New Millport is a small community situated on the banks of Little Clearfield Creek in Knox Township.
Its population has dwindled in recent decades, as has that of most Clearfield County communities. New Millport, though, has a fascinating history.
First Nation peoples encamped and settled the New Millport area as early as the 1500’s. The late and renowned archaeologist and New Millport native, Harry Matlack, conducted and excavation of nearby sites located on the Grier Bell farm. Mr. Bell (1799-1886) was said to be the first Euro-American child born in Clearfield County.
The dig yielded pottery, arrow and spear heads, and remnants of post holes on which wigwam housing was constructed. A good sampling of the artifacts is on display at the Clearfield County Historical Society’s Kerr House Museum.
Mr. Matlack’s books, Indians of Clearfield County, The Bell Site Dig and The Mystery of the Fort Field are offered for sale by the CCHS.
Peter Erhard also settled the New Millport area in the early 1820’s. He and his sons built and operated a grist mill there. The community grew with the coming of the logging and rafting industry. By 1856, a post office was granted establishment in New Millport by the U.S. government.
Little Clearfield Creek was a prime waterway for floating logs into Clearfield Creek where the two creeks joined at Dimeling Bridge, which spans the line between Boggs and Lawrence Townships.
Lumbering brought prosperity to New Millport’s residents who previously made their living by subsistence farming. The town grew with the establishment of businesses, schools and both a Lutheran and Methodist Church.
The beginning of New Millport’s heyday would have been the arrival of the Beech Creek Railroad, a subsidiary of the mighty New York Central line, which was founded by the legendary Cornelius Vanderbilt.
It reached New Millport in 1885 and was accompanied by a telegraph line. Rapid communication of the time connected New Millport to the outside world.
The railroad moved coal along the line built along Little Clearfield Creek to destinations both far and large.
Supporting business grew. The New Millport Hotel, owned and operated by D.W. Cathcart, operated its doors in the late 1880’s.
The railroad brought passengers, salesmen, coal brokers and a variety of interested persons to New Millport. A hotel would do a good business accommodating those travelers.
The color-tinted photo, from the 1890’s shows the large hotel structure with seven adults, two toddlers and what looks to be a baby sitting on the lap of the man at the right end.
Unfortunately, the hotel, in 1897, was a victim of a fire, which destroyed several New Millport businesses and homes.