Pennsylvania Great Outdoors: Ghost Towns of the Clarion River Corridor – Lily Pond
This history is the ninth in a series of articles drawn from the writings of John Imhof in his book Elk County: A Journey through Time published in 2003 describing the ghost towns that once existed along the Clarion River from Ridgway to Hallton and adjacent to Ridgway.
Mr. Imhof’s book is very popular, and the first printing was sold out but is available again through Amazon.com.
Lily Pond – 1840’s to 1904, perhaps the least documented site along the Clarion corridor is the small settlement of Lily Pond.
To call this site a town could be considered a misnomer since it was most likely more of a logging and rafting camp that was used only when work was available. What little is known about Lily Pond comes primarily from this writer’s association with a resident of Portland Mills, Mr. Harry Fulmer. Harry grew up in the Lake City area on the plateau above the Clarion River and Lily Pond. His father, Aaron Fulmer, was a well-known lumberman and raft pilot and is believed to have worked at Lily Pond from time-to-time. This conclusion was drawn from Harry’s memories and from a discovery made many years ago by Ron Cleaver, then also a resident of Portland Mills. Ron, while exploring in the Lily Pond area located a large metal log stamp with the initials A. F., or Aaron Fulmer. Harry recalled his relatives speaking of the area, and physical evidence served to confirm the recollections.
Other sources of information on the site come from accounts, albeit brief, in the classic book “True Tales of the Clarion River.”
One account, by the aforementioned Mr. Oliver Meddock, states that “Aaron Fulmer and other parties were located at Lake City.” This again confirms Harry’s recollections. The account comes from a gentleman named L. G. Reynolds who had spent most of his life working on the river.
Reynolds recalled that, “I saw the giant raft of square timber that was put in at Lily Pond by Andy Rhines. It was cork pine timber and contained fourteen thousand five hundred cubic feet. It was run by Andy Rhines in about 1867.” Meddock further states, “Andrew Rhines was the man who built that splendid lumber camp Lake City, situated two miles above the river in Spring Creek Township. He lost nearly all the timber he had piled along the river.”
Based on topography, this seems to point to Lily Pond as a shipping point for the Rhines operation. It follows that others would have used this area since it is the most convenient to the Lake City area.
A final account from March 1904 states: “At Lily Pond, between Arroyo and old Beech Bottom and Hallton, David Moore of Summerville put in 25,000 cubic feet of hemlock timber the past winter David Moore has one winter more on his lot.”
One other possibility exists for Lily Pond, but it provides little in the way of additional information. It seems possible that Lily Pond was also known as Middletown, at least to the people in the Lake City area. To this day, the road that once led to Lily Pond from Lake City is still marked as Middletown Road. Since Middletown was such a common name, perhaps Lily Pond was adopted to distinguish the site from the numerous other Middletowns. The name would have made sense, since Lily Pond was located midway between Arroyo and Irwintown or between Hallton and Portland Mills.
A similar naming was applied to a town in Northern Elk County.
That Middletown sat midway between the towns of Sackett and Corduroy. However, this is only a theory and not without alternative explanation. One very good source, Curt Olson of Lake City, has stated that it is his belief that the road was named simply because it was located in “the middle of the town” of Lake City. Lily Pond today is a scenic gem at any season of the year.
The Clarion is particularly beautiful near the site and the hills are steep and covered with large hemlock, laurel, and rhododendron. The grade of the Clarion River Railway makes for easy access, particularly from the canoe launch at Irwintown. It is another site worth visiting.
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