DuBois History Briefs

                                     by Tom Schott and Gene Aravich



George Shaffer and wife, with their six children, Frederick, Michael, George, Jr., and three daughters, migrated from Dauphin County, Pa., in 1812 to where DuBois now stands. On May 13, 1812, a part of the family arrived and erected a " bark shanty.” On the night of May 14, Frederick and Michael Shaffer slept in this shanty, which they erected in what is now the First Ward of the city, the other members of the family stopping with Jacob Ogden, a pioneer who lived at what was Carlisle Station on the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh railway, south of DuBois.

The Shaffers cleared two acres of land on the ridge or hillside in that year. Charles C. Gaskell was agent for the land, and George Shaffer, Jr., afterwards bought the land from him. The Shaffer property passed from their hands in 1853 to Jacob Heberling, who sold to his son, David, who owned and occupied the land until 1865, when he sold the 250 acres of it to John Rumbarger.

Much of George’s original acreage was passed along to his grandson, Henry. He did not value the land, finding what would be central DuBois to be low and swampy and began to sell it off in one-acre parcels. The owners were left to determine their own roads resulting in the narrow streets in DuBois today.

Henry eventually sold all of his land and moved to Lawrence Township near Clearfield to escape the growing population.


The first building used for religious purposes in the DuBois area was a tavern in Luthersburg in 1825. There were no hymn books or Bibles and all services were held at night by candlelight.

Sunday School is said to have been held for the first time in 1865 in the old log schoolhouse south of town.

The first church was erected at the corner of E. Long Ave. and Church St. in 1874 , with a minister of the Brookville Evangelical Church in charge. The building was built on posts about two feet above the ground and sheep from the neighborhood are reported to have disturbed the services by bumping their heads on the flooring.

The Evangelical Church later acquired property at the site of its present location for building purposes and the Methodists built at the corner of Long Ave. and Franklin St. shortly after 1870.

The First Presbyterian Church was organized on May 9, 1876, in a barn at the corner of Main St. and W. Long Ave. Other denominations followed in later years.


The first school in the DuBois area was held in a bar at Luthersburg about 1827.

Hewn log structures were late erected for dual purposes of school and church and by 1848 there were five for such purposes in Brady Township.

The first school to be erected with public money was on S. Main St. Extension in 1860 and is still standing. The term was for three months and the school was said to have been shared by pupils and sheep alike during the year.

In 1876, a two-room school was built on W. Scribner Ave., where the now demolished Central School stood at a later time. A second school was opened in a loft on N. Main St. at the same time.

Class terms were limited to three months in the early years, extended to four and finally to five. If a student wanted additional education, they had to earn money to attend academies in other parts of the state. Girls as a general rule did not go beyond the common schools.


The United States Civil War is the most devastating confrontation in terms of military losses in our nation’s history. DuBois residents, along with those of surrounding counties, played a major part in that conflict.

One of the most famous Union regiments was the 13th Pennsylvania Reserve or the 42nd regiment infantry, also known as the Bucktails who served from May 28, 1861, through June 11, 1864. They were recruited in Clearfield, Elk, Cameron, Chester, Tioga, Perry, McKean and Warren Counties.

On April 17, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to fight for three months. General Thomas L. Kane from Kane in McKean County recruited the Bucktails; DuBois residents went to Curwensville where they formed Company K.

The Bucktails were participants in the first Union victory in the Civil War on Dec. 20, 1861, at Dranesville in Virginia. Among their many campaigns, they were very prominent in defending their home state at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, where there are several monuments in their honor.

Out of the twelve hundred men that had enlisted with the Bucktails, one hundred sixty-two were killed or died of wounds, ninety-three died of disease, four hundred twenty-four were wounded, and two hundred fifty-five were listed as captured or missing. Two of them also earned the Congressional Medal of Honor.



John Rumbarger Jr. established the town of Rumbarger, the precursor of the present City of DuBois. He was born in Warrior's Mark, Huntingdon County, Pa, May 25, 1810. In 1850, he left Huntingdon County and moved first to Kittanning, Pa., then Black Fox Furnace, near Parker’s Landing, Pa., and finally to Brookville, Pa., where he worked as a lumberman until the end of the Civil War.

