Thursday, May 26, 2011

A History of Hell Hollow

by Sharon Metzung, Publications and Graphics Manager
The name Hell Hollow—according to all known accounts—simply refers to the steep, rugged slopes which made it difficult to access and leave the “hollow.”

Hell Hollow was not always isolated and remote. While never as bustling as nearby Paine Falls, 19th century Hell Hollow supported a substantial rural economy based on agriculture, resource extraction and the processing of commodities. In the 20th century, Hell Hollow’s return to wilderness was aided by economic shifts, transportation advances, movement away from water power, agricultural decline, land preservation and other factors. 


  • Several structures were once located within the confines of today’s Hell Hollow Wilderness Area. Today, a number of foundations are still present and interesting stonework still survives.
  • Three sawmills had a major impact on Hell Hollow. Two were within current park boundaries, and one was just south of Leroy Center Road in Camp Lejnar. The mill in lot  30 just outside Hell Hollow maintained a dam and millpond   that undoubtedly impacted the flora and fauna of Paine Creek. This mill was probably visible from Leroy Center Road. In addition, two more mills (grist and saw) and another dam were once located two miles south of Hell   Hollow on Bates Creek (a tributary of Paine Creek).
  • According to the 1850 manufacturing census, Leroy Township was once a major logging center. In 1850, 11 sawmills existed in Leroy. The largest of these sawmills produced 400,000 feet of lumber in 1850.
  • In 1865, oil exploration began at Hell Hollow. We know that this exploration was of the pioneering variety because   Edwin Drake developed the fist commercial oil well in   1859 at Titusville, Pennsylvania.
  • Two 19th century Leroy schools were located in the vicinity of Hell Hollow—one on park property, and one adjacent to park lands.
Click here to visit Hell Hollow Wilderness Area online.

Click here to download the original article (PDF)

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