Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blackwell, PA

This is a town that time has forgotten. The hotel there mysteriously closed in 2008. Below are some pictures from town.

This is the now-closed Blackwell Hotel. The application to serve alcoholic beverages still hangs in the window, along with a note that it will reopen spring of '09. The hotel's website is also still active, but the phone number listed is now disconnected.

Glasses, napkins, plates, and signs are still inside and set out on the bar and tables.

This was the deck area where you could sit out on picnic tables and enjoy the mountain air as you ate and drank.
Alcohol permit and closed till '09 sign on door.

Don't be fooled, this church is NOT brick. It is wood. Each piece of the wood siding was cut and sculped to look like brick. Pretty convincing!

Pine Creek. The bridge in the background was the Conrail railroad bridge. The last train ran the rails in 1989 and everything was removed in 1990. The entire line has been converted into a walking and biking trail via the state's Rails To Trails program.

32 comments:

Al Ebaster said...

Fascinating and strange. How'd you find out about Blackwell, if you don't mind my asking?

Great post by the way!

Ethan Smith said...

My family rents a cabin there each year. I have been going to the Pine Creek valley for 25 years now. Like the slogan for the hotel reads "Hard to find, Harder to leave."

Anonymous said...

My great grandfather 6X was Enoch Blackwell and first established the town in the early 1800's after ariving from England. The Blackwells were lumber people in this area and in the spring ran the logs down stream via the river. They also ran a general store and post office in the middle of town. The hotel was opened way back then and from what I understand it only opens in the spring and summer. One of the Blackwells still lives in the orginial family homestead right in town. The pictures were great thank you.

Barbara

Ethan Smith said...

Barbara,
You're welcome for the pictures. As for the restaurant, they did have intentions of reopening, but the sign on the front door still reads (See you spring of 2009) and it never did open this summer. I would really hate to see it never open again. I never got to eat there, but I heard the food was great! I think I did see a house up there near the hotel that did have "Blackwell" on the mailbox. That's really cool that the founding family still has some links to the area. Not too often does that happen anymore.

Thanks for the reply!

Ethan.

Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker said...

My family is originally from this area (my parents still live in Wellsboro, which is very close by). Anyway, it's really fun to hang out by the creek!!! Thanks for posting...

Ethan Smith said...

You're welcome. I love going up to Tioga County each summer. It gets me away from the pollution, crowds, and noise of Lancaster County. I've got to figure out what to explore this year when I go up.

Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker said...

Unfortunately, Tioga is getting less pristine due to the gas drilling. Blah. But suggestions I would have . . . rails to trails out at the canyon is a great 13-ish mile bike ride (or run, horse ride, etc.) . . . Just stay away during Laurel Festival Weekend!

Ethan Smith said...

I know there is a lot of gas drilling going on up there. I've seen several places where they are now. At least they seem to be staying away from the canyon/Leetonia area so far. Back in the early 20th century, there was a massive oil boom in and around Watrous. I have seen several old photos of the entire valley along what is now Rt. 6 covered with hundreds of wells. So I guess this is the next boom. I have ridden several times on the rail trail and really enjoy it. I still remember when there were railroad tracks there. I was only about 4 years old though. Is there anything interesting or exciting up in the Westfield/Elkland area?

Anonymous said...

We are still there(Blackwells)next time your in Town go see my brother "The Bear Man" He carves bears with chainsaws and his work is very good.

Anonymous said...

We hadn't been to Blackwell in years,(not sure why), we just spent a weekend there. We love it and definitely will be back. What a beautiful place.

Lane Blackwell Jr. said...

I am a Blackwell, originally from the town. I remember the hotel when I was a kid. It was a shame to see it renovated, as it currently looks. the old look fit better in it's location. I have not been back there in a couple years, but do plan to this summer, and swim in the creek. There are currently at least 5 Blackwell families that live in the town. With the nice bike trail it has became more traveled, and visited, over the years. It is truly beautiful and peaceful up there. Thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

i used to live across the street from this hotel in "The Jugs" as it was named the hotel was owned by a man who didnt grow up or ever live in tioga county he just couldnt grasp the lifestyle that was blackwell and i believe that to be the biggest reason it never was that successful. As Mrs Blackwell said the renovations didnt even fit the town

Anonymous said...

My family grew up there as well. Martino was my g.father's name, Tomb was g.mothers name. Phillip Tomb (tome) settled in Slate Run, PA, right up Pine Creek.. gorgeous place...

Jody Blackwell said...

I also am a Blackwell that used to spend every summer in Blackwell. My aunt and uncle live in the original house and my father, who is also one of the original Blackwells was born in that house and lives in the village. Many of my cousins have cabins there now.
We used to go to the hotel to get candy because it was the only game in town. There were no street lights and almost everyone in town was related in one way or another. (I remember Jody Martino!)
As kids we were able to stay out and camp out all night and our parents never had to worry. Swimming in the "sucker hole" was always a blast!
It is a truly beautiful and peaceful place. I haven't been back since the drilling started but I pray that it doesn't negatively affect the village...I hear the creek is very low!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am Brad Blackwell and have never been to Blackwell, PA. I plan on it some day, since my father (John Blackwell) and grandfather (GlennBlackwell) basically grew up there. If any other Blackwell's check this blog, I am interested in 2 Blackwell's....William, who was a Dr during the Civil War (I have a very old portrait of him in my house, and Arthur, his son....Arthur is the middle Name of my grandfather, father, myself, and my son.

