becoming the Six Indian Nation. The alliance of these nations was called Aquanuschioni, meaning United People.

In 1725 John Harris of Yorkshire England traveled to Pennsylvania and settled near an Indian Village called Peixtan (today Paxton Township, Harrisburg) along the Susquehanna River in what was then Lancaster County. The settlement came to be known as Harris Ferry and today Harrisburg in Dauphin County. History indicates he peacefully co-existed with the Indians and they considered him a friend. This was not the case with all early European settlers. Many flocked into Pennsylvania and encroached upon Indian lands before they were lawfully purchased, violating the uncertain boundaries of the 1682 Treaty. Tensions between the settlers and various Indian tribes quickly escalated resulting in hostilities. In some historical cases, families were forced to abandon their settlements to move back into safer areas.

The hostilities eventually lead to the Walking Treaty of September 7, 1737, sometimes known as "The day Thomas Penn Scalped the Indians". Thomas, son of William Penn and some scrupulous business men conceived a dishonest plan to "part the Indians of their land beginning at the junction of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers and as far west as a man could walk in a day and half". Thomas hired men to prepare a cleared path and on the day of the event three selected runners were able to go twice the distance than what the Delaware Indians had anticipated. The Delaware's soon realized they were cheated and requested that the Iroquois defend their interests. The Iroquois on the other hand were furious that the Delaware's would sign a treaty without their permission. To agitate the matter even further, Thomas bribed the Iroquois to keep them angry and keeping the two Indian Nations divided. In a 1742 meeting between the Iroquois, Delaware and Pennsylvania Governor Patrick Gordon, Delaware Sachem Nutimus rose to protest the treaty. The Iroquois Sachem quieted him by stating that the Delaware's were conquered by the Iroquois and he was to get out of the meeting and never sell land again. A letter believed to be written by Governor Patrick Gordon to Conrad Weiser, in charge of Indian Affairs at the time states "the Indians disposed of all land in Pennsylvania lying between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers and south of the Blue Mountains. The Indians gave up the land of their own free will, and for it received brass kettles, blankets, guns, shirts, flints, tobacco, rum and many trinkets in which their simple hearts delighted". The Walking Treaty incident pitted Indian tribes against each other and the settlers. Numerous minor tribes did not agree that the Iroquois had the right to sell their land and would not acknowledge their treaty.

St Anthony

In 1742 Conrad Weiser, Officer of Indian Affairs for Pennsylvania requested that Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, leader of the Moravian Church and his followers embark on a peace mission to ease tensions with the local Indian tribes of the Kittatinny and Blue Mountain. The journey started in Philadelphia and eventually leads them to the top of a rocky mountain overlooking a steep narrow valley dwarfed by steep Blue Mountains. Impressed by the view, Zinzendorf named it Saint Anthony's Wilderness in honor of Anthony Seyfert, a fellow missionary. "That portion of country between the Blue Mountain and Peters Mountain was known at an early period, by the name of St. Anthony's Wilderness and is designated on a 1749 Lewis Evans map, in the Book of Deeds, located at the Secretary's Office at Harris's Ferry". (The History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams, and Perry Counties, PA", published 1846 by I. Daniel Rupp). This map is now located in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

1749 Lewis Evans Map (Library of Congress)

In Europe the British and French were engaged in what is called a 12 Year War. One campaign called King's Georges War (1744-1748) eventually spread to the colonies known to us as the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The French would undermine the British by making treaties with the Indian Nations to set them against the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The British responded by fortifying areas along the Pennsylvania frontier (mostly in northwestern and western PA) in defense against a possible invasion by French regulars. This in no way provided protection to the local settlers situated along the Kittatinny Mountains (Blue Mountains) from Indians on the northern edge of Lebanon and Dauphin Counties (St. Anthony's Wilderness). When word of the attacks reached Philadelphia, the Provincial Government quickly recognized the British had their hands full and passed the Supply Act of November 27, 1755 forming Pennsylvania's first body of regularly paid militia troops (known today as the PA National Guard). The Act established a line of forts beginning at the Delaware River and stretching north along the Blue Mountains west to Shippensburg. The local forts were under the command of Lt. Col. Conrad Weiser and spaced about ten miles apart (One days ride by horse). Most of them were nothing more than small ten by ten foot roughly constructed log cabins to store guns, munitions, foodstuffs and provide shelter for fleeing local settlers. More prominent and better fortified forts were located at Fort Hunter where Fishing Creek empties into the Susquehanna River, Fort Manada at Manada Gap (Manady), and Fort Swatara in Lebanon County (commonly known then as Brown's Fort Commanded by Captain Smith). Written reports from Ft. Swatara and Ft. Manada tell of hostile conditions where the Indians generally killed the men and either killed or captured the women and children almost everyday. One report indicates 213 settlers were killed within one year between Ft. Swatara and Ft. Manada. The Provincial Pennsylvania Government imposed settlement restrictions and physically forced many settlers to move back into protected areas. The French and Indian War officially ended with the Proclamation Treaty of 1763. The treaty was honored by the French and British imposing a territorial boundary line crossing western Pennsylvania and declaring the lands east of it as white settler (British) territory. The treaty however had little impact on some local tribes and the raids continued. Settlers angered by the Provincial Government's unwillingness to help defend against these Indian attacks took matters into their own hands. Some of the disgruntled settlers assembled and called themselves the Paxton Boys. They conducted raids of their own on local Indian settlements and either killed or forced any remaining Indians to flee.

