Out Behind the Barn
Written by Bill Bower
For us to go forward as a county, we need to stand
on the shoulders of our ancestors, which were the early farmers in Bradford County. With this in mind the
Troy Sale Barn Operating Committee has been moving ahead with the renovation of the barn to honor our
At one time, Bradford County was heavily wooded and at first these trees were a nuisance because farming was the goal of most of the first settlers. However, there was plenty of lumber to spare and the settlers used the trees to build and heat their home. Small sawmills popped up across the county and frame home took the place of log cabins.
Later, the coal industry, helped drive the development of the county as railroads were built to carry the coal. An Iron ore mine was opened, near Austinville; however, the ore did not have great value and the mine did not operate very long.
The main industry was and always has been agriculture. At first a man could only plant a few acres to grow food for their own needs. Everything was done by hand. As time passed, the farmer got better tools, and horses were used for the heavy work and more crops were being planted. The crops that were not needed for the family were trader for other items.
By 1870, the main cash crops were butter, hay, cattle, grain potatoes and lumber. Bradford County was known for its butter and buckwheat. By the 1920’s Bradford County was known for its fine herds of cattle. Into this picture came the Troy Sale Barn, when twenty farmers put $5,000 in a hat and built the Troy Sale Barn.
In 1924, the Troy Gazette Register ran this article: “Not since the war has a sale of purebred cattle in Troy been so well attended and have buyers been so willing to pay a price for choice offering as on Saturday at the Fourth Annual Sale of the Troy-Canton Holstein Breeders Association. Fifty-four head sold for an average of $157 per head. Twelve year old Leon Ballard got the price of $325 for a six year old cow.” In 1941, Tex Rickard auctioneer for the Troy Sale Barn established a world record for calf selling here on Wednesday when he sold 402 calves in 124 minutes, one animal every 18 ½ seconds.
For nearly a century the sales at the Troy Sale Barn Pavilion increased the economic activity in Western Bradford County. Sale day was every Wednesdayand the town of Troy was bustling with activity. Sales representatives came by train from Canada, Philadelphia and New York City. Farming families came to town on Wednesdays to do banking, and shopping.
By the mid-1960’s Bradford County had the largest farm acreage in Pennsylvania. From that point on farms in Bradford County began to drop. By 1985 there were less than 1,500 farms compared to 3,741 in the early 1950’s. Today, according to USDA Census on Agriculture, the number of Farms in Bradford County in 2012 was 1,629, in 2007 there were 1,457 which was a 12% decrease in farms.
As farms keep dwindling, the activity at the sale barn slowed and after 82 years of different owners and many different sales, the Troy Sale Barn held its last sale on Wednesday, April 14, 2004.
People have asked why fix up an old building; however others have said I wish we would have saved the Troy Hotel, I wish we could have saved the smoke stack and other buildings about town.
Churchill Barnes and Adriel Hubbard agreed that the sum of $10 was adequate for the piece of land that was to become a magnet for weary travelers for the next 155 years; this was the beginning of what was to become the Troy Hotel. H. C. Bradby’s "History of Bradford County," published in 1891, writes that in 1832 the frame tavern-hotel was called the Jackson House. But when President Jackson "removed the deposits," his name was obliterated and it became the Troy House. The quote refers to Jackson’s executive order to remove federal deposits from the vaults of the United States Bank, causing its destruction and the rise of state "wildcat banks" which issued a flurry of worthless paper money.
Not all the activity took place on the main floors of Troy House. By 1900, Clarence A. Shook was firmly entrenched in his barbershop in the basement of the hostelry, where there had been a shop for several decades. Shook was to serve four generations of Trojan men, ending with his shop across the street from the hotel.
The Penn-Troy Smokestack stood 178 feet tall and has been a staple in the community since 1942. People in Troy said that many years ago, a certain young person used to actually climb to the top of the smokestack and place a lighted lantern there, much to the dismay of the Troy Police.
The Troy Sale Barn is a historical building that we have saved from the wrecking ball. You can see the improvements made to the outside of the building but if you have not been inside, you are invited to stop in for a tour.
We are now beginning to work on the arena; the wooden benches that were in the arena would not come up to code and could not be used. The Citizens & Northern Bank have donated the theater seats from their 2nd floor auditorium. These seats are going from one historical building to another historical building. You can honor a loved one by purchasing a brass tag to be attached to one of these seats.
The volunteer crew of Harry Davis, Greg Jones, Bob Storch and Bill Bower has begun work in the auction area where the cattle auctions actually took place. All last winter and part of this winter we were praying that we did not have a heavy snowfall. The piers and the wooden posts were in such a condition that we thought a heavy snowfall would create too much weight on these structures. Some of the old wooden beams, which had dry rot and post hole beetle damage, were scheduled to be replaced with steel.
We are breathing much easier now because when we started work on the auction area, we immediately began installing the steel beams that will insure that the building will survive even the heaviest snows or the highest winds. Installing these steel beams with the steel beams and columns in place and any danger of damage occurring to the building, we turned our attention back to arena area.
The outside of the barn is scheduled for a second coat of stain and the committee will be taking this opportunity to change the color of the barn.
Like all remolding, we still have some work in the arena area to do. Putting trim around the entrances and doors, putting down new flooring in the kitchen and both bathrooms and then putting down the baseboards. The new entranceway is complete but a rock wall will be added to highlight where the new founder’s pictures are displayed.
A lot of work still needs to be completed on the arena area. The dirt floor needs to be dug out, gravel stone spread over the floor. Since the heat is going to be in the floor the insulate panels need to be installed along with the pipes to carry the water, then concrete needs to be poured.
The floor for the theater seats needs to be put in place and the seating needs to be installed; a new stage needs to be built. All of this requires funds, which are the big influence on when all this work will be completed.
When the auction area is completed there will be a place underneath the arena where artifacts of Bradford County will be displayed. It will include display cases for documents and pictures and a few small memorabilia items.
In the arena, we hope to have educational and entertaining programs. We hope someone will decide to get married in the arena and have their reception in the back part of the barn. We have already had many successful events at the barn. Many weddings have had their reception there; and the local schools have been using the barn for special events. Junior and senior proms have been held at the barn, farm markets and a host of other events.
Many people have said, “I’m glad they saved the Sale Barn”; however, we need your help to continue with making the historical Troy Sale Barn a Community Center that we all can be proud of.
~Submitted by Bill Bower, retired PA Game Commission WCO & TSBOC President