On Oct. 15, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Land Manager, Phil Kasper, will be conducting a tour of State Game Lands #12 and #36, located in the most remote area of Bradford County. These two adjoining game lands consist of 43,408 acres.
Automobiles will be allowed to begin the tour at 10 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. If care is used, the roads are in good enough condition for most vehicles.
The tour, which is approximately 30 miles long, begins just north of Wheelerville at the top of Wheelerville Mountain, along Route 154. After receiving the tour guide, guests will travel on the CCC Road (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps) to Sunfish Pond and on to the old town site of Carbon Run; from there to the Barclay Cemetery and the town site of Barclay; after turning south, the tour continues to where the town known as the Foot of the Plane was located; here you will turn west to where the town of Laquin was located and then up the S&NY Railroad Grade to Wheelerville and Route 154.
The tour goes by the site of where the game commission’s refuge keeper once lived at Sunfish Pond. Picnic tables are located in the park, so be sure to pack either a lunch or snack and make a stop here.
Also, the Leroy Sportsman’s Club will be barbecuing chicken, which will be on sale at Sun Fish Pond with the proceeds going to the club. The bathrooms at Sunfish pond will be open.
The history of the Barclay Mountain began when coal was discovered in the area. In 1856, a railroad to the coalmines was completed and the mining of coal began in earnest. The miners stayed on the mountain, and the town of Barclay was born along with smaller towns such as Fall Creek, Graydon, Dublin, Long Valley, Carbon Run and the Foot of the Plane.
The tour goes by the Barclay Cemetery, where you will notice that a fence was erected through the middle of the cemetery, allowing for the Catholics to be buried on one side of the fence and the Protestants on the other side. The names, dates and inscriptions appearing on many of the head stones can still be read, telling the stories of the hardships and epidemics that plagued the mountain folk.
Information is also included in the tour guide on what the hard working people on the mountain did for recreation, such as daring sled rides (three miles) down the mountain and the long walks back up the hill.
After the turn of the century, the Union Tanning Company began cutting their 15,000 acres of timber that lay to the west of Barclay, and the lumbering town of Laquin was born. At its peak, the town had a population of 2,000 people living in 110 unpainted company homes.
After most of the timber had been harvested, the town of Laquin began dying and was on its way to becoming a ghost town. At this time, the Pennsylvania Game Commission began purchasing the land that contained the mines and also the land that was timbered over. Game Refuge #12 was located in the area, with the refuge keeper’s headquarters at Sunfish Pond.
The last part of the tour goes up the old Susquehanna and New York (S&NY) railroad grade to the town of Wheelerville. The railroad grade runs along the famous Schrader Creek, which is the top trout stream in the county, and you’ll enjoy the same scenery that Woodrow Wilson marveled about.
October’s weather can be fickle as is well known; however, the tour will be held whether it rains or snows. Hopefully the foliage will be near their peak of fall colors.
So, mark your calendar and plan to spend a day on the mountain. You’ll be glad you did.