1895: Smethport's Lumber Industrial Mill Pond
Smethport's Scenic
Hamlin Lake

photo credit:  R.C. Gleason Collection

Hamlin Lake was a giant mill pond for the huge Smethport lumber mills.

photo credit:  R.C. Gleason Collection

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   Hamlin Lake was a giant mill pond for the lumber mills located on Mechanic Street.  Men who worked in the lumber industry lived in Smethport in the many rooming houses around town.  They would walk to their job at the lumber mill and purchase fresh bread for their lunches at the bakery across the street from the mill.



McKean County Democrat July 11, 1929

Hamlin Park and Lake will be an actuality before fall.

Final transfer of the deeds to the beautiful Marvin Creek Island, the Marvin Creek mill right and abutting real estate was made Monday by the former owners, the Herzog Estate, to the descendants of Byron D. Hamlin and Henry Hamlin, prominent Smethport financiers, who are making the magnificent gift of a park and artificial lake, located in the very heart of Smethport to the town as a permanent memorial to the two illustrious deceased citizens.

The new memorial will be fittingly named Hamlin Park.

At an adjourned meeting of the borough council held Monday evening that body accepted the terms of the agreement suggested by the donors of Hamlin Park by which the borough will take charge of the construction and maintenance of two new dams at the Marvin Creek mill pond which will impound sufficient water for a sizeable artificial lake for boating, etc., in return for the fire protection which the lake, thus created, will provide the town and with full control of the water rights and future power development possibilities.

The council promptly voted to advertise for bids for the construction of the two dams on plans approved by the State Water Commission which give an estimated cost not exceeding $3,500 for the work. Bids will be opened Monday, July 22. The advertisement appears elsewhere in today's Democrat. It will be the endeavor of the borough to have the dams completed by fall.

The money for the construction of the dams is being furnished the borough by the donors of the park and lake.

The beautiful island, with its majestic verdant trees and restful landscape, together with all other real estate, is being deeded by the park donors to Bucktail Post, American Legion.

The local World War veterans' organization will be permanent custodian of Hamlin Park during the life of the organization and afterwards the property will pass to the control of Smethport borough.

The local Post is planning to build a footbridge from the mainland, near the former Kushequa railroad depot, to the island, also a bridge from the island to new McCoy Athletic Field.

The donors of this magnificent gift to Smethport are Mrs. Laena Hamlin Rose, Mrs. Eugenia Hamlin Merrell, Orlo J. Hamlin, Jennette Hamlin Hammer and Paul D. Hamlin. The subscribers to the project appropriated the sum of $10,000, the sum of $6,000 covering the purchase price of the Herzog Estate property, while the sum of $4,000 has been appropriated to pay for the two dams now to be built under borough supervision.


McKean County Democrat January 9, 1930

The leak which developed in the earth dike alongside one of the two new concrete dams built last summer to impound the waters of Hamlin Lake at the foot of Union Street after splash had been put in place last week and necessitated the water being released, was repaired the latter part of the week and water was again impounded Saturday.

A sizeable body of water is now being held by the dams and no more leakage has developed. C. L. Lorah, local engineer, is confident that the trouble which developed last week has been permanently remedied and that it will not be necessary to construct several feet of concrete wall to strengthen the leaking dike as it was feared would be necessary when the trouble developed last week.


McKean County Democrat July 30, 1931

The Democrat has previously chronicled the fact of the presence of beavers in the vicinity of the island of Hamlin Lake in the center of town.

The busy workers have in the past attempted to build dams and start colonies on inlets of Hamlin Lake on several occasions, but were compelled to quit each time due to swift current.

Now the beavers have launched another effort along that line a short distance back of the residence of D. A. Gifford on Willow Street.

They have felled one large tree which has blocked part of the main channel of the boating course and have felled several other trees near the bank which they are ready to put in place for a dam. Observers predict that this dam will also be a failure.

Members of Bucktail Post, American Legion, are trying to devise an inlet site which will offer encouragement to the beavers to build a dam and establish a permanent colony. The park and lake area is posted to protect wild life.


McKean County Democrat October 29, 1931

The members of the colony of beavers which has located in Hamlin Park Lake, in Smethport borough, and have started construction of a dam in a cove a short distance back of the residence of D. A. Gifford, Willow Street, are busily engaged in felling trees in the park and lake area for their construction job.

One day recently the busy animal workers skillfully felled one of the good-sized trees on the little island in the main lake basin, near the foot of Union Street.

Miss Winifred Clark of the local Bell Telephone office happened to be passing the scene at the time and saw the tree fall.

The beavers have since been cutting the trunk of the tree into short lengths for removal to the scene of their construction job.

One sizeable log, neatly cut by the busy amphibian engineers, has been displayed on Main Street this week.

The veterans of Bucktail Post, American Legion, who have custody of the Hamlin Park project, have posted the park and lake area against hunters so that the beavers and other wild life will not be disturbed.

Another permanent resident of the lake preserve is a large crane, which is seen daily. The crane is an ardent disciple of Izaak Walton, spending the daytime in the pursuit of fish.


McKean County Democrat April 5, 1934

Tuesday morning about 9:00 o'clock local citizens who reside adjacent to Hamlin Lake, in the very center of Smethport, were treated to a pretty sight--that of a large doe deer enjoying a swim in the main basin of the lake.

The deer swam from the direction of Hamlin Park preserve to the middle of the lake basin, then turned toward the shore on the Willow Street side, emerged from the water and climbed the high bank below the residence of R. C. Gleason, leisurely crossed Willow Street, went over the lawn of the Gleason residence , through the yards of several other residences and across Center and South Streets until it reached
Brennan's Hill, back of town.

The doe appeared to enjoy its swim in the icy waters of the lake.

Miss Carrie Oviatt, whose residence on Water Street faces the lake, and her sister Mrs. Sarah Armstrong, saw the deer and reported the unusual incident to this newspaper.

A herd of five deer, three doe and two bucks, has been spending the severe winter on the hills south of town and have been frequently seen near domiciles.

Egrets Return To Lake

The flock of egrets, birds of beautiful plumage once threatened with extinction, which stayed at the local lake all last summer, roosting nights in the trees on Hamlin Park island, have returned after spending the winter in Southern climes.

Two of the birds were observed swimming on the surface of the lake late Sunday.

A beautiful asset to Smethport is Hamlin Park and its lake.

Perfect Plans For Kayak Regatta To Be Held On Hamlin Lake Wednesday

McKean County Democrat July 20, 1939

Plans have been perfected for Smethport's second annual kayak regatta, to be held on Hamlin Lake next Wednesday at 3:00 p.m.

The first regatta, held last year, was arranged by Leonard Johnson and attracted a large crowd. Success of the event prompted the Smethport Rotary Club to act as sponsors this year in the hope that it will be held annually hereafter.

Scouts Will Participate

Executives of the McKean-Potter-Cameron Council of the Boy Scouts of America are taking an interest in the regatta and will furnish the prizes for special Scout events. The other prizes will be awarded by the Rotary Club.

It is expected that Smethport boys and girls will enter ten of the homemade "Eskimo" canoes. A prize has been posted for the craft possessing best design and construction details.

Will Feature Races

The regatta will feature a number of races as follows:

Smethport and East Smethport children (ages 11-14)--straight 200 yards and shuttle relay teams of four.

Smethport and vicinity children (ages 14 to 16)--straight course race, shuttle relay for teams of four and one-mile portage race, boats will be carried across Hamlin Park Island.

Special events for Boy Scouts of the tri-county council, not over 17 years old, include a straight course race, shuttle relay, and portage race.

An effort will be made to have the Smethport Band play a musical program during the afternoon.

Smethport business places will be closed Wednesday afternoon and the public is invited to witness the regatta. No admission will be charged.

The Smethport Rotary Clud committee in charge of the regatta is composed of Dr. Jack Clarke, J. V. McAlpin, Jr., Principal Stanley Bright, Herbert Larson and Leonard Johnson.

Some of the kayaks entered in the regatta will be on display on Main Street here next Saturday night.

Council Asked To Construct a Swimming Pool

Dam Might Be Rebuilt So As To Give Smethport Much Wanted Pool

McKean County Democrat September 10, 1942

The Smethport borough council met Monday evening with councilmen Pierotti, Burt, Hyatt, Freeman and Abbey present. R. W. Herzog, chairman of the local Defense Council was present and recommended a new warning for air raids.

The new system was used in the Tuesday blackout and consists of pulling the main switch to homes and business places off and on twice causing the lights to flicker briefly. This is in addition to the ringing of the firebell and church bells.

B. A. Ball, J. A. Cleveland and H. G. German of the local Rotary asked council to consider proposals for the building of a swimming pool when the dam on Hamlin Lake, washed out by the July 18 "flash flood", undergoes reconstruction. Council replied that the labor situation and lack of time made the building of the pool doubtful. Plans are not yet complete for the dam reconstruction.

Work Started On Dam and Footbridge

McKean County Democrat August 15, 1946

Preliminary operations to the replacement of the Hamlin Lake dam and footbridge were started this week with the dynamiting of wrecked remains of the structure, destroyed by the disastrous flood of late May. The Allegheny Asphalt Co. is in charge of the blasting operations.

The lake bed, north of the flowing Marvin Creek, is being deepened and flattened out by a bulldozer. If the northern dam was intact this section of the development would be inundated. The new dam and footbridge will be constructed by workmen operating under the direction of Borough Street Commissioner Anthony Stravino. The plans for the project were developed by Councilmen Ray Abbey and Glen Raifsnyder.

Concrete Footers Poured At Hamlin Lake Dam

McKean County Democrat October 31, 1946

Borough employees under the supervision of Street Commissioner Anthony Stravino poured concrete for the footers on the new Hamlin Lake dam last Saturday. Weather conditions permitting the abuttment and wing wall of the project will be laid tomorrow.

Ditching operations, preparatory to the laying of drainage tile at McCoy Stadium, were in process yesterday. The tile will be laid after the completion of the Hamlin Lake Dam.

LUMBER:  1895 Mechanic Street Looking North
1895:  Barrett Mill:  History of Lumbering
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photo credit: Sunny Frey

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