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Pump House Memories

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This was my grandfather’s pump house. Chester Davis West ran this pump house for years for a wealthy man that made his living off the oil fields in Bradford. He loved the solitude of this job. For him, the ability to work at his pace and enjoy nature the entire day was all he needed. He would get to the pump house at the crack of dawn and start the large motors that would run the jacks that spread across the hill. The jacks would shudder and groan, metal grinding metal as the unwillingly jacks were forced into movement. The smell of crude oil hung thick in the air and the little pump house was toasty warm. The noise inside the pump house made conversation a shouting match. The best you could do was to listen quietly to the metallic metal music, thumping and banging, and then escape to the woodland quiet outside. Everything in there seemed to be covered in a slick black coating of oily slime, dust stuck to everything but he kept a bench spotlessly clean for having his lunch.



He would mow the lawn in the summer, not a requirement of the job, just something to move time along and it gave him a sense of satisfaction. In the winter he would walk the hills, dropping off corn in the woods for the deer and small animals, to help them through the tough time. It gave him a great thrill to come upon one of the woods creatures enjoying the feast that he had left on the ground. He got to know them, the mother deer and their fawns and looked forward to seeing them often. In the winter, after a fresh snow fall, the snow would hang on the trees, bending them to the ground, silencing all noise. If you stood very quietly the only sound you would hear is your own breathing.



The road that ran across the top of the hill was the old narrow gauge track. In the summer if you looked carefully you could find the old hand hammered spikes that held the metal track to the wooden rails. We had quite the pile of spikes in the shed out back, collected from summer walks with grandpa down the narrow gauge ruts. At the time, the old narrow gauge stretched southwards towards Pittsburgh and would take the community members off to picnics and visiting during its heyday. Bradford had one of the largest concentrations of narrow gauge tracks at the time.


Grandpa took these photos on one of his winter walks, December of 1963. They were included inthe slides that I have been scanning.

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