Tours by appointment. The museum will be open Saturdays (10 to 4) and Wednesdays (from 5 to 7 p.m.) through December. Admission is free.

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Sayre museum reopening with “Answering the Call!”

The Sayre Historical Society will open for the 2017 season on Saturday, April 1 with a new exhibit on “A History of Firefighting in Sayre” and a stunning restoration of the Sayre Theater’s old marquee.

   The hours are Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 starting April 1. Admission is free and the museum, located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad station in downtown Sayre, is handicap-accessible.

   The newest rotating exhibit, titled “Answering the Call,” focuses on the long history of firefighting in Sayre. A treasury of historic photographs from the collection of the Sayre Fire Department and longtime Sayre historian James Nobles documents the entire history of the department.

   Rare images of the Robert Packer Hose Company, which was organized in 1885, as well as a collection of firemen’s convention ribbons dating back to the late 1800’s are included in the display. Other topics include the E.P. Wilbur Hook & Ladder Company, Milltown’s J. E Wheelock Hose Company, the Howard Elmer Hose Company and the Robert Sayre Hose Company. 

   Historic fires in the borough are also recounted including the 1933 fire at Robert Packer Hospital, the 1948 fire at the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s coaling station and the Bond Jewelry Store fire on Desmond Street in 1957, among others. Signature photographs of Stanley Stark, teenage mascot of the Wilbur Hook & Ladder Company, as well as volunteer “Smokey Joe” Kennedy are also included in the exhibit.

   The exhibit, running from April 1 to September 6, will feature a 28-page illustrated booklet available for sale at the museum in the Burkhart Gift Shop. 
   The newest artifact in the museum, a restored section of the Sayre Theater marquee, will also be premiered on April 1. Painstakingly reconditioned by museum volunteer Chuck DeRose, the section of the marquee, repainted and illuminated by lights, has been relocated to the museum’s lobby. An exhibit on the rich history of the community’s movie theater history will also be on display in the lobby. 
   For more information, visit the museum’s website at or go to the museum’s Facebook page.
   The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and funded in part by the Bradford County United Way. The organization also receives funding from the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency which helped fund the new exhibit and the marketing efforts of the museum.

PHOTO CAPTION:   A 1916 photograph shows Sayre’s first motorized fire engine known as “Old Huldy.” Individuals from left are: Chief of Police Steve Evans, Council President J.E. Anderson, Burgess John Umpleby, Claude Nicholson (driver), Fred Curtis, Fritz Himmick, Jean Umpleby, William Grogan, Arthur Hickey and Dan Tierney. (Sayre Fire Department Collection)

Sayre museum hosting program on Barclay Mountain

SAYRE – Coal mining takes center stage on Tuesday, March 14 at the annual dinner of the Sayre Historical Society. A special program on “Old Barclay: Nineteenth Century Coal Mining on Barclay Mountain” will be presented by Matthew Carl of the Bradford County Historical Society. The public is cordially invited to attend.

Photo Caption: The old coal mining village of Barclay, pictured in this sketch by John Moray, is the subject of the Sayre Historical Society’s annual dinner on Tuesday, March 14 at 6 p.m.

The dinner will be held in the Sayre High School cafeteria at 6 p.m. with a catered dinner featuring chicken breasts in herbed sauce, meatballs marinara, pasta alfredo, seasoned green beans, salad with assorted dressings, dinner rolls, warm blueberry crisp, brownie Sundaes, and coffee, tea, water, or milk. The cost of the dinner/program is $20. The doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Interested persons are asked to make reservations by calling Tom at (570) 888-6821 or Mary at (570) 888-6081. The deadline for reservations is March 5.

The program will highlight the fascinating history of the Bradford County settlement that thrived in the late 1800’s.