In 1865, Rumbarger bought from David Heberling 325 acres in the wilderness of Brady Township. The greater portion of this land was within what is now the DuBois City Limits.

The natural growth of, the community and the prospects induced Rumbarger in 1872 to plot a portion of his farm in lots becoming the new town of Rumbarger. The growth of Rumbarger began to make rapid progress,

John DuBois first visited the area now occupied by Rumbarger in 1842, meeting George Shaffer. When DuBois returned in 1871 to develop the property he had purchased he found Rumbarger living in the now deceased Shaffer's home.

The arrival of John DuBois and his lumber mills brought a desire to change the name of the community from Rumbarger to DuBois. A compromise was reached and the town became DuBois permanently.

Rumbarger, seeing that DuBois was going to be establishing business and bringing in a large potential for different types of work, started to sell off the lots on the land he owned.

That land is the original DuBois area itself and the town of DuBois. George Kirk surveyed the lots around the area and the lots on his land, and put advertisements in the Clarion and Brookville newspapers to get potential buyers to come look at those lots.

Rumbarger described the town as beautifully situated on Sandy Creek within 80 rods of the railroad nearing completion and on a public road leading from Luthersburg to Brockwayville. He described the large steam sawmill and general lumber establishment, under construction by a John DuBois, that would give employment to not less than 100 hands.

Rumbarger was active in business until approximately 1879. He was married twice and had 13 children. He died in 1889.


john_dubois.jpgJohn DuBois’ first property development in what is now DuBois came in 1872. It was a wood mill with a smaller mill. He started the big mill, or the loggers’ mill, in the area of what is now Liberty Boulevard in 1873.

He built a box factory in 1881 that manufactured shirt cases and tobacco cases, as well as siding and flooring. He brought the iron works that was in Williamsport to DuBois and set that up in production in 1875.

He started the Hemlock Mill in 1884, and manufactured hemlock lumber as well as some hardwood lumber. He needed a market for the hemlock bark, so in 1883 John and two of the Van Tassel brothers started a firm for the tanning of leather and built a large tannery where the Third Ward Hose House now stands. That entire area was given to the city for public use in the later 1800s or early 1900s, following John DuBois’ death in 1886.


DuBois as it exists today was once a dual town. One section was known as the east or DuBois side, to distinguish it from the older Rumbarger side.

Rivalry existed for many years between the two sections and the coal miners and their families living in Rumbarger and the lumbermen and woodsmen residing on the DuBois side.

To get across the half mile of low beaver dam between the two towns, slabs from the mills were used to construct a corduroy or mud bridge. Later known as a plank road it is now Liberty Boulevard.

The village of Rumbarger near what is now Long and Main Streets was soon outdistanced by rapid building on the DuBois side of town. DuBois soon became the name by which the community was known.


Lumbering was the key to the early development of DuBois, but other industries followed.

At the same time lumbering was going strong, many deep coal shafts were being drilled to bring soft coal to the future. This coal was transported east to the coastal cities.

The need to get the lumber and coal to market attracted the railroads to the community. The opening of ports on the Great Lakes through the efforts of the B.R. & P.R.R. led to more economic prosperity for the area.

Generous land grants by the city and financial aid by the banks brought in the B.P.& P. car shops and locomotive works. This created another 1,000 jobs to go along with the mining and lumbering jobs already in existence.


Major M. I. McCreight was one of the most colorful characters in DuBois’ 125 year history.m_i_mccreight.jpg

Born near Reynoldsville in 1865, he was out of the same mold as President Theodore Roosevelt. He received his early education in country skills and went to Eastman Business School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., at age 16, graduating four years later. After a brief time as a storekeeper and banker in Reynoldsville he went to the Dakota territory working as a cattle dealer.

There McCreight had many encounters with Native Americans and plains legends such as Buffalo Bill Cody, who came to visit him as his home, the Wigwam, in DuBois after he returned in 1886. Becoming associated with the First National Bank he became manager of DuBois Deposit Bank after it was purchased. He lived until age 93 and maintained his continuing interest in the DuBois community including authoring a book of DuBois history.


Little of what is now DuBois would be recognizable to a visitor from our earlier time period.

DuBois grew slowly in its early years. Between 1867 and 1873, DuBois expanded from four families to 16. A public road, now DuBois St., had been obtained, extending from N. Main Street to the Low Grade Railroad with a plank platform set up as the new railroad station.

