It can be said that the borough of Mahaffey, located in southwestern Clearfield County, grew with the help of three double pronged gifts.
The confluence of Chest Creek and the upper section of the Susquehanna River made the early lumbering and rafting industry flourish there in the latter half of the 19th century.
The arrival of two railway lines enhanced the shipment of both lumber and coal to far reaching market places in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic States.
Both the Pennsylvania and the Bell’s Gap Railroad (later owned by the New York Central) Railroads had stations in Mahaffey.
The development of Pennsylvania Routes 219 and 36, both intersecting in Mahaffey, opened more modern vehicle and trucking transport. Both of these routes were once First Nation people’s trails through the then wilderness.
Mahaffey grew into what seemed to be a gateway community to DuBois and Clearfield to the north and east and to Punxsutawney and Ebensburg to the northwest and south.
This good fortune of location made Mahaffey a self-contained and thriving community throughout the first half of the 20th century.
The town bears the name of Robert Mahaffey who migrated to the area in the 1840’s. The borough itself was incorporated in 1886.
Prior to that, the town was known as Franklin. Mr. Mahaffey was an early pioneer in the lumbering business that jump started the growth of the borough and the surrounding Bell Township area.
Much of what a small town, in these parts, needed could be found in Mahaffey by the turn of the 20th century. Homesteads, schools, churches were firmly established as well as many businesses; including the Alpine Hotel, shown in the 1910 photo.
The Franklin Tannery began operations in 1886. It relied upon wagon and rail car loads of timber bark in order to process animal hides into leather.
The tannery was a main employer until it closed in the 1920’s. It sat empty and further deteriorated until its demolition decades later.
Mahaffey has boasted a number of modern businesses, ranging from banks, car dealerships, funeral homes and stores. The fire company and ambulance service are vital to the area’s safety.
The town has also been honored by having its VFW Post 8709 named for PFC Melvin Brown, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Truman for his heroic sacrifice of his own life in order to save others during the Korean War in 1950.
More recently, Mahaffey bid farewell to one of its own, Marine Sergeant-Major Morton Shea Landy, after a long life and a stellar military career that spanned decades of service.