This section, about the beginning of the 19th century was variously known as The Backlands, The Wilderness, The Indian Country, The Pine Country, The Pennsylvania Backwoods, The Pennsylvania Northwest, and The Fort Stanwix Indian Purchase.
If an early pioneer had climbed to one of the highest elevations in this locality he could have looked for 20 or 30 miles in any direction and have seen hills and valleys completely covered with primeval forests of pine and hemlock. There would not have been a spot free of trees to break the sea of dark bluish green which gradually faded into a purplish haze as It neared the horizon.
In the autumn the gorgeous hues of those boundless forests which greeted the eye of the first settlers were a night of transcendent beauty. Many small areas of bright variegated maples were made vastly more brilliant by contrast with the immense background of dark green pine and hemlock which was far more beautiful than a single unbroken color.
Huge tree trunks lay decaying every rod or so on the forest floor where they had fallen during a storm after they had lived their natural life. The wilderness In these unexplored wilds before the advent of civilization was very dense, hemlock and pine trees with immense trunks towered to a great height. The dark deep woods were moist and ferns grew in abundance.
Nature was exhibited at that time in her wildest grandeur. Such sublimity can never be seen again. How beautiful must have been the verdant old forest in its solitude to the Indian hunter as he stood amid the moaning pines and the sparkling, dew covered foliage all the gray dawn! The thrush, the oriole, the wren, and the chickadee sang from twig and branch and squirrels barked as they sprang from tree to tree. Looking across the valley over the morning fog the hunter could see the brow of the eastern hill and behold the golden sun breaking through the boughs of the massive pine trees and view the rose tinted sky just over the horizon.
When this was a wilderness, and for many years after, the present business section of Reynoldsville was a swamp. It extended from about 100 feet east of what is now the corner of Fourth and Main Streets to about where Coal Alley now crosses Main between Fifth and Sixth Streets. The marsh also covered the land from a short distance below what is now Jackson to Hill Street. Swamp Alley crosses what is now Main between Fourth and Fifth Streets and today has no evidence of ever having been a swampy section. Willow Alley which runs east and west between Main and Grant Streets, crosses what at one time was the deepest part of the bog and received its name from the willows which grew there when it was laid out. While the turnpike was being constructed though it in 1820 and afterwards, the workmen had much difficulty in building the road. The gnats were so extremely annoying that fires had to be kept burning all night at the camps to enable the men to sleep. It was necessary to corduroy the pike in the marsh by placing loge side by side across the road through the mire. In time these loge became buried in the mud and then a second and third layer were put down. In later years when ditches were dug through Main Street many, of these logs were found. No large trees grew in the swamp. It was covered over by a dense growth of alders, willows, and swamp grass, and was the home of owls, water snakes, frogs, lizards, muskrats and turtles.