I’ve always been fascinated with ghost towns, and the romance of days gone by. When I was five, I was invited to go on a field trip to something by the name of “Ghost Town” and I was really excited. Imagine my disappointment when I realized it was an amusement park of some sort, not a real ghost town.
I don’t know why I was fascinated at such a young age, but I was. When I got older, I discovered there was one right in my own backyard and I hadn’t known a thing about it. Barclay Mountain is about five miles from where I went to school, yet I cannot remember my history classes in my school every mentioning it. Because it was so close, I thought perhaps it should have been.
I first visited Barclay Mountain about ten years ago. Barclay is located near LeRoy, PA, about an hour north of Williamsport, PA. Barclay was once a thriving mining town high in the mountains of northeastern PA. There are very few clues left to show that a town once existed there, but you can see the evidence if you know where to look.
Barclay was once the home to a number of smaller towns, each with a different name and function, all revolving around mining, and getting the coal from the mountain to the railroad that ran though the area. Barclay had its share of misery including an epidemic, and numerous accidents and fires.
In the end, Mother Nature took Barclay back from the citizens. What was once a thriving town is now the wilderness it was before the coal was discovered. After many of the mines closed because there was simple no more coal, and large snowstorm reportedly closed the rest of them. In the early 1900s, the bridges were washed away and Barclay began its retreat into the past.
LeRoy, PA is in Bradford County. If you aren’t prepared, you may drive right through it without realizing it. It is located along Route 414 between Canton and Towanda. The trip up the mountain is quiet beautiful, but can be hard on your car. Drive with caution if you go up. The road is dirt and, at times, deeply rutted.
There are a few roads to get you around the mountain, but you have to know how to get there. When you go up Mountain Road from LeRoy, you have to watch for a spot where the road suddenly gives you three options. If you take the center road, you will come upon the most visible remains of Barclay: the cemetery.
When we went to the cemetery, we found it to be a peaceful yet intriguing place. The stones can still be read for the most part, but at a glance, you know that nature has taken over the area. Near the cemetery we found an old foundation, but we don’t know what that might have been, or if it was part of the town at one time, or a later addition.
Another clue to the past of Barclay are the numerous mines. You may not find them on your own, but they are there. Occasionally, there are group tours that ride through where Barclay once stood. You should inquire at the Towanda, PA historical society to find out if these tours still happen, and when they may be held.