Philipsburg was born around water. The Clearfield Creek, the Moshannon, Cold Stream. But it grew up with rails.
The area came into its own with its production of lumber and brick, and later coal. Heavy loads, shipped to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and more. They were the building blocks of those industrial areas, but they built the Moshannon Valley at the same time. None of that would have happened without the railroads that gave local products a market place in the large city centers.
Thats a story that the Philipsburg Historical Foundation will be telling at Thursdays annual dinner at 6 p.m. at the Gaslight Cafe. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from foundation members or by contacting Emily Gette- Doyle at 342-3620 or egette email@example.com. Luther Gette, described as a local historian and raconteur, will weave the tale of how a small Pennsylvania mountain town was linked to the 19th century equivalent of the World Wide Web. With old newspapers and personal letters, as well as newly discovered reports from the Penn Central Collection at the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, the history of the local railroad development will be told.
Its not all small step for man territory. Apparently, residents were scared to death of the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad that brought the first trains to Philipsburg back in the 1860s.
Today, the web of state and federal roadways that wraps around the area has taken the place of the rails. Trucks rumble along Route 322 and the old rail line that runs a block behind Front Street rarely sees an engine. The railroad drove industries that faltered and took the trains with them, at least in the Philipsburg area.
If history repeats itself, Philipsburg will see new networks and connections and marketplaces. They might be scary, like those first steam engines. But 150 years later, at some future foundation dinner, locals might wonder how anyone could be afraid of progress.
Lori Falce writes weekly about the Rush Township/Philipsburg area. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.