Southampton Township Sawmill Race Near Korns farms

sawmill Race, Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA sawmill Race, Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA

The 2007 photographs above show an old sawmill race that is located in Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA near the Korns and Lepley farms. It is located along the Palo Alto road, near where Hill road comes out. There is no trace of a foundation. The race would have taken an enormous amount of work to construct, given the means that were generally available for moving earth in the 1800's. Although it is not shown in these photos, one can still clearly see the run-off path for the mill water below the race, so the race was definitely employed to flow water.

The site is identified as a sawmill site in Beers' 1876 "Atlas of Somerset County Penn.". A copy of the relevant portion of the atlas is reproduced below; the sawmill site is in the lower right-hand portion of the map image. The Daniel Korns, Jr. and A. Lepley farms are also shown on the map image. Click here for a larger image of the 1876 map that shows the location of the Michael Korns, Sr. homestead in relation to the sawmill race. In 2007 I talked to the daughter of Earl Korns, and she had no recollection of a mill at this site, and the several Korns family members that I spoke to had no knowledge of local traditions relating to this particular mill site. One, however (the present 2008 owner of the adjacent Alonzo Lepley farm), did tell me several years ago of a local tradition that the lumber for the barn on Alonzo's farm was hauled from a the far more distant sawmill known as Warren's Mill on Warren's Mill Road.

1876 is well into the steam power era, and therefore seems rather late for a water powered saw-mill. On the other hand, Somerset County tended to cling to the old ways of doing things, so it is quite possible that it was being used in 1876.

Map to sawmill Race, Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA

There were several local sawmills operating in Southampton Township by 1805. An 1805 Southampton Township tax list, given on page 578 of the 1884 " History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties Pennsylvania", lists Jacob Korn with a "mill and sawmill" and also lists Henry Imhoff, George "Kook" and Adam "Startz" has having sawmills. It is theoretically possible, but by no means certain, that the race shown here dates from one of those early sawmills. In any case, whatever its time-frame, the sawmill on this site would have been used to saw lumber for at least some of the local structures. It would be interesting to search local deeds to determine who owned this sawmill site in the 1805-1876 timeframe.

The 1876 map also shows a coal mine that is located on the Daniel Korns, Jr. farm (see above the word "SCHOOL"). This coal mine was still in use by Allen Korns (grandson of Daniel Korns, Jr.) in the 1900's, when Allen's sons were old enough to help. The mine extends under the road, and was used to provide coal for the family home. The coal seam is roughly 14 inches thick.

The above-referenced school on the map image is the Korns school. This map proves that the Korns school was already in use in 1876.

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