Larrys Creek - History - Plank Road

Plank Road

In 1851 a plank road or puncheon was built along Larrys Creek from the village of Larrys Creek at the creek's mouth north to Salladasburg, then later along the Second Fork and on to the village of Brookside in Cogan House Township. It was later extended north to the village of White Pine and finally to the village of English Center in Pine Township (along the current course of Pennsylvania Route 287). A spur of the plank road along Larrys Creek into Anthony Township was also built, but it is not known how far it extended. (Landis claims it may have run nearly as far north as the covered bridge in Cogan House Township). The plank road was a toll road run by "The Larrys Creek Plank Road Company", a corporation founded May 8, 1850. It served the sawmills, grist mills, mines, and leather tanneries along the creek. There was a connection to the railroad and the West Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal at the hamlet of Larrys Creek, as well as the West Branch Susquehanna River.

Hemlock logs were used to build the plank road. At that time, the tree's bark was a major source of tannin used to tan leather. The wood was not used much for lumber, so hundreds of thousands of stripped hemlock logs were normally left to rot. There were sawmills and experienced lumber workers available from the local timber industry.

The earth under the plank road was first graded, then ties (similar to those used for railroad tracks) were set into the ground. Next long narrow stringers (similar to rails on a railroad track) were nailed to the ties, with a distance between stringers of about 6 feet (1.8 m). The road surface consisted of planks about 8 feet (2.4 m) wide nailed to the stringers and was fairly smooth. The road had turnoffs (as it was not wide enough for horse drawn vehicles to pass each other). Toll houses were at regular intervals, with variable tolls for pedestrians, riders on horseback and various carts and wagons. No toll schedule has survived.

The plank road was operational for about 38 years when a major flood on June 1, 1889 washed out much of it. The flood also destroyed the canal at the creek's mouth. The same storm system caused the Johnstown Flood, which killed over 2200 people. The Cogan House Covered Bridge was the only one on Larrys Creek to survive the flood, as a fallen tree formed a protective dam just upstream. The 90 foot (27 m) long Burr arch truss bridge was built in 1877, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, rehabilitated in 1998, and is today one of just three left in the county.

By then most of the original forests in the county had been clear-cut, so no cheap source of wood was available as before. While the road from Salladasburg south to the West Branch Susquehanna River was repaired and rebuilt, the rest was not. In 1900 the county courts recognized a petition to end tolls on this last portion of the road. The corporation was dissolved and the road and its maintenance passed to the county. As sections of plank road wore out they were replaced by graded dirt and gravel, so that it soon became a regular road. The plank road operated as a toll road for about 49 years. Today only the "Plank Road" name survives, in a 0.6 miles (0.97 km) section of road that runs north from U.S. Route 220, parallel to Route 287.

Read more about this topic:  Larrys Creek, History

Other articles related to "plank road, plank roads, roads, road, planks":

Cogan House Covered Bridge - History - Background
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Pennsylvania Route 474 - History
... The plank road was first chartered on March 25, 1851, when the Pennsylvania State Legislature enacted eight commissioners to start the private highway ... The charter detailed that the to-be-constructed plank road was assigned to head from the intersection with North Street in the community of Wattsburg to the New York ... The plank road company, called the Wattsburg and State Line Plank Road Company, was granted 250 shares of $25 company stock (a total of $6,520 in 1851 USD) ...
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Plank Roads in Australia
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