Blacklick Township High School, 1919-1969; the original, two-story section of the building was destroyed by fire in February, 2012. The one-story section had been razed earlier
for use in a sawmill. The m
usic is the Blacklick Township High Alma Mater.
Above, the buliding, long after its abandonment as a school (in 1969), as it appeared in March 2005.
Photo by Judy Rose. Click here for more information.
Above is one of the hundreds of representations of Blacklick Valley contained in the NTAMHS CD-ROM now available for a donation. Click here for details. If you have information about this photo or the subjects in it, please write the webmaster.

Facts about Blacklick Township


Faculty memories

From webmaster Jon Kennedy's scrapbook. Above, Mrs. Rhea Taylor, the township school district music teacher for many years and a favorite of many students. The photo was taken in front of Big Bend School in 1954. In the background is the then-Twin Rocks EUB Church (later United Methodist; since closed). At right is Blacklick Township High School principal and English teacher Elmer Smith, on the right, being interviewed by Nanty Glo Journal editor Andrew Rogalski following the 1957 Hi Varieties Show in the Big Bend School Auditorium. If you have mementoes to share in the Blacklick Township Home Page, write the webmaster.

Click here for the beginning of a series on Blacklick Township teachers.


Blacklick Twp's 1930 championship basketball team.

1930 Blacklick basketball champs. See caption below.

Blacklick Township is the rural area north of the boroughs of Nanty Glo and Vintondale, comprising the area of Cambria County west of Cambria Township to the Indiana County line. Presumably named for the Blacklick Creek which is its main waterway, the township is bisected by US Highway 422, which connects US 22 at Ebensburg to Indiana, Pa., and goes on through Kittanning, Butler, and New Castle into Ohio at Youngstown.
Twin Rocks' Main Street before it was paved; the former Dugan's Hotel on left. Twin Rocks' Main Street as it looks today.
Downtown Twin Rocks then, about 1910, left, and in 2000, right.
Like its neighbors Nanty Glo and Vintondale, both of which originated later, the Blacklick Township towns of Bracken, Twin Rocks, and Cardiff (Nettleton) were bituminous coalmining boomtowns of the early half of the twentieth century. Though not as large as either Vintondale or Nanty Glo, Twin Rocks, too, had a movie theater and many stores serving all consumer needs in its heyday.
Historic photo of Big Bend, date unknown.
The township's villages are Twin Rocks and Belsano, with smaller hamlets of Cardiff (also known as Nettleton), Bethel (perhaps technically a village because it does have a church, but one that has not been used on a regular basis in many decades), Red Mill and C&I or "the C&I Houses," also known as "Eleanore," a community between Cardiff and Nanty Glo built by the old Cambria and Indiana Railroad for its employees. White Mill is also a familiar place name locally, but only a tavern and a single house remain there.
The best theory about the meaning of "black lick" has been put forth by the late town historian of Nantyglo, Wales, Trevor Rowson, who believes the name refers to outcroppings of coal on the banks of the creek, which in turn "licks" them when the creek washes the coal seams. In that case, the names of Nanty Glo and Blacklick refer to the same phenomenon, one in the English and the other in the Welsh language. There are also a Black Lick Township and a town of Black Lick in adjacent Indiana County.
Belsano, Expedia Map

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BELSANO—Despite the fact that the state of Pennsylvania claims that its name traces to a town in Italy, Belsano is of interest as the most Anglo-Saxon Protestant settlement in, possibly, all of Cambria County. It has two churches, both Methodist (one of which—Faith United Methodist—was Evangelical United Brethren until the two denominations merged). And in keeping with the campaign led by Methodism and supported by other Protestants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries against alcohol, it has no tavern, the only town I know of in the county that can make this claim. (There are taverns about a mile out of town in both directions on US 422, however!) Its oldest families have venerable names like Adams and Edwards; the Adamses claim ties to the family who produced two early US presidents, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Edwardses were kin to Jonathan Edwards of Great Awakening/Princeton University fame.

