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Matheny Tavern

Milestones Vol 26. No. 2

Three years after the opening of the Beaver Division of the Erie and Pittsburgh Canal in 1833, Moses Matheny erected a stone building at Rock Point for use as a hotel or canal boat house. The stone for this building and the locks which stood between it and the river were quarried and cut from the large rocks along the Connoquenessing Creek. In the palmy days of the canal this used to be a rather noted place.

The old register books of this tavern show that some of the famous men of that time stopped there while their boats, which were the only means of travel, were taken through the locks. Among the names registered were Charles Dickens, Thomas Moore and James Fenimore Cooper.

One night, in 1847, a young husky lad in his teens was thrown by accident into the muddy waters of the canal. He was taken into the inn by Mrs. Moses Matheny, who gave him a hot drink, supper and a good bed. This proved to be his last trip as a bowman on the canal, as he immediately gave up his job and returned to his old home in the forests of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The young man was none other than James A. Garfield, who later became President of the United States. Zachary Taylor, when President of the United States, also dined in this old tavern. Here also was the scene of many a scrap or rough and tumble fight between the canal boatmen and the men who congregated from the surrounding neighborhood.

T. Warnock later conducted a hotel and store in the old stone building.

About 1882, Dr. Ferdinand Venn, of Pittsburgh, purchased the ground and building, which he used as a health resort.

On December 1, 1886, Dr. Venn and his wife sold the building and grounds (20 acres) to the Pennsylvania Railroad. The railroad company used the old stone building as a depot and telegraph office for Rock Point Park when it was one of the finest picnic grounds in America.

The Matheny Tavern or Inn was located on the east side of the Beaver River, just north of the junction of the Connoquenessing Creek and the Beaver River. The building collapsed in 1936 after standing a century. The foundation is still visible today.