The view of Bear Creek Village from the south.
The Bear Creek Ice Company
Albert Lewis, seeing the lumber industry declining, pivoted his business into ice. By 1880, Pennsylvania was the third largest producer of ice in America. Farmers needed ice to ship their product via rail lines to large urban areas. In the mid 1890’s Albert Lewis and a partner founded two major ice companies in Luzerne county; Mountain Springs near Ricketts Glen and the Bear Creek Ice Company, formed in March 1895.
The Bear Creek Ice Company developed as follows by building dams along Bear Creek and Meadow Run:
Bear Creek Dam #1, held ice plants #1 and #2. (currently named Bear Creek Village) Beaupland (or Beauplant) held ice plants #3 and #4
Meadow Run pond #1 held ice plant #5
Meadow Run pond #2 held ice plant #6
and between 1911-1915 he also cut ice at Penn Lake.
The Meadow Run Mountain Lake Park Association Historical Committee
Purpose: This committee shall collect, preserve and disseminate the history of MRMLPA.
Objective: To assist the Historical Society board of directors in fulfilling the purposes of the Historical Society.
To collect and preserve the history of the Meadow Run Lake and Mountain Lake Park Association and the ice and timber industries
To educate the public on the contribution of Meadow Run Lake and Mountain Lake to the industrial growth of its geographic area and the nation
To maintain exhibits and serve as a repository of documents and artifacts on the industrial operations in the community
•The committee shall be organized as an Ad Hoc Committee.
•It will have meetings on an as-needed basis, and report to the Board the minutes of the meetings.
•The committee will not have any duties as related to the finances of the Historical Society.
(If you are a member of the Association and would like to volunteer for the Historical Committee, please go to the Contact Us page and complete the requested information. Thank You!)
A special thank you to Cindy Allen for putting this historical information together!
Bear Creek, Beaupland and Meadow Run Lands
Early 1800’s Hollenback Family - 1849 sold to Vanschalkwyck Beaupland/ Vincent S.K. Beaupland 1851 sold to James McKeen and Peter Pursell
On February 4, 1880, Lewis and his business partner Calvin Brodhead purchased 12,400 acres of land from the estate of James McKeen for $70,000. Shortly thereafter the Lehigh Valley RR agreed to finance a branch line from Bear Creek Junction to Moosehead, and then to Bear Creek (the Village). Later, an extension from Bear Creek through the McKeen tract to Beaupland was added. With the addition of a rail line Lewis was able to build sawmills at Beaupland along the Bear Creek, then to a small town named California along Meadow Run stream, and ultimately a third one added at Meadow Run Pond. The lumber business was lucrative and by 1883 he had paid off the loan used to purchase the McKeen tract.
On March 3, 1884 the California sawmill boiler exploded, instantly killing three men: Rudolph Sipler, Whitmen Whitehead and Jesse Knecht. Two months later, in May of 1884, a forest fire swept through the area and the remains of the California sawmill and 12 out of 17 homes were destroyed. The only families who stayed on were the Smith, Stout, Inman, Hans, Mecke, Knecht and Seiner families.
From 1885 through July of 1895 the Lewis lumber enterprise in the McKeen tract experienced multiple setbacks. In 1885, Albert Lewis’ first wife, Lizzie, died of tuberculosis. Her funeral services were held in Grace Chapel, and Albert had a family cemetery built nearby. Her monument is described by Charles D. Linskill, in a newspaper at the time of her death, as a 12 foot oak tree stone monument with a rugged cross carved into the top portion, with ivy, ferns, toadstools, birds and nests, and wreaths of flowers, also carved of stone, encircling it. Surrounding the monument area are stone chairs and vases and the entire plot, measuring 24 x 30 feet, is enclosed by sculpted oak logs.
In July of 1886 the Meadow Run sawmill, valued at $25,000, burned down, and was rebuilt with the addition of a sawdust elevator, to feed the steam boiler with sawdust fuel. In 1887 there were 25 families living at the settlement, while at Beaupland there were approximately 15 families. Their homes and fuel were provided by Albert Lewis at no charge. However, within five years the lumber businesses were shuttering the sawmills and the rail line to Beaupland was declared unsafe. In 1892 there were only three families left in Meadow Run. One year later, the Lehigh Valley RR removed the tracks to Beaupland. The last family to live at Meadow Run was the William Hopper family in 1895. The Meadow Run sawmill community ended and Albert Lewis converted the area into a farm.