Coal in St Anthony's Wilderness

A written account by an early settler describes his relations with local Indians and specifically tells about an occasion when he was offered shiny black stones. He goes on to note that the black onyx stones were interesting but thought of them to be nothing more than a novelty. Years later Surveyor and Map Maker Nicholas Scull drew coal locations on a 1759 map. His son William Scull and associate William Maclay were employed in 1769 to survey boundary lines in Berks County (now Schuylkill / Dauphin Counties). During their work they encountered some of the coal sites noted by his father in previous surveys. (See Map). In the years to follow, shallow coal pits were dug in Berks County (now Schuylkill County). By 1822, it was reported that 1488 tons of Anthracite was shipped by canal from the Schuylkill Region.

Between 1820 and 1825 hundreds untold probes for coal were conducted throughout St. Anthony's Wilderness. Many proved to be nothing more than shallow surface beds. In 1825 Jacob Burd, Sr. and Peter Kimes found a major deposit at Short Mountain near Wiconisco causing a land rush. During the same time Benjamin Kugler, Charles Bird, John Goddard and Joseph Lyon formed the Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company found coal at Rattling Run in Stoney Valley. These first shafts came to be known as Perseverance and Reliance. Later coal was found at Yellow Springs, Rausch Gap and Gold Mine Run. By the year 1865 there were numerous mining operations beginning in Stoney Valley and extending into Schuylkill County, employing thousands of men and boys.

Coal Mining

Early drift mining consisted of finding a surface outcrop of coal and burrowing in along the vein. The first mines averaged only a couple hundred feet in depth. By 1840 the Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company was obtaining depths up to 500 feet and later up to 1,500 feet by 1860. This was an amazing feat for the miners of that time considering they had no powered tools to dig through solid rock. Coal extraction in these early mines was was hard dirty work done with picks and shovels made from local forges. As mine depths increased, mules and steam powered equipment aided in moving the coal to the surface but it was still the miners daily back breaking work that moved the mineral. The miners quickly learned that the deeper they dug the greater the risks. Daily work in the mine brought the possibility of tunnels collapsing, flooding, hydrogen gas explosions and the long-term hazards from inhaling coal dust. Untold numbers of men and boys met an early end in the black depths of these mines.

On the surface, coal was loaded on horse drawn wagons and hauled to local collieries to be sorted by size. Work in the collieries was somewhat better than inside the mine but was still considered hazardous especially to the young immigrant boys hired to hand process the coal. Their days averaged 10-12 hours and the work was very hard and dirty compared to any labor standards. Remember too that there were no child labor laws and the boys were required to meet the same quota as men. This quota was supervised by a boss who walked around with an object used to beat the boys if they lagged. On occasion they were known to beat boys to near death to set the example. These harsh conditions in the the mines and collieries more often resulted in hostilities and worker strikes. Such was the case with the Molly Mcguires whose activities came to an end on 21 June 1877 when 10 members of the group were hung nearby in Schuylkill County.

The magnitude of these early coal mining operations is difficult to imagine. The Skidmore mine produced an average of 500-700 tons per day or about 225,000 tons of bituminous coal per year. The colliery operation processed about 200 tons of coal per day by the hands of 150 men and 17 boys inside and 49 men and 69 boys outside. If you do the simple math for individual colliery output, it calculates out at 1,404 pounds per person per day and thats most likely light considering some of the individuals are bosses. The Miller, Graeff & Co., under the direction of Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Co opened a colliery at Rausch Gap in 1858 under the management of William H. Yohe. The colliery, claimed to have the longest slope in the countryside measuring 600 feet long. Other company holdings surrounding the colliery included 40 company houses, 8 engines (410 horse power), 3 large steam pumps and 4 18-inch pole pumps. A small shantytown with an additional population of 250 families surrounded the complex. The operation closed around 1884 after all the coal was mined. Eroded culm piles of fine coal dirt and rock waste marks the approximate location of the colliery today.

Early Coal Costs

In 1838 coal retailed for 45 cents a bushel in Harrisburg. By 1840 coal prices were beginning to escalate based on the rising costs of transportation. Mr. Miller, engineer for the Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company conducted a study based on the market of that time. His findings based per ton are as follows: Mining Labor 50 cents, Local hauling, Heading, Dead work & Gangways 25 cents, Waste at canal wharves 11 cents, Railroad Freight & Tolls 34 cents, Cost of Canal Hauling from Port Lyon to Harrisburg 12 cents, Harrisburg to Middletown 14 cents, Middletown to Columbia 27 cents. The cost to the consumer at Harrisburg, not adding in the final handling costs would be approximately $1.32 in 1840. That was a considerable cost for the low and middle-income families of that time. No wonder coal bootlegging became so popular.

