Statler's old "Shot Factory" tavern in Bedford County, Pennsylvania

 Photo of the shot factory in a 1920 publication.

The tall stone tavern in Bedford County, Pennsylvania that is known as the "Shot Factory" is located at a distinctive turn on Route 30, 0.9 highway miles east of the Somerset County border, and 7.7 highway miles west of Shellsburg. The gps coordinates of the structure are 40.04558890, -78.75522115. Additional pictures of the tavern are included below.

Lead shot is produced by dripping molten droplets of lead from enough height to allow the lead to solidify before landing in a cushioning reservoir of water. This well-known process was invented by the British plumber William Watts and patented in 1782. Smaller shot cools more rapidly and does not require as much height to solidify, compared to large shot. Watts' patent specification states, "If for the smallest shot, the frame must be at least ten feet above the water, and for the largest shot about one hundred and fifty feet, or more, above the water, and so in proportion, according to the size of the shot intended to be made."

This page reviews the question of whether shot was ever actually produced at the "Shot Factory" and proves that the tavern was already called the "Shot Factory" in the early 1840s. The 1782 date of Watts' process invention implies that his process was not used anywhere in the world prior to 1782, including Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

An 1842 book references the "Shot Factory"
The following reference to the shot factory is from the 1842 book "Journal of the Senate", Volume III. This shows that the stone tavern was already known as "the Shot Factory" at a fairly early date. Click here to see the title page from the 1842 book.

1842 reference to the shot factory.

An old Wagoner mentioned the "shot factory" from his 1849-1853 wagoning days
In his 1908 booklet "Retracing of Famous Old Turnpike..." David Eby, "A Wagoner 1849-1853" wrote "I will give the names of Proprietors of hotels and tavern stands between Chambersburg and Pittsburgh, 1849-'53, and some of the industries that had an existence along the turnpike sixty years ago. ... Still House Hill, very steep, a hard pull in days of wagoning, many teams stuck on that hill when the roads were bad. Next foot of Allegheny mountain; hotel, shot factory, High stone building and short turn, hard pull; hotel, P. Statler, Braddock Fort on old road to right on top of Allegheny mountain..." This makes clear that the name "shot factory" was in use in the 1849 to 1853 timeframe. I think it also makes clear that the name "shot factory" applied to the hotel of P. Statler (Peter Statler).

Andrew Statler owned the structure circa 1877
On the Juniata Township map in the 1877 "Atlas of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" the tavern is identified as being the residence of A. Statler (i.e., Andrew Statler). This is harmonious with an interview of Andrew Statler's son-in-law George W. Grove that is summarized in a 1922 newspaper article that is referenced below.

Andrew Statler died on July 27, 1881
Andrew Statler is buried in the Statler Cemetery in Shade Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. His tombstone indicates he died on July 27, 1881 at the age of 65 years, 4 months and 17 days, which by my arithmetic means he was born on March 10, 1816.

An 1882 advertisement references the "Shot Factory Stand"
The following advertisement for a 133-acre property from the estate of Andrew Statler is from the September 6, 1882 issue of the "Somerset Herald" newspaper. It mentions "a three-story Stone House" that was along the Pittsburgh and Bedford Pike on "a certain tract of land, known as the 'Shot Factory Stand'..."

An 1882 advertisement references the Shot Factory Stand.

The tract name "Shot Factory Stand" seems informative. A definition of the word "stand" in the 1898 "Universal Dictionary of the English Language" by Hunter & Morris is, "A place convenient for persons to remain for any purpose; a station." Judging from encountering the word "stand" in context during decades of reading old documents, the word "stand" was used to describe various types of businesses or the buildings they were located in, including taverns, inns, gunsmith shops, etc. In his 1894 book, "The old pike: a history of the national road, with incidents, accidents, and anecdotes thereon", Thomas B. Searight stated, The great majority of the taverns were called wagon stands, because their patrons were largely made up of wagoners, and each provided with grounds called the wagon-yard, whereon teams were driven to feed, and rest over night." Given the meaning of the word "stand", the tract name "Shot Factory Stand" means "Shot Factory Tavern" or in more modern language, "Shot Factory Hotel", which is harmonious with the "hotel" statement of David Eby that is included above.

The 1882 tract name "Shot Factory Stand" and the 1842 use of the name "Shot Factory" inform us that Statler's stone tavern was contemporaneously named or known as the "Shot Factory".

A 1906 book refers to the "shot tower"
As part of a page 26 description of the Fort Dewart breastworks in Volume II of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania", Judge William M. Hall is quoted as follows, "It is northwardly from the turnpike about a mile, at a point where a building known as the shot tower is located. Nothing then remained of it except a slight elevation in the form of a square. The county line runs through it, about one-half of it being in either county." Judge William M. Hall was born November 3, 1828, was admitted to the Bedford bar on August 29, 1849, and died September 10, 1899 at Bedford.

The "Shot Factory" is identified on the 1955 edition of a 1914 map
The location of the Shot Factory relative to Fraziers Pass and Breastwork Run is identified on the following excerpt from a 1914 (HTMC, 1955 ed.) topographic map:

The shot factory is identified on a 1955 edition of a 1914 topographic map.

A 1919 magazine article mentions the "shot factory"
An illustrated 1919 magazine article by Robert Bruce mentions a "...a conspicuous, high, stone building commonly known as the "shot factory," the name arising, it is claimed, from its use at one time for the manufacture of bullets. The building was simply an old turnpike tavern..."

