HISTORY OF EQUINUNK

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The Equinunk Historical Society began with a series of organizational meetings starting in March 1981, with the stated purpose of bringing together those people interested in the history of Equinunk, Stockport, Dillontown, Lordville, and surrounding areas of Northern Wayne County, and to discover and collect any material which may help to establish or illustrate the history of the area and provide for the preservation of such material and for its accessibility as far as may be feasible, to all who wish to study or examine it.

Specifically, the society promotes the Joel Hill Water-Powered Sawmill.

  • The Hill Sawmill was built by William Holbert and J. D. Branning just after the Civil War, one of many they owned in the area. Joel Hill purchased the Mill from the Holbert heirs in 1898, along with 1500 acres of timberlands and the 205 acre body of water known as Duck Harbor. The Mill remained in operation until 1974.

  • The sawmill was entirely powered by water. In the winter, loggers gathered timber and piled it on the hill across the road from the pond. In the spring, employees would pull the stop blocks out and the logs would roll down the hill into the pond. They were cleaned off and dragged into the mill with grabs attached to a huge rope.

  • Employees would raise the wooden gate in the sawmill dam and let water into the 28-inch pipe, or penstock, leading into the turbine. The turbine rotates the power take off shaft, which runs the entire mill. Originally, a water wheel was used, but it was washed away in the Pumpkin Flood of 1903. Through a series of belts and pulleys, the 54-inch saw blade is turned at 850 RPM.

  • The mill is open five times a year and there is much more to learn and see.

 

The Calder House Museum.

  • If one stands at the crossroads of Pennsylvania Route 191 and Pine Mill Road in Equinunk and then turns to face an old gray and white house, (now white with a green roof) he will be looking at the headquarters of the Equinunk Historical Society. This same house was once the farmhouse of H.N. Farley's Equinunk Manor Dairy Farm, as well as the Earl and Ethel Lord boardinghouse. When they purchased the place in 1915, they knew it to be over 100 years old, but no documents exist to absolutely prove this. Ann Preston Vail has a very early parchment map showing two structures, once of which may well be this house. The map, handed down in the papers of Samuel Preston, who was a land agent and manager for Henry Drinker of Philadelphia, and also the great-great-great-grandfather of Ms. Vail, is known to be authentic. Henry Drinker was a large holder of lands in NE Pa. This land was originally surveyed as of December 8, 1773 for the Proprietors, or the William Penn family, as Equinunk Manor, amounting to 2222 acres. Preston acquired the land from Penn's heirs in 1812. It then passed to his sons, Paul and Warner, in 1831. They then sold it in 1833, recorded in 1834, to Alexander Calder and Israel Chapman. This was the last sale of the entire tract. These two divided it the same year, Calder retaining land on both sides of the creek in Equinunk, and Chapman taking the land up-creek.

  • H.N. Farley bought the Calder lands and buildings from the estate of Joseph Calder in 1879. The next sale was to the Lords in 1915. They sold it to Martin Perrone in 1949, when it was converted into a barbershop and beauty parlor. In 1969 Scott and Donna Eldred bought the house, to be followed by Christine and Ross Hessberger in 1971. The Equinunk Historical Society bought the house in 1983.

  • The original part of the house exhibits the Greek Classic Revival style of architecture, although the old clapboard siding is hidden under asbestos shingles put on by Martin Perrone. (They were removed and the wood siding was newly painted in July 2003.)

  • There is much more information on the house contained in books and papers available at the Museum. Plan a trip to see us soon and watch the papers for programs during the summer and fall.

Despite its small size, the area has two long-running summer camps: Camp Equinunk, which was founded in 1920, and Camp Blue Ridge, which was founded in 1923.

© 2019 All Rights Reserved. Equinunk Historical Society