Anyone traveling to Mount Nittany’s trailhead for a scenic hike will have passed through a little Pennsylvania village named Lemont. Lemont is the community at the base of Mount Nittany. Or, perhaps another way of thinking of it is that Lemont is something like Mount Nittany’s base camp and is, in fact, the true start of a Mount Nittany hike.
John Blair Linn (1831-1899)’s the History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania, which was published in 1883, explains (pp. 274-275) how “Lemont” received its name:
William Thompson, a brother of Moses, is a justice of the peace, active in township affairs, and alive to its interests. He lives near where Robert Moore, the “ex press- rider” of early days, began his little “clearing.” John I. Thompson, son of Moses, and who gave the name to “Lemont,” resides in the little village he named.
Besides his business interests he has taken a great interest in the mineral wealth of the county, and is a practical chemist. He has a fine chemical laboratory in the stone bank building, where he analyzes ores, etc., for parties who desire it. Dr. J. Y. Dale, of Lemont, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, of the “class of ’67,” and has been secretary of the “Medical Society of Centre County.” The doctor has a beautiful residence in Lemont and a large practice. D. F. Taylor keeps the only drug-store in the town. He is married to a descendant of David Whitehill, the original settler of the place. Lemont was the home of “old Dr. Berry,” one of the most widely-known physicians in the county, a genial old gentleman, who gave less medicine and more common sense to his patients than some of his contemporaries.
Dr. Benjamin Jones Berry was a graduate of the University of New York. He practiced thirty-four years at Lemont, and died in 1864. The Berry mansion is still standing. Like “Gil Bias’” system of medicine, blood- letting was necessary, sick or well, and the writer has a vivid recollection of the doctor’s power as a “blood- letter,” and “a successful operation” it was. Dr. Berry was one of the vice-presidents of the first County Medical Society, which was organized in 1847. J. Green Irvin is a prominent man in the town- ship, and is a relative of Gen. Irvin, who built the mill and stone mansion at Oak Hall. He has a very handsome residence a short distance from Dr. Hamil’s, between Boalsburg and Oak Hall. James Glenn, a sterling old Presbyterian, and father of Dr. J. P. Glenn, of Snow Shoe, is another of the prominent citizens of the township. Hon. Samuel Gilliland, before mentioned as having been once a representative in the Pennsylvania Legislature, lives beyond Oak Hall a short distance. He is the owner of an elegant farm, which from its high state of cultivation shows that theory united with practical farming will produce great results.
Daniel O’Brien’s log school-house, with its slab benches and big open fireplace, has given place to the elegant little school-house at Lemont (which stands less than a quarter of a mile from where stood its unpretentious predecessor), and to the magnificent pile of buildings known as the “Pennsylvania State College.”
“The End of the Mountain” has given place to the shorter but more euphonious name of “Le Mont.” …
Lemont, a pretty little village, situated at the ” end of the mountain,” is the largest town in the township. It is built on land owned and cleared by David Whitehill, Esq. After passing through two or three hands it was purchased by Moses Thompson, Esq. In 1870, Mr. Thompson laid out the present village. Among the first buildings erected were the store and dwelling-house of J. H. Hahn, now owned by Thompson & Co., the elegant residences of J. J. Thompson and Dr. J. Y. Dale, the former built of stone. The Presbyterian Church, a building of the Gothic style of architecture, is one of the handsomest church edifices in the county. The cost, including furniture, was about fourteen thousand dollars. Lemont, or, as our fathers called it, ” the end of the mountain,” was an important point in the early days of the country, being on the trail leading from the settlements on the West Branch and Bald Eagle to those in Penn’s valley, and being at the junction of the two valleys. The village contains a church, school-house, drug-store, dry-goods store, tin-shop, blacksmith-shop, etc. It is on the line of the Lewisburg and Tyrone Railroad, and will be the terminus of a proposed railroad from Bellefonte. They have recently organized a brass band, which, though very young, promises to be one of the best in the county.