by Bob Imhof

During the early history of the Little Toby Creek Valley two names seem to stand out, a General Wade and family and their companion a Mr. Slade.  

Sometime around 1798, General Wade and family and Mr. Slade (may have been Lieutenant Slade) settled temporarily on a plot of land that eventually became part of the Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad. The family stayed at this original log cabin until sometime between 1802-1803 when they moved down Little Toby Creek to its junction with the Clarion River and built a log house at the site that would become known as Carman in honor of Hiram Carman.

During their movement from the upper Little Toby Creek valley to the Clarion River they were observed by a shy, backward and beautiful Native American girl from a large sandstone rock on the hillside above Little Toby Creek that shown in a blue gray color when the sun struck it at a certain angle, thus was the born the legend of the Maid of the Blue Rock.

In 1806, General Wade induced the shy girl to follow them to their new home site and Mrs. Wade adopted her as one of the family and became a mother to her.

In 1809, Mr. (Lieutenant?) Slade and the Maid of the Blue Rock were married by Chief Tamsqua and the couple moved to Portland (later known as Portland Mills) and established a trading house.

town-of-blue-rock-on-the-ridgway-and-clearfield-branch-of-the-pennsylvania-railroad

The first industrial reference to Blue Rock is in 1856 when A. J. Thompson built a dam and water-powered sawmill on Little Toby Creek. In 1857 Peter Galusha took possession of the mill at Blue Rock and began the construction of the primitive road from Brockwayville to Blue Rock. This primitive road eventually became the Brockwayville to Ridgway Road and can still be seen in many locations along its route between the two towns. The town began to grow with the adjacent lands being timbered and lumber being sent down Little Toby Creek to the cities of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville either in log rafts or as finished lumber. By 1867 when the Lanes took possession of the Blue Rock property there was a sawmill, a general store, homes and a boarding house on the town site. A series of homes were built during 1867 and a school was added in late 1867.

blue-rock-lumber-mill-july-12-1894

The site required occasional repair due to floods but was successful and in 1883 with the completion of the Ridgway & Clearfield Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the modern day Clarion-Little Toby Rails to Trails Project, the days of rafting and log drives on Little Toby Creek were at an end. In 1887 the name of the train station was changed from Blue Rock to Ellmont the same as the post office although these were actually two separate towns on opposite sides of Little Toby Creek connected by the Brockwayville to Ridgway Road bridge, the site of the modern day swinging bridge.

Find more information on unique places to visit the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197

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