“The discovery of semi-bituminous coal in Bradford County in 1812 began over 170 years of mining on Barclay Mountain,” said Carl, manager/curator at the Bradford County Historical Society. “The program, "Old Barclay: Nineteenth Century Coal Mining on Barclay Mountain," covers the rapid growth of coal production on the mountain beginning in the early 19th century and growing to become Bradford County’s first energy boom. Through a series of slides, the history and process of coal mining in Bradford County will be described.”

In addition to his position at the Bradford County Historical Society, Carl has also served as president of LeRoy Heritage Museum for 16 years. For 12 years he has conducted a walking tour for LeRoy Heritage Museum members at the deserted coal mining and lumbering towns on Barclay Mountain. He has authored, co-authored and/or designed five local history books, including one about Barclay Mountain. He has also spoken regularly throughout Bradford County on the topic of local history for the past 16 years.

In addition to the program on Barclay Mountain, Scott Herring of Tamaqua, Pa., chairman of the Anniversary 250th Committee, will be present to explain the efforts to recognize in 2018 the importance of coal mining in Pennsylvania. Herring, known as the “Last Anthracite Photographer,” will also have samples of his photographic work at the dinner.

The Sayre Historical Society, located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger station in downtown Sayre, is a recipient of United Way of Bradford County.

Answering the Call - April 1 to September 1, 2017

“Sayre Special” arrives in Winter Quarterly

SAYRE – An Ocotber 25, 1936 excursion on the Lehigh Valley Railroad dubbed “The Sayre Special” is featured in the Winter issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly history magazine.

CAPTION: Rail fans await boarding the train in this undated photograph of one of several rail fan excursions on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. A 1936 excursion to Sayre is highlighted in the latest Sayre Historical Society Quarterly magazine.

Other items in the Winter Quarterly include a story on the opening of the first drawer of the Centennial Time Capsule, a 1970 photograph of Sayre High School French teacher Leon Rufus and two students, and a story on the recent “Milltown, USA” exhibit featured at the Sayre museum.

The center section of the magazine features a vintage photograph of Umpleby’s Cigar Store which was located on W. Lockhart Street in downtown Sayre.

The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre. The historical society museum, located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre, is presently closed for the season. A special program titled “A Guided Tour of Sayre” by historian Jim Nobles is slated at the museum for Saturday, December 31 at 1 p.m. Immediately following the program, the first drawer of the Centennial Time Capsule will be resealed. The drawer was opened on September 3 of this year and, once closed up, will remain “sealed” in time until 2091. Admission to the program is free and donations are gratefully accepted.

The “Sayre Special” was a rail fan excursion sponsored by the New York Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society and Railroad Stories Magazine. Nearly 400 people journeyed from New York to Sayre touring along the way Oak Island Yards and the famous “Mountain Cut-Off.” Once in Sayre, the group was divided into two groups with one group touring the railroad shops and the other inspecting a locomotive display set up in the east yards.

An article in the Evening Times newspaper noted that several curious local residents welcomed the excursion group to Sayre.

Included with the article is the cover of the excursion souvenir booklet as well as historical information on the Sayre Shops and a roster of Lehigh Valley locomotives.

The Time Capsule story recounts the history of the Centennial project. Four drawers were originally sealed in the above-ground Time Capsule which was built by former Sayre High School principal Clinton Stewart Jr. Among the items discovered in the first drawer opened this year were photographs, newspapers, a telephone directory, Centennial items, a 1950 block of stamps, videotapes and items from the Robert Packer Hospital School of Nursing, among other items.

The center spread photograph shows the interior of Umpleby’s cigar store (which included a billiards hall), located on W. Lockhart Street. Also included are several men including owner John Umpleby smoking a cigar.

The “Milltown USA” story highlights the interesting history of the part of the borough that predates Sayre by more than a century, when water powered numerous mills. An account of John Shepard, a “pioneer mill-operator and philanthropist,” is also included.

“Shepard, a self-made man, born in Plainfield, Connecticut,, who came to the Valley in 1784 as a clerk in Weiss and Hollenback’s trading posts at Tioga Point and Newtown, early launched out as a fur trader with the Indians in his own right,” according to a newspaper account written in 1940.

