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Pieces of the Past: Fagundus

December 6, 2023

After 1859, prospectors were everywhere in Warren County. Cherry Grove was full of oil wells. Heck, David Beaty (for whom the middle school was named) had a derrick in the back of his house on Conewango Avenue!

There were entire towns built around the stuff. Some of the abandoned communities like Cherry Grove remain. Some, like Pithole, are tourist attractions. This Piece is about a town on the edge of Warren, and (what is now) Forest County: FAGUNDUS.

Today, virtually nobody is prospecting for oil. Not around here anyhow. In the 1860s, if you had farmland you would be approached by someone with equipment to drill an oil well. Such is the history of Fagundus, Pennsylvania. A simple family farm that was transformed into a town.

Fagundus got its name from Charles Fagundus who was instrumental in the founding of the region. The town sprung up fast. It was made up mainly of buildings constructed of rough-cut pine boards hewn from trees nearby. At the zenith of Fagundus, it was home to a newspaper, a bank, a boot shop as well as many other businesses that catered to oil production and the producers.

In May of 1874, a fire completely wiped Fagundus off the map. Because of careless well tending, and the rupture of a major oil pipeline, along with buildings constructed mainly of pine, Fagundus disappeared in less than 3 hours! It was a fate shared by several communities in the region: Pithole, Sheffield, and several others. Sheffield was rebuilt but Fagundus, Pithole, and others were never to rise from the ashes. Their oil was too far gone.

You can see the disappearing towns going on as this is being written. Sheffield, Sugar Grove, even Warren and Corry have lost populations and industries that attracted investments and growth.


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