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3.25.2018

St Mary's Covered Bridge, Last Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County

St. Mary's Covered Bridge is pristinely taken care of in regards to aesthetics. It crosses Shade Creek in Shade Gap, a beautifully rugged location. The bridge is certainly greatly appreciated by the local community, and seeing this is so encouraging, especially in light of all of the covered bridges we have lost over the years, including the 115 year old Dimmsville Covered Bridge in Juniata County in the spring of 2017. We happened to drive by the site of that old bridge on this same trip, and it was quite refreshing seeing this bridge next. It is awesome when communities work to preserve their history like this.
A satellite view of the rugged narrows in which the bridge is located.

This span is one of the rare examples of a Howe Truss covered bridge within the state, one of only four others. It has stone abutments, is 64 feet long, 13 feet wide, and the plaque on the bridge says it dates back to 1889, though this piece from the Huntingdon County Historical Society places the date of construction in 1886.

It was refitted with a steel I-Beam structure in 1982. The original bridge was reconstructed on top of the supports. It is also an excellent location for trout fishing, and it is located right across from St. Mary's Church. It is definitely worth a stop if you happen to be passing by. 

GPS Coordinates: 
40.204837, -77.877938

3.18.2018

Archbald Pothole State Park: World's Largest Glacial Pothole

Today we visit the "the world's largest glacial pothole," a roadside attraction at Archbald Pothole State Park. No axles or struts were destroyed in the making of this article for this natural occurrence is a roadside attraction, instead of being on the road itself. This geologic wonder has attracted visitors since it was found while coal mining, way back in 1884. When they set off some explosives to loosen some nearby coal, a giant load of rounded stones and water flooded through, leaving the miners fearing for their lives. Once things cleared, they noticed the hole went all the way to the surface. 1000 tons of pebbles were removed from the hole. After briefly being utilized as a mine ventilation shaft, it attracted the attention of geologists and tourists. Being located right off of US Route 6, this place became a popular roadside attraction in the infancy of the automobile age. While not worth making a special trip to, it is well worth checking out if you are passing through the area. 
The hole itself is roughly 42 feet wide by 38 feet deep. It is a nice place to check out if you are in the area.
The hole is estimated to be 13,000 years old and thought to have been created by a waterfall off of a glacier, or from the stream bed flowing off of a glacier.
In 1914, the land was given to Lackawanna County, who then proceeded to turn it into a county park. The grounds were opened up as a state park in 1964. 
A platform enables views from above.
The hole is neat to see, though I do not recommend making a long trip with this as your sole destination in mind. However, it is well worth a stop if you are in the area. It is conveniently located about 20 minutes northeast of Scranton on Route 6 and well worth checking out if it is en route to where you want to go, or if you are checking out some of the regions awesome attractions, including Steamtown, the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, the Tunkhannock and Starucca Viaducts, and more. 

3.11.2018

Panther Rocks, Moshannon State Forest near SB Elliott State Park, Clearfield County

One of the neatest things about the rugged and varied geology throughout Pennsylvania is the beautiful rock formations/rock cities. Central Pennsylvania is filled with great rock cities, and Panther Rocks in the Moshannon State Forest, near SB Elliott State Park is no exception. The boulders that make up this rock formation are huge and spectacular. Moss and ferns grow in the small crevasses of the large boulders. While smaller than the more famed Bilger's Rocks, these rocks are certainly worth a visit. 
The "streets" in this rock city are vertical fractures in the rock called joints that have been widened over time through the freeze and thaw cycle (information from the DCNR). One of my favorite aspects of these boulders is the uneven weathering that has lead towards to growth of moss on the rock surface. When coupled with a little bit of snow, the colors really pop out. 300 million years ago, these rocks sat at the bottom of a sea that covered the region. 
The rocks are located a few miles down an unpaved state forest road that splits off near SB Elliott State Park. There is a short walk/hike to rocks from Four Mile Road, that is no longer than a quarter mile round trip, tops. When paired with all of the surrounding beauty in Moshannon State Forest, this is well worth exploring.
Getting closer! It is an especially beautiful place to visit after some snowfall. 
Some of the moss and ferns growing on the boulders.
Mountain Laurel surrounds the rocks, which I imagine is quite a sight to see in the summer.
Trees have grown with the "streets" between the boulders
Panther Rocks is well worth checking out. The coordinates to the parking area for the rocks are:
41.143314, -78.495709

From those coordinates, you will see a sign, and the boulders out in the woods. It is a quarter mile walk/hike to the boulders with a relatively easy walk.

3.04.2018

Wintry Views from PA's Elk Country

Pennsylvania's elk herd is awesome to see. The heart of it is in the village of Benezette, Elk County. We have seen the elk in every season and we highly recommend that you do the same. There is nothing quite like seeing majestic creatures like this. Seeing this herd is the closest thing that Pennsylvania has to offer to the free roaming herds of bison and elk that you see in places like Yellowstone National Park, and to the herds of Moose that you see in Denali National Park in Alaska. The elk are majestic animals, and seeing them throughout the varied seasons in Pennsylvania is so exciting. 
You can get more of a background on these guys from some articles that we wrote after a fall visit, and a spring visit. Due to overhunting and environmental degradation, native elk were all but eliminated from the state by the end mid to late 1800s. Progressive and forward looking politicians like Teddy Roosevelt and his Chief of the Forest Service, and future PA Governor, Gifford Pinchot, reintroduced Elk from Yellowstone, where their populations were actually exploding. With some effort, the elk took to the habitat in the areas of Elk, Cameron, and Clearfield Counties, and today the bulk of the heard resides within Elk County. 
During this winter visit, the bulk of the elk were grazing through the fields in the valley of the Bennett Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek.
While they could be seen throughout the area, the highest concentration was located in the large fields across the creek from Benezette.
A pleasant snowfall began as the day wore on
Here is a pack of them at the beautiful Antler Shed Cabins. 

Note the unshed antlers on this bull. The bulls shed their antlers annually.
The snow beginning to collect. 

Nearby is the Marion Brooks Natural Area, home to one of the finest stands of birches. 

Dusk settling in with the snow collecting. We highly recommend going to see the elk in the PA Great Outdoors Region in the area of Benezette.

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