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Grass Flats: Sketches



Warren, in 1895, when Simpson was deep into his study of birds and doing much field work throughout the county, was a bustling, growing community. An 1895 promotional advertisement of Warren states the following facts, of which the community was undoubtedly proud:

“Warren is the county seat. Its county buildings (courthouse) cost $150,000. Warren has 13 churches; eight hotels; three and one-half miles of electric street carlines which will be doubled this year. Principal business streets are paved with brick. The town has nearly seven miles of sewerage. Streets are all lighted with electricity and gas. There is free mail delivery to all parts of the city. The YMCA will erect a $30,000 property this year.

“The population is growing: 1880, 2810; 1890, 3415; and 1895, 7,500. City properties, including city buildings, are valued at $27,500. Warren has four banks with combined capital and surplus of $805,000 and deposits of $2,225,000.

“There are four fine school buildings with 1600 scholars and 40 teachers. School property is valued at $147,120. The water works provide a bountiful supply of good, pure water. Fire protection includes six volunteer fire companies—a reserve reservoir with 130 pounds water pressure and one Silsby Steamer.

“There are three railroads. Freight and passenger business is the largest in point of receipts of any town between Buffalo and Pittsburg, Erie and Williamsport. Warren has natural gas—two competing companies with direct lines to the largest supply of natural gas in the United States. Manufacturers are over forty in number.

“The Warren library building and Opera House are owned by the municipality. They cost $80,000. The seating capacity of the Opera House is 960; the free library containing over 8,000 volumes. There are three daily newspapers and four weeklies.”

There is no doubt that Warren was a thriving community as Simpson was beginning his career. It is certain that these comforts and conveniences of civilization were duly noted by Simpson, but not of great importance, as it was to the remaining wilderness where the birds and beasts had dominion that Simpson was drawn each day. The book, Grass Flats, takes its title from such a favored and much mentioned haunt of Simpson’s. He says, “About 5 miles below town … is a large tract of wild land known along the river as the ‘Grass Flats.’ This has always been a favorite hunting and collecting ground with me.”