In 1792 a party of immigrants engaged in cutting the Williamson Road from Loyalsock, in Lycoming County, to Painted Post in New York under the guidance of Robert and Benjamin Patterson discovered coal within the present town limits of Blossburg. When the group reached the Tioga River, they established a supply camp upon its banks. The Camp became known as “Peter’s Camp” referring back to a local legend.
In 1801, Aaron Bloss moved to Tioga County and in 1802, moved to the area known as “Peter’s Camp”. He is considered the first settler of Blossburg. Sometime between 1818 and 1820, Aaron Bloss made the first attempt to found a town by changing the name of Peter’s Camp to Blossburg. Blossburg was officially recognized and incorporated a borough on August 29, 1871.
The real mining history of Blossburg Coal began shortly after 1810 when a pioneer David Clemens made the first effort to mine and market coal. Clemens opened a mine on Bear Run between 1812 and 1815, serving only the Painted Post area. Around the same time a lower vein was opened on Bear Run by Aaron Bloss. This vein is known as the Bloss Vein but was used only to satisfy local demands.
The first efforts of coal shipping were on a very small and limited scale due to the poor road conditions and the poor navigating ability along the Tioga River. In 1817, a coalition of Bloss and the other miners asked the legislature for funds to improve these routes. In the meantime, Blossburg Coal was being shipped to Pointed Post, Elmira, and Corning.
More important than the local runs, Blossburg Coal was being shipped to Albany where it influenced railroad and canal navigation legislation, and also to Philadelphia where it attracted the enterprising businessmen.
In 1826, Judge John H. Knapp erected an iron ore smelting works within the borough limits. Knapp also opened coal mines on Coal Run and ore mines on “Barney Hill”.
In July of 1840, the railroad found its way through Covington from Corning, and was opened for locomotives to Blossburg in September of that year. This railroad allowed the extensive and valuable mines to be tapped and for their coal to be easily distributed through the Twin Tiers, clearly a momentous occasion for Blossburg Coal.
For more than 150 years, coal has played a vital role in the development of Blossburg. Today many of the mines still exist, dormant. However Ward Manufacturing is a descendant of the Blossburg Coal mining industry and is currently the largest business operating in the Blossburg area. Ward Manufacturing has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Festival each year.
The First COAL FESTIVAL was held 201 years after the establishment of “Peter’s Camp”, in Blossburg, on Memorial weekend 1993. The five day event was a huge success. The temporary coal museum was dedicated and tribute paid to William B. Wilson, the first Secretary of Labor of the United States, who was from Blossburg.
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