One Bridge to Rule Them All

The Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge in Port Royal, Juniata County is the longest remaining covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was built in 1902 and is 278 feet long. It is a single-lane, double-span wooden covered bridge which crosses the Tuscarora Creek. Its design is based on the Burr truss developed by Theodore Burr, who was a preeminent bridge designer and builder. This bridge has been owned by the Juniata County Historical Societysince 1962. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

A view of the bridge. It is so long it has a center support.
Let’s look inside.
Looking toward the new road bridge.
A view of Tuscarora Creek.

Downstreem and off on the tributary Licking Creek, one finds the Lehman Covered Bridge, an historic covered bridge located near Port Royal in Juniata County. It is a Double Burr Arch truss bridge and was built in 1888. It measures 107 feet and has vertical siding, windows at eave level, and a gable roof. It was damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and subsequently rebuilt. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

To the south is the Delville Covered Bridge. This bridge is located at Dellville, Perry County. It is a 174-foot-long, three span, Burr truss bridge over Sherman Creek, constructed in 1889. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. On November 3, 2014, the bridge was significantly damaged in a fire that police believe to have been caused by arson. By early 2019, most of the structure has been completely restored back to its original condition.

There is a nice little park around this bridge for a picnic.
Sherman Creek.

Some additional bridges on upstream on Sherman Creek are pictured in my blog post on Sherman’s Valley.

State Parks in Autumn

This post is a beginning of a series on some central Pennsylvania state parks that I visited in October. The first up is Little Buffalo State Park in Newport, Perry County, PA. The visitor to Little Buffalo can partake of campgrounds, a swimming pool, a lake, hunting, fishing, picnicking and hiking. The park is 923 acres and was opened in 1972. It also features some historical sites which we’ll take a look at below.

Little Buffalo State Park is named for Little Buffalo Creek which runs through the park. The creek and the nearby Buffalo Ridge are named for the bison that are believed to have once roamed the ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania. Humans have lived in what is now Pennsylvania since at least 10,000 BC. The first settlers were Paleo-Indian nomadic hunters known from their stone tools. The hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period, which lasted locally from 7000 to 1000 BC, used a greater variety of more sophisticated stone artifacts. The Woodland period marked the gradual transition to semi-permanent villages and horticulture, between 1000 BC and 1500 AD. Archeological evidence found in the state from this time includes a range of pottery types and styles, burial mounds, pipes, bows and arrow, and ornaments. Perry County was part of the Albany Purchase of 1754 when the colonists purchased a large tract of land from the Iroquois League of Six Nations.

The lake reflecting the fall colors.
A quiet moment under a blaze of orange.
Canoe season is almost over.

European settlers arrived in the area in force after the Revolutionary War. John Koch, one of the first to farm the area in the 1790s, opened the Blue Ball Tavern in 1811. The tavern offered food, drink, and a sleeping loft. The Blue Ball Tavern served as a rest stop for messengers who travelled between Carlisle and Sunbury during the War of 1812. It is rumored that the tavern was where the plans for the creation of Perry County were made in 1821. The tavern was closed in 1841. A farmhouse was built in 1865 on the foundation of the tavern. Some recycled boards and hardware from the tavern were used in the construction of the farmhouse which currently houses the Blue Ball Tavern Museum and a library that are operated by the Perry County Historical Society.

The Blue Ball Tavern Museum.

William Shoaff bought 63 acres of land in the area and a gristmill from the Juniata Iron Works in 1849 after it had been shut down. The local farmers brought their crops to Shoaff’s Mill until the 1940s. The mill has since been restored and is back in operation. Visitors to the park can observe the milling of cornmeal, cracked corn and the grinding of apples for apple cider.

The mill. Sadly, the wheel was not running when I visited.

For me, not surprisingly, a covered bridge was one of the highlights. This is Clay’s Covered Bridge. It is a short walk from a parking area on your way to the mill.

Sherman’s Valley: A Hidden Gem

Nestled between the mountain ridges in Perry County is Sherman’s Valley. The valley is traversed by Route 274, with its heart in Blain, PA. I came here in search of a couple of covered bridges on Sherman Creek. The narrow valley feels remote due to its situation between two ridge lines. However, it is not to far from Carlisle and Harrisburg.

It was, unfortunately, quite a gloomy morning when I was there. Here is a sampling of what I saw (and, or course, those covered bridges):

Farm house across the road – like my grandparent’s former farm.
The Mount Pleasant Covered Bridge.
Sherman Creek
The New Germantown Covered Bridge
I see these stars all over the place on homes and barns. This one has a twist with the flag motif.
Great red color on this barn.
Nestled against the backdrop of mountains.
I love how this house has been built around a log structure.
Another great red barn.

A Quick Visit to Some State Parks

It is one of my goals to try to visit every state park in Pennsylvania. I’ve made pretty good progress so far, but I think some the parks in the western part of the state will be a challenge due to distance. This May I was able to stop by Colonel Denning State Park and Fowlers Hollow State Park.

Colonel Denning State Park in Newville, PA is named after a William Denning, a sergeant in the Continental Army, who made wrought iron cannon for the Army. He was never actually a Colonel. His namesake park hosts hiking, camping, boating, skating, cross country skiing and a swim beach and all the usual picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

The lake at Colonel Denning State Park.
A lovely pavilion next to the dam spillway.

I also made it to Fowlers Hollow State Park, a small state park in Blain, PA in the valley of Fowler Hollow Run. One can hike, fish, picnic, hunt, horseback ride, mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile at the park. There is also a small campground. Its trail system connects with the trails in the Tuscarora State Forest.

A nice, shady picnic area.
A group of equestrians was on the move.
A view of Fowler Hollow Run.
And finally, a view from Hemlocks Road in the Tuscarora State Forest.