To get the full history of the City of DuBois, stop by our local DuBois Area Historical Society or click the link below.
Where to start…well, lets start at the very beginning. In 1812, George Shaffer became the first permanent inhabitant; in 1872, John Rumbarger, Jr. established the town of Rumbarger, which later became the City of DuBois. John DuBois’ built his wood mill in 1872. Then, in 1881, he built a box factory and brought the iron works from Williamsport to DuBois.
At one point, the City of DuBois was a town divided, because of a rivalry between the coal miners of Rumbarger and the lumbermen of DuBois. With the rapid building in the DuBois section, it soon overtook the Rumbarger section. In 1881, the town of DuBois organized as a borough divided into three wards as a result of the quick growth.
In 1883, McCrory’s, a five-and-dime store, opened in the Borough of DuBois and that store remained until it’s closing in the 1980s. Also in 1883, the first “drift” mine opened on a thousand-acre tract between DuBois and Falls Creek and the B.R.& P Railroad arrived. Things were surely humming in the Borough of DuBois.
But, as we all know, what goes up must come down. So, on the fateful day of June 18, 1888, fire broke out at John Baker’s Hotel near the railroad crossing on West Long Avenue. Wind blew the fire toward Main Street, then switched directions and started up West Long Avenue. It consumed everything in its path. Firefighters dynamited buildings trying to stop the progress of the flames, which ultimately spread it even farther. Once the wind stopped, the fire went out. To that end, it destroyed everything in its path that bordered Long Avenue, Stockdale Street, East Scribner Avenue and beyond Main Street. The good things that came out of the fire were no lives were lost and the DuBois Volunteer Fire Department was founded.
On June 25, 1888, the first company was formed: Volunteer Second Ward. James Whithall became the first Fire Chief. Additionally, the first Firemen’s Parade was held in June 1893.
Following the fire, the Borough of DuBois rose from the ashes and got to work. They rebuilt larger and sturdier buildings, a new water system, and constructed a reservoir in upper Clear Run. Gas lines were also installed and electricity ran for streetlights.
Frank Hahne, Sr. started the DuBois Brewery in 1895, which stayed in business through 1972.
In 1896, the DuBois Traction Street Railroad Company organized and rails were cut into the streets on the east side to Rumbarger Cemetery on South Main Street. In due time, the increase of automobiles would signal the end of the street car in the City of DuBois.
DuBois gets a hospital! Doctor’s Hospital opened its doors on West Scribner Avenue in 1897; it was a 23 bed facility which was damaged by fire in 1909. The local physicians then asked the Sisters of Mercy from Erie to operate the facility. In 1910, the facility was under new management.
In 1912, John E. DuBois offered $10,000 and a tract of land to develop a second hospital, which would be a non-profit and non-sectarian community facility.
On November 2, 1914, the Borough of DuBois, voted to become a third class city. So, on January 1, 1915, the Borough of DuBois officially became the City of DuBois.
On October 23, 1915, the Sisters opened a new building on Hospital Avenue known as the DuBois Hospital. Mr. DuBois’ plan came to fruition and the Maple Avenue Hospital was built on October 8, 1918. Then in 1985, the two facilities joined together to become the entity the DuBois Regional Medical Center.
In 1928, the American Legion Post took on a monumental task and cleared a tract of land to build a new one-half mile road in the Oklahoma area of DuBois for the new Airport. Because the runway was short, only smaller commuter planes could land and take off. As a result, very few planes could use the airport. It was deemed not commercially feasible, and the airport was closed.
During the Great Depression, in the 1930s, millions of Americans were out of work and food. The government established the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps). The Corp brought thousands of young men from the streets and paid them to work on projects for the public good. As a matter of fact, a few of those projects completed in DuBois included the steps at the top of Liberty Boulevard and Mansell Stadium. On June 14, 1949, the City of DuBois and the DuBois Baseball Club entered into an agreement for the club to lease a piece of land which is now Showers Field. As a result, the club received a 25-year lease, which was renewed in 1974.
On August 11, 1960, tragedy in the City of DuBois struck again. What was then called the “Dime Store Fire” started at 3:10 a.m. and took out the Long Avenue business section. The stores destroyed included: F.W. Woolworth’s, Matthew’s Book Store, J. J. Newberry, June Hess Beauty Shop and B. & J. Restaurant. Flames were discovered in the basement of the B. & J. Restaurant or Newberry’s. The fire companies were delayed in getting to the fire due to a train blocking the Long Avenue crossing. To read more about this story and all the others, please go to our DuBois Area Historical Society link below.
The construction of our Sewage Treatment Plant began in 1960 and went into operation May 15, 1961.
In 1964, the controversy was fluoridation of the public water supply. Therefore, at the General Election held on November 3, 1964, the vote was overwhelming to mandate in favor of having the City of DuBois Water Supply fluoridated.
The City of DuBois adopted its official flag on May 14, 1973. It was the standard carried by the DuBois All-Girls Drill Team and was described as follows: The John DuBois family coat of arms consisting of an emblem eagle positioned in a shield outline and crested by a medieval armor helmet facing right, with the entire emblem centered on a field of white amid blue lettering identifying the City of DuBois.
In the late 1970s, a referendum was put to vote changing the form of government for the City of DuBois from Mayor – Council to Council – Manager. On May 29, 1979, the Administrative Organization Ordinance was signed in to law, giving the City Manager authority over all the administrative departments of the City. The first City Manager was Clifford Steff who was appointed on April 26, 1982, and removed from office on April 1, 1984.
In 1989, a new municipal building was finished at 16 W. Scribner Avenue, which housed all departments with the exception of the City Garage located on Parkway Drive.
In 2012, using grant funds, a major renovation of Showers Field took place: new field house, press box, bleachers, turf, concession stand, lighting, score board, and parking lot. With the new renovations, Showers Field got the attention of the Small College World Series, the Little League for Championships, Penn State University and the DuBois Area School District. During spring and summer months, most days you will find a team playing on the field and several times a year major tournaments taking place.
After all the extensive renovations of Showers Field, the City’s eyes turned to a softball field. At the same time, a number of parents and caregivers approached the City about a Miracle Field for challenged and handicapped individuals. The City listened and designed a field that could be used by both the challenged and non-challenged alike. Thus, through private donations and grants, the Challenger Field was born; currently called the Denny & Rose Heindl Memorial Field.
With the close proximity of the Senior Little League/Teener Field in the DuBois Park, renovations for this field also worked simultaneously with the renovations of Heindl Field.
The consolidation of the City of DuBois and Sandy Township had been attempted several times in the past; but on November 2, 2021, by a small margin of votes, consolidation passed. It was voted that the new entity would be called the City of DuBois and the form of government would be Council – Manager. As a result, the two municipalities had one year to come up with a consolidation agreement and three years to implement the plan.
In 2022, renovations began on the East DuBois Avenue Park or “top of the boulevard”, it is fondly called. Walking paths, a fountain, different tiers of walls, and cherry trees were installed. The project is to be completed in 2023.
© City of DuBois, 2023