Pete's May 1997 Article.


In Honor of a President-Grant, PA by Pete Bennett


Sometime in his first term as U. S. President probably in early 1869, Ulysses Simpson Grant our 18th President visited Elk County, just to go fishing. It was his first visit and he was accompanied by Simon Cameron of Harrisburg and Amos C. Noyes of Westport, PA. Grants train pulled in to a siding at Dry Saw Mill, with Mix and Dents Runs as their destinations for fishing.

Some background, Cameron was Secretary of War for Lincoln during the recent Civil War and as you may have guessed was the person Cameron County was named for. Noyes who was a former Army Colonel and a large land owner in Clinton County, was now a well known timber man on the West Branch of the Susquehanna. It is said that Mix and Dents Runs were both teeming with brook trout, even though they didn’t stock trout in those days. There were not even any limit or rules in those days. Sounds like heaven, and probably the reason for the trip here.

George W. Huntley Jr. in his book, “The Story of the Sinnamahone” said they succeeded in catching several hundred of the “Speckled Beauties”. Grant enjoyed meeting with the local people and would spend all his non fishing hours sitting on the platform of his train car smoking cigars and just greeting the people, many of whom were veterans of the War.

Huntley also relates a story of a local woodsman named Trump who openly confronted the President and ask him to appoint him to an open spot on his Cabinet. The man, a staunch Republican, was told by Grant that, “it takes a big man to fill a Cabinet position,” at which the man replied, “I will be a big man when I get the appointment.” All men are considered little till they have filled a big job. Grant told him he wasn’t qualified to which he replied “I’m a Republican, what better qualification is there? ” All I need is your appointment and the Senate’s confirmation and I’ll be a big man. Your argument is not logical the President said. But the wood hick cut him off saying, “Experience is better then logic; Lincoln appointed you a General and you became a soldier. The people elected you President and you became a statesman. You are now on a fishing trip to the wilds of Elk County and when you get back to Washington you will be a great fisherman, and that’s the way the world goes.” Grant seemed to enjoy the encounter and told him again, he just wasn’t qualified, to which Trump replied “Mr. President, you have been a frank and true American and that is the reason you live in the hearts of your countrymen.” The exchange was ended with both men shaking hands.

Dry Saw Mill, as you may have guessed was later named "Grant, PA" in honor of the President’s visit. It wasn’t his only visit to Elk County either. He visited two more times and again you guessed it, to go fishing! Once in August of 1869 and again in 1883.

The first trip was for fishing at Straight Creek near Wilcox, PA with his friend and former Bucktail Regiment Commander Thomas Kane. The 1883 trip, years after leaving the presidency, he found General Kane was in ill health and he stayed at the Wilcox House and fished in the Clarion River at a place called Bridgetown, which is now known as Tambine. Grant really loved "Elk County" where the fishin’ was really good!


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