Reunion for former Cresson
Sanitorium patients slated for next year
by DAVID WENNER, The Patriot-News
survivors of the Cresson Sanitorium for tuberculosis patients are 70 or older. So they’ve decided to hold their first
reunion next year, rather than wait for the facility’s 100th birthday in 2013.
The reunion is scheduled for Aug. 6-7 at the American Legion in Cresson, Cambria County.
The state-run Cresson Sanitorium operated from 1913 to 1964. It cared for people with tuberculosis,
a highly contagious and often fatal lung disease that was known as the Great Killer or White Plague.
Located on a mountain about 140 miles west of Harrisburg, Cresson was one of three sanitoriums
run by the state. The others where in Mount Alto and Hamburg. Development of better treatments and a vaccine virtually wiped
out tuberculosis in the United States by the early 1960s.
Chuck Felton was the president of his senior class in Towanda, Bradford County, when he got
sick and was sent to Cresson in 1955. He’s now a retired aerospace engineer and living in Texas. In recent years, he
began researching the facility and constructed a web site devoted to it.
He found extensive information and photos in state archives, and survivors and relatives have
submitted personal accounts. Felton believes the facility once had 700 beds. Thousands of people were sent there over the
decades. Many died, including some whose bodies were never claimed, and who are buried nearby.
Felton has made contact with about 200 people with direct ties to the facility. This includes
about 75 former patients, along with former employees and relatives of patients. Information about the sanitorium and the
reunion can be found here online.