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Copyright © 2005 - 2015 by Andrew J. Morris

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Cresson - CHURCHES
Cresson - SCHOOLS


Cresson was founded in 1854 when the Pennsylvania railroad established a station there. It is said to have been named for Elliott Cresson, the well known Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist who died that year. Dr. Robert Montgomery Smith Jackson, a physician with a practice in the area, is sometimes credited with suggesting the name. Jackson wanted to establish a health resort here, so perhaps he sought to curry favor with the philanthropist, though of course the fruit of his efforts came too late. Jackson was appointed postmaster at Cresson in 1854 as well.

Dr. Jackson came to Cambria County about 1846, locating first at Summit, then Cresson. Besides having a medical practice and acting as the town postmaster, Jackson engaged in the manufacture of fire-brick. He was noted for his scientific accomplishments, especially in botany and geology. Having faith in the healing properties of the mountain environment, he managed Mountain House a resort in Cresson, until the Civil War. During the Civil War Jackson was surgeon in the 3rd Pennsylvania, and later medical inspector of the 23rd army corps - a position he held until his death.

Mountain House ca. 1910

The Alleghany Mountain Health Institute was incorporated by Dr. Jackson April 29,1854. The original health resort was located near Hollidaysburg, but was moved to Cresson and the organization was re-named Cresson Springs Resort. The Mountain House had 89 rooms, and there were around it 32 lots that could be leased for the construction of cottages. A new hotel was built in 1880-81 that could accommodate 600 guests. Andrew Carnegie built one of the cottages nearby, and it is now being restored by the Cresson Historical Society. The Mountain House was razed in 1916.

Dr. Jackson published a book about the Allegheny mountains, especially the Cambria County area, called The Mountain, the preface of which was dated July 1860 at Cresson.

The old "Plank Road" between Loretto and Cresson was built and managed by a private company, and supported and kept in repair until abandoned as an unprofitable speculation, by the revenue from a toll-gate located at McManamy's "Half-way House."

Cresson is the birthplace of the Arctic explorer Robert Edwin Peary, who was born there May 6, 1856, the son of Charles N. and Mary Wiley Peary. His parents came to Cambria County from Maine about 1852. Edwin Peary entered the U.S. Navy as a civil engineer in 1881, and was chief of the survey corps for a proposed Nicaragua canal. In 1898 he published Northward Over the Great Ice which includes extensive descriptions of Eskimo peoples.

Cresson is the site of Mount Aloysius Academy, (now Mount Aloysius College), opened in 1897.

The borough of Cresson was legally established in 1906. By then the town was a major stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad, with offices of the local coal shippers, Mountain House, a brewery, a bank, a newspaper, a two storey department store, four hotels, a livery stable, a pool hall, a public school as well as Mount Aloysius Academy, and various tradesmen.

Cresson Sanitorium ca. 1920

In 1912 the State Sanitorium for Tuberculosis was built at Cresson. It was in operation until 1964, when it was replaced by the State School and Hospital.

There are two prisons located near Cresson, one Federal and one State institution.