Dorcie Calhoun: The Dreamer of Leidy Township

By Lou Bernard

Let’s imagine that you could get rich from a dream. I mean, obviously that’s not really true. Otherwise, I’d be incredibly wealthy by hiding in a tower while Sandra Bullock rode by on a dinosaur. What’s with that look? You’ve never had a dream like that? Never mind. Just imagine… Imagine you could get rich from a dream.

Now let me tell you about Dorcie Calhoun, who actually managed to do it.

Dorcie Calhoun was born in 1905 on his family’s farm in Leidy Township.

From an early age, he knew that there was gas in the ground up there. Now, he knew this in much the same way I knew I had super-powers as a kid — His theory relied more on a childlike faith than any actual research.

As an adult, Dorcie worked hard at getting funding to create a gas company and get rich. The problem was, this whole thing wasn’t backed up by any actual science; Dorcie had been repeatedly told by professional geologists that there was no way he’d ever find gas in Leidy Township.

But Dorcie had dreamed of finding gas — And I don’t mean a long-held wish, I mean he actually had a dream while asleep. He dreamed of drilling under a nearby tree and getting rich. And, forget the professional geologists, that was enough evidence for him.

So he found investors. Well, his mom. His mom believed in him, and she invested money in his gas company.

A few others eventually joined in, friends and family, local businessmen, and a couple of people who gave him money just to make him go away. You have to give credit to Dorcie, he was persistent. He owned one bulldozer, and made a living plowing a bit, sometimes taking out loans to keep possession of the thing.

But by 1950, he raised enough money to buy a starter rig, a used, broken-down thing capable of drilling for gas. And on a rainy, awful day, he took it out.

And it broke down and got stuck in the mud before he got to the site.

So Dorcie decided, standing in the pouring rain, that one spot in Leidy Township was about as good as any other, and told his men to drill right where it was. And, in a cartoon-like twist of fate, it worked. His dream had been correct — he found gas, and got rich.

So did his investors, including his mom. There was one barber from Lock Haven who got nervous and pulled his money out, just before Dorcie struck gas. He was, to the best of my knowledge, the only person kicking himself over this whole deal. Everyone else got very rich and happy.

Dorcie Calhoun has been compared to the Beverly Hillbillies, and that’s actually a fair assessment.

He made enough money that he could do whatever he wanted, basically, and that involved spending it frivolously without ever having to worry about going bankrupt.

There are stories that he bought new cars every year — not to drive, but to plow his fields with. He would hook a plow up to an expensive car and do farm work while air-conditioned. He was also known to light his cigars with flaming $10 bills, similar to Thurston Howell.

The family farm is mostly underneath Kettle Creek these days — When they put in the dam, the water covered a significant portion of the property. Cemeteries had to be moved, including the Calhoun family cemetery where Dorcie’s mom was. The Calhoun family is now in New Maple Grove Cemetery, north of Kettle Creek State Park. Dorcie passed away in 1975 and joined her there.

I’ve never been a big fan of psychic phenomena, but I can’t argue with the results here. Dorcie dreamed of gas, he insisted there was gas… and he was right.

I have to give him credit; Dorcie Calhoun was a man with a dream.


Lou Bernard is a Lock Haven resident with a keen interest in the history of this area. He is adult services coordinator at Ross Library and may be reached at loulhpa@gmail.com or 570-660-4463.


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