Anonymous said...

Just returned from Blackwell last week. Our family has been spending the 4th of July there for over 50 years. It is truly one of the most blessed spots that God has created.

Anonymous said...

Spent the week of July 4th in Blackwell; hadn't been there in about 15 years. My aunt has a home there. She is in the process of having her water tested because of the fracking in the mountains above Blackwell. I would hate to see the area spoiled. My uncle, aunt and cousins put a lot of love, time and effort into renovating their home there, and it is beautiful. The scenery from the rail trail is spectacular. If anyone out there is waffling on visiting the Pine Creek Gorge, don't put it off--do it now! We will not wait another 15 years to visit Blackwell and the gorge again!

chezmich said...

Ethan,

Thank you for bemoaning the closing of and the continued postponing (canceling???)of The Blackwell. In the fall of 2001, just after 9/11, we were scheduled to be part of the audience at The Late Show with David Letterman, but we gave up our seats on Greyhound Bus Line from Baltimore so that those with far more priority than "leisure" could use the buses while rail and plane travel were curtailed. As an alternative, we then arranged a bike trip to the Pine Creek Taril area in October. We found out about The Blackwell and reserved a room since it was located directly on the trail. Whereas the rooms were "plainly" for hunters and fishermen, the restaurant was an entirely different feature. The bar had one of the widest assortments of bottled imported beer of any bars that we had ever visited. Since it was October, the chef was preparing for October Fest dining fare. We dined two nights on exquisitely prepared German dishes.

Then, two years later in the fall of 2003, we stayed at the Canyon Motel in Wellsboro, but again ate two fantastic October Fest meals at The Blackwell where the beer offerings were equally varied.

Since The Blackwell closed summarily, we have been staying and dining at the Cedar Run Inn in Cedar Run on PA Rt 404. The ambiance is very nice, the ownership excellent, the food wonderful for both dinner and breakfast. However, nothing can quite equal the four meals that we had at The Blackwell, and unfortunately, they may simply remain as memories since the continually promised but never fulfilled re-opening now appears more and more unlikely.

Thank you for re-kindling our memories, and if by some quirk of fate that the hotel and restaurant do in fact re-open, maybe we'll see you and some of your responders to your web page there for dinner.

Robert and Lorraine Lucas

Lynette Blackwell Ball said...

Hello all, I am Lynette Blackwell, daughter of Wilbur Davis Blackwell, Grandaughter of Wilbur Washington Blackwell, G. grandaughter of Gurdon Blackwell and G.G. grandaughter of Enoch Blackwell who settled the area. I have an enormous amount of ancestry information for anyone that wants to contact me at illoozions@aol.com I am hoping to go to Blackwell,Pa this summer and explore. There was a Blackwell Church and cemetary somewhere up there that I would love to have more information on if anyone has it. Also if any of you have taken photos of Blackwell, I would like to add them to my genealogy pages. Thanks for all the great information.

Anonymous said...

I just made a afternoon trip up to Blackwell on my motorcycle a few weeks ago. Wanting a nice ride threw some of God's greatest handy work, about half way up 414 I started craving a cool beverage at the hotel. I was very disappointed to fine the place closed. I've got many fond memories of evenings at the hotel during summer camping trips at Petticoat Junction. Does anyone know if the establishment is for sale?

Anonymous said...

We've been visiting the Pine Creek area for almost 25 years. We were just there for Memorial Day Weekend and we heard from quite a few people in the area that the Blackwell Hotel will be reopening in August of this year. It's the same owner apparently and he's begun cleaning up the place. We did notice signs of life while we were there. It looks like it will be a ton of work and can't honestly see it opening by that time. If and when it does open, we'll be thrilled like so many other people. It was a great place to stop and eat along the trail. We loved hanging out on the back patio. The food was always really good and the waitstaff were very friendly. We'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Hello to all
Even though I am from Chester County[flatlander] I spent many nights at the Blackwell from 1993-2002.Up until it was sold to a lawyer from Butler Pa in the mid 90's , it was owned by a lady named Shirley.Rooms were about $25 a night.I do not recall the bartender's name then , but he came out one Friday night when I slid my truck off the road ,on the ice on Big Run Road coming from Oregon Hill , and he rescued me.
Before the bike path opened in 1996,the area still belonged to the hunter/fisherman.With the plan to make the Canyon a major tourist location ,the attorney from Butler bought the Hotel , and really did transform the place.In it's day , there was no other Bar/Hotel like it in the entire northern tier.With the dining patio out back,the plasma TV in the new bar area , and in time , the re-modeling of the rooms upstairs ,and even a gas pump for the snow mobilers , the place had no equal.You could argue that probaly no other location anywhere in the state provided what the village of Blackwell could.The creek and bike path brought people right to the door.
I spent alot of time fishing and photographing in the northern tier,
and donated 13 of my favorite pictures to the owner.They still hang I believe over the Bar and on the walls.My hope is to see them again some day while staying there and enjoying the mountain air.
Doug, if you happen to read this , you know who I am , and I hope to see you again there.It is a special place for sure.I wish you luck in re-opening.

