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Wellsboro and Vicinity

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Wellsboro is the creation of a land agent serving the interests of a Philadelphia-based land company. In 1800, Benjamin Wistar Morris, of the important Philadelphia family, moved to a site that he would call Wellsboro in honor of his wife's family. Four years later, the state assured that Tioga County's seat would be at its center near where Morris lived and where his land company held vast acreage. This was far removed from New Englanders, who had begun arriving in the 1790s and had no interest in becoming part of a Pennsylvania county. Like other Northern Tier county seats, it grew slowly and became the county's first borough only in 1830. A railroad line arrived from the north in 1872, and in 1881 a second line connected Wellsboro with Williamsport to the south. By that time lumber, and to a lesser degree semibituminous coal, dominated the local economy. Today tourism underpins much of the economy, helped by Wellsboro's proximity to two state parks. “Wellsboro … is one of the most pleasant and entertaining towns in Northern Pennsylvania,” local writer John L. Sexton boasted in 1876 in his history of Pennsylvania. It remains so, and is arguably even more pleasant since the 1990s, when the borough began its Enhancement Program, which has upgraded amenities and eye appeal. Main Street, with its gaslights and a grassy strip down its middle, is a unique Northern Tier boulevard.

Wellsboro's Philadelphia-inspired grid plan was only partially developed and is most evident east of Main Street and opposite the courthouse. The town's best architecture is in its western section, where, moving westward from Main and East streets, a three-block commercial district dissolves into a late-nineteenth-century residential neighborhood. Wellsboro Cemetery at the town's northern edge on Nichols Street has a fine Romanesque Revival entrance. Among the cemetery's notable monuments is the mausoleum erected to imitate a log cabin in local sandstone that local judge and U.S. congressman Stephen F. Wilson had built for himself in 1889, eight years before his death.

Facing the courthouse ( TI5) is the green, a block-sized park laid out early in Wellsboro's history. Its memorials include an 1886 Civil War monument and Samuel Conkey's 1886 bronze bust of John Magee, founder of the Fall Brook Coal Company. The green's centerpiece is Mabel Landrum Torrey's sculpture of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, inspired by Eugene Field's 1889 poem “The Dutch Lullaby” and dedicated in 1938.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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