The borough of Cochranton is nestled in the rich bottom land of the French Creek Valley. Situated at the confluence of French and Sugar Creeks, the area was first settled in the early years of the 19th century. Today’s borough consists of the original land grants of John Adams and Thomas Cochran, for whom the village was named. The original town plot was surveyed by Cochran’s son Joseph, Cochranton’s first school teacher, and was chartered on April 5, 1855.
While Cochran’s sons served during the Civil War, the southern branch of the Atlantic and Great Western Railway made its entrance into the area. This modern transportation line opened a new market place for the area’s rich agricultural products. Business growth kept pace with the needs of the community, which soon numbered over 500 residents.
The mid 1870’s ushered Cochranton into its golden era of growth and population topped over 800 people. Establishment of a local bank and newspaper marked important additions to the community during this period. Also at this time, the fire department was organized and neighbors joined together to celebrate at the town’s first agricultural fair. Town improvements included a water system and natural gas service. Wood sidewalks and dusty streets soon became concrete and brick. The lamplighter was replaced with electric lighting as the small town moved into the 20th century.
Many of the businesses existing today in the town can trace their beginnings to the first half of the 20th century, and have constantly evolved to meet the needs of changing times and a present population of over 1,200.
Cochranton takes great pride in its schools, churches and community services. Its businesses, clubs and organizations work together to maintain a quality small town lifestyle. Although separated by many generations, the original ideals of its pioneers still remain and continue to make Cochranton a place its citizens are proud to call “home”.
Visitors to present day Cochranton will encounter a variety of small shops and restaurants, as well as convenient access to the usual supplies sought by kayakers and canoeists.
The Iris Theatre has served the community of Cochranton for 67 years, providing quality, family-oriented cinematic entertainment. The theatre was faithfully owned and operated for the last 43 years by local residents Jack and Grace Motzing. Earlier in 2014, the theatre was sold by the Motzings and is scheduled to be extensively renovated by the new ownership. We look forward to having this community jewel continue to serve Cochranton’s residents and visitors alike!
The Cochranton Community Fair has been a tradition since 1928. Held each year during the first week of August, the 2014 edition will run from August 3rd through August 9th. The fair features a range of crafts and agricultural exhibitions, livestock competitions and live entertainment. Games, rides and an assortment of food and refreshment options add to the festivities. Stopping at the Fair may be just what the doctor ordered after a canoeing or kayaking excursion on French Creek. You are welcome to join us at the Fair if you are coming through town that week!
The Downtown Business District is a quick walk from French Creek, so please feel free to stop by and visit! Provisions and supplies can be found at merchants such as The Marketplace and the Country Fair. Area restaurants include The Cardinal Country, Jezepe’s Pizza & Subs, French Creek Café and Creekside Bar & Grille. Specialty shops, such as The Carousel (cards and gifts) and McCollough’s Coins & Jewelry, are a wonderful place to find that perfect gift.
Insider Tips and Local Trivia
The Downtown Business District and Iris Theatre can be easily accessed by following Rt-173 (Adams Street) into town from the French Creek bridge. Most all attractions can be easily reached following a short 5 to10 minute walk.
The Cochranton Community Fairground and Lion’s Park are both accessible by using the Cochranton Greenways Trail, a paved trail running along Sugar Creek which terminates at the French Creek access area. Feel free to visit the Fair during the first week of August each year. Lion’s Park can be accessed by following the trail further into town and crossing Franklin Street. Facilities at the park include picnic tables, pavilions and a playground for the kids. Stretch the legs with a walk around the park and let the kids enjoy the swingsets before heading back to the canoe!
Cochranton is also the site of other spring and summer events, including Memorial Day Services, weekend flea markets and the French Creek Valley Antique Equipment Show (featuring antique tractors and farm equipment) during Father’s Day weekend every June. All events are held either at the fairgrounds or at locations within an easy walk of the French Creek access area.
French Creek, Sugar Creek and other bodies of water in the Cochranton area (Big Sugar Creek, Deer Creek, Conneaut Marsh and others) provide excellent fishing opportunities, especially for smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike. Make sure to bring a fishing rod!
There is a Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission access located at the crossing of French Creek by Route 173. PFBC launch permits or boat registration stickers may be required per PFBC rules and regulations. There is a small parking area adjacent to the access. At present, there are no restroom facilities, and overnight camping is not permitted.
It is worth noting that the existing access facilities are scheduled to significantly upgraded in conjunction with the rebuilding of the existing Rt-173 road bridge during 2015. The Cochranton community is excited about the new bridge and the planned improvements to the existing access area and facilities.