Sandra Blackwell Wilkins said...

Brad ...The Blackwell your asking about was Dr. William P Blackwel born 21 Aug 1833 died 3 Jan 1899.
He was married to Marietta E Wilson
Blackwell. They had 6 children. He also served in the civil war he was taken prisoner at Gaines Bills June 27, 1862, and confined in Libby and Belle Isle three months

azleggs said...

Maybe one of you locals can be of some help...to fill in the many blanks in my memory. My parents & their siblings grew up in the Wellsboro, Morris, Blackwell area. My now deceased parents and aunt & uncle obviously cannot help me. My Aunt Mill & Uncle Jim collins owned a bar in Morris...i was very young...about 40 years ago...and one of their children had a home in Blackwell. I remember having a family picnic there (this would be late 60's... early 70's probably) and walking to a the greatest swimming hole ever...we jumped off the cliffs into pristine water. I never was close to my cousins because they were much older than me so I don't know their last names. I think one of them was Phyllis and she may have run the hotel at one time...again, I'm not sure. Does anyone know who I am talking about? I think I had a 2nd cousin around my age and she's the one who took me to the swimming hole. She'd be in her 50's now, as I am 55. For some reason, the name Irene sticks in my mind...but I could be way off base there. Boy, if only my parents were alive. The things we wish we could ask them! Thanks...

Anonymous said...

azleggs - those are the Davis'. Phyllis was/is the mom, there's Irene, Bobby, Terry and Mike. Irene is now a Heatley. Lives in the area I believe. Terry lives in the area as well, not sure about bobby and mike.

Anonymous said...

We were in Blackwell in August and October and the Blackwell Hotel was OPEN! Doug said he was going to try to remain open year round! I hope this holds true as I know a lot of snowmobilers look forward to stopping there for food fuel and lodging. Hope this helps those wondering if they will reopen.

Lynette Ball said...

Hi all, I went to Blackwell in August 2012, met Donny Blackwell, who lives in the original "Blackwell" home. Also met Enoch "Nic", who as his sister mentioned, lives there and does wonderful chainsaw bears "Blackwell Behrs" I was told that the hotel closed because of septic problems, the county will not let it open again until the owner puts in a new septic system, which is costly. "Miller's store" owners could probably give you information as to who the owner is. If you go there, you should ask Donny to take you to the local cemetery's "Blackwell Cemetery is up the mountainside (not a bad trek) and it is a wonderful experience to go there and step back in time. my Uncle Don Robertson has slowly been trying to remove growth and repair the cemetery when he makes his yearly trips back there. He will be there with his wife and daughter, sometime in June 2013 if anyone wants to help him restore a piece of history. Lynette Blackwell Ball

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember when the owner of the Blackwell Hotel bought and released a bunch of snakes to 'control the rodent population'? What do people hate more than mice... SNAKES!

NickLentz said...

A few friends of mine and I stopped in the Blackwell hotel last fall while on a bike trip. It was apparently opening weekend. We were so happy to see it up and running again. Hoping to get back up there soon. The food was DELICIOUS, by the way. Perfect place to stop for dinner before setting up camp in the gorge for the night!

Bonnie Votano said...

Just got back from a trip to Pine Creek Valley. I grew up going to my Grandfather's hunting cabin every summer which is north of Cedar Run on Fahnestock Road. My family has a cabin off 664 north of Lock Haven...it's nice, but every year we drive over to Cedar Run and to Bear Mountain Camp to swim at the "swimming hole" and pine creek at Cedar Run. This year we drove over to Blackwell to have lunch at the Hotel and I was so disappointed and surprised that they were closed! I hadn't realized that it had been so long since we were there...2008?? I have one of those shirts with the porcupine on it "Hard to find, Harder to leave" I would love to own a place like that and live there! I love Pine Creek Valley.

Anonymous said...

Douglas Linn is/was the owner about 2004 or so. He's an attorney in Butler County, PA

Anonymous said...

@azleggs... Phyllis still lives in Blackwell and takes care of the hotel from time to time.


@Lynette Blackwell Ball... If you take cemetary road (next to the church) you will find a trail behind the first cabin. This will take you to the cemetary, which isn't far up at all.

@Anonymous Chester County[flatlander]... If you're ever in Blackwell, stop in the general store and see if they can find Phyllis for you. Maybe she knows about your pictures since she takes care of the hotel every once in a while.

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