Within the dual borders of Lawrence and Beaver Counties sits Ellwood City. This small town, thirty miles North of Pittsburgh, saw the rise and fall of several large industries Pennsylvania industries. Situated on the banks of the Connoquenessing Creek, it was founded in 1892 by Henry W. Hartman, (I had to blink twice upon reading that piece of information because my grandpa was also a Henry Hartman), and the famed Pennsylvania Railroad even had a route by it in the 1870s.
In the 1930s, the Ellwood City Area Historical Society garnered great support from residents. “Originally, on February 20, 1933, a meeting was called to discuss the possibilities of forming and compiling the history of Ellwood City. About forty representatives of the pioneer families at that time attended. The beginning of the Ellwood City Historical Association.”
For today’s Blogtober post, we’ll take a look at just a few things from Ellwood’s past: a brief history, a few historical businesses, and we’ll take a look at some possibly haunted places!
A Brief History
Founded in 1892 by Henry W. Hartman, Ellwood City saw a quick expansion with industry. From mills and financial institutions to steelworks and the eventual Ellwood Short Line Railroad, Ellwood soon became a hub for those seeking jobs, with peak population being represented in the 1950 census at nearly 13,000 residents.
As with many small Pennsylvania towns, Ellwood City has seen its fair share of trouble. But many credit the seamless tubing company with turning its prospects around. However, after its steelworks production peak, Ellwood City would once again see a decline in population and its job market. Even with its industrial decline, those who chose to stay continue to love having Ellwood City as their home.
Some of the earliest buildings and features to lay down roots were Hotel Oliver (1890), The Elks Lodge (1887), Rock Point Park (1885). Today the area is known for its activities, festivals, water sports, its history and a strong sense of community.
Hotel Oliver – 1890
One of the first building to be construction, Hotel Oliver was the brainchild of the town’s founder, Henry Hartman. it was situated in one of the areas with the best view of the planned town. Resort getaways were a popular concept in the mid 1800s (think Johnstown’s Hunting and Fishing Club), so having such a place wasn’t that far fetched an idea. Named for Henry W. Oliver of Pittsburgh, Hotel Oliver saw many a town event, including banquets, dinners, dances and other private events. Due to its popularity, it underwent several expansions. It went out of business by 1913 after changing hands and was used for several other purposes until 1914. Lincoln High School now stands in its place.
The Ellwood Shafting and Tube Company – 1891
This manufacturer of seamless steel tubes was among the first businesses to see potential in Ellwood, and while this steelworks is now closed, it provided steady work for residents in the area for several decades. Manufacturing was, and still is, an unstable environment, and the plant changed hands several times throughout the first half of the 1900s. Peak production saw the need for at least 4,000 employees during the second World War, and remained open until 1974. In its heyday the plant was serviced by both the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, both of which were known to be reliable transportation for raw materials and manufactured goods.
The Ellwood City Ledger – 1894
Two years following the town’s establishment, a newspaper called The Ellwood City Ledger was founded in 1894. Previously known as the Ellwood Citizen, it was owned and operated by Myron S. Gelbach. The Ledger is still around today, and reports on everything from sports and entertainment to opinion and, of course, the news. There’s even an archive available over on newspapers.com if looking at old circulars is your thing.
Some Possibly Haunted Places
Built in the 1920s as kind of halfway house and later nursing facility, it was shut down in 2004 and its current owners encourage visitors looking for the supernatural. One such story was printed in the Ellwood City Ledger:
One of the most notable casualties in the history of the building is that of Eli Saurri. Eli was a middle-aged man who was a resident there during the buildings early days as a poor farm and halfway house. Eli was a recovering alcoholic, which the building commonly hosted, however, alcohol was forbidden in the building. Due to the strict no alcohol policy, he decided to get his fix by leaving the building in order to go drinking. Eli was found by some of the other residents the next morning laying outside of the front doors passed out drunk, who then decided to carry him in and leave him in the boiler room to warm and sober up. Unfortunately, Eli never sobered up, he passed away in his slumber, likely from alcohol poisoning and now his restless spirit is said to haunt the boiler room area. The ghost of Eli supposedly enjoys taunting women- there are several reports of women saying they were touched, grabbed, and pinched by who they believe is Eli.source
The House on Cliff Street
This particular tale is highlighted in an article titled Hauntings of the Area over on the website for the Lawrence County Historical Society:
Another home on Cliff Street is also reported to have been the site of strange and odd occurrences. Built in the 1800s the house has been the object of eerie apparitions; flying wisps of smoke; loud knocking on the walls, floors, and ceiling; creaking furniture; and footsteps on the stairs.
One family that lived in the house reported that their young daughter regularly spoke with “someone” in the corner of an upstairs bedroom, which supposedly belonged to a small girl who had tragically burned to death in the backyard. That was only one of several deaths that occurred in the old abandoned, dilapidated house over the years.