Coudersport, with a population of just under 3,000, is the largest town in heavily wooded Potter County. It was named for Jean Samuel Coudere, an Amsterdam banker who loaned money to the Ceres Land Company of Philadelphia for their Pennsylvania land purchases. Located in the river plain at the confluence of the Allegheny River and Mill Creek, the streets were laid out in 1807 in a grid pattern. The tree-shrouded mountains that surround Coudersport limited access to the town and delayed settlement until c. 1835. It was incorporated as a borough in 1848. Lumbering was the major industry from 1815 to 1920. Until sawmills were built in Coudersport in the 1880s, white pine and hemlock logs and shingles were floated down the Allegheny River on rafts to mills.
John Keating of the Ceres Land Company donated lands for the county's public buildings. Local Quakers, led by Keating's employee Francis King and his descendants, became known for their Underground Railroad activity, and Coudersport had at least two way-stations for escaping slaves before the Civil War. Wood was the favored building material until a major fire in 1880 destroyed much of the frame commercial district, inspiring an early building code that required brick construction for future buildings. The business district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. A fine example of woodworking skill is the Gothic Revival house (1852; 1862 addition; 401 N. West Street) built by local carpenter Miles White. The two-and-one-half-story steeply pitched roof structure features wide bracketed eaves, looped bargeboards, and a central chimney.
The narrow-gauge Coudersport and Port Allegany Railroad served the town from 1882, connecting with the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroads at Port Allegany. Today, U.S. 6 and PA 44 intersect at Coudersport. Adelphia Communications, a national telecommunications company, was located in Coudersport until it downsized and moved to Colorado. The company's lavish four-story, red brick former headquarters building with a marble-columned entrance, mansard roof, and elongated round-arched windows, was designed in 2001 by Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates (102 S. Main Street).
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