Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered
Newspaper 18

The following article was published in the Oil City Derreck on Monday, July 19, 2010.    Click the following link and look at the bottom left of page 3 to see the newspaper article:  


Cresson TB Sanatorium Remembered

My name is Chuck Felton and I'm a Penn State graduate Class of 1962.  I’m now retired and living in the Hill Country of Texas.   But this story begins back in 1955 when I was seventeen years old and a senior at Towanda Valley High School in Towanda, Pa.   I was looking forward to graduating from high school and enrolling at Penn State that Fall.  But my plans suddenly changed when in March of 1955 I was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and was sent to the State TB Sanatorium in Cresson, Pa. where I spent sixteen months recovering.  At that time there were two other State TB Sanatoriums located at Hamburg and Mont Alto which were closer to Towanda, but Cresson just happened to have an empty bed available.

About six months ago I decided to document that experience on a small personal website with memories and photos of my time at the sanatorium.   However, within a few weeks of publishing the website on the internet, I started receiving emails from people who had a past connection to the sanatorium.  These people included former patients, medical staff and kitchen workers.  I also received emails from children and grandchildren of former patients seeking more information about a family member who had been a TB patient at the sanatorium.  Many of the people who have contacted me have allowed me to add their personal stories and photos to my web site, so that over the past six months the website has become less about my story and more of a memorial site to remember loved ones and how their lives and those of their families were affected by TB.

I was also interested in recreating the history of the sanatorium and contacted many of the local historical societies in the towns around the Cresson area for information, which they gladly provided.  The Pa State Archives was also an invaluable source of photographs documenting life at the sanatorium from the perspective of both patients and staff.  The resulting compiled data on the website represents a unique visual historical record of life at the sanatorium.   The sanatorium, which was opened in 1913, was closed as a TB facility in the mid 1960’s when it was no longer needed thanks to effective drugs which conquered the disease.  

A 50th anniversary celebration of the sanatorium was held in 1963 when it was still functioning as a TB facility.  The year 2013 will mark the 100th anniversary of its opening.  The Cresson Area Historical Association (CAHA) is currently considering whether to hold a 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Cresson TB Sanatorium in 2013.  As part of that celebration, the idea of a reunion of former patients and staff is being explored.  An email survey showed that over 100 sanatorium alums said they would attend such a reunion.    

A reunion would not only be a historically unique event, but a healing one as well.  Even in 1960 when the sanatorium closed there were no support groups for survivors of TB.   Secondly, there was a stigma attached to TB, so much so that many TB survivors wouldn't talk about it.  This stigma goes back many years to the time when TB was a major killer in this country.  Many people who survived the ordeal of TB and were discharged from the sanatorium as cured found themselves shunned by friends and even other family member because of their mistaken idea that they could still catch TB from them.  TB is still a major killer worldwide in under-developed countries and carries the same stigma today.  It wasn't until Feb 2009 when I launched my website that I began making contact with other TB survivors so that we could swap stories about our experiences.  The initial interest in the website surprised me at first, but then I realized that many people have been waiting, in some cases, for 60 years to tell their stories.   

TB was a dreaded killer in this country in the first half of the 20th century, affecting many families from all walks of life.  So I'd like to give an open invitation to anyone who has information, photos or a personal story concerning Cresson TB Sanatorium to contact me and submit material for publication on the website.  Or maybe you would like to email me with a general comment or question about the site.  The information on the site is for public use and anyone has my permission to download items of interest. The site is located on the internet at the following link:      

Chuck Felton
825 Lake Park Drive
Lakehills, TX 78063
(830) 751-2312