Thursday, October 29, 2009

Laquin Commentary - Part 2

After breakfast, my first tour of Laquin began. For a boy of 10 years old, walking through a valley of foundations, railroad beds, and holes in the ground made it seem as though we were discovering a lost city in the jungles of Central America. The adults knew some basics about the foundations but not much. That didn't matter - it was enough to make it interesting for us.

I vividly remember arriving at the foundation of the kindling wood factory and seeing what were described to us as two hearths inside of a foundation. These were, in fact the two boilers that helped to create the steam for the factory. I think the reason that I remember that part so well is because when I returned some years later, one of the arches that identified a boiler had collapsed. It was at that moment that I really understood that history can be lost and someone needs to do something about it.

Our hike through Laquin continued and only focused on the eastern part of the town. We then crossed the old railroad bridge over Carbon Run and began following the old railroad bed of the Susquehanna and New York along the Schrader Creek. By this time, we were exhausted, but started noticing metal pieces laying in the road or poking out of the black dirt. These, we learned, were pieces of the railroad - my first exposure to what we might call "artifacts."

Now I didn't come prepared to pick things up, but one of the others had brought a backpack, and so we commenced picking up every scrap of metal that we could find. I recently discovered these items, which I still have. When we finally arrived back at the cabin, the bag full of metal was dumped out and the three of us boys each took turns picking a piece that we would like to have. This was certainly a "boy thing" to do. Can you imagine three 10 year old girls excited about choosing a piece of rusty iron from a pile? I had my eyes on a perfect railroad spike and grabbed it as soon as my turn came around. Most of the other items I picked were barely recognizable chunks of iron, a bolt, etc.

As the second day of our trip to Laquin came to an end, we packed up and drove out of the valley. My only thought was, "I have got to come back here again!" As we worked our way off the mountain, this time in daylight, the adults told us that we had one more stop. We made a couple turns, drove down a dead-end road, and then got out of the van. A wooden sign told us that we had arrived at the Barclay Cemetery.

To read more, check out the blog next week...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Laquin Commentary - Part 1

Ah, yes. I remember it like it was yesterday. My first trip to Laquin.

In two weeks, the Bradford County Historical Society will present the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos" at the Rialto Theatre in Canton, Pa. In preparation for that event I will answer some frequently asked questions pertaining to my interest in Laquin. Now on with the story.

It was either in October or November. I was 10 years old. An overnight trip was planned for our youth group at a cabin located in the valley of Laquin.

The trip began in LeRoy by loading into a utility van. I don't recall that there were any seats. It was in the evening and so the drive up the mountain and into Laquin was made in the dark. All I can remember is looking out through the front windshield and seeing the headlights hitting the trees and the dirt road. Several times we came to what appeared to be a "fork" in the road.

After a half hour drive, we arrived in Laquin. Since we arrived in the dark, I didn't know that we were in a valley or what was in the darkness beyond the light of the cabin. The cabin is essentially one room with a loft on the second floor which was accessed by a ladder. There was a bedroom, bathroom and enclosed porch, but you had to go outside and back in another door to access that part of the building. The suggestion by the adults that a previous owner of the cabin had moved to Towanda, shot a man, and had been placed in prison where he later died was enough to scare us; especially when we later heard tapping on the windows in the night (that turned out to be those same adults).

That was my first introduction to Laquin.

When we awoke the next morning, the adults were making breakfast. The boys were in the loft. One of us looked out the loft window and noticed something behind the cabin. A huge stone tower-like structure only 50 feet or so from the cabin. Also what appeared to be foundations and large blocks of concrete. It was then that I forgot what happened the night before and the exploration instinct of a boy kicked in. After breakfast, I would discover for the first time, the ruins of a town called Laquin.

To read more, check out the blog later this week...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's Happening at BCHS

We had a very successful annual meeting on October 11th, and several have commented on how much they enjoyed the new format that we followed that day. There was a full house for the event. Many thanks to all who participated.

The last Friday Night at the Museum program of 2009 was held on October 16th. Many positive comments have been received about the variety and quality of programs that we offered this year. The 2010 programming season will begin in May 2010.

The museum season is also coming to an end this week. We are grateful for what the local newspaper described as a "banner year" for the society.

Don't forget that the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos" will be presented at the Rialto Theatre in Canton on November 7th at 1 p.m. Admission of $6 will be charged at the door. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. so plan to get there early to ensure a seat. Beginning next week, I will add commentary about the upcoming program to the blog. This will include information about how I became interested in the topic, experiences in Laquin, and my own family connections to the town. I will try to answer some frequently asked questions.

Also coming up is our special Christmas event which will be held November 27 and 28. The event includes a craft show and other new activities. The annual holiday book sale will be held on Sunday, December 6th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Historical Society.

If you are planning to order books from us for Christmas, consider doing it early to make sure you receive your copy before the Christmas rush. Several of our major history books can be found and ordered through our eBay store. Simply visit our website and click on "Gift Shop" to be taken directly to the store page. Many people have done this and have been pleased with the results.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

BCHS Annual Meeting Awards Presentation Video

Check out a video of the awards presentation at our annual meeting yesterday afternoon. If you have trouble viewing it, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Laquin: Behind the Photos" Coming to Rialto Theatre in Canton

The Bradford County Historical Society is coming to the Rialto Theatre in Canton to present the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos," on November 7, 2009 at 1 p.m. Admission of $6.00 per person will be charged at the door. No tickets will be sold in advance. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m.

Proceeds from the event will be used to cover the cost of bringing the program to Canton and will also be used to support special projects at the Bradford County Historical Society.

"Laquin: Behind the Photos" is a unique program that takes the audience on a tour of the lumber town of Laquin, located on Barclay Mountain in Bradford County. Using over 100 images which are supplemented by maps, the program makes it possible for the audience to learn about the history of the town by actually seeing its buildings, factories, and people. Each photograph in the program is described during the presentation to allow participants to understand what they are viewing.

Many of the images were made from glass plate negatives in the Historical Society collection. In addition, the program will also feature photographs that have been received by the society since the publication of the book, "Barclay Mountain – A History," in 2007. Many of these photos have never been in a public display.

"If you have an interest in Barclay Mountain, and especially Laquin, don’t miss this event," said Matthew Carl, Managing Curator at the Bradford County Historical Society, who developed the program. Carl is very familiar with the topic, having led walking tours on Barclay Mountain for the past four years. He also designed the Barclay Mountain book, and among other contributions, chose the photographs that would be published.

Copies of the book, "Barclay Mountain – A History," that have been signed by the authors and designer will be on sale in the theatre lobby during the event. This will be an excellent time to pick up a copy for Christmas!

This program was presented in Waverly in August and was standing room only. Plan accordingly to ensure a seat at this event!

For more information about the program, visit the Bradford County Historical Society Curator’s Blog where there will be commentary about this topic during the last two weeks leading up to the event. The blog can be found online at

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way. More information about the society can be found online by visiting