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Blacklick Township

Blacklick Township was formed on October 10, 1850, from territory taken from Cambria Township on the East, Carroll Township on the North, and Jackson Township on the South. Its western boundary is also the Cambria County boundary with Indiana County. The Township takes its name from Blacklick Creek, which runs through part of the Township. The name Blacklick Creek, called Two Lick Creek in the late 1700's, probably originated from the salt licks found at the outcroppings of coal.

Belsano was the first settlement in what is now Blacklick Township. Belsano, which was founded in 1830, reportedly was named for a town in Italy. Among the early settlers in Belsano were the Reed, Hite, Duncan, Empfield, Edwards and Makin families. The first post office in Belsano was opened in 1875. The post office was discontinued briefly for a period in 1919-1920, but was reopened and remains active today.

In a settlement known as Bethel, located along Route 422 (the Ben Franklin Highway), the first house of worship was established by Rev. William Williams in 1833. People of Welsh origin who had abandoned an earlier nearby settlement named Beulah founded Bethel. A post office named Pindleton was established near Bethel in 1879. Some of the first settlers at Bethel included the Reese, Davies, Mahan, Wissinger, Rowland, and Jones families.

The Village of Twin Rocks was established in 1875 and takes its name from an immense rock, split by forces of nature, into two almost identical pieces. These rocks were located almost directly across the south branch of Blacklick Creek from the present location of Sts. Timothy and Mark Catholic Church. During the construction of the railroad from Ebensburg to Vintondale in 1893-1894 the "twin rocks" were reportedly cut into building stone for construction of the Rockville Bridge, which spans the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA. Twin Rocks over the years absorbed several smaller communities. One of these communities, located near the site of the former railroad station, was called Expedit; another was Big Bend.

Big Bend took its name from the great curve in the Blacklick Creek that flows along the border of the community. An official of the U.S. Post Office Department, who struck out the proposed post office's name of "Twinrocks" and wrote "Expedit" on the 1896 application form, apparently was responsible for naming Expedit. The name of the post office was subsequently changed to Twin Rocks in 1929.

The names of other sections of Twin Rocks that once existed, and are still frequently used by some "old-timers", include Mudtown, Little Italy, Tigers Patch, Costlow, Griffithtown, Seldersville, and the Flats.

Settlements in the Township that previously had post offices include: Ivison (proposed as Briarton), 1886 to 1918 when it was transferred to Nicktown; Nettleton (proposed as Cardiff) from 1907 to 1959, when it was transferred to part of the Nanty Glo mail service; Bracken (proposed as Weber Siding), 1896 to 1929 when mail service was transferred to Expedit and the town was eventually abandoned; and Nipton (Red Mill) operating in 1898, but term of service unknown.

Other settlements that still exist today include Cardiff, named for a town in Wales; Eleanore, built by the Cambria and Indiana Railroad; and White Mill, once known as Chrysler Station.

Major industries in Blacklick Township included lumbering, coal mining and farming. As early as 1860 Blacklick Township was the major supplier of coal to Ebensburg and in 1894 the first large commercial mining operation began shipping coal by railroad in Twin Rocks. In 1896, the Whitmer Railroad, the first logging railroad in Cambria County, was used to haul timber to a sawmill located in Twin Rocks.

Ivison, settled in 1860, was the scene of much lumbering activity. The first lumber mill was owned and operated by James Bracken. Among the first settlers in the Ivison area were the Bracken, Stiles, Marsh, Hines, and Longnecker families. The Red Mill and White Mill areas were also scenes of lumbering and also were sites of railroad crossings in the Township. The Duncan family, members of whom operated the White Mill and Red Mill, was one of the early pioneering families of the western part of the Township.

The Village of Cardiff, built on land owned by Ellsworth Rowland, also became a major coal mining community in Blacklick Township when the development of these coal lands was begun 1901.

In its earlier years, there were a number of gristmills, lumber mills, hotels, boarding houses, taverns, and general merchandise stores throughout the Blacklick Township. Twin Rocks once had a movie theater and two bottling companies.

In 1918, portions of Blacklick Township and Jackson Township became the incorporated borough of Nanty Glo.

While all of the dozen or more former underground coal mining operations in the Township are now closed, limited surface mining operations have periodically occurred to the present time. There are still a few small lumber mills and operations scattered throughout the Township.

In October 1, 1994, one hundred years after the railroad came to Blacklick Township; a major portion of the abandoned railroad right of way was dedicated as The Ghost Town Trail, a rails-to-trails project. This recreational trail follows the course of the south branch of Blacklick Creek, the southern boundary of the Township. The Ghost Town Trail name is derived from the sites of once thriving coal mining towns, like Bracken and Wehrum, along the trail corridor. Today there are no operating railroads in Blacklick Township.

George R. Warholic
June 23, 1999


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