Visit Hamilton’s Maple Products and Pancake House in Potter County where they have been producing pure Pennsylvania maple syrup for over 12 decades!
History of Hamilton’s Maple Products and Pancake House
Owned by: Larry and Phyllis Hamilton
Written by Amanda Jones for the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers and the PA Route 6 Alliance
The family tradition has a strong history at Hamilton’s Maple Farm, where maple sap has been boiled each year since the mid-1800’s.
Larry and Phyllis Hamilton are the fourth-generation of Hamilton Maple Producers to thrive on the now 233-acre farm nestled in the rolling hills outside Ulysses in Bingham Township, Potter County.
Larry’s great-grandfather, Martin Hamilton, ran the operation through the 1800’s and until his death in 1957. Martin proved his ingenuity in 1874 when he whittled a trough from a Hemlock tree for ease of transporting maple sap. The trough has been preserved and is on display at the sugar house on the Hamilton Farm.
Martin Hamilton produced maple syrup in the traditional manner—using an open-air arch and an evaporator with no hood or steam stacks, in the middle of the woods, surrounded by as many as 3,000 bucket taps constantly filling with sap throughout the sugaring season.
In 1935, Martin saw a need to update the operation, purchasing eight new flue pans for a mere $185.
Martin passed his love of sugaring on to his great-grandson, Larry, and in 1980, he and Phyllis took over the family operation, using the same traditional equipment as Martin, his grandparents, Harland and Laura, and his parents, Clair and Joanna.
At that time, the Hamilton family still used the old sugar shack, but within a few years, it was clear they would need a more modern facility.
In 1989, they moved the sugar shack to its present location into the building that also housed the couple’s construction business until recently, and added a new hooded evaporator. The Hamilton’s maple operation now occupies the entire building, replete with a store, restaurant-style kitchen, dining area and sugar house.
They also began acquiring more modern equipment. They have since added several thousand taps at seven sites, a vacuum-tubing system for collecting sap and a reverse osmosis machine.
The Hamilton’s now lease property, as well, enabling them to increase their taps to upwards of 9,000, with a goal of reaching 10,000 taps in the near future.
The old sugar house has been demolished, having been replaced by a family pavilion some years ago. Larry and Phyllis salvaged what they could from the historic site, and many of these artifacts are on display at the new sugar shack.
The Hamilton’s operation is truly a family affair. All three of Phyllis and Larry’s children have been involved in sugaring. Their son, Marshall, and his wife, Debby, have a ten acre plot of their own and are helping with the family business. Marshall and Debby’s daughter, Marian, spends her days in the sugarhouse tasting maple goodies, creating artwork and learning the ways of a sixth-generation maple producer.
This year, Larry and Phyllis expanded their operation by opening a seasonal pancake house.
They also are working to re-establish the Christmas Tree Farm located on some of their newly-acquired land, and the Hamilton children have been running a corn maze and a pumpkin patch for the last few years during the month of October.
Hamilton’s Maple Products is open seasonally for tours, demonstrations and taste-testing, and pancakes are available. Visit hamiltonspuremaple.com or call 814-848-9853 for more information.
Be sure to visit the Hamilton’s Farm during the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers Association’s annual Maple Weekend, when a pancake breakfast, samples and other activities are available.
To visit Hamilton’s Maple Products, From US Route 6 in Coudersport, take Route 49 East until approximately 1 one mile north of Ulysses, then turn left onto Jackson Road. Drive approximately 1 mile then take a right onto Gee Hill Road. After 3/4 mile, the Hamilton’s Sugar House will be on the right, located at 320 Gee Hill Road.