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6.23.2015

7 Signs You See In Pennsylvania

Thinking about signs you see throughout the state? Some of them can be seen here! As Arnold Horshack once said "Oooh Me! CLICK ME MR KOTTER!" These signs must be seen to be believed.
Ok that did not last too long. I tried to start this post off as a parody of the shallow clickbait pieces that are out there. The Onion and Clickhole are two of my favorite pages for their style in this. I found a number of signs from places that I love to visit throughout the state that I have not written posts for. 

As much as I hate to continue with the clickbait list format, I am kind of locked to it now. As always, here are some of the great things that this state has to offer. To inform our readers, the following list contains slightly more than seven signs. 

1)
We will start off with Sally's and Sara's Diner at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. This place has some of the best burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, and more. This is roadside Americana at its finest. great food, awesome relics including old gas pumps, soda machines, and more from the days of old.
2) 
While on the topic of Erie and Presque Isle State Park, you have to visit Waldameer Park, located just up the street from Sally's and Sara's Diner. Waldameer is an excellent park, with a balanced variety of attractions to satisfy everyone. The park's Ravine Flyer II is a modern wooden roller coaster that is one of the best in the world. 
3)
Riding on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is one of my favorite things in the state. This shot was taken from the juncture of two of the state's great highways, the Turnpike and the Lincoln Highway. At this spot you can also visit the Abandoned Turnpike, featuring two bypassed tunnels that have sat abandoned for decades. The western end of the abandoned highway lies on the left side of the US30 Eastbound, just past the abandoned Ramada Hotel. 
4)
There are numerous waterfalls throughout the state. This warning sign lays out all out for you on hiking safety and common sense when it comes to enjoying waterfalls anywhere, but especially at Jim Thorpe, PA's Glen Onoko Falls Gorge, one of the most rugged sets of falls in the state.
5)
I always like when places add personalization to their water towers. This is from the ALPO pet food plant in the Lehigh Valley near Orefield. Now owned by the international corporate food giant Nestle, ALPO traces its creation back to Allentown in 1936 as the Allentown Products Company.

6)
Kelly O's Diner in Pittsburgh's awesome Strip District area is one of the many fine eateries within this part of town. 
7)
Hellertown's Lost River Caverns is a longtime Pennsylvania mainstay. It was discovered in 1883 in the midst of quarrying for Limestone, an industry that would last in that region for close to a century longer. The caves go to a depth of 80 feet and are 1200 feet long. It has operated continuously since 1930 as a roadside draw. 

6.22.2015

McConnell's Mill State Park, June 21st, 2015

On Sunday our plan was to spend a relaxing afternoon laying on the beach at Moraine State Park. The weather looked alright, so we headed up. Low and behold, the skies let loose right as we start to haul the cooler, chairs, and towels. That led us to driving around. We headed to the adjacent McConnell's Mill State Park to see what the quick torrential downpours looked like at the creek. 

McConnell's Mill State Park. Rated as one of Pennsylvania's must-see state parks, the scenery is just stunning. The Slippery Rock Creek flows through this deep and rugged gorge, and this old mill was built within an area in which there was a clearing from the truck sized boulders that are throughout this entire area. The mill dates back to 1868. So this photo from this weekend is from after torrential rains.
This shot is from January after a big blizzard. Here is a write up on a time I had a visit with more favorable, albeit cold, weather conditions. 
 This is the adjacent stunning McConnell's Mill Covered Bridge. It was built in 1874 and is one of only four Howe Truss covered bridges in the state. 
 
Definitely visit this park sometime. Due to the weather we did not stay to do some of the awesome hiking that the park has to offer. Whitewater Kayaking is a popular activity at the park, but doing so in a thunderstorm is not exactly the best idea. The park is also home to numerous waterfalls. Spend an afternoon sometime at this state park, it is a pretty awesome place.

6.20.2015

1921 Sullivan Trail Postcard from Wilkes Barre, PA to Watkins Glen, NY.

Having originally grown up in the Lehigh Valley, I would frequently travel on Sullivan Trail in the Easton/Nazareth area. In the back of my head I wondered why it was called that, but never really got around to actually looking into it. I found this postcard set recently that is a "Souvenir Folder of Sullivan Trail, along Susquehanna River, between Wilkes-Barre, PA. and Watkins Glen, NY." It dates back to 1921 and features photos taken by Photographer Ace Hoffman of Wilkes Barre, PA. His studio pioneered x-ray, aerial, and flash photography.

In researching this photographer, I found that he was involved in a plane crash in 1925 and simply broke his leg while he was trying to take pictures of the former Rocky Glen Park. A guy willing to risk his life to take pictures of an amusement park? Sounds like an awesome guy to me!

Anyways, back to the subject. Sullivan Trail was named for Revolutionary War General John Sullivan. The shame in the creation of the trail was that it was built and utilized by the general to mobilize troops, under orders of General Washington, to run a scorched earth campaign and destroy at least forty Iroquois Nation villages throughout the entire Finger Lakes region. My fiancee Brit's relatives were likely caught up in that scorched earth campaign. Many people starved or froze to death because their crops and livelihoods were completely destroyed by Sullivan's campaign. The following are Washington's orders to Sullivan:

Orders of George Washington to General John Sullivan, at Head-Quarters May 31, 1779
"The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.
I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.
But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the
chastisement they receive will inspire them."

