Lake bears name of one of 1st settlers of Rose Valley

SUN-GAZETTE ARCHIVES PHOTO This image from the June 13, 1965, issue of the Sun-Gazette and Bulletin plots out on a photo where the proposed lake in Rose Valley would be located. The “X” on the photo marks where the earthen dam was planned to be built. The lake first was proposed to Lycoming County as the Lippincott Dam.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette offers the next installment in a weekly history series that tells the stories of those who came before us.)

It took eight years for the state Fish and Boat Commission to build Lycoming County’s largest lake on a plot of land east of Trout Run in Gamble Township.

As it neared completion, locals wanted it be named after one of the area’s first settlers.

The man-made lake project, that later would be named Rose Valley Lake, first was pitched to township officials by the commission in the mid-1960s.

The commission first looked into naming its new lake Lippincott or Mill Creek, after the body of water that was dammed to fill it.

The idea to name the lake after the valley it was built in was written in a letter to the commission by Clarence R. Berger, a Trout Run resident. In his letter, he cited a number of local figures who agreed with him on the subject, including two local judges and the president of the state commission.

“They all went along with me to name our nice new lake in Rose Valley, ‘Rose Valley Lake,’ “ Berger wrote. “Rose Valley is a beautiful valley and so noted for hundreds of years.”

John Rose, after whom the valley was named, was one of the first settlers to build a home there, about 10 miles from Williamsport in 1798, according to “A Brief History of Rose Valley” by Olive Strouble.

Born in Scotland, Rose named the valley he resided in after his homeland. However, even after he moved to the city later in life, the valley still was known as Rose’s Valley to those who later settled in the area.

The earthen dam used to fill the lake from Mill Creek was 25 feet high and 410 feet long. As water poured into the basin, forming a 389-acre lake, the county’s Conservation District held a contest with local residents to see who could accurately guess when water first would pour over the spillway, according to a June 24, 1973, Sun-Gazette and Bulletin article.

“There was quite a bit of publicity,” said Gene Sellers, former township supervisor.

Upon completion, the project covered 626 acres — the lake, parking and three boat launch ramps — over what once had been a combination of swamp and farmland. Four or five property owners had to be reimbursed by the commission after losing farmland to the project.

“The people whose land was put under water by it weren’t too happy,” Sellers said. “I think one family lost their farm, but the others just lost acreage. A lot of that acreage, where the lake is now, was a swamp.”

A number of roads also were swallowed by the incoming lake, according to Sellers. New roads and a bridge were built to make up for the submerged roads, but most of the paths in and around the valley would not be paved until years later.

On June 24, 1973, the lake was officially dedicated after eight years of planning and construction and what today would amount to $5,231,663 in total expenses. Funding for the project came from the state as well as a grant from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation.

When the lake opened to the public, the commission had stocked its waters with tiger muskellunge, chain pickerel and walleye fry and later would stock largemouth bass, black crappie, redear sunfish and forage fish. Fry refers to young fish.

“Lycoming County sportsmen will have available, for the first time, a warm water fishery providing lake and boat fishing,” the commission wrote in a program for the dedication.

“People now can hardly remember when it wasn’t there,” Sellers said.