Entrance to Rock City

photo credit: Bradford Landmark Society Collection


McKean County Democrat January 21, 1937

A move to restore Rock City, with its remarkable giant rock formations, as a popular resort, has been started in Olean.

The resort was at one time nationally known and attracted thousands of visitors each year when the electric traction line was in operation between Bradford and Olean, being situated on that service line midway between the two cities.

The resort was abandoned when the trolley line quit business.

Now that a paved highway makes the scenic wonder again easily accessible from Olean and Bradford, it is believed that Rock City can be made popular as a scenic and amusement resort, all year ‘round.

Due to the wonderful facilities for winter sports presented by Mt. Hermance, near which Rock City is located, construction of facilities for winter sports in skiing and bob-sledding, has already been started by Karl Kahrner of Olean, a member of the 1928 German Olympic team.

As for summer resort facilities, nature lavishly provides them, with the most beautiful scenery to be found in this section of the United States.

The old park pavilion and other features may be restored.


McKean County Democrat May 4, 1939

The famous Rock City pavilion, abandoned and in decay for many years after serving as a resort for pleasure seekers for years, was destroyed in a spectacular blaze tonight.

Two dozen fire fighters, including two Olean fire truck crews, fought the blaze, aiming mainly to keep the fires from spreading into the tinder-like forest.

How the fire started was not learned. Oscar Tompkins, nearby resident, discovered the fire at 11:00 o’clock and spread the alarm.

Oil wells and pipelines in the vicinity of the blaze were reported not harmed.

The old dance pavilion, when in operation, was owned by the Olean, Bradford and Salamanca Traction Company. James Brahany, of Rock City, owns the oil lease on which it was located.


McKean County Democrat June 10, 1965

Rock City Hill had its seventh rock slide last Tuesday morning, tying up traffic and taxing the efforts of the state road crews for most of the day.

Wednesday evening, there was another dangerous rock slide in the same area on the curving Route 646 highway and more than 250 tons of rock were hauled away as a result of the two slides.

The slides are taking place on the “upper cut” of the road leading to Olean, N. Y., and Chief Bridge described four of the slides at very dangerous with more than 100 tons of rock falling each time. The “upper cut” is about three-quarters of a mile south of the New York State line.

Thursday, Pennsylvania Highways Department crews hauled away ten truckloads of rock and slate, all the while keeping a wary eye on the rock overhead. In many spots on the cliff, gaping crevices give ominous warning to what may lie ahead unless some action is taken to remedy the situation. Rock formation, jutting out from the cliff, is cracked, tree roots are exposed because the dirt they were embedded into has gone sliding down the hill and hundreds of smaller boulders are posed for the plunge down hill.

The target for all these tons of earth and stone is, of course, the busy highway below. “We have been more than lucky,” commented Chief Bridge, “that someone hasn’t been hurt in one of these slides. So far, only a car has been damaged—extensively—when it was hit head on into a huge boulder which fell into the road.

When questioned as to why something isn’t done to at least “bench” the hill (terrace the embankment), one source said that a few years ago, the State Highway Department has appropriated money for the job but there was a shortage of manpower, work project was shelved and the money eventually used for something else.

A call was placed to the Clearfield District office of the Department of Highways by The Era but no one was available for comment Thursday afternoon. However, a spokesman at the highways office assured this newspaper that information about the problem would be forthcoming.

Meantime, all motorists are urged to use extreme caution when traveling Route 646.


McKean County Democrat June 17, 1965

Tons and tons of rock came crashing down the “upper cut” of Rock City Hill Monday morning. However, unlike the other recent slides, this one was planned.

True to his promise after the article appeared in The Era of June 4 describing the dangerous rock slides on Route 646, Stanton E. Funk, district engineer from the Clearfield office of the State Department of Highways, ordered some remedial action on the hillside.

A towering crane with a 1,400-pound “headache” ball swinging from it was moved onto the road early Monday morning and the steady pounding of the cracked and jutting rock formation began.

With traffic on the road carefully controlled by Foster Township Police Chief Earl Bridge, aided by highways department personnel, tons of loose rock were knocked down.

The stop-gap safety measure on the hillside will continue today and then dump trucks will be moved in to haul the rock away.

Chief Bridge has warned motorists that the flow of traffic will be delayed from time to time throughout the day—from a half an hour up to an hour and a half—and encouraged area drivers to use an alternate route, if possible.


McKean County Democrat February 19, 1931

Olean boosters have been assured by the New York State Department of Highways that work will be started on the new paved highway from Rock City to the Pennsylvania line, via Knapps Creek, in the spring. The road will connect with a McKean County paved route to the New York state line.


McKean County Democrat April 16, 1931

H. E. Bunce, Olean contractor, was low bidder for the Rock City-Bradford state highway job, his bid being $175,613.50.

The part of the highway to be constructed begins at the Rock City Sanitarium, just beyond the top of Rock City hill, and continues over a new route to the Pennsylvania state line, where it will join the Pennsylvania highway into Bradford.

The road is approximately four miles in length and will be twenty feet wide.


McKean County Democrat April 23, 1931

Contractor H. E. Bunce of Olean has been moving his extensive road-paving equipment, stored on Marvin Street, Smethport, since the completion of the Smethport to Ormsby paving job last year, to Rock City this week. Mr. Bunce has the contract for paving the road from Rock City to Knapps Creek and the Pennsylvania state line this summer. The job connects with the new road being built on this side of the line in McKean County and will provide a direct route between Bradford and Olean, via Rock City, famed wonder of nature.

Rock City Entrance 2008

photo credit: Russell Tanner

Photos of Rock City

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: Russell Tanner

photo credit: The Bradford Landmark Society

Return To Planet Smethport