Shawville is an old “down river” community that sits on the north bank of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River at the lower end of Goshen Township.
People have inhabited the Shawville area longer than most locals would imagine. A few years ago, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and PenDot sponsored and archaeological dig at the point where Lick Run empties into the Susquehanna. The dig was in preparation for the construction of the new Route 879 bridge. Artifacts from First Nation People’s sites as well as some from early Euro American settlement were found and collected.
The river, of course, defined the encroaching enterprises along its banks. Clearfield County, Judge Richard Shaw, had built and operated a grist mill along Trout Run in 1852. Farmers brought their grain (mostly corn) there to be ground into meal or flour. The rapid downward water was diverted into a chute that gave extra velocity to turn a water wheel that, in turn, allowed a large grindstone to rotate and pulverize the grain that was fed beneath it.
In time, the county logging and rafting industry saw Shawville as a stop or a place marker along the distant journey to the lumber mills of Marietta PA. The timber industry was king for nearly fifty years in the wild regions of the mountainous upper Susquehanna.
Goshen Township, itself, was nearly uninhabited in its northern lands that stretched to Elk County. Scattered logging camps were found there. The farms, homesteads and villages were located on the township’s southern end near the river. The present Shawville United Methodist Church and adjacent school building continue to stand today as a reflection of that time.
The massive change to Shawville came in the late 1950’s with the construction of General Public Utilities’ coal fired electrical power generating plant. The huge plant operates on the Bradford Township side of the river and has turned out vital electrical power for over sixty years. It has been an essential county employer. Today, however, due to cost efficiency and air quality issues, the plant is fired by natural gas.
The photo shown was taken from near where the power plant sits today. It looks to be late 19th or very early 20th century scene. The bridge is small but accommodated horses and wagons. A large mill is shown as well as the old Shawville store. The then dirt road made its way up the steep hill to Goshen and on to Mt. Joy, as it does today.