Hunters Lake lures history and recreation
HUGHESVILLE – The East Lycoming Historical Society opened its 2020 season with a program given by board member and local historian Ruth Rode, who discussed the historical significance of Hunters Lake. Located in Shrewsbury Township, this natural lake is currently owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Throughout the decades, Hunters Lake has been enjoyed by many for its recreational use, especially fishing. In fact, on June 15, 2013, Ken Parrish caught a record Blue Chain Pickerel at 28 inches long, before releasing it back to the lake.
Its namesake echoes the past as prime Indian hunting ground and possibly dating as far back as 2500 B.C. Records show the discovery of “spear points.”
Spanning 117 acres and formed from underground springs, the deepest part of the lake is 38 feet according to Rode. However, its main attribute was the ability to power electricity to residents of Hughesville and other communities in nearby Sullivan County.
A map from 1806 shows surrounding land and roads leading to the lake. At the time, access to the lake was from Gennessee Road, formerly known as “Towanda Path.”
A Sullivan County map from 1872 shows access by Peter Corson Road or commonly known as Rock Run Road. Rode said this was about 4 miles from Lewis Lake, the original name of Eagles Mere Lake and named after Leyson Lewis. Ruins of the Glass Works company, owned by Lewis, were found in Hunters Lake from 1803 to 1814.
Nearby William Watson Bennett owned a hunting camp which is still there and belonged to George Lewis Bennett, according to markings on the map. “The Bennetts bought land from Leyson Lewis,” said Rode. “They added a water-powered grist mill on Hunters Lake in 1812.”
The original dam was made of stone, where parts of the foundatiion still remain today. “You can still see it,” added Rode. “It survived all these years.”
Judge John Richter Jones was another early settler. In 1845, he purchased land on Lewis Lake and changed the name to Eagles Mere Lake.
in the early 1900s electricity was introduced and made with water from the lake to power the lumber industry. A drawn map from Eagles Mere Historical Society shows Hunters Lake with the spillway from the dam. “And the shoreline shows various land springs that feed into the lake,” Rode explained. A powerhouse was built near “Roach’s Run” to house a generator to supply the electricity.
“Water was carried through a wooden pipe from the dam down the mountain to the generator in the stone building at the bottom of the mountain,” said Rob Mueller who assisted with the research. Around 1907 a second generator was added to make hydro-electricity according to Rode. This brought electricity to Hughesville. “It took 2 months to build the watershed from the lake,” Rode said. At times when water was low, a splash dam or spillway was dug for a ditch to the gate valve. The source came from a dam at Rock Run.
A 1917 map from The Light Company shows the powerhouse and the first bridge built (the Rines Bridge) leading to the valve house. A second bridge was built, “The Old Road Bridge” on Eagles Mere Road where remains of metal pipes and some stone supports can be seen today. “Three by fifty trenches still remain but the turbines are gone,” Rode said. The powerhouse is still standing.
In 1961, 2400 acres were purchased by the Pennsylvania government from the PA Power Company, and a new dam was built in 1970, just below the old dam. Since then, a new concrete boat dock was added, a newer emergency spillway and a water level tower. “When walking across the new dam, you can see the remains of the old dam,” Mueller said.
“This pristine lake now is a memorial to those who’ve lived its history,” concluded Rode.
Charles and Connie Long are current owners of the powerhouse located in Muncy Valley. They are in the process of restoring the building as a venue for local artisans. The Longs also own Ink Pen Artworks and WoodChuck WoodCrafts.
The East Lycoming Historical Society, 66 S. Main St., Hughesville, will open for the public starting the weekend of April 4 and remain open on weekends throughout the summer. A railroad tour is scheduled for Saturday, April 4 starting at 9 a.m. A Victorian Tea is planned for April 25. Call 570-584-2244 to make reservations or for more information.