True Tales of the Clarion River: Some History of Mays Gap

| April 18, 2020

“True Tales of Clarion River” was published in 1933 by George P. Sheffer and the Northwestern Pennsylvania Raftsmen’s Association. Pennsylvania Great Outdoors is sharing an excerpt written by W.W. Braden.


The story below was written by W.W. Braden of Clarington, PA:

I will try to tell you of Mays Gap and some of my experiences of running rafts and boats to Pittsburgh.

My house burned in 1912 and I lost all my records so will have to tell you the dates as near as I can remember them. George Shawkey built the first mill and boat scapold at Mays Gap about 1884. I worked for him until about 1890. Then I bought him out and operated for myself until 1900.

At this time, I began to operate for C.R. Vasbinder & Co. of Brookville and continued until 1912. During that time, I probably built a hundred boats and rafts. I lost two boats on the Allegheny River. One trip that I made, I could not get over the Springdale Dam: so, I had to tie them. The ice went out and took them. I tore up one raft on Clough’s Ripple for Reason Gorden, but we rescued the most of it.

I swung a boat on “Licking Point” without springing a leak. It was loaded with 195,000 shingles and 28,000 feet of lumber. Will Groce was with me and Wayne Motter and Lawrence Cook who were but boys were on the front end. They all laughed at me as I filled and lighted my pipe while we were swinging.

At one time I run 12 boats for the Vasbinder Co.

Tom McCanna and I run around “Licking Point” side by side with two of the heaviest oaded boats. My boat had 3,000 pit posts and Tom’s had 48,000 stringers.

I built two small boats 40 feet long and 18 feet wide for a man in Pittsburgh, who wanted them for showboats. He was anxious to get them; so, when there came a little rain and raised the water, Len Agnew and I started with them. We just go to “Steel Trap” when the water got too low and we had to tie up there. Starting to walk home we came up over the hill to a farm where Len was acquainted and talked there a little while. Len had a very good rubber raincoat, for which he says he paid $15.00. He thought it safe to hang it on a gate post: then, we went up in the orchard and got some apples. When we come back to the gate a large hog had the coat torn to ribbons. Naturally, Len was quite provoked at the hog and said “Confound!!! I never liked hogs anyway.”

In the year of 1900, I hauled 145,000 cubic feet of timber to Mays Gap. Berl Agnew and I rafted and run it in 1901.

The last boat that I run was in 1913. I run it to Pittsburgh for W.A. Croasman.

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