Horton City, PA

Jul 14, 2021

The Horton City sawmill was built in 1886 by Burr E. Cartwright and Warren H. Horton to cut timber and peel bark on 8,000 acres of timberland owned by the Northwestern Mining & Exchange Company along Mead Run. The operation was big for its time: It had over 10 miles of logging railroads, used five logging locomotives, was to cut around 100 million board feet, and peel 12,000 cords of hemlock bark!

Horton City had over 100 houses, a store, a schoolhouse, a sawmill that could cut 70,000 ft a day, an engine house, several other structures associated with the lumber operation, a millpond into which logs could be dumped from both sides, and a lumber yard that could hold more than 14 million feet of lumber. Warren H. Horton withdrew from the firm in February 1888, and all the lumber in the yard burned in October 1889. By 1890 though, Cartwright was considered the biggest lumberman in the state, if not the entire country! The mills at Horton City were the best equipped in this region of the state.

Disaster struck when the mill burned in December 1892, and the lumber panic of 1893 put Burr E. Cartwright in the red. Kaul & Hall Lumber Company of St. Marys purchased all of Cartwright’s property, but kept Cartwright as the general manager of their mining operations. Kaul & Hall rebuilt the Horton City mill to finish the cutting contract that Cartwright had with the NWM&E Co. It ran for several more years until it was shut down permanently. After the timber was removed, the Shawmut Mining Company opened Mine #6 on the north end of town. The mine itself was under Shawmut Road, and the coal was hauled over a long trestle to the PS&N mine spur on the other side of the valley.

The Mead & Laurel Run Railroad was the name of the logging railroad that served the sawmill operation at Horton City. The first section built in 1886 was called the Brockport & Shawmut RR, and was built from the New York, Lake Erie, & Western RR (Erie RR) at Brockport up Mead Run to the Drummond area. It connected with the old Shawmut & Ridgway RR which was built into the Drummond area in the mid-1860s. Locomotive and car repair shops were located near the sawmill at Horton City. Five locomotives were used on the operation.