On a side note, in the summer of 1890, Lewis was traveling in England and met a young lady named Lily Constance Westendarp. Two years later, in September of 1892 they were married at St. Peter’s Church in Kensington Park, London. They had four children: Albert Jr., Hugh, Lillian and George, however George died in infancy.
Albert Lewis passed away in 1923, leaving no will, but the company continued to operate on behalf of his three heirs: his second wife, Lillian C. Lewis, son Hugh Romaine Lewis, and daughter, Lily A. Lewis.
The natural ice business began a slow decline after 1912 due to refrigeration, mechanically produced ice and unpredictable weather. The Beauplant and Meadow Run facilities were completely shut down at the end of the 1927-1928 season, but old ice that had been stored at Meadow Run continued to be sold until 1930, mainly used to refrigerate railroad cars. In the spring of 1931 the workers were told to dismantle the railroad tracks from Meadow Run to the Bear Creek plant. Then in June of 1932 the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station at Bear Creek was officially closed. The railroad line spur to Bear Creek was removed in the spring of 1938.
Various owners continued to harvest ice from the Bear Creek lake, but in the winter of 1950 storms collapsed the remaining building and the ice business ended on Bear Creek Lake.
Albert Lewis’ widow, Lilly (1868-1950) passed away at the age of 82. Their son, Hugh (1895-1948), passed on in 1948, and now the only remaining heir was Lily A. Lewis Seneff
(1896-1971). Ultimately, the vast properties held by the family were sold to developers with Meadow Run and Penn Lake being marketed as summer retreats for families.
The Lewis Family cemetery and their house of worship, Grace Chapel, is located a short distance from the Bear Creek Village dam. The unique cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall and each gravesite is topped by sculpted metal crosses. In addition there are many sculptured embellishments. Grace Chapel itself, is in the Queen Anne style with interior walls of beadboard and art glass windows on the north and south walls.
The Meadow Run Mountain Lake Park Association Historical Society
The Meadow Run-Mountain Lake Historical Society was formed in 2008 as a 501-C nonprofit corporation, organized under the Pennsylvania Nonprofit
Corporation Law of 1988.
As stated in the MRMLP Historical Society’s bylaws, the
purpose of the organization is to:
1. collect and preserve the history of Meadow Run and Mountain Lakes and the ice
and timber industries
2. educate the public on the contribution of Meadow Run and Mountain Lakes to the
industrial growth of its geographic area and the nation
3. maintain existing structures and interpret their role in the industrial life of the
community and the area
4. maintain exhibits and serve as a repository of documents and artifacts on the
industrial operations conducted in the community
5. conduct public programs on the history and industrial contributions of the area
6. to be organized exclusively for charitable purposes
Meadow Run Mountain Lake Park Association
The various Bear Creek Ice Company foremans were T.F. Lawless, Augustus Garis (1892), Peter Bush (1897), W.J. Costello (1915), C.F. Hoffman, and Alvin Anthony ending in 1919.
Albert Lewis’ eldest son, Albert ‘Bertie’ Lewis, Jr. died tragically at age 22 in September of 1916 from a fall off a gasoline powered rail-truck. He was taking two friends to Beauplant to show them the ice plant when the vehicle hit an obstruction on the rail and derailed. His two friends landed safely in a ditch, but Bertie hit his head on a stack of railroad ties, fracturing his skull. He was taken to the Wilkes Barre City Hospital, and died soon-after of the head injury.
The old Lehigh Valley RR bed that had been dismantled in 1893 was rebuilt with a smaller gauge line by Lewis, so he could transport his ice from all the storage buildings to the main Lehigh Valley RR line.
From 1896 - 1902 Bear Creek Ice sales rose from $14,500 to $68,000. A 1904 newspaper article wrote that 80,000 tons of Bear Creek ice supplied the cities of New York and Philadelphia and would fill 6,120 railcars and if laid end-to-end the railcars would be 42 miles long.
