History of Howard Falls
In 1825, the Erie Canal opened from Albany, NY to Buffalo, bringing prosperity to the region. In the quiet town of Grafton, in south-central Vermont, Ziba Howard and his extended family were preparing to move. They were headed west to find a better life.
The family first moved to Essex County, NY around Westport and Moriah. Some would stay there, others venturing on to Saratoga County, NY. A few even headed south into western Connecticut. But once on the move, Ziba’s grandsons, Henry and Levi Howard, began to develop other plans.
The brothers, Henry born in 1809 and Levi in 1812, were in their early 20’s when Pennsylvania announced the building of the Erie Extension Canal, from Pittsburgh to Erie. The canal would need stone, lots of stone, to build the locks needed to raise the barges over the northern continental divide stretching across Erie County.
Along with their uncle, Elijah Smith, a master mason, the boys soon found themselves to Girard, PA. Henry came with Elijah first, about 1834, as Elijah established his mason business. Elijah needed cut stone for his work and Henry set out looking for suitable outcroppings. They found that stone near a wonderful waterfall south of Girard, which is now Howard Falls.
Levi Howard and his family joined Henry at Howard Falls in the summer of 1839 and began to quarry stone. Stone would be taken for the Canal, the Erie County Court House, the Civil War memorial in Girard, and countless others. Along with Levi’s son George, the quarry was active into the early 1900s.
In 1925, John Elmer Reed wrote in his History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, Vol 2 – “The Howard stone quarry south of [Franklin] center, on Falls Run, is one of the most important stone quarries in the county, having a rather thick stratum of fine, hard sandstone, from which excellent stone have been take for 60 or 70 years, perhaps longer.”
In 2019, we celebrated the Howard family living at Howard Falls for 180 years; now 7 generations of Howard have called Howard Falls ‘home’.