Click Here to Return to Index

Click Here to Return to Milestones

Along the Dusty Stage Road

By Gerry Caine;
Based on the stories of T. Frank Covert
Milestones Vol 33 No. 4

The Darlington Road, according to T. Frank Covert, was once properly termed the Greersburg Highway. But in a June 30, 1928 column, he says it was actually, but unofficially, known as the "Stage Road." He continued saying this was the route used by stage coaches and Conestoga wagons between Beavertown and Greersburg, now known as Darlington.

This writer admits that he's always had a love affair with the genuine full-size Conestoga built by the German and Swiss of Lancaster. Oak was the wood of choice for both side rails and uprights. The floor boards were usually made of oak too. One other distinctive feature of the Conestoga wagon was something which probably no other wagon had prior to this time in history. This was an independent braking system. It took three pairs of especially strong horses to pull the Conestoga. The wagoner and his horses were united into one smooth-working unit. "Haw" meant to turn left and "Gee" was the signal for a right hand turn. Today, none of these specially bred strong horses remain. To think how majestic these baby blue wagons with the white tops and yellow or red wheels must have been, speaks an unforgettable mental picture of how these "Prairie Schooners" looked as they traveled westward.

Meanwhile, if going to Darlington, there were numerous road houses or taverns on the thoroughfare in Fallston where weary travelers or freighters could go for accommodations. The next hostelry, Covert adds, was a large old frame building that burned in the early 1900s. It was located in the same borough at what was known as the "Crossroads." It stood just within the area of Beaver Street and the former site of Darlington Road. This is where the latter road began the ascent of the hill to the east of the high point. It was directly behind a tavern instead of the route of the current paved highway.

At the apex of the angle between the two roads existed a deep covered well from which many of the hill residents drew their water supply. It has been filled up and is covered by part of the highway. A third roadhouse or tavern stood on the west side of the Darlington Road near the top of the Ross Hill in Patterson Township. It was a popular spot as the horses, after climbing that long dirt, sometimes muddy hill, would be in need of a rest.

It was owned by a Thomas Wells at that time. He was the pioneer of the so-called "Brighton District." For many years afterwards, it was the home and farm of Henry Wisner. He was very popular in his own right as he raised produce in his fields and sold his produce in the various towns.

Another stop was about a quarter of a mile east of the Blackhawk Road on the south side of Darlington. It stood at the foot of a long slope where it turns off. It was known formerly as Robert Douthitt's Tavern. His two sons enlisted in the Civil War and became a part of the 100th Pennsylvania or "Round Head" Regiment.

The final tavern before reaching Darlington was near Lincoln Gardens. It was a typical old tavern with the end of the house facing the large sloping yard where the coaches and wagons conveniently parked. In conclusion, Darlington itself had a few road houses or hostelries.