A number of photographs, including the Shepard’s Mill mural by M. Louis Gore located in the Sayre High School, Alliger’s (formerly the Frank Smith General Store), and members of the Sayre American Legion Post 283, are included with the story.

A photograph of the original steeple of the Ukrainian Church on Sayre’s East Side is pictured on the back page of the magazine.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization, membership-supported and staffed by volunteers. The historical society is a recipient of United Way funding.

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Sayre prisoner of war featured in latest Sayre Quarterly

SAYRE – A story about a Sayre man captured by the Germans during World War II highlights the Fall issue of the Sayre Historical Society’s Quarterly.

Photo Caption: Cpl. Glenn Sutton, who was a prisoner of war during World War II, is recalled by his daughter in the Sayre Historical Society’s Fall Quarterly.

Glenn Sutton, an employee of the Bell Knitting Co. before he was drafted, was captured in Belgium in December of 1944 and imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp. The account, written by his daughter, Nancy Fassett, includes a number of photographs, copies of telegrams announcing his capture and even a letter written by Nancy when she was eight years old. After he was liberated from the camp in May of 1945, he later was discharged from the Army and returned to the Valley. He was known as “one of the best mechanics” in the area, according to his daughter. He passed away on November 1, 1973 at the age of 62.

Along with the interesting account of Mr. Sutton, the Quarterly includes a story on a 1905 ordinance in Sayre Borough limiting motor vehicles to no more than 10 miles per hour. Another item is an early 1960’s brochure on the Donald Guthrie Foundation for Medical Research. Formed in 1942 by Dr. Guthrie, the Foundation supported research activities of the Robert Packer Hospital and Guthrie Clinic.

Gracing the center section of the publication is a photograph of the Lehigh Valley Railroad station in Sayre from 1966. The photo was made from an original color slide made by an unknown photographer.

The final feature in the Quarterly is an account of the recent “Sayre at 125” exhibit presented by the museum in its second story Rotating Exhibit Room. Commemorating the 125th anniversary of the founding of Sayre Borough, the exhibit examined the first borough council meeting on March 2, 1891 as well as the death of Sayre’s visionary founder, Howard Elmer, on September 9, 1892. The exhibit, which ran from April 2 to September 1, also included photographs and historical information on the 1893 railroad strike, the new railroad shops in Sayre, Keystone Park and “hometown hero” Tom Worthington, who starred in the 1949 Rose Bowl for Northwestern. Some recall the television broadcaster announcing the heroics of the young athlete from “Say-ree.”

The exhibit also included panels on World War II, the Sayre Canteen, the opening of the Valley War Memorial Swimming Pool in 1948 along with the last run of the Black Diamond Express train on May 12, 1959.

Other highlights were the dedication of Guthrie Square in 1957, major league baseball player Jeff Terpko, the Valley Railroad Museum which opened in 1985 and the Guthrie One helicopter crash on January 29, 1991 near Sonestown, Pa.

The exhibit closed with memories of the Century II building program at Guthrie Healthcare System, the Sayre Centennial Celebration in 1991 and the infamous Flood of 2011.

The back page of the publication includes a classic photograph of Joe Kennedy, affectionately known as “Smokey Joe,” peddling newspapers near the Robert Packer Hospital. The photograph taken by the late Luke Hutter of Sayre, was loaned to the Sayre Historical Society by John Lucy for an exhibit in the museum’s lobby.

The Quarterly is mailed four times per year to members of the Sayre Historical Society as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at the museum on Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., and at Carl’s Newsstand in Sayre.

The museum will be hosting Oktoberfest on Wednesday, October 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. featuring craft beers from Bluestone Brewing Co. and Skerpon’s Beverage and a sampling of food including meatballs, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and more. Tickets are available at the museum, from any board member, or at the door.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and supported by funding from the United Way.

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