At the same time, John E. DuBois was erecting two sawmills, one of which was to be the largest in the state. The mills led to the planning of N. Brady St. and later, the Old Plank Road, as access to the new mills. A five-foot fill was required to traverse the waterbed and because lumber was plentiful, a plank road was built. It would be replaced in later years by a brick highway.

A toll gate was erected at the corner of Long Ave. and Courtney St. (now Brady St.), and persons going to the Pennsylvania Railroad, near the current Pizza Hut and WOWQ radio station, had to pay a toll.


Times and needs have changed quite a bit in DuBois since its early years. In the late 1870’s DuBois was granted borough status and elected L.A. Brady as the first burgess or mayor.

The primitive style of life of the community is reflected in some early ordinances:Feeding and milking of cows on sidewalks or public crossings was prohibited. Regulations were established for breeding stallions inside the new borough line, providing for the process to be done under cover and away from residences. People were prohibited from depositing manure, dirt or ashes on the public street. Stove pipes must not run out of the side of a house. Slaughter houses were prohibited from the central part of town. Herds of pigs were not permitted to roam the streets.


One DuBois native was the founder and dean of a college, Mother M. Borgia Egan.mother_egan.jpg

Born Catherine Egan on March 22, 1876, she entered the Order of the Sisters of Mercy on July 1, 1891. She was educated in the DuBois Schools and went on to graduate from Catholic University of America and Duquesne University.

From 1906-1918 she served as principal of St. Catherine’s School in DuBois. Under her leadership it became the first parochial school in Pennsylvania to be accredited by the State Department of Education. In 1924, Mother Borgia was Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mercy, Titusville, and took on the job of constructing Mercyhurst College in Erie.

She successfully guided the college to full accreditation until illness forced her to retire as an active dean in 1956. She died on Feb. 11, 1962. Egan Hall, a residence hall at Mercyhurst, is named in her honor.


The origins of the officially designated City of DuBois date to 1877 with the first attempt to organize the town of DuBois into a borough.

However, there were several delays and DuBois did not become an incorporated borough until 1881. Although already known as DuBois since 1876, there was some interest in officially naming the area Rumbarger or Sandy Valley. L. A. Brady was the first burgess (similar to a mayor) of the new borough.

In 1883, the borough was divided into three wards. Two additional wards were added during later years.

On Nov. 2, 1914, the borough of DuBois voted to become a third class city. Governor John Tener granted the city charter on Dec. 28, 1914, and DuBois officially became a third class city on Jan. 1, 1915.


Tom Mix (1880-1940), the famous silent movie cowboy actor has links in DuBois history.tom_mix_postcard.jpg

Contrary to many popular accounts, Tom (right) was born at Mix Run in Bennetts Valley. After the family moved to DuBois, his father served as a coachman for John DuBois. Heading west as a young adult,Tom became a movie star and an idol to children. He became even more popular through cherished give-aways from the Ralston Purina Company.

Mix returned to DuBois on several occasions after achieving star status. Once was to visit relatives and another was when he brought the Tom Mix Wild West Show to his hometown. Mix died in a car accident near Florence, Arizona, on Oct. 12, 1940.

For several years in the 1980’s DuBois hosted the National Tom Mix Festival which attracted fans from as far away as Europe into DuBois to recall the stories of their hero.


McCrory’s, one of the most famous five and ten cent store chains in the nation’s history, has connections to DuBois history.

John G. McCrorey was born in Indiana County in 1860 and opened the first of his stores in Scottsdale in 1882. A store was opened in DuBois the following year and the Scottsdale site closed. Although the Scottsdale store was reopened in 1915, the DuBois site was the longest in continuous operation until its closing in the 1980s.

McCrorey dropped the silent E from his name on the stores. At one time the chain owned 775 stores and 554 restaurants throughout the U.S. with headquarters in New York City.

McCrorey was president of the company for 50 years, vacating that position in 1931 to become chairman of the board. He retired two years later and lived on until 1943.


In the early years of the 20th Century, coal mining was the man industry in the DuBois area.

