Village of Forest in Cooper Township – GantNews.com
It was the late 1800s when waves of immigrants emigrated from Europe to America for the promise of freedom and success.
Nestled between Munson and Winburne is the small village of Forest where groups of German, Slavic, Hungarian and Russian immigrants found employment in the local coal mines.
When the first settlers decided to settle in Forest, they could barely see the ground because of all the standing trees.
They began the arduous task of chopping down trees to build their own small community to fulfill the dreams that brought them to America.
Many villagers also maintained small farms, which they operated after a long day in the mines. This is when Forest had its heyday in the early 1900s when coal mining was booming.
The tramline was installed and ran through Lower Forest on what is now known as Sawmill Road. The line started in Philipsburg and ended in Winburne.
Religion has always been an important factor in this small village, as there were four churches serving the community.
In 1912, Forest had 130 houses, three or four stores, a butcher’s, a forge, a barber, three sawmills and a coke oven.
The village also had a two-room schoolhouse for the many children in the community. Just over a hill was the town of Winburne and on the other hill was the community of Munson where many friends and family members of forest residents lived.
It is said that there was a suspension bridge that crossed the Moshannon stream to facilitate transportation on foot to visit family, go to church and do business.
After the coal boom began to wane, many Forest miners moved their families to Michigan to work in the auto industry. Many returned to the village to retire, as Forest was their own piece of paradise.
Today, as you drive through the village of Forest, you will see a scattering of old houses and new houses.
You can still feel the cool breeze through the trees and see where the cut for train and tram tracks once ran on Sawmill Road.
There are still foundations of the old structures that held many memories for the early settlers.
One thing that has never changed in the small village of Forest is the sense of community that was instilled by the ancestors who colonized the land.