Sunday, January 9, 2011

Youghiogheny Dam and the forgotten and abandoned town of Somerfield, PA. PA Route 40

As you drive down Rt 40, across the Youghiogheny reservoir heading towards Maryland, you might not notice what lies underneath you. Somerfield became a town in 1818. It existed for over 100 years until the 1940's. In 1942 the Yough was dammed and the town of Somerfield was abandoned to make room for the newly forming lake. Every so often, the water levels recede and the old stone bridge that was the original Rt. 40 and derelict sidewalks of the town will show themselves. The first image courtesy of gribblenation.com, and the two non snowy pictures courtesy Vince Ferrari. The remainder are from a recent trip through the area.




View from the middle of the current bridge, albeit 80 years ago.



And todays view. (photo courtesy Vince Ferrari)




The new Rt. 40 bridge crossing the Yough





The old Rt. 40 approaching the bridge


Somerfield Bridge



The new and the old. The stone bridge was once the longest bridge constructed on the original Rt. 40




Somerfield PA sidewalk
Snow covered sidewalks of the old town, whose blocks of old sidewalk can easily be seen under the right conditions.





A wide shot

November 19, 2015


November 19, 2015
November 19, 2015













A nice article about Somerfield is here.


Courtesy V. Ferrari.


The following pictures were sent to our FaceBook page by Jack Gates.......We thank him!


The bridge after towns demolition







1979






I'm an interactive map! Play w/ me!

View Larger Map
A nice interactive map of the area now. Somerfield was located about 5 mm above the 40 sign on the map above. If you were to click on the "View Larger Map" link, a little orange/yellow guy should appear above the zoom controls and you can drag him to the above location for a 360 degree view of the non flooded area.

21 comments:

  1. Amazing what is under some of these lakes, especially the ones out west. I know Cheat Lake supposedly has a cemetery under it..by the Stewartstown side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of these waterways have "cemeteries" beneath them. Not sure if it's an urban legend, or if some of them really are built over boneyards. I heard that some area around Somerfield was built on an Indian graveyard..... but then, kids love stories like that, real or imagined. :)

      Delete
  2. I was doing a store in Randleman NC a few years back and they were in the process of doing this same project around some farmland. Houses were razed, but most bridges and roads were left intact....I had my bicycle and traveled these roads....very quiet....I passed through there a few years back and it was all filled by then....I of course took no pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very cool! I knew there used to be a town there, but I didn't know the bridge was still there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanx, Jodi!
    Its been a few weeks since I was there last and the water was down but I couldn't see anything (pictures from last winter). Usually this time of the year is best for viewing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for posting these pictures and the abandoned turnpike post too. I grew up in California, PA and loved the stories my dad would tell me about the old towns and roads that had been bypassed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are welcome! We enjoy doing this, makes people happy.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very interesting topic. That bridge was one of the first (if not the first), and remains the only "intact" (to the best of my memory) triple arch stone bridge constructed on the original National Road. Still in pretty decent shape overall. Shame for all intensive purposes that it's been lost to history. It will continue to degrade with time. I did a Historic Property Management Plan for the Yough River Dam when I was in grad school, and was able to review some of the Corps reports on the town. Again, if I'm remembering correctly they basically just razed the town, so there's probably lots of artifacts still out there. Too bad they didn't relocate the bridge, because it's a beautiful piece of historic architecture and engineering.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to post this under anonymous as i don't have an account with any of the others, I posted what pictures I took either in 1991 or 1999, can't find a date on the pictures or in the album i have them in. It was a nice sunny day,,,,, hey are posted on my facebook page,,,under Laura Shipley Demchak or this link: https://www.facebook.com/laura.demchak/media_set?set=a.10152276586840259.1073741926.731565258&type=3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. couldn't follow the link.

      Delete
  9. The current boat ramps are the old road grade after the new bridge was built.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Joe Paletta Washington, PADecember 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    This is magical for me to see, I never knew about this. Thank You very much!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Does anyone happen to have any pictures of a schooL which may have been there? My dad's mother was a teacher there. I have always been curious and would love to show him a picture if possible.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank You for the great history lesson.Yough Lake is down right now and the town bridge is visible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Thanks for the heads up too! Stopped by today, and heading back Saturday!

      Delete
  13. There used to be a picture, in one of the boat stores, by the lake. It showed someone water skiing under one of the openings of the old bridge!

    ReplyDelete
  14. My folks migrated from Fairchance to the Meyersdale area in 1946. We traveled over the new bridge every other Sunday for some thirty five years. It always amazed me to watch the remains of Somerfield emerge from the Yough like a ghost at low water levels. What a gift to be able to look back and appreciate what once was and what will never be again! Thank you for gifting us with your pictures and work. I appreciated your effort very much as it emoked so many memories of those road trips back to visit Grandpa and Grammie!
    Carolyn McKinney

    ReplyDelete
  15. Back in November 0f 1991, I think it was Thanksgiving W/E, the lake elevation level was 1,360'. All three arches were exposed. Being avid skiers, local native John Cornish said, lets put the john boat in, and ski underneath the old bridge! So we did! I believe we were the first ever to ski underneath the old stone bridge. The skiers, John Cornish, Jack VandeVisse, Carol Miller,and this writer, Gary Hileman.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would be curious to know what the flow was like on the original Yough River. Looks like it drops over 100 feet in elevation in those miles under the lake. Anyone know if there were rapids or falls in that section? I know George Washington rafted the Yough River and took out somewhere below Confluence because of the rapids. Thanks, Rob

    ReplyDelete
  17. I WAS JUST THERE A FEW DAYS AGO AND WAS ABLE TO WALK REALLY FAR OUT ONTO LAND..TO THE EDGE OF THE OLD BRIDGE..STILL A TREE STUMP THERE AND BRICKS AND CONCRETE FROM THE ROAD/ SIDEWALKS...GREAT PICS...

    ReplyDelete