The first “drift” mine was opened in 1883 in a thousand acre tract between DuBois and Falls Creek. Ball, Lewis & Yates, opened new mines west of town and another south of Sandy Creek, calling the former Rochester. The Iselins opened a deep shaft at Helvetia, where the company owned town became one of the most successful coal mining operations for over 50 years.

Ball, Lewis & Yates constructed a company store at the corner of Long, Booth, and State streets to service the miners and their families. A large number of houses grew up on both sides of Booth Street including the Baker house, where the Great Fire of 1888 would have its origins.

By 1892, Ball, Lewis & Yates and the Iselin interests had a monopoly on coal production with the B. R. & P. Railroad having complete control over transportation.1883-1933, COAL IS KING

Coal meant everything to DuBois from a period beginning around 1883 and continuing for over 50 years. Millions of tons of coal were extracted from the ground as DuBois became known as one of the coal capitols of the nation.

Among the outsiders interested in the coal were the Goodyear family, the Berwind-White family, Bell, Lewis & Yates, the Robinson family, the Peale family, the Erie and New York Central Railroads, and eventually the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh lines. The railroad interests led to the establishment of the B. R. & P. railroad car repair shops and locomotive works in DuBois.

Hugh fortunes resulted from the coal mining, but ironically most of it went to the cities, to the men or corporations who invested in the mines. Much of the money went to New York, Buffalo, and Rochester. There were no coal barons in DuBois.

However, thousands of men were employed by the mines, bringing that economic prosperity to DuBois and the surrounding area.


The Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railroad (B. R. & P.) arrived in DuBois on March 7, 1883, and over the next several years grew to employ 1,300 persons.

In 1896, a group of DuBois businessmen went to Rochester, N.Y., and successfully influenced the placing of the railroad car repair shops in DuBois. A sum of $2,100 was paid for the site adjacent to South Brady St. and an additional $13,247.50 was placed in escrow. Within six months the shops were a reality.

The expansion of the railroad line to the Indiana coal fields eventually led to the adding of the locomotive shops on the north side of town. A three story office building on Franklin Street was added in the early 1900s, but the personnel were moved to Pittsburgh when rail and passenger traffic declined in the late 1930s.

All three locations are now demolished, but are proudly recalled memories for the area.

GREAT FIRE, JUNE 18, 1888.

The fire started around 1 p.m. On a hot afternoon in John Baker’s Hotel near the present B & O crossing on Long Avenue. The one-hose cart in the community responded but only a trickle of water could be obtained from the hydrant because of a water leak.


x marks the spot of the Baker House; shaded area is extent of the fire.

The wind blew the fire toward Main Sreet., consuming nearly everything to State Street by 3 p.m. Then the wind shifted causing the fire to jump the railroad tracks and head up Long Avenue. Dynamiting buildings in an attempt to stop the flames only spread it further.

When the winds ceased blowing that evening the fire disapated. By then it had devoured buildings and businesses bordered by Long Avenue, Stockdale Sreet., East Scribner Avenue, to beyond Main Street. Damage would be estimated at $1 million, but luckily no lives were lost in the disaster.


Within a week of the June 18, 1888, Great Fire, which leveled most of the City of DuBois in approximately 8 hours, the DuBois Volunteer Fire Department was born.


The first company formed was Volunteer Second Ward, on June 25, 1888. It was followed by Friendship Fifth Ward, VanTassel (later J. E. DuBois Third Ward), Fourth Ward, and Goodwill Hose Company in the Fifth Ward. The first fire chief was James Whitehall.

The first fire truck to serve the community was homemade and cost $1,200. Weaver’s Garage on S. Brady St. converted a used car into a good imitation of a motorized fire truck for the Fourth Ward Hose Company in 1916.

From these beginnings, DuBois now can claim one of the finest and longest existing volunteer fire companies in the United States


Like the classic Phoenix arising from the flames, DuBois quickly rebuilt itself following the Great Fire of June 18, 1888.

The ashes were barely cool and there had been no real time to seek insurance claims when the rebuilding of larger and sturdier buildings in the fire area started.

To insure that the Great Fire would not be repeated a new water system was needed. A reservoir was constructed in upper Clear Run and by 1890-91, DuBois had a new water system.

Gas lines were installed and a franchise for lighting streets was granted by council bringing electricity throughout the City. By the time the Gay 90’s arrived, DuBois had all the major utilities needed by a city.