A 1920 book mentions the "shot factory"
In his 1920 book "The Lincoln highway in Pennsylvania...", Robert Bruce states "On the left, at the sharpest one of all, is a conspicuously high stone building commonly known as the 'shot factory,' the name arising, it is claimed, from its use at one time as a place from which to drop shot in making bullets; but that is highly improbable. The building was an old tavern, a product of the turnpike era (1820 or later), erected on that spot somewhat to take advantage of a fine spring of cold water nearby. Its unusual height probably led someone to give it the name of "shot factory," which is even on the U. S. Geological survey map of that section. Though abandoned for many years, its well-built walls are standing in remarkably good condition." The book contains an excellent photograph of the structure.

A 1922 newspaper article mentions the "shot factory"
A 1922 newspaper article that is based on an interview of George W. Grove of Somerset County states, "But to return to the subject of 'The Old Shot Factory,' I asked Mr. Grove to tell me what he knew about it, as well as the old Forbes road and the ruins of the old breastworks on top of the mountain. He then gave me the history of the old stone house as he had received it from those who knew it best. The famous old Forbes road was built across the Alleghenies from Fort Bedford to Fort Duquesne a number of years prior to the Revolution. A number of years after this war the Philadelphia and Pittsburg pike was constructed, part of it traversing the route of the Forbes road and the rest of it following a new route. This pike from Bedford to Pittsburg is now a part of the Lincoln Highway. The Forbes road did not pass the site of the Shot Factory but was located one mile north of it. The stone house was built by Peter Statler sometime after the Philadelphia and Pittsburg pike was completed but Mr. Grove does not know the exact date. It was intended for a wayside tavern and as such was conducted by the said Peter Statler for several years. It failed to pay however, and was subsequently sold by the sheriff of Bedford County to Andrew Statler, a first cousin of Peter. Andrew owned it until his death in 1883 (sic), when it was sold by the administrator of his estate to one John Bence, who held it until he sold it to the present owner, Mr. Percy Allen Rose. Mr. Grove states that shot was never made in this building, that George Washington was dead long before the house was built, and that the Forbes road did not pass it. He further states that this account is correct for he received it from L. M. Statler, with whom he hunted deer and turkey for many years, and who was a half-brother of Peter Statler, the man who built the house. Mr. Grove's wife is a daughter of Andrew Statler, the second owner."

Information in articles by Eber Cockley and Marion Lambert in the November 1962 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" indicates that Peter and Andrew Statler were grandsons of the Innkeeper Casper Statler, Sr. The articles indicate that Peter Statler was the son of the Innkeeper John Statler, Sr. and Andrew Statler was the son of the Innkeeper Samuel Statler, Sr. Mr. Cockley's article also reveals that the "L. M. Statler" referenced by Mr. Groves is John Statler, Senior's son Lewis M. Statler who was born on August 23, 1822 and died on June 26, 1890. Click here to see information on Casper Statler, Sr. and some of his children in the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania". Click here to see information on Casper Statler, Sr. from the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania". George W. Grove, who was married to Anna Statler, was born in 1850, died in 1928, and is buried in the Buckstown Cemetery.

A 1922 book mentions the "shot factory" and Mr. Grove
In his 1922 book, Allegheny Episodes: Folk Lore and Legends Collected in Northern and Western Pennsylvania, Henry W. Shoemaker stated, ...nothing could be more vivid than Michaux's pen picture of his feast on venison cooked on the coals on the hearth at Statler's stone tavern on the Allegheny summits, near Buckstown. This ancient hostelry is, by the way, still standing, though misnamed 'The Shot Factory,' by modern chroniclers, much to the disgust of the accurate historian of Somerset County, George W. Grove. I have no doubt Mr. Shoemaker would have been surprised to see the 1842 and 1882 documents referenced above. Obviously, since Statler's tavern was already referred to as the "Shot Factory" in 1842, it definitely was not misnamed the "Shot Factory" by more recent chroniclers.

It is difficult to understand why Mr. Shoemaker thought Michaux dined at the stone tavern known as the "Shot Factory" because Michaux specifically wrote about dining at a log house. The 1805 book "Travels to the West of the Alleghany Mountains..." by F. A. Michaux states, "Alleghany Ridge is the most elevated link in Pensylvania; on its summit are two log-houses, very indifferently constructed, about three miles distant from each other, which serve as public houses. These were the only habitations we met with on the road from Bedford; the remaining part of the country is uninhabited. We stopped at the second, kept by one Chatlers, tolerably well supplied with provisions for the country, as they served us up for dinner slices of ham and venison fried on the hearth, with a kind of muffins made of flour, which they baked before the fire upon a little board."

A 1923 speech mentions the "shot factory"
In his March 9, 1923 address titled, Place Names and Altitudes of Pennsylvania Mountains, Henry W. Shoemaker stated, On the Lincoln Highway, which also comprises parts of the old Forbes road, are several very high points, notably Breastwork Pass, near Grand View Lookout, and not far from the original Hotel Statler, described in glowing terms by F. Andre Michaux, the French naturalist and traveler, in 1802, and now erroneously called the 'Shot Factory,' which rises 2,908 feet above tide. Breastwork Pass is named for a stream near where a breastworks was thrown up to protect the builders of the Forbes Road in 1758. Not far away, also in Somerset County, is Frazier's pass, 2,778 feet high, named for Major Frazier, an engineer member of General Forbes' staff."

A 1936 article mentions the "Shot Tower" An article titled As Forbes Trailed Through" in the June 1936 issue of the "Western Pennsylvania History" magazine indicates the building was then called the "Shot Tower". The building was referenced as a landmark in the article, which indicates that the route of Forbes' military road was located near the "Shot Tower".

Picture postcards of the "shot factory"
The following images of the "shot factory" are from picture postcards.

001 shot factory picture postcard showing west end of the building.

002 shot factory picture postcard showing east end of the building in early autumn.

003 shot factory photograph-based picture postcard.

 004 shot factory picture postcard.

005 shot factory picture postcard, looking down from hillside at the building.

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