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Foxburg and Vicinity

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The Fox family's name was recorded on signposts and maps prior to the borough's official existence, since they owned over 13,000 acres of land in the area. The remote forested tract was difficult to reach by wagon and steamboat, which defeated an early attempt by Samuel Mickle Fox in 1847 to sell lots for a village. People came voluntarily to the area only after oil was discovered in 1869 and 1870. The escalating oil frenzy enticed nearly 2,000 villagers, mostly of a “rough” character, according to family accounts. The Fox family maintained control of the land by leasing it on a yearly basis rather than selling lots. They established a bank that operated until it was sold to the Butler Savings and Trust Company. The need to transport oil made a rail connection economically feasible, leading the Fox family to subsidize the building of a rail bridge and charge a toll for its use. The bridge was one of less than a dozen privately owned river crossings in the area; its successor bridge is scheduled for demolition and a new bridge will open by 2009. By the 1890s, the oil supply on the Fox land was exhausted, but many millions had already been made.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the area's site on the east bank of the Allegheny River and cool summer temperatures prompted the building of summer homes of log, stone, and shingles, as well as a golf course. Little development occurred after 1920 until the turn of the twenty-first century, when the timber-frame Allegheny Grille (c. 2001; 40 Main Street) and the twenty-four-room Foxburg Inn and winery were built along the river (c. 2006; 20 Main Street).

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.

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