The busy 10-year building period after the Great Fire provided the semblance of a new central city, that in layout remained nearly intact in 1997, DuBois’ 125 th Anniversary Year.

In June of 1893, firemen lined up for a parade in downtown DuBois. At seven o five, the whistle blew, signaling the start of the parade.

Every year since, the firemen’s parade tradition continues. Firemen from all over the area process through the town as the rest of the community applaud their service.

High school bands march along to entertain the crowds with their music. Main roads of the city are blocked off to allow the parade to pass by without pause.

Dads, husbands and big brothers wave to their families from the back of their fire and rescue trucks which shine from days of polishing and waxing.

The City of DuBois realizes the important role that fire fighters play in the safety of their homes and businesses. The firemen’s parade is a chance for the entire community to show their appreciation to these courageous men.


Frank_Hahne.jpgFrank Hahne Sr. (left) knew good taste long before many others in the DuBois area.

This founder of the DuBois Brewery immigrated from Germany and first worked at the E & O Brewery in Pittsburgh. He later came to DuBois and started the DuBois Brewery in 1895. The company would continue in business through 1972.

Hahne constructed the brewery, and imported most of the machinery used to make beer from Germany where the most flavorful beer was made. Part of the money for the business was made by selling stock to the people of the area, with Hahne retaining 51% of the stock.

Much of the grain used in production was raised in the Luthersburg area, out at the brewery farm. A wide variety of beers were produced under various labels. It took 12 days for it to ferment and usually a month before it was bottled.

The cleanliness of the brewery was known throughout the state, and inspectors marvelled at how clean they kept it. One man said there was no mold, no chipped paint, and it was clean enough that you could even eat off the floor!


Although DuBois is known for its railroad period, at one time a resident could also travel by street car.

The DuBois Traction Street Railroad Co. was organized in 1896. By that time the planned streets had been cut to sufficient width to lay ties and rails from the East Side to Rumbarger Cemetery on S. Main St.


The line eventually expanded to Dixon Ave. and beyond the city limits on S. Brady St. to Sykesville (the first electric trolly to Sykesville is shown in the photo) and Big Run where passengers could transfer to the Punxsutawney line. The line also extended to Falls Creek just beyond Edgemont Park and to the Pennsylvania Railroad passenger line at the corner of Liberty Boulevard and DuBois Ave. A spur line extended to the DuBois Fair Grounds.

The rise of the automobile in the 1920s signaled the end of the street car system in DuBois.


Cars, now a common site on DuBois streets, were once an object of wonder when they were operated.

The first automobile to be seen or operated in DuBois was with the Barnum & Baily Circus in 1896. It was such a novelty that people paid admission to see it. Automobiles continued to be an attraction for almost a decade.

Two cars arrived in DuBois almost simultaneously in 1901. B. M. Marlin, president of the Union Bank and Trust Company, and George and Tom Stockdale, owners of the Union Bargain Store, owned the cars.

On June 13, the Stockdales drove their “steamer” two days to Driftwood, becoming the first car to be seen in Bennett’s Valley.

A year later, 1902, Professor Thom of the Business College drove his “steamer” to Clearfield, becoming the first car to be seen in the county seat.

Dr. Gann was another early auto owner, and it is reported that children lined the streets to watch him take his drive around town.


Doctor’s Hospital opened in a house on W. Scribner Ave. in 1897. The 23-bed facility was damaged by fire in 1909. At that time the physicians asked the Sisters of Mercy from Erie to operate the facility and in 1910 the facility, later known as the DuBois Hospital, was under new management. Eventually the Sisters opened a new building on Hospital Ave. on Oct. 23, 1915.

In 1912, John E. DuBois offered $10,000 and a tract of land for development of a second hospital, one that would be a non-profit, non-sectarian community facility. This resulted in the opening of Maple Avenue Hospital on Oct. 8, 1918.

Both hospitals served the medical needs of the DuBois area for decades before a historic and unprecedented merger in 1985 joined the two facilities as the DuBois Regional Medical Center.


One of the companies that helped coal mining become a major industry for DuBois was the Berwind-White Coal Company. It purchased 2,000 acres of land southeast of DuBois and put down a shaft where the DuBois Mall is now located.