His major, Jeremiah Fogg, had this to say in his journal about the operation:

"The nests are destroyed, but the birds are still on the wing."

Onto better times with less turmoil. Anyways, in the golden age of possibilities with the automobile, the creation of extensive roads was a big deal. People, as they do now, would go on road trips whenever they could with their new automobiles. Old dirt and gravel carriage paths were being paved and new roads were being carved out. This was an exciting time of transformation in the United States. Never before had mankind been so mobile. Diners, service stations, and motels would pop up to meet the new market needs. At these places, post cards like this, along with maps, were available to help with navigation and to keep as souvenirs. 

On the cover of the folder is a depiction of the "General Sullivan Monument" in Elmira, New York. This is located in what is now known as the Newtown Battlefield State Park. The granite monument now has no mention of any sort of memorial towards Sullivan, but it is now known as the Newtown Battlefield Monument in honor of the lost lives from both sides of the battle, and the victims of the ensuing genocidal scorched earth campaign after Sullivan routed the Iroquois. If you want to read a decent summation of Sullivan's campaign, be sure to read this.  
Back to the postcard again. Here is the back cover of the envelope.
 On the inside cover is this summation of the route at that point. Look at how disconnected all of the state routes were.
 The postcard's description also seems to want to distance itself from the legacy of General Sullivan.
 Now let's hit the road! 
"SULLIVAN TRAIL between Wilkes Barre, PA and Watkins Glen, NY"
"Sullivan Trail on Wyoming Mountain, East of Wilkes-Barre, PA"

 "Sullivan Trail, Near Wilkes Barre and Pittston, PA"
 "Sullivan Trail, bridge at falls west of Wilkes Barre and Pittston, PA"
 "Sullivan Trail looking towards Tunkhannock, PA"
 "Sullivan Trail at Keeler Mountain"
 "Sullivan Trail at Osterhout, sometimes known as La Grange"
 "Sullivan Trail, Bunnell Mountain, looking west"
 Sullivan Trail, Browntown Mountain looking west, near Laceyville, PA
 "Sullivan Trail at Wyalusing"
 "Sullivan Trail, Wyalusing Rocks"
 "Sullivan Trail approach to twin cuts between Wyalusing and Toward"
 "Chemung Valley from Waverley Hill on Sullivan Trail. Looking towards Elmira, NY.
 "Seneca Lake on Sullivan Trail, Watkins Glen, NY




6.19.2015

Former Grandview Motel/Mt. Ararat Lookout Point, Bedford County, Lincoln Highway

A landmark hotel once resided on the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA. It was the Grand View Point Hotel where you could see "three states and seven counties." It is located where the Lincoln Highway crosses the Alleghenies. In the early days of automobiles, at the top of every huge mountain there was once a rest stop where cars would refuel and reload water into their cars for coolant. On my journey across the old Lincoln Highway, I figured I would check out the site of where this fabled hotel once stood. 
The hotel itself burned down in a suspicious fire back in 2001, after years of abandonment. The beautiful view remains though. 
The official sign states that the elevation at this point, Mt. Ararat of the Allegheny Mountains, is 2464 feet.
Across the street a small building remains. I assume this was once part of the complex.
In the ten minutes I was there, several people stopped to check out the view on that beautiful day.
A handwritten marker.
Lots of foundation remnants from the old hotel.
A remarkable view
Here is the location on the Lincoln Highway. The vista is tough to miss after the climb to the summit.

6.15.2015

Pymatuning State Park: Linesville Spillway "Where the ducks walk on the fish"

One of our favorite places to stop on our way to or from Conneaut Lake Park is at Pymatuning State Park's Linesville Spillway, the place with the tagline "where the ducks walk on fish." Historically this has been a huge draw to the region, drawing roadtrippers for nearly 80 years. In the midst of the Great Depression and subsequent World War II rationing, the Linesville Spillway provided a place for cheap entertainment for families all over. Feeding wildlife and fish was a favorite pastime in this time period. There is one place in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that this practice is still legal, and that is at the Pymatuning Spillway. If you go for a visit, be sure to carry all of the old bread, cereal, saltines, and other baked goods that you can find and you will see an awesome display. We start with an unusual look at the Spillway, from Valentine's Day Weekend where it was actually -4 degrees outside. You can see the steam rising off of the one seemingly freeze proof spot on this body of water.
 Now to the view from this weekend.
Back to February! The Spillway still looks about the same as it did back during the Great Depression.
The carp greatly outnumber the waterfowl, but they hold their own. 
 There was an especially high amount of Carp congregating in this spot this weekend.
 So much cheap entertainment!
 You can often see a few fish gather up the courage to try and jump back into the lake area. It is really exciting.
 "Shhh, I hope we can get this without getting a ton of attention!"
 "Never mind!"
If you are in Crawford County, make sure that you go see this awesome roadside attraction and also visit Conneaut Lake Park!
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