Pennsylvania Great Outdoors: True Tales of the Clarion River – Going Over the Millstone Dam

This is a story from Harry C. Sayers of Summerville, Pennsylvania, found in the book “True Tales of Clarion River,” written in 1933 by George P. Sheffer under the auspices of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Raftsmen’s Association:

(Photo courtesy Library of Congress)

The location of the referenced dam is near the Loleta Recreation Area in Allegheny National Forest.

In 1892, I was working for the Shippen Brothers in Forest County. William Summerville had a job with Richard Winlack from Jefferson County, taking out square timber and drifting it down Millstone Creek to the mouth to a bracket dam and then rafting the timber into rafts to go down the Clarion River.

Now that dam was not intended to run rafts over; there was a tumble of five feet on it. Mr. Summerville got his rafts ready to run out to the Clarion River, a distance of about seventy-five to one hundred rods. Then came a quick flood in June of this year and he decided to run.

Mr. Summerville, “Seven Buckets of Blood,” as he was called, for he was a great scrapper among the raftsmen, came to Shippens Mills hunting hands who were not afraid to go over the Millstone dam. The following men volunteered to go over at a dollar a trip: Win Beer, Reason Gordon, Will Potter and myself.

We put a bracket on the dam seven feet high. When the dam filled we cut the bracket and over we went diving to the bottom and bringing up stones that took four men to roll off the raft. The rafts were all torn to pieces and there were not more than six or eight sticks of timber left together. They looked more like drifting pile timber than rafts. We were in the water to our waists but managed to keep our feet and all came out without a scratch and got a dollar apiece and a big thrill for our trouble.

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