In 1900, it was taken over by the Buffalo and Susquehanna Coal and Coke Company and became known as B & S Shaft #1. A new railroad, known as the B & S, was constructed from Sinnemahoning to Shaft #1, using a new tunnel dug at Sabula. The railroad line continued to Armstrong County. A second shaft known as B & S. #2 was opened just beyond Highland Street a few years later.

Labor disputes in 1929 forced the closing of the B & S and Northwest Mining and Exchange Company operations, and they were never reopened. The shafts flooded, effectively bringing an end to deep shaft mining.

Strip mining in later years would remove hundreds of thousands of tons more of coal from the area.


"If" is always a big word in history.

But, if a car designed in DuBois had worked it might possibly have resulted in another industry for the community. Unfortunately that was not the case. A steam-driven automobile constructed at the Iron Works (now Rockwell) and patented by Joe Keefer did not work.

However, even without manufacturing automobiles, the Iron Works became one of the many repair shops to grow up around the 105 automobiles in DuBois by 1910.

By 1916, there were six car dealerships in DuBois: Weaver’s, DuBois Garage, Renninger’s, Tate and Schrecongost, Moulthrop Sales, and Logan’s. Among the cars being sold were the Buick, Nash, Cadillac, Jordan, Maxwell, Saxon, Vin trucks, Oaklands, Chevrolet, Studebakers, Briscoes, Overland, Ford, and Dodge. Prices ranged from $495 to $1,675. The love affair Americans still have with their automobiles had begun.


Prohibition was passed in 1919.

It hit all brewery operations in the country very hard, with many of them closing, but the DuBois Brewery found a way to survive. The Frank Hahne family shifted the efforts of the brewery to making near beer, ginger ale, and root beer. They also manufactured ice which they sold to the railroads for refrigeration and local households for iceboxes.

Frank Hahne Sr. died in 1932, just a year before Prohibition ended. His son, Frank Jr., and three daughters Marie, Caroline, and Emilie took over the business. One of the big advantages Frank Jr. had in taking over the business was no violations against the DuBois Brewery during the Prohibition period. Because of that when Prohibition ended, they were able to apply for a new license and the number on the license was G2, which was the second license issued from the state of Pennsylvania after Prohibition.

The DuBois Brewery was able to bottle 300 bottles or 250 cans per minute when they were in full operation, and they produced one thousand fifty barrels annually, first in Pennsylvania, and later in West Virginia, Ohio, New York, and New Jersey. The payroll amounted to approximately one-half million dollars annually for approximately 100 employees.


The DuBois Brewery under the direction of brewmasters such as Walt Eiser and Abel Herring produced a wide variety of beers. One was called Vitalis, like the hair tonic; Wurzburger, a very dark beer; Hahne Porter; Pixie Ale; Burgundy Brau, which had a red color to it; and the premium, Cloud Nine. But the beer that made DuBois famous was DuBois Budweiser. It also led to a number of famous court cases with brewery giant Anhauser-Busch.

Anheuser-Busch claimed the name Budweiser. There were other companies in the United States who also produced under the Budweiser name. Anhauser-Busch simply scared most of them to drop the name. Frank Hahne decided he wasn’t going to allow that to happen and he went to court with them. He lost in one lower court, but pursued it on to a higher court where he won. DuBois Budweiser continued to be produced until Iron City Brewery purchased the DuBois Brewery in 1967. At that time Iron City took a large settlement from Anheuser-Busch and dropped the Budweiser name. Five years later the brewery was closed forever.


In 1928, the local American Legion Post took on a huge task of clearing a tract of land and building a new approximately one-half mile road. A grant had been received by the City of DuBois to build an airport. Anxious for the economic impact of such a facility the city accepted but had no way to reach the selected site in the Oklahoma area of town, at the later location of McDowell Manufacturing, off Maple Avenue. The Legion was approached and they accepted the challenge.

Several months of work was need to clear the field of a six-inch-diameter growth of trees. That was followed by construction of a road to the site. Because the runway was short, only smaller commuter planes could use the airport. Half a dozen private planes used the field frequently. Within a few years, it was determined that smaller commuter planes were not commercially feasible and since the runway could not be extended the airport was closed.


The works of the Civilian Conservation Corps, known as the C.C.C., are still visible in DuBois and the immediate area.

