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1869 Johnstown City Directory


     Johnstown is situated in Cambria County, Pa., at the confluence of the Conemaugh River and Stony Creek, and between the Laurel Hill and Allegheny Mountains. It was laid out by Joseph Johns in 1800, and gained its first importance from the fact that the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Canal and the Allegheny Portage Railroad united at this place, and their freight had to be reshipped here. These public works having been completed in 1832, the town attained to a population of 1,200. In 1848 the Pennsylvania Central Railroad was surveyed and located along the valley of the Conemaugh, and its completion would have been fatal to the business of the place, had it not been that in 1852 the organization of the Cambria Iron Company gave to it the renewal vitality which has created a great manufacturing city. Before that time it was but a wooden village. Since then ten miles of streets have been graded and paved, and twenty miles of brick pavements laid. Pure water is now brought the distance of five miles, and ten miles of water pipe are laid, furnishing the water of a mountain street at small cost. Large Gas Works have been built, and not less than ten miles of gas pipe laid. Fourteen Churches have been erected, at an aggregate cost of $300,000. These buildings are constructed according to the most approved styles of modern architecture, and will accommodate in the aggregate 10,000 people. Four school houses have been built in Johnstown proper, containing fourteen rooms, and seating 1,200 pupils. Five Iron Bridges span its rivers, and cost probably $100,000. There are also three Wooden Bridges of large dimensions and costly structure. Two extensive Halls have lately been erected - the one known as Union Hall, and the other as Main Street Opera House - each of which is of large capacity. Three are four other Halls, capable of accommodating from three to four hundred people each. A District Court has been established here recently, having a limited jurisdiction over Johnstown and the surrounding boroughs and townships. The private enterprises are numerous and will be found accurately classified in the Business Directory. The great advantages of being surrounded by rivers, the strong pressure of water through the pipes of the Water Company, aided by an efficient Fire Department with a Steam Engine and Hose, render the danger from fire comparatively remote.


     To a stranger Johnstown would appear as but one borough, the parts being separated only by streets and streams of water, but it really consists of nine contiguous boroughs and villages. Johnstown proper is divided into six wards, and contains over 10,000 inhabitants. Eastward are Conemaugh Borough, containing a population of about 5,000 persons. On the west are Millville Borough, Cambria Borough, and Coopersdale, and on the north Prospect Borough, all having about 5,000 inhabitants. The total population is 20,000. Millville Borough contains the Works of the Cambria Iron Company. It has eight Schools, and two School Houses, each costing about $16,000. Conemaugh Borough contains the Mechanical Works, several Breweries and a Grist Mill, five Schools, and two Churches. In Woodvale are the works of the Johnstown Manufacturing Company. In East Conemaugh Borough is the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's Round House and Machine Shop and two Schools. Cambria Borough contains one Church, five Schools, and one Cement and Fire-Brick Manufactory. Coopersdale, one Church and one School. Prospect Borough, two Schools, and Franklin Borough one Church and two Schools. All these boroughs are rapidly improving. In the Sixth Ward, Johnstown, one hundred dwelling houses have been erected within the last three years, and the progress in the other wards has been rapid, if not so great. Marked improvement in the style of buildings testifies to the prosperity of the inhabitants. The whole place presents a lively aspect and substantial business characteristics.


     Johnstown and suburbs are surrounded by picturesque and attractive scenery. The water is pure; the atmosphere salubrious, and the climate healthful and bracing. The demands of the people here create a market for the productions of the country for many miles around. As a consequence, the soil is better tilled than formerly, and vegetable gardens and fruit orchards abound. The hills are full of valuable iron ore, semi-bituminous coal, hydraulic cement, fire-brick clay, limestone, and freestone, constituting immense and inexhaustible natural wealth. The town is emphatically a lumber market. The number of buildings put up annually gives employment to many sawmills, while the hill-side forests furnish the West Indies with millions of shook. Cherry and poplar lumber of the best quality find a ready market in the place, and are supplied in large quantities, and tan-bark as a staple is not unworthy of notice. The Ashtola Mills, in Somerset County, do a large business in lumber. The proprietors own 6,000 acres of forest land, and turn large quantities of ash into handles of various kinds. Poplar chair material is also largely manufactured and brought to Johnstown for exportation. The Cambria Iron Company's mills at Mineral Point have the best machinery, and manufacture turned wood, sash, wheelbarrows, boards, and heavy lumber for building.


     The Rolling Mill, for the manufacture of iron rails, was projected in the year 1852. A company was formed which bought the old furnaces of King & Shoenberger, with the lands belongs, known as Millville, Benscreek, Blacklick, and Cambria. Other lands were purchased at or near Johnstown, and in 1853 operations were begun under the management of Geo. S. King. The first rails made, in the fall of 1854, were for the Portage Road. The Company soon fell into financial difficulties, and became incompetent to carry on the business, and in May, 1855, the Works were leased to Wood, Morrell & Co., who proceeded to remodel and complete the Works, and did a successful business. In August, 1857, the Mill accidentally took fire and was consumed, but was immediately rebuilt by the lessees, under an arrangement with the Company. In 1862 the Cambria Iron Company was reorganized: Chas. S. Wood became President; E. Y. Townsend, Vice President, and D. J. Morrell General Superintendent - this management being substantially the same which had so successfully operated the Works under the lease to Wood, Morrell & Co., and the business has since been conducted by the Company without change in its responsible officers.