In 1909 storage buildings were built for the ice being made at Meadow Run and in 1910 the RR line was further improved and conveyor facilities were added at the Mountain Lake dam (called Dam #4). Meadow Run Lake (called Dam #5) had a six room ice house on the left side of the tracks and a four room ice house on the right side. The two plants at this location had a combined storage capacity of 62,000 tons of ice. The total amount of freshly cut ice from Bear Creek, Beaupland and Meadow Run lakes was 139,500 tons in 1912.
“On June 10, 1909, an Allentown newspaper had in that day’s edition an article on the charms of Bear Creek. The article, captioned ‘IS A PARADISE’, tells of “the restful haven which has been created out of the wilderness b Albert Lewis.” Further excerpts include: “Mr. Lewis is one of the largest ice and lumber dealers in the country...At Bear Creek, business still grew and Mr. Lewis continued to purchase land, and today is owner of the greater part of Bear Creek Village and surroundings. A few years ago he became engaged in the ice business, and in this, he met with similar success. (He has erected a large ice dam at Bear Creek Village, two more dams further up Bear Creek called Beauplant #2 and #3, and still further up stream two more called Meadow Run Lakes dam #4 and #5.) From this source, he derives enough ice during the winter months to fill twenty large ice houses. During the summer months this ice is shipped to all parts of the state and along the eastern seaboard.” (Thornhurst book pgs. 55-56)
This canoe is on display in Harrisburg, at the state museum, where it is noted that is was found in
Mud Pond, Luzerne County, and carbon dated to 1250AD.
Mud Pond is north through the woods above North Avenue. A small piece of our community's history, encased in glass for all to see, courtesy of the Native American Indians
that inhabited the area many years ago!
The railroad bed as it looks now.
History of Meadow Run Mountain Lake Park Association
Part One - The Lewis Family
The Meadow Run Mountain Lake Park Association history begins with the settlement of Wilkes Barre and Bear Creek Township, and the businessmen who came here to build their fortunes. Initially General John Sullivan broke a trail from Easton, through Wilkes Barre, and on to New York state in 1779. That trail was later named the Easton and Wilkes Barre turnpike in 1806 and ultimately led to the creation of Bear Creek Township as settlers moved in. The turnpike passed right by Bear Creek Village. One of the first sawmills was located in Kresgeville, settled near Bald Mountain by Amandus Kresge. There was a small town south of Bear Creek named Stoddartsville, named after John Stoddart, who had a sawmill and a grist mill along the Lehigh river. Eventually, Lewis Stull moved to Stoddartsville, became a successful lumberman, and raised a large family.
Pennsylvania had vast forests, and a young man named Albert Lewis, moved here from Maine and worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad as a conductor and later as a train dispatcher. Albert had two sisters who married the brothers, Daniel and Adam Stull, and then Albert, following in his father, Abijah’s, footsteps, started to acquire lumber rights. In 1864, 24 year old Albert was drafted into the Civil War, but as was common in the day, he paid $300 to George Bryer to take his place. He started to purchase large tracts of land in the years following the war. On December 19, 1872 he married Elizabeth E. Crellin from White Haven. The lived in Kidder Twp. Hickory Run until 1880. By this time Albert was a prosperous lumberman. In May of 1875 a massive fire burned through the forests and Lewis lost 5 million feet of sawn lumber. In the next seven years, 1876-1883, he amassed 25,000 acres of timber with his various business partners. By the close of 1883 he was considered the second largest lumber producer on the Lehigh River. His lands were located along Bowman’s Creek between Noxen and Ricketts Glen, Bear Creek Township north of what is now Route 115 and all the lands south of Route 115 to Carbon County. His two brothers-in-law, Arthur and Adam Stull became his business partners and the Lewis and Stull families remained very close.
On a side note: The book: Thornhurst and the Upper Lehigh River, details the Wisconsin Glacier on page 5. Excerpt:
“The Wisconsin Glacier in eastern Pennsylvania, extended southward as far as the Delaware Water Gap. The extent of the last glacier in the Poconos, the terminal moraine is typically about a mile wide. . . . Extreme temperature (freezing and thawing repeatedly) near the end of the glacier and its meltwater broke up the sandstone rock and the pieces slowly moved to make “fields” of rock. The Boulder Field, at Hickory Run State Park, is a registered national landmark. . . Other examples of Boulder Fields can be found behind the office for the Lackawanna State Forest (Thornhurst Picnic Area), near Bear Lake, and behind Meadow Run Lake.”
The breached dam #3