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by Vivian C. McLaughlin

Milestones Vol 7 No 4--Fall 1982

Back in 1922 a site in Center Township had been decided upon as the site for the Beaver County Tuberculosis hospital and according to reports that were circulated in the County at the time, recalls events of historic interest in connection with the South Side site. At that time the farm of Sidney Huffmyer.

The site, which formerly consisted of 94 acres, for years was known as the Turnbull farm, and was purchased by Dr. Turnbull, a prominent physician of Pittsburgh, with the object of establishing a sanitarium for his patients.

There was a building erected on the property consisting of 14 rooms. Becoming involved in financial difficulties, Dr. Turnbull was unable to carry out his plans and the farm became the property of the Carnegie National Bank. In 1905, an effort was made to form a company to be incorporated under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, capitalized at $300,000 par value $10.00 per share and divided into 30,000 shares. $100,000 preferred and $200,000 common stock.

A.E. Anderson of Pittsburgh, was consel for the company and it was the intention of the company to convert the farm into a health resort and country home for the people of Pittsburgh and vicinity to be known as "Altamont Springs." The advantages of the Altamont Springs were second to none in the state and was so expressed by prominent physicians and other in letters to Counsel Anderson, recommending the establishment of such a resort, however, the project was never carried out.

Later portions of the property was purchased by H. L. Grimmel, a Monaca real estate dealer. Mr. Grimmel owned 54 acres on which was located his beautiful residence known as "Mona Manor". The remaining acreage was owned by Mr. Huffmyer. The whole tract is about 1,200 feet above sea level, and assured pure fresh air, and at the same time commanding a grand view of the Ohio and Beaver rivers, well known to readers of past and present history as an Indian Territory.

On the portion of the property that was owned by Mr. Grimmel were several well known Mineral Springs that had been prominently identified with this part of the country for their curative powers. Different writers who visited this region during the first decade of the nineteenth century for various periods, wrote of the desirable location, beautiful environments and features that were conductive to the cure of disease, however, it never received the attention necessary to develop its virtues as the proper location for the potent agency of a mineral spring near Monaca (formerly known as Water Cure on account of its water's curative powers) until a visit was made to this vicinity of Dr. Edward Acker, about 1848, who was a graduate of high standing in one of the leading universities of Germany, and a chemist of recognized ability. After spending considerable time in investigating the different springs along the Ohio, Dr. Acker discovered that none contained the varied combination and other features pronounced in the spring near Monaca. Here he had a building erected and started to treat patients through the curative agency of the waters of this spring. It was not long until his capacity for receiving patients and treating them had reached the limit and although additional buildings were added he still found these inadequate to the demand.

Dr. Acker continued to treat patients almost incessantly, night and day, and the strain and unwillingness to give up his work resulted in an early death. He accomplished a wonderful work during the 10 or more years in which he gave special attention to the treatment of chronic diseases. Since he left no heirs, there was a period of suspension until Dr. Bealz leased the property and operated it very successfully for a number of years. No attention has been given the area again until about 1905 when the effort was made to incorporate it as the "Altamont Springs."

After a thorough analysis of the water by Dr. F.C. Phillips, then of the Chemical Laboratory of the Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh) and one of the most skilled and experienced chemists of this country, gave assurance of its great value as a curative agent. The company the headed by A. E. Anderson proceeded to develop the property along these lines and its ambition was to make it one of the finest resorts in America.

Outside of its environments, wealth of scenic features and other elements of importance, the region abounds in much that is of historic interest. It was the home at one time of the noted Monaca Tootha Chief, one of the Oneida Nation from whom the Borough of Monaca derives its name and also the famous and beautiful Indian Queen, Aliquippa, which name was given to the thriving town some few miles distant from Monaca.

Many prominent physicians, corporations, etc. wrote to Mr. Anderson encouraging him to develop "Altamont Springs". The following letter written by Dr. John D. Milligan a surgeon for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie R.R. Company is an example of one such letter:

Mr. A. E. Anderson, June 12,1905, Dear Sir: I have visited the Altamont farm near Monaca, which is proposed to convert into a health resort and country home for the people of Pittsburgh and vicinity. I am pleased to say that it possesses all the natural advantages needful for your proposition: location, high and dry eastern exposure, and overlooking the beautiful surrounding landscapes, best possible natural drainage and an abundance of the best spring water, which I see by the analysis of Dr. F.C. Phillips, that the water from the various springs is as pure as can be found, with the added medicinal properties of several springs will do much to restore and keep in good health those who avail themselves of it. No mention need be made as to convenience to the city as it is at our threshold. I consider the advantages of Altamont second to none within the state and will gladly recommend the same to all who need rest and the benefits that can be derived from a stay at your institution. Yours truly, John D. Milligan, D.D.

As previously stated, the springs referred to above are on that portion of the farm now owned by Mr. Grimmell.

Several years passed and what better site could have been chosen to build the Beaver County T.B. Sanitarium that was so greatly needed. The T.B. Sanitarium was dedicated and the first patient was admitted February 14, 1924. Some of the original buildings are still standing and used as administrative buildings for the Penn State Branch Campus.