     The Rolling Mill has been enlarged from time to time, and is now four times its original size and capacity. It covers about five acres of ground, and it, as well as the numerous shops rendered necessary by the enlargement of the Works, are of fine architectural appearance, and constructed in the most substantial manner. The three-high rolls used in the Mill, and also in general use in rail mills throughout the United States, were invented by the brothers John and George Fritz, to whose mechanical genius the Cambria Works are largely indebted for their wonderful success. John Fritz now superintends the large Works in Bethlehem. George is still chief engineer and architect of the Cambria Works, and all the machinery needed by the Company is constructed in its shops and foundries, and all buildings are erected, under his supervision. The force required to operate this Mill is more than 4,000 hands, of whom about 2,500 are employed about the Mill and shops; about 1,500 in the mines, under the able supervision of James Morley, mining engineer and superintending and clerical force make up the balance. The quantity of rails produced is about 1,500 tons per week, or 75,000 tons per annum. The puddling capacity of the Mill is about 1,000 tons per week. Much old rail iron is used and wrought over again with the new metal, which shows that the heating capacity of the furnaces is very great. An immense store, of great architectural beauty, conducted by Wood, Morrell & Co., supplies, in a large measure, the necessities of the employees and those who are dependent upon them, amounting to from 15,000 to 18,000 persons. The amount of rails made since the Mill was built would reach, in a single track, around the world. The lands of the Company amount to 40,000 acres, lying in Cambria, Blair, Huntingdon, Indiana, Somerset, and Bedford Counties. It owns the Blair Iron and Coal Company Works, located at Hollidaysburg, in Blair County, consisting of three blast furnaces, of 300 tons capacity per week.

     The superior character of the iron rails made by the Cambria Iron Company is well known, and to keep pace with the march of improvement it is now preparing to manufacturer Bessemer steel. The building intended for this purpose is completed, and the machinery in process of construction, and it is expected that the mill will be in successful operation during the current year. It will have the capacity of eighty tons of steel per day.

     The money for the support of these works of course comes from the rails sold, and the importance of sustaining the market for American iron is apparent to all whose well-being depends upon the prosperity of this industry.

     The success of the Cambria Works is largely owing to the administrative ability of D. J. Morrell, and the improvements in and about Johnstown have mainly resulted from his progressive spirit and the liberality of the Company of which he is superintendent.


     This establishment is located in Conemaugh Borough, and covers several acres of ground. The present Company was incorporated November 2, 1864, under the title of the Johnstown Mechanical Works. The incorporation act authorized the amount of $50,000 capital stock, of which $37,000 worth has been sold, the Company holding the balance in reserve. The members of the Company are mostly resident of Johnstown. The buildings consist of a carpenter shop, machine shop, and shop for the manufacture of wooden articles, such as pumps, cutting boxes, sash, etc. The largest building is a wooden structure 137 by 100 feet. There is also a brick foundry and blacksmith shop, 100 by 40 feet. The machinery is propelled by a 200-horse power vertical engine. The Company employ from sixty to seventy operatives, who are engaged, in the wood department, in the erection of dwelling houses, and other buildings, bridges, cars, and the like, and the manufacture of doors, sash, flooring boards, moldings, etc., and in the other departments, in engines, machinery, shafting, metal castings, iron, and brass turned work and moldings, and in blacksmith work. The Cambria Iron Company's railroad connects these works with the Pennsylvania Railroad. There are about 100 hands employed.


     This Company's works are located in Woodvale, and consist of a Woolen Factory and a Steam Press Brick Establishment, employing about 100 hands. The Woolen Factory is a brick building, four stories high, with an additional building for steam power, containing six full sets of wool machinery, using about 600 pounds of wool per day, and turning out daily 1,200 yards of cloth. Its product finds a large market in Johnstown, and is also sold in New York, Philadelphia, and the West. Cambria Iron Company is principal owner of those Works, which are its offspring.

     The Brick Establishment turns out annually a large quantity of pressed brick, and the growing wants of Johnstown could not well be supplied without its aid.


     The Fire-Brick and Hydraulic Cement Establishment is located in Cambria Borough. The main buildings were burnt down a few years ago, but they have all been rebuilt. It is located close to the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, and has capacity to manufacture fire brick furnace brick and floor tiles at the rate of 5,000 per day. The fire-brick clay is obtained at Mineral point. The cement is dug from the adjoining hills, and the mill grinds sixty barrels per day. It is used for cementing mason work, either under or above water, and soon becomes as hard as adamant. There are employed about 25 hands regularly. The capital invested is about $35,000. The machinery is propelled by two 20-horse power engines. The fire brick, arch brick, furnace brick, etc., are principally used by the Rolling Mill here and furnaces in the neighboring counties. A. J. Haws, proprietor.


     The Ale Brewery located in Conemaugh Borough, on the south side of Conemaugh River, opposite Woodvale, and directly on the site of the old Portage Railroad track, was built in the year 1867. The main building or brewery is 50 by 36 feet, and four stories high, and has a capacity of yielding, thirty barrels of ale per day. The malt house is 62 by 42 feet, with three floors, and is furnished with all modern improvements, such as a 10-horse power engine, pipes, kilns, tiles, etc., and has an abundance of pure spring water in the vaults and basement. The capital invested is about $35,000. Lambert & Kress, proprietors.

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2008
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