During the great Depression of the 1930s, when millions of Americans were without jobs or food, the federal government sought to help by establishing the C.C.C. The C.C.C. brought thousands of young men off the streets into military style Conservation Camps where they were paid to complete projects for the public good. One of those camps was at nearby Parker Dam. In addition to constructing the dam and spillway and other parts of the park at Parker Dam, they also built and improved many of the roads in the area.

In DuBois, under the direction of the Works Progress Administration constructed the still in use Mansell Stadium and the stone stairs and wall at the end of Liberty Boulevard. These projects stand in continuing memory of the men who completed the work.


One of the biggest youth participation sports in the 1950s in DuBois was the Soap Box Derby. The Courier-Express/Schneider Motors sponsored the yearly event. A hundred or more boys (and a few girls) would enter each year and spend several months designing the cars to be used. Some of the cars were so well designed that they would reach a speed of 30 miles per hour.

The races were held on Maple Avenue with the starting point about half way up the hill. The finish line was near the Beaver Meadow Creamery. Hundred’s of spectators would line the route to cheer on their favorites.

The winners went to Indianapolis for national competition. The races came to an end when competitors struck spectators edging on to the course resulting in some law suits.


DuBois was a major railroad center during the early years of the 20th Century. Some 20 passenger trains per day came through the town.

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh (B.R. & P) line had a dozen trains scheduled daily. The Low Grade line of the Pennsylvania connected with the main line at Driftwood and Erie to the north; the Buffalo and Susquahanna (B & S) extended from DuBois through the Bennetts Valley.

Two fliers passed through each day, one bound for Pittsburgh and the other for Buffalo, and both hauling five or six passenger car sections with dining cars and parlor cars. The railroads meant employment for a thousand persons in DuBois with the locomotive and car shops.

On June 15, 1954, hundreds of area residents made the last ride on the C & M Junction Division of the B & O Railroad from DuBois to Clearfield.

August 11, 1960 - Dime Store Fire


August 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of what the locals refer to as the dime store row fire on August 11, 1960. The fire on Long Avenue’s business section destroyed F.W. Woolworth’s, Matthew’s Book Store, J.J. Newberry, June Hess Beauty Shop and B. & J. Restaurant. 

At 3:10 a.m. night patrolman Joe Wilcox reported the flames he discovered in the basement of either B. & J. Restaurant or Newberry’s and sounded the alarm. As fire units arrived, there were flames shooting from the roof of the B. & J. Restaurant.

Friendship and Goodwill Companies were delayed by a train blocking the Long Avenue crossing. The pumpers had to take Sugar Alley and West Washington as a detour. The John E. DuBois, Friendship, and Goodwill Companies worked at the rear side of the buildings and the others, including Sandy, worked at the front.

Over 500 feet of hose was used for the fire. Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1 used its 75-foot aerial ladder to pour water onto the fire from above. One police officer commented that the street looked like a spaghetti factory with all the hoses stretched out. The firemen were unable to move more than a few feet into the Newberry’s building due to the thick smoke. During the fire, attics and ceilings crashed down, delaying efforts.

Luckily, ammunition stored in Matthew’s Book Store had been removed by management. Supplies of paint and varnishes exploded in the dime stores when the fire reached it.
Tommy Gillung, Jr. helped with rescue. He ran to the third floor of the Turner building to awaken tenant Olive Crum and lead her safely out. She suffered emotional shock. Firefighter William Tankalavage was treated for a right knee injury. Firefighter Thomas Swauger was overcome with smoke.

There was no wind but steady water pressure; both elements aided firefighters.

Another concern was that walls could collapse, creating flying sparks that would cause more problems.

The building housing Woolworth’s was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt. Newberry’s, Matthew’s, and B. & J. Restaurant were completely gutted and had to be demolished. June’s Beauty Shop, located on the second floor of the Newberry building, opened only a few months before the fire. Turner’s store, suffering only smoke damage, was closed a few days but planned to open for the weekend. Tamler’s department store, which was next to McCrory’s, was open the next morning. Fans were used to clear the air. There was no fire or water damage.
The fire lasted three hours and damage was estimated at $500,000. The fire was the most extensive since the fire of 1888 that destroyed the entire business district.