The Cottages of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club

Map of the Cotages of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club
Park Rangers provide costumed, guided tours of what once was cottage row of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club

Valerie Chamberlin, VIP

Members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club built sixteen cottages along the shore of Lake Conemaugh. These cottages, plus a Club House, were erected on eighteen numbered lots between 1881 and 1888. Members leased lots from the Club and owned the cottages themselves. Over the years this arrangement proved troublesome in tracing ownership of the cottages because the Club owned the land underneath and therefore the cottage owner’s names didn’t show up on the deeds. Recently discovered documents led park staff and the Cambria County Historical Society to determine the original owners of all sixteen cottages.

If you decide to view the cottages for yourself, please remember that none are open for touring. All of the cottages, whether privately owned or owned by the National Park Service, are private residences (plus one that is undergoing stabilization) and can only be viewed from the street. Please respect all private property. The Club House can only be toured at certain times. Please ask a ranger how you can do this. You are welcome to go up on the porch of the Club House for a closer look.

Lot #1—Charter member Walter Lowrie McClintock owned this large cottage. It is believed that this building pre-dates the Club, possibly being built as early as 1872. The Club repurposed this existing building as a cottage. McClintock was a partner with his brothers Oliver and Frank in the large merchatile firm of Oliver McClintock and Company. The family owned this cottage until 1908. Still standing; privately owned.

Lots #2 & #3—Durbin Horne and his uncle Christian Bernard Shea, partners in the Jos. Horne & Co. department store, jointly owned a “double” cottage centered on these two lots. This cottage was built around 1883 and remained in the family until around 1910. The cottage was eventually replaced by several mining company houses at some point in the first half of the 20th century.

Lot #4—Very little is known about this cottage or its owner, William Mullins (or Mullens), General Puchasing Agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Mullins built this cottage around 1885 and it was owned by the family until 1908. Fellow Club members Calvin Wells, James A. Chambers, and Henry Holdship were neighbors of Mullins in Allegheny City. This cottage was also torn down to make room for mining company housing.

Lot #5—Dr. David Nevin Rankin built this cottage in 1888, one of the last to be built at Lake Conemaugh. Dr. Rankin was the Attending Surgeon at Western Penitentiary and also worked at West Penn Hospital. He was married to Kate Irwin, a sister of member Lewis Irwin. The Rankins owned this cottage until 1904. Still standing; privately owned.

Lot #6—Called the “Double Cottage” in contemporary newspapers, this cottage was owned by four Club members: William A. McIntosh of the New York & Cleveland Gas Coal Co.; glassmaker Henry B. Patton; Calvin Wells, half owner of the A. French Spring Co. with fellow member Aaron French; and glassmaker H. Sellers McKee. Built in 1887 according to newspaper accounts and owned by Wells until 1904. Still standing; private apartments owned by the National Park Service.

Lot #7—It is presumed that all or part of the Club House sits on this lot. The Club House was built in two sections. The original (damaged by fire and torn down around 1930) was completed in 1881. A large addition, designed by architect David Knox Miller, nephew of member Philander Knox, was completed in 1887. The addition still stands and is owned by the National Park Service.

Lot #8—Charter member C.C. Hussey built this cottage by 1882, when it is mentioned in the Club House guest register. Hussey was a partner in the steelmaking firm of Hussey, Howe, & Co. Though Hussey died in 1884, the cottage remained in the family until 1904. Still standing; privately owned.

Lot #9—Paintmaker J.J. Lawrence built this cottage around 1885 according to tax records. Lawrence was the Vice President of the Club in 1889. The Lawrence family owned this cottage until 1904. Still standing; privately owned.

Lot #10—Paintmaker (and one-time partner of fellow Club member, paintmaker, and neighboring-cottage owner J.J. Lawrence) Moses Bedell Suydam built this cottage around 1884 according to tax records. The tax records also show that it burned down in 1904. The St. Michael United Methodist Church now occupies the site.

Lot #11—Henry Holdship built this cottage in 1883 according to tax records. Holdship was a partner with fellow member Lewis Irwin in the oil business. Holdship was also married to one of Irwin’s sisters. The Holdship family owned the cottage until 1904. This cottage appears on a 1920 map of the area, but is not shown on a 1955 map. The St. Michael United Methodist Church hall and an empty lot currently occupy the site of the Holdship Cottage.

Lot #12—Retired transportation mogul Charles J. Clarke built this cottage before 1884 according to tax records and photographs. Clarke was a charter member of the Club and he and his family were among the most frequent visitors to Lake Conemaugh. The Clarkes owned this cottage until 1904. Still standing; privately owned.

Lot #13—Oil businessman Lewis Irwin, partner of fellow member Henry Holdship, built this cottage by the end of 1884. An Article of Agreement between Irwin and the Club dated 1/2/1885 states that the structure had already been built. Two of Irwin’s sisters were married to fellow members and cottage owners Rankin and Holdship. Irwin owned this cottage until 1904 and it disappears from the historical record after 1920. A modern ranch-style house occupies the site today.

Lot #14—James W. Brown built this cottage in 1888, one of the last to be built at Lake Conemaugh, according to newspaper accounts. Brown was active in the steel industry with Hussey, Howe, & Co. and the Crucible Steel Co. He later served a term in the US House of Representatives (1903-05). Brown owned the cottage until 1905. Still standing; private apartments owned by the National Park Service.

Lot #15—Jesse H. Lippincott built this large cottage in 1885. Lippincott made a fortune in glassmaking and became a major investor in Bell Telephone and the phonograph industry. The Lippincotts owned the cottage until 1910. Still standing; owned by the National Park Service and undergoing stabilization.

Lot #16—Attorney and statesman Philander Chase Knox built this cottage in 1885 according to tax records. Knox and fellow Club member James H. Reed were counsel for the Club and many of the members and their businesses. Knox was later a US Senator (twice) US Attorney General, and US Secretery of State. Knox owned this cottage until 1904. Still standing; privately owned.

Lot #17—Tax records and newspaper accounds verify that Maxwell K. Moorhead built this cottage in 1887. Moorhead was active in iron and steel and also in the ownership of a line of river barges. Moorhead’s father was one of the original state contractors for the South Fork Dam and as a young man Moorhead was involved in its construction. The family owned this cottage until 1904. It burned down sometime early in the 20th century. Presently an empty lot on private property.

Lot #18—Explosives dealer D.W.C. Bidwell built a cottage on this lot in 1888 according to newspaper accounts and tax records. It was one of the last, if not THE last cottage built at Lake Conemaugh. There are no known photographs of this cottage, but it is shown on maps and recorded in county deed books. It was owned by the Bidwell family until 1903 according to tax records. No further evidence of this cottage exists after its appearance on a 1907 map of St. Michael. Presently an empty lot on private property.

-Submitted by Park Ranger Doug Bosley

Last updated: March 10, 2017

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South Fork, PA 15956

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