Other factors controlling coal costs was government regulation. Coal production became so vast that it was possible to exceed the market demand and drive the prices down. It's similar to the gas wars of modern day. The government decided to regulate the output of coal based on consistent output and the owning or selling a specific commission amount. Keeping it simple, the bigger the stock commission the greater percentage of coal the company was permitted to market. In 1896 the percent values for specified companies was set as follows: Philadelphia & Reading 20.50%, Pennsylvania Railroad 11.40% and Susquehanna & Schuylkill 3.50%.


The company having the greatest impact on St Anthony's Wilderness was the Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company (DSCC). Incorporated on the 5th day of April 1826 by an Act of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania General Assembly under the name of Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company by its proprietors Benjamin Kugler, Charles Bird, John Goddard and Joseph Lyon. The DSCC estate extended from f Port Lyon (Dauphin) to Rausch Creek (Gap) and from Stony Creek to the Summit of Short Mountain. (See Map) The initial act permitted them to build a canal to Port Lyon. After considerable engineer studies on Stony Creek it was found to be of "moderate grade" with an average grade of twenty-five feet per mile implicated by irregular fall. The final recommendation was that a canal was not feasible due to the water drop per mile requiring many locks within short distances costing more than building a railroad along a more efficient route. The information was taken back to legislature and a supplemental act on 16 April 1838 permitted a railroad from Port Lyon (Dauphin) to the mines. The railroad was surveyed and a Report by Edward Miller, Civil Engineer on the Dauphin and Susquehanna Railroad (D&S RR) dated 24 July 1839 provided the initial details for construction. The next major challenge would be how to finance its construction. State funding was already being consumed by the Pennsylvania Canal currently under construction at the time. It's not very clear where the money eventually came from but it appears they obtained support from out of state financiers. Apparently this was a unpopular decision for the time and created debate in the local business community. The bed clearing and grading began around 1850 and with construction starting in the following year. Rails were laid from Port Lyon to Rausch Gap with completion in 1852. Upon its completion an additional act was passed on 26 February 1852 permitting a railroad to be built (continued) east to Auburn, Schuylkill Co and connect with either the Swatara Canal or railroad with construction starting in 1853. During the same time Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company was nearing completion of its own line from Philadelphia to the Schuylkill Co coal regions causing competition. An act was granted to extend the Dauphin and Susquehanna Railroad from Auburn to Pine Grove on 4 November 1853 with completion in June of 1854. Backing up to 1852, the D&S RR began having financial troubles due to escalated costs of construction and low returns from bituminous coal. In 1852, out of money they officially declared bankruptcy. Legislation permitted the D&SRR to continue operation with the belief the company would rebound and make good on the debts it incurred. The company continued falling short on profits due to low returns on its bituminous coal. The Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company had grown to the point where it had a monopoly on the local market with its higher grade anthracite. (see Early Coal Costs, stock commissions) On 4 March 1857 they were granted permission by legislation to lease the use of their railroad in a last effort to save the company and by 1858 it was realized that all efforts had failed. An act was passed on 1 April 1859 to sell Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company's Railroad assets to investors after failing to make several bond interest payments. The 54-mile railroad was renamed the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad (S&SRR) and leased to the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company on 12 July 1860 and later merged into the same on 19 June 1872. The Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company continued using the line until about 1880-1890 after all the coal resources had been depleted in the region. Later the Pennsylvania Railroad leased the line and provided passenger service to the YMCA Camp at Cold Springs. Its uncertain when the trains finally did stopped running on the railroad. I was told many years ago that the railroad went out of service still holding the debt from its D&SRR days. The land was sold to Grandview Company who and later sold for the last time to the Pennsylvania Game Commission on 13 August 1945 and became part of State Game Land #211.

The Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company would become the largest corporation in the world by the 1870's. Later in the 1890's in effort to avoid government break up of monopolies, created a new holding subsidiary named the Reading Company. In 1923 the Reading Company separated from the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company (P.&R.C.&I), forming the Reading Lines. The P&R.C.&I changed its corporate title in 1956 to Philadelphia & Reading Corporation, of which Reading Anthracite Company was one of its many operating divisions. In 1961, Philadelphia & Reading Corporation divested itself of its anthracite coal interests, selling the Reading Anthracite Company division to its present owners. It remains the largest anthracite mining company in the world. The Reading Lines entered bankruptcy in 1971 and its operations were taken over as part of the federally financed CONRAIL, on April 1, 1976.

St Anthony's Wilderness (continued)

St Anthony's Wilderness References and Sources

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