Early Trails

Double Rainbow
Tuscarora Township, PA
The countryside of northern Pennsylvania was crossed by Indian trails and early footpaths used by explorers, trappers and settlers. Today, much of this land has been farmed over for two centuries, although the less fertile and more forested parts have in many cases reverted to secondary or tertiary forest cover.
May 13, 2006
Photo courtesy of Carol Brotzman

We are indebted for the map shown below to David Bailey, who can be reached at David Bailey. David has authored, edited or transcribed several landmark historical pieces for this site, including:

Eldred's Docket: A Complete Transcription
Egle's History of Sullivan County
Doctor Fremont McCarty: An Appreciation
The McCarty Heritage: Descendants of Silas McCarty and Sarah Carrell.

We are most grateful once again for David's contributions and interest in our local history.


Trails in Northern Pennsylvania
In the area that would eventually become Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming Counties and surrounding areas
Source: David Bailey
Reprinted in the March 1, 2007 issue of the Sullivan Review

The map refers to several early pathways, trails and "roads". For example, the Wallis Road was a path across the mountains from Muncy to Hillsgrove. The so-called road was a pack horse trail used by surveryors and early settlers. The Courson Road was another pack horse trail that ran north to Hunter's Run, then over to the forks of the Loyalsock, i.e., where "Forksville" would later be located. Opened in 1800, the Genessee Road made it possible for emigrants from Columbia, Berks, Bucks and other counties to the south, as well as Virginia and Maryland, to migrate via the Endless Mountain into the Genessee Valley of New York State. That is likely the primary reason that original landholders in what would become Sullivan County purchased large tracts of wilderness in the late 1700s. These land speculators, including Joseph Priestley, Phineas Bond, John Vaughan, and Thomas Barclay, eventually could sell out to road builders and others for a healthy return on their original investment. Here is another history of the old Indian trails and pathways in this part of northern Pennsylvania: Indian Paths or Trails in Bradford County. Published in 1906 by the Bradford County Historical Society, this overview touches on trails that ran through neighboring counties as well, including what would become Sullivan County in 1847.

The Genessee Road ran from Muncy through the Ellis and Rubb farms onto Huntersville. From there, the road climbed over Allegheny Mountain near Highland Lake, then descended via the Ogdonia Creek drainage area to the Loyalsock. The route ran more or less along the course of the Loyalsock to the intersection with Elk Creek at its mouth, crossing and re-crossing where necessity dictated as the road approached Lincoln Falls. Next, the route crossed a ridge to King's Creek, named for the early settler Thomas King whose farm was nearby. From there, the road ran down this creek to near Bethel, passing the settlement founded by Charles Hugo at Hugo's Corners. Then, it climbed steep terrain to the top of Burnette's Ridge before descending to the Schrader Creek, named for early settler John Schrader, in what is now Bradford County. The road now linked up with another early trail that ran along Towanda Creek to the early settlement of Greenwood [Dougherty's Tavern to early residents of the area]. From there, the course ran north toward the New York State line.

We now know that part of this route was used by the Underground Railroad during the Civil War to channel escaped slaves to freedom in Canada.

You can read about the more sophisticated roadway that was subsequently completed in the 1820s in this area at The Coming of the Turnpike.

Copyright 2007 Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors before this material can be printed or otherwise copied, displayed or distributed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at ~Sullivan County Genealogy Project (http://www.rootsweb.com/~pasulliv)