Perhaps the Valley's main claim to lasting fame (if a biographical entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica is a measure of such) is Belsano native son Malcolm Cowley, a leading literary figure and critic who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Thornton Wilder, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others of the inter-war and post-war eras.

The Valley's most famous athlete also is a Blacklick Township native, former jockey Bill Hartack.

Twin Rocks Expedia Map

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Among other leading former residents are Cambria County Judge Samuel Lemon Reed, 1864-1934, who built the school that became Blacklick Township High School and left funds for the rebuilding of Belsano's former Methodist Episcopal Church; Dr. William Prideaux, 1873-1953, who was the area's physician and a leader in the township's public life for many years; David Carney, a 1961 graduate of Blacklick Township High School who is now retired as a vice president of AT&T, one of the world's largest corporations, and the late Marty Myers, 1938-2001, who served as a member of the Selectboard of Essex, Vermont, for 16 years including chairing it for 11 years, and was also elected to and served in the Vermont State House of Representatives.

Cardiff, Nettleton, Expedia Map

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Blacklick Township and the boroughs of Vintondale and Nanty Glo jointly comprise the Blacklick Valley School District. Three separate districts into the 1950's, the boroughs united in that decade and Blacklick Township joined the union in the 1960's.


PHOTO CAPTIONS: The first and second photos have caption accompanying them.

Third photo: Blacklick Township High School had a championship women's basketball team in 1930. Pictured are, first row, left to right: Ruth Adams, Natalie Smith, Mern Miller (Lindsay), Dorning Prideaux, and Kathryn Lees. Top row, left to right: Walter Striko, Dorothy McCracken, Virginia Lindsay, Eleanor Miller, Betty Lindsay, and ? (the last person is unidentified). The photo was submitted by Barbara Lindsay Hakanen, whose mother was the late Mern Miller Lindsay.

Fourth and fifth  photos: Twin Rocks' Main Street before it was paved, circa 1910;
former Dugans Hotel on left (from the collection of William Martin), and as it looks in 2000.
Local historian Desmond Warzel reports the hotel was originally Peaches Hotel, owned by Amandeus Peach.

Sixth photo: Historic view of Big Bend (the name used for a section of
what is now Twin Rocks); date unknown. From the collection of William Martin.

Reminiscences, questions, comments, and news about Blacklick Township should be sent to webmaster.


Links to additional Blacklick Township pages

Bracken sisters remember growing up in the family 'Homestead' at Twin Rocks
Report on Blacklick Township sesquicentennial celebration, July 2000

Blacklick Township teachers recalled

Clarks' Farm Market recalls valley's past general stores
Red Mill site: Blacklick Valley's good news
Blacklick Township Churches 
Blacklick Township High School Class Lists
Courtesy link (this page not part of Nanty Glo Home Page:
     George Warholic's Blacklick Township Pages

Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's growing up there, with Belsano School photo-1)
Belsano Memories (from Trudy Rummel Myers, childhood on the pig farm)
Belsano Memories (from Jon Kennedy's adolescence, writing for Mountaineer Herald-2)
Belsano memories—Halloween in the 1950's (Jon Kennedy-3)
Belsano's famous literary figure - Malcolm Cowley
Spring fever on the Kennedy farm, 1956
Views from the hamlet of Cardiff/Nettleton
The Blacklick Township Class of 1960 35th anniversary reunion photo
Blacklick Valley's most famous athlete - Bill Hartack
The 'good old days' at Blacklick Township High School, by Linda Rae Watson Silbaugh
A Death in the Family and how it forever changed our lives (Belsano crash kills three)
      A Postscript
A virtual hike, Vintondale to Belsano
The Belsano Job—robbery and murder on the C&I Railroad
Remembering growing up in Twin Rocks, Shirley Bracken Kozlovac
Obituaries: Caroline Swalligan | Cleo Paul | Marty Myers | Marion Hayes
Construction changes the face of Belsano



© Jon Kennedy 1997-2012