An Old Mill in Black and White

The Mill at Anselma in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania has been a National Historic Landmark since 2005, and an operational Mill before the United States of America began. It is an independent, non-profit historic site today. Nestled along the Pickering Creek, the Mill site preserves over 250 years of Chester County’s industrial history. The Mill retains its original Colonial-Era power train, as well as multiple layers of industrial equipment ranging from the late 1700s to the mid 1900s. The 22 acre property and surviving historical buildings demonstrate a heritage engineered to last. It is open to the public and hosts educational and entertaining events. It is free to walk around the grounds.

I photographed the mill in black and white using an old Canon A2E on Kentmere 400 film. I developed these myself. I am chuffed that they are usable (not that terrible).

A Place I Should Have Visited Long Ago …

My mother grew up in Pittsburgh, but my grandmother’s family were Slovak coal miners who settled in the town of Perryopolis. I finally got to visit this town recently, although I probably should have made more if an effort when I lived in Pittsburgh back in the early 90s.

George Washington purchased 1,644 acres (6.65 km2) here when land first became available. He visited in 1770 and said, “as fine a land as I have ever seen, a great deal of rich meadow; it is well watered and has a valuable mill seat.” The mill would eventually be completed in 1776. Once the mill was finished, it encouraged other business to come to the area to support and augment the business of the mill.

Washington hoped to develop the remainder of Perryopolis, drawing up plans for the streets to be laid out in the shape of a wagon-wheel. Washington’s estate sold the land after his death; in 1814 Perryopolis, previously known as “New Boston”, was officially laid out using Washington’s plans and named for Oliver Hazard Perry for his victory on Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

In the late 19th century, the area around Perryopolis was first mined for coal. Until the 1950s, coal industries would be the area’s primary economic activity, served by the Washington Run branch of the P&LE Railroad that continued on to Star Junction. However, Perryopolis developed differently from other nearby mining towns. Instead of housing laborers, Perryopolis was mainly inhabited by foremen and white collar workers who were associated with the mining industry.

An unexpected town square.

The Gue House in Perryopolis, PA is a log home originally built sometime around 1820 and then reconstructed in 1976. The Gue House is the only log home still standing in Perryopolis and represents the type of house built by early settlers of the town. No exact date exists for this structure but it was of the early 1800’s. This is the type of home one of the first settlers of Perryopolis would have lived in. Local legend has it that this was the first complete two-story log cabin in Pennsylvania. It is owned by the Perryopolis Parks and Recreation Authority and operates as a part of the Time Gift Shop and Visitors Center, and currently houses the Gue House Gallery.

The Gue House, the only remaining log home.

St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, also known as St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Church, is an historic Catholic church. It was built between 1912 and 1918, and is a 30 feet by 60 feet yellow brick building in the Byzantine Revival style. It has a cruciform plan and the gabled roof is topped by four onion domes. The church served a community of Rusyns who originally settled in the area prior to 1907. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, one of the town’s several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Erie City at Twilight

I managed to take a short drive around Erie during the time I was there.

The Bicentennial Tower on the waterfront.
The best view I could get of the brig Niagara since the maritime museum was closed at the time.
The Erie Land Lighthouse.
High and dry.
The beautiful Russian Old Rite Orthodox Church.

The following two historic homes were moved and reconstructed on their current sites.

VON BUSECK HOUSE — C. 1815
This saltbox-style farmhouse was built c.1815 in west Millcreek on what is now known as 5021 West 38th Street, south of Wheaton Road. The land was owned by Irish immigrant John Nicholson (1764–1828), and the family of John Wheaton owned the building for a time. For over 150 years it was owned by Louis Von Buseck (1812–1893) and his descendants. Louis was born Ludwig Heinrich Von Buseck in Germany, the second son of Baron Carl Philip Von Buseck.

The Von Buseck House.

HON. JUDAH COLT HOUSE — C. 1820
One of Erie County’s earliest citizens, Hon. Judah Colt (1761–1832), settled at what is now known as Colt Station in 1796. He moved to the Borough of Erie in 1804 as the agent for the coun­ty’s first land developer, Pennsylvania Population Company. Colt served as burgess of Erie in 1813 and 1820–1821. He built this Federal-style house c.1820 at the southwest corner of East 4th and French streets where he entertained the Marquis De Lafayette (1757–1834) on June 3, 1825. This was also home to his nephew Thomas G. Colt (1805–1861), the last Bur­gess and the first mayor for the city of Erie. The house was moved to 345 East Front St. in 1890.

The Judah Colt House.

A Not So Creepy Cabin

The Davis Hollow Cabin was featured as a location in the film The Pale Blue Eye as the home of detective Augustus Landor. The cabin is located in Moraine State Park very near a marina. Originally built in 1780, the cabin is one of the historic facilities along the North County Trail. Over the years, the cabin fell into disrepair and nature took its toll. In 2005 a group of volunteers got together to conserve the cabin (the Friends of Davis Hollow Cabin). The cabin is available for rent in the warmer months.

I somehow was expecting this building to be a lot more isolated. In the film, it is usually depicted under a blanket of snow with a wide offset view of the front of the building. Here are some different views of the building in Spring and some of the nearby “reality” adjacent to the marina.

A Less Visited Historic Site

We will return back to eastern Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks after our swing through the western part of the commonwealth. Pennsylvania has quite a few old iron furnaces spread across the state. In fact, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site lies near the border of Chester and Berks counties. Not far away is the site of the Warwick Iron Furnace. The site is part of Warwick Furnace Farms, a historic district that includes the ruins of the early iron furnace owned by Anna Rutter Nutt, widow of Samuel Nutt. The ironmaster’s house and workers’ houses, as well as a historic farmhouse and barns now used in the operation of a working farm.

Anna Rutter Nutt was the daughter of Thomas Rutter, who erected the first ironwork in Pennsylvania. Samuel Nutt bought the original tracts of land with partners William Branson and Mordecai Lincoln, the great great grandfather of Abraham Lincoln. The furnace was managed by George Taylor when the first Franklin Stoves were cast here. The furnace operated through the 1860s and supplied the iron used in the iron-clad ship the USS Monitor during the Civil War. The 786 acre historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

I visited back in early Spring. The landscape around here is lovely and well worth a trip.

Finishing With Something I Didn’t Expect

Mount Davis (3,213 ft or 979 m) is the highest point in Pennsylvania. Located in the 5,685-acre (2,301 ha) Forbes State Forest near the hamlet of Markleton in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, it lies on a gentle crest of a 30-mile (50 km) ridge line extending from central Somerset County southward into Garrett County, Maryland. The high point was named for John Nelson Davis, an early settler, American Civil War veteran, surveyor, and naturalist known for his studies of the mountain’s flora and fauna. During the Civil War, Davis served in Company E, 102nd Pennsylvania Infantry.

The summit of Mt. Davis may be ascended by car or a number of hiking trails. Its surroundings are noted for their patterns of unusual circular stone formed by periglacial action. A metal observation tower with a relief map of the region stands near the true high point.

I found this location surprising. It was not what I was picturing in my mind for many years. The area immediately surrounding the summit is state forest, however you can be a five minute drive from the summit and still be going through farmland, which doesn’t make the peak seem that prominent or that high. I guess the surrounding area is at a