Russell-Akeley Life

Photos submitted to Times Observer This was a powerwashing project of the ROAR committee to assist downtown property owners in enhancing the appearance of their buildings.

Probably the most important thing on the minds of Pine Grove Township residents is when the Liberty St. Bridge across the Conewango Creek in Russell will be open again. The latest word received by the township is that the Liberty Street Bridge will be open to traffic on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 21. It’s unclear whether or not all of the work will be completed by then, but it will be open to traffic. A formal opening ceremony is being planned for spring of 2018.

Now that the new bridge is almost complete, it’s interesting to hear some news about the former covered bridge that was in the newspaper, some years ago. It appeared under the headline,“Wondering By Weatherby. New roof for the bridge over the Conewango at Russell.”

This appeared in the local news in 1883. The bridge was then 30 years old. It was used for over 80 years and supported loads that its builders probably never dreamed of. It is said that Fred Perkins, who was in charge of construction, hewed timbers 60-feet long and offered to give a day’s wages to anyone who could put two surfaces together and slip a coin between them. When first built, there was no separate pedestrian walk, and there were no lights in it.

At the time, people fenced their homes and let their stock run. During rain storms, cows sometimes went into the bridge to sleep. Some people had pretty exciting experiences when they started to ride a bicycle through the bridge at night and ran into a cow that was taking a nap in the middle of the bridge. When logs were being hauled on sleds, it was often necessary to “snow” the bridge to make it suitable for sleighing.

In the last issue of Russell-Akeley Life, I wrote about the former Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad that connected our towns to places north and south. There is an old song about the DAV&P — that Bill Hill told me about — called “Train Call.” It goes like this:

Train No. 1 on Track No. 1, Leaving Titusville at 1;

For Grand Valley, Garland, Pittsfield, Nort’ Warren and Leona.


Travellin’ on the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley line.

Their train is mighty fine.

That “Doodlebug’s” wonderful, just marvelous.

Travellin’ out of Dunkirk, Frewsburg, Akeley and Leona.

Do De, Do Do!

You may think that you’re in clover,

But you’re darn happy when the journey’s over.

Oh boy! My how she jolts those cross ties and bolts.

Savin’ up my pennies, going to buy myself a “fliver”, Holy Gee.

Never do more travelin’,

Travelin’ on the D, A, V, and P!

Now, if you are wondering what a “Doodlebug” is – it’s a gasoline-powered, self-propelled passenger car, often used on rail lines with a low density of passengers. As automobiles became more popular, many rail lines dropped their passenger service altogether, and so it was with the DAV&P in 1937.


The ROAR, Revitalization of Akeley and Russell, Committee has developed a mission statement, elected officers and conducted its first activity.

ROAR’s mission is to: “Work to make and keep downtown Akeley/Russell a unique place through historic preservation, promotion, economic development and enhance the physical, natural and cultural heritage of the community.”

Officers are: President: Linda L. Farnsworth, Recording Secretary: Carmen Ferranto, Treasurer: Linda Nelson, Correspondence/Historian: Steve Horsley, Special Events: Faye and Mark Schwanke.

In an effort to improve the appearance of the buildings on the northwest corner of Main and Liberty Streets, ROAR developed a plan to power wash the structures. Power washing occurred on October 15. Appearance of the structures is measurably better. The ROAR committee is now working to develop a financial structure that will help with future projects. Moreover, the former property on the southwest corner of Main and Liberty Streets, that once hosted a gas station, is being renovated as the “Handy Shop Repair Stop.”

Big Four Road Bridge

The Big Four Road bridge was recently found to need rather urgent repairs. During a routine bridge inspection, the north end abutment was found to be subject to considerable erosion. Water is undercutting the abutment which, if not abated, potentially will lead to failure of the abutment. The township is now working with an engineering firm to specify the exact repairs needed and to send out bid requests for the needed work. Of course, this is an unexpected expense to the township, which will necessitate adjustments to the 2018 township budget.

2018 Pine Grove Township Budget

The board of supervisors has finished work on the 2018 township budget. The budget can be reviewed during normal business hours by any resident at the Town Hall over the next 30 days. A final vote on this budget will take place at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on December 13, 2018.

Akeley Store

The closure this year of the Fox Mart (known for years as the Akeley Mall) in the village of Akeley is a loss to the township. It was not only one of the last remaining locally-owned grocery stores in the area, but also a gathering place for nearby residents. The social aspect of the place cannot be easily dismissed. The store had been operated for many, many years by the Hale Family before being sold when Bill Hale retired. It was then owned by the Arnolds for several years. The store was last operated by Steve Fox. The township supervisors are hopeful that someone will see the value of opening a business in the Akeley area and see the store as a good place to do that.

New Businesses

Pine Grove Township welcomes a new business, the Fireside Grille at Cable Hollow Golf Course. The restaurant opened this summer and offers lunches and dinners with an excellent menu.

Russell Water System Upgrades

Members of the Pine Grove Township Municipal Authority recently met with representatives of the PA Department of Environmental Protection and PennVest in an effort to secure funding for improvements to the water system in Russell. As a result of this meeting, we are optimistic that funding can be secured. This will enable the replacement of the remaining cast iron pipe with modern plastic pipe, as well as eliminate several of the dead ends in the system. In the best case scenario, construction may get underway in late 2018.

Harvest Dinner

Russell United Methodist Church will serve a Harvest Dinner at the church, 17 Main St., Russell, on Saturday, November 11, from 4 to 7 pm. Served will be a dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetable and homemade desserts. Donation basis.

Akeley UM Women

The Akeley United Methodist Women held their October meeting at the home of Eleanor Johnson with eight members present. The small group of members loves to do mission work. A recent project was buying a sewing machine for a small village in Africa. The group pledges to the Ruth M. Smith Center and the Erie United Methodist Alliance, which gives safe shelter to the homeless; at one time the Alliance donated over 100 pairs of shoes for their shelter. Recently, the Akeley United Methodist Women made a donation to the United Methodist Committee On Relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey. They made “flood buckets” for storm ravaged areas and contributed food and clothing for homeless veterans. They also have supported the House of Hope in Warren. Their current project is “Heifer International”, where we will fund chickens, bees and fruit trees for countries that face hunger. This year the Akeley United Methodist Women will try to make Christmas a little brighter here at home by taking fruit baskets and cookies to nursing homes and shut-ins. A pancake supper every spring is our only fundraiser. Our officers are President: Eleanor Johnson, Vice President: Sandy Campbell, Secretary: Ann Swanson and Treasurer: Elsie Barrett.

Pine Grove Lions Club Activities

The Lions Club will once again be delivering holiday meals to families in the club’s service area. Each Thanksgiving and Christmas the club buys and distributes approximately 20 meals before each holiday. The club will also be assisting the Pine Grove Lioness Club with their tree-lighting ceremony to be held on the evening of November 25.

The Pine Grove Lioness Club

The Pine Grove Lioness Club will be holding its 32nd annual Community Tree Lights celebration Saturday, November 25, starting at 3 p.m. at Larimer Park in Russell. The Tree of Lights is a popular attraction for the community, as well as the primary fund-raiser for the Lioness organization. The ceremony will begin with a bonfire, refreshments, entertainment and culminate in the lighting of the tree and name scrolls at 5:00 pm. Chances are good that a certain jolly old elf will stop by to help out with festivities, as well! For a small donation, you can have the name of a loved-one placed on the scrolls that sit on each side of the tree. Names can be either “In Honor of” or “In Memory of” someone. You can also have a family or business name placed on a wooden bulb that will hang from the tree. Once again, we will have a scroll for pet names, as well. Fliers will be sent home with Eisenhower students, so be sure to check backpacks! If you don’t have a child attending Eisenhower, look for fliers on your front door, if you live in the Russell area. If you don’t receive a flier and would like to have a name placed on a scroll, fliers can be picked up at Ter-Lins Reflections and Elaina’s Pizza in Russell, and other local businesses in the Russell / Sugar Grove area. The Pine Grove Lioness Club meets the third Monday of each month. If you are interested in becoming a member, or if you know of a way we can help someone in our community, please contact a Lioness member. Officers for the 2017-2018 year are: Pat Strickland and Lynn Carnahan, Co-Presidents; Linda Nelson, Lion Tamer; Marsha Johnson, Tail Twister; July Rapp, Secretary and Linda Feeney, Treasurer.

Township residents are encouraged to visit for more information on activities within the township, schedule of meetings and documents such as minutes of Board of Supervisors’ meetings. Also, if anyone has questions or concerns about township government, feel free to use the township’s