McKean County GenWeb
From Souvenir Program, Ludlow Old Home Week, July 4-5-6-7, 1935
Ludlow History from 1919 to 1935

Ludlow History
from 1919 to 1935

Location And Name

Ludlow is located in the southwestern corner of McKean County and was founded in 1871 and named after Andrew H. Ludlow. The county was established in 1804 and named for Thomas McKean. Mr. McKean held many important offices in our state during his lifetime. Among the more prominent offices held by him might be mentioned his three terms of Governor of Pennsylvania, President of Congress and Chief Justice of the State. Our county forms part of the territory which was granted to William Penn by Charles II, King of England, by charter dated April 2, 1681.

The original County of McKean was broken up to for part of Elk County in 1845, Cameron in 1860 and part of Warren County in 1864, so today it contains only 987 square miles, where formerly it had 1200 square miles. Hamilton Township was formed in 1834. The first settlements were made either at, or in the vicinity of, the village of Morrison on the Kinzua Creek by settlers who came down the Allegheny.

Original Settlements

The original settlement of Ludlow was not on its present site, but south of here on what is known as the East Branch of the Tionesta Creek. It was called Foxdam. No authentic records of the date of this settlement have been found, but it is believed to have been before the Civil War.

Foxdam was named for Charles J. Fox who was the real pioneer of the logging industry in this district. It was at this point that he built his "splash dam," one of the largest in the country. Giant trees, felled by the lumberman's ax, were "swamped" to the creek and floated down to Foxburg, some twenty miles down the Tionesta Creek. Here, Charles Fox operated a sawmill and supplied the lumber needs of this section of Pennsylvania. Especially valuable logs, such as hardwoods and pines, were cleated together and floated down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh under the raftmen's guiding hand. Low water often halted the raft's progress until a dam of logs could be built further down the creek. This made what was known as "pond freshet." On it the raft rode to gain the deeper water of the river below. The raft's pilot was a real personage in his frock coat and silk hat. He carried a cane which he used to direct his men, men who knew how to fight and dance, sing and work, and swear as well.

Hence Foxdam and Foxburg, the latter we call Blue Jay, came to be important logging centers, through Charles Fox's efforts. It is interesting to note that the first voting place in Hamilton Township was at Foxdam, and tradition states that the people of Kane came to Foxdam to vote and receive their mail.

It was not long, however, until Charles Fox had completely cleared the timber from the hills that surrounded Foxdam. He then turned to more virgin timber lands to continue his logging operations. To this end, he purchased the land and timber on the site where Ludlow now stands. In moving his logging operatons from Foxdam to what is now known as Ludlow, Mr. Fox cleared a piece of land on hte hill which directly overlooks Foxdam. He then built a log barn and proceeded to raise hay and wheat on the recently cleared land, which later came to be known as the Hoffman Farm. The hay crop was enormous, and more than satisfied the demand as feed for his oxen. Some of his oxen teams, by the way, weighed as much as three to four thousand pounds, or about twice the weight of an ordinary team of horses.

During the panic of 1873, the last fifty acres of what is now known as the Hoffman Farm, were cleared by destitute men, who were willing to work for board and clothes. Tradition states that the wheat crop was so enormous that it more than paid for the keep of the men who cleared the land. It is said among the Old Timers, that the wheat crop reached a height of five feet and that special cradles had to be built to harvest the crop.

The coming of the railroad, however, brought the settlement from Foxdam to the present site of Ludlow. In 1863, a railroad grade was built through the valley of the Two-Mile Creek. The Ludlow stop later came to be known as the Kinzua siding. After several interruptions, the railroad was finally completed, connecting Philadelphia with the Port of Erie. It is interesting to note here that the Pennsylvania Railroad (formerly the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad) station at Ludlow was first to operate electrically a railroad block signal on any railroad in the United States. This was in the year 1872, when two signal towers were erected; one a half mile east of the station, and the other a half mile west of the station. The signal was a red target or disc, which by means of a push button or switch operated in the station, was electrically moved to show red, indicating "Danger and Stop," or was moved from view, indicating "Clear and Proceed." Each tower was equipped with an electrically operated gong which rang to attract attention when the signal changed from one to the other.

By 1870, Charles Fox brought his logging operations to an end, selling his interests to one Andrew H. Ludlow, a prothonotary. Andrew Ludlow died the succeeding year and the town was founded and named for him in 1871. His widow then married L. D. Hoffman, who took title to what is known as the Hoffman Estate.

The Hoffmans at this time owned a sawmill and a store in the eastern section of the town. The sawmill was located just east of the stone bridge over Two-Mile Run. Just across the bridge on the left hand side stood a log cabin, the first building erected in Ludlow. It was used as a blacksmith's shop for some sixty years.

In a memorandum on the history of the lands of McKean County, which was made out by L. D. Wetmore, we find:

These lands were owned by Charles J. Fox and L. D. Wetmore; two-thirds by Fox and one-third by Wetmore. Sub-divisions 229, 253, 256, 271, 272, one-half of 232, and one hundred seventy-five acres of 231. A partition of these lands was made between the Hoffman Estate and L. D. Wetmore by a deed dated May 16, 1884 L. D. Wetmore taking all the lands south of the railroad, and the Hoffman Estate taking all the lands north of the railroad.

Contributed By Chris McClelland