[Diary and Photographs Documenting the Construction of a Highway Through the Conneaut Marsh in Northwestern Pennsylvania]
[Crawford County, Pa. 1931]. Commercial journal bound in black cloth, with pp. of manuscript text and twenty-one mounted photographs, each 3.5 x 4.5 inches, plus fifty-one additional photographs laid in (twenty of which are duplicates of the mounted photographs), along with a small envelope of newspaper clippings. Minor wear to journal. Some photographs slightly faded but otherwise in excellent condition. Very good plus. Item #3635
A small archive documenting a 1931 highway construction project through an important Pennsylvania wetland. Composed of a brief hand-written journal mounted with original snapshot photographs, an assembly of loose photo prints, and a few newspaper clippings this documents the filling of a section of the Conneaut Marsh in northwestern Pennsylvania as part of construction of the Perry Highway in Crawford County, just west of the small unincorporated place of Custards. The clippings, images, and numerous archived newspaper reports show the Highway's roadbed rapidly sinking into the Marsh multiple times during 1931 and this all seems to document efforts to reconstruct it. From the first entry in the journal: "On Aug[ust] 1st 1931 we started clearing and grading on the Perry Highway Rt. 213 at station 417. The vegetation consisted chiefly of a rank growth of swamp grass which we cut as close as possible leaving the sod to form a mat. By afternoon an elevating grader was started and several tractors were crawling back into the swamp. The tractors and loaded wagons caused the ground to sway & rock giving the same sensation as being on a raft. The fill went on steadily and without mishap except that occasionally a wheel on one of the wagons would break through the hardened crust and it would be necessary to hook on an extra tractor to pull it out.... Pictures to the left show the growth of vegetation on right of way at station 407 looking north before and after clearing." The photographs capture the scene of the project described above, along with numerous angles of the wetlands and images of the project as it progressed. A few of the images capture the sinking effect mentioned in the brief manuscript text, including a car that has collapsed into a portion of the ground.
The Perry Highway (now known as State Route 19) connects Erie and Pittsburgh, following the path of a famed wagon trail which delivered supplies to Erie and the soldiers under command of its namesake, Admiral Oliver Perry during the War of 1812. The Conneaut Marsh (also known as the Geneva Marsh) is composed of about thirteen miles of wetland where Conneaut Lake to the northwest empties into a small creek to the southeast. It is an important ecological formation home to the largest remaining emergent marsh in Pennsylvania and numerous rare plant and animal species.