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The Borough of Tarentum can trace it's history back to the 17th and 18th centuries. A place the Shawnee Indians knew as Cowanwanik (the place of the bull buffalo). The valley that is Bull Creek, was once grazing territory to elk, bison, bear, wolves and many other animals that have vanished over the years.
Led by Chief Nukakana, many Shawnee settled at the mouth of Bull Creek and it became the largest village throughout the Alle-Kiski river valleys. Around 1734, Pierre Chartier started a trading post and the area became known as Chartiers' Old Town.
In 1845, Thomas Kier and his son established a refinery on the site of what is now Greco's after discovering oil while cleaning their salt wells and in 1850, the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company established operations in East Tarentum, later Natrona (after the Greek word for salt).
On the eve of the Civil War, Tarentum's population was listed as 708 by the 1860 census. 200 of these residents helped to defend the Union as part of the 123rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Companies F and I from 1861-1865.
Tarentum began to emerge as an industrial center in the 1880's with what is now the Creighton Works of PPG, Tarentum Paper mills, coal mines and Tarentum Oil. In 1865, the PA Canal was abandoned & the West Penn Railroad constructed it's bed in 1866. In 1890, the borough had it's first telephone installed at Esler's Drug Store & in 1904, Tarentum became home to the Valley Daily News.
The Borough of Tarentum suffered a disasterous fire in 1885 and in 1886* the present day Eureka Fire Rescue was organized as the Independent Pump & Hose Company. Eureka Hose Company was chartered in 1907 with 35 members. The fire bell tower was located in the rear of Vogley's Market with the original "house" located in the old jail at the corner of Corbet St. and 3rd Ave (Physician's Pharmacy). In 1915, Eureka purchased a four cylinder Pierce Arrow touring car for $300.00 and with a little work, converted it into the first motorized fire truck in the valley.
A lot of changes have taken place since then, including Eureka Community Ambulance Service, which began operations in 1936. (Primarily serving Tarentum, Brackenridge & Fawn Township)
Today, Eureka offers a wide variety of services either as a primary provider in Tarentum with Highland & Summit Hose Companies (Tarentum Fire Department has an ISO Class 3 rating) or through mutual aid agreements with neighboring departments in the Allegheny Valley, we help protect approximately 48,000 residents and 50 square miles.
This graphic intense site has been under construction since 2003 (06/03)
ALL MATERIAL ON THIS SITE, UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED IS PROPERTY OF EUREKA FIRE-RESCUE-EMS.
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Because of conflict, frontiersman and Revolutionay War veteran Robert Orr built a blockhouse in 1783 at the mouth of Bull Creek for protection of the English settlers and by 1796, new families began to arrive at Chartier's Old Town. Most notably was Felix Negley who held title to land emcompassing all of what is present day West Tarentum. A dam was built on Bull Creek that supplied water for several mills.
In 1827, Judge Hugh Henry Brackenridge (founder of both the Pittsburgh Academy, now University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Gazette, now Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) aquired an estate of several thousand acres from Bull Creek, East to include what is now Harrison Township. 1828 saw the arrival of the Western division of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal and shortly after the fall of 1829, Judge Brackenridge laid out streets and named the growing village Tarentum from the ancient Greek city/state of Taranto in Southern Italy. Tarentum seceded from East Deer Township and was formally incorporated as the third borough in Allegheny County on March 7, 1842.
About 1810, several salt brine wells were drilled making Tarentum the first place in Western Pennsylvania to produce salt from brine and salt the first marketable commodity from Tarentum.
*Some other events of 1886 include; Completion of the Allegheny County Jail. Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline driven automobile. Dr. John Pemberton invented a carbonated beverage that would later be named Coca-Cola. Geronimo surrenders at Skeleton Canyon, AZ. The Chicago haymarket riot. President Grover Cleveland dedicates the Statue of Liberty. Ty Cobb was born. Al Jolson was born. President Chester A. Arthur died. The founding of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Now that you've had somewhat of a history lesson of the borough, I hope you will enjoy the rest of our site.
Some information provided from the Tarentum Borough Comprehensive Plan. If you would like to read more, please click links, Borough of Tarentum, downloads under the comprehensive plan and then on Comprehensive Plan.
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