Chester Hill Borough lies on the western bank of Moshannon Creek, which divided Clearfield and Centre counties. It was established in 1883 from lands of surrounding Decatur Township.
The town, with its businesses and many homes, has always looked to be a part of adjoining Philipsburg. Chester Hill shares the same zip code, land line phone exchange and school district as its Centre County neighbor.
But the borough is a distinct and thriving community with well-established churches, organizations and businesses that have grown along the state Route 53 corridor that makes its way through the borough.
Before 1883, Chester Hill appeared as Chesterhillville on a map printedin the 1878 Caldwell Atlas of Clearfield County. It took its name from Judge Chester Munson, but the original driving force of business there was the large lumber operation owned by Jacob Steiner.
Steiner was born and raised in Montgomery County, in suburban Philadelphia, and migrated to Clearfield and Centre Counties during the 1850’s. He, like other enterprising entrepreneurs, made his way into the burgeoning lumbering and sawmill business.
Steiner was somewhat unique in that he operated his works on Moshannon Creek, whilst Clearfield and Chest Creeks, as well as the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, were the county’s lumbering hotspots of the day.
Steiner purchased 433 acres from the Hardman Philips estate and built a large and stately home that still stands in the borough.
The photo shows a late 19th century view of Steiner’s Chester Hill sawmill. He boldly announced his company’s name and advertised his lumber as the best.
A small area of Moshannon Creek was dammed in order to provide a gathering place for floating logs and to perhaps power the large jigsaw blades that were used at the time in local mills. The Pennsylvania Railroad line followed Moshannon Creek through Chester Hill and provided transportation of lumber to awaiting markets.
The New York Central owned Beech Creek Railroad also made stops at Steiner’s operation. Both railroads named their stop there, Steiner’s Station.