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Galeton

The lake at Centertown Park creates the perfect site for fireworks at Galeton's famous annual Fourth of July celebration

By C. Paul Keller

Another product of the lumber boom, Galeton was called Pine Center, after nearby Pine Creek before finally being named Galeton after the Gale Tannery created so many jobs that it was the largest town in Potter County. Galeton had hospitals, theaters, hotels, stores and hosted fancy balls and parties. Schwarzenbach Brewery also provided employment.

Of course, being a lumber town with a railroad has its quirks. In the book, WoodHick, Pigs Ear & Murphy, Bill Pippin relates the tale of Murphy, a "wood hick" whose real name, age, and history was unknown when he died in a hotel in 1913. Local undertaker Earl White embalmed him and dressed him in a tuxedo and gave him his own spot in the corner of White's funeral home beside another embalmed corpse, that of a bulldog. He became a local celebrity of sorts, as much of Galeton's residents came by to "visit" before he became the only human victim of the 1916 fire.

The population had peaked around 1904, when there were over 4,200 residents, but fires swept through town three different times, destroying many of the town's buildings. Tragically that included the world's only opera house in which you had to go downstairs to get to the balcony. Eventually the loss of timber caused the lumber industry to leave and Galeton's size to shrink. In honor of Pennsylvania's lumber history, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is located 12 miles west of Galeton, on scenic Route 6. The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is a brief car trip away, as well. Also nearby is Denton Hill Ski Area, with "the steepest slope in the east." St. Bibiana's Festival and a fantastic fireworks display every July 4th weekend make Galeton a great summer getaway. There is even a first-run theater located in a refurbished church. All in all, Galeton is a great travel destination.
Galeton's busy Main Street before fires and economic decline took their toll.
Check out more information by visiting the Galeton Chamber of Commerce – www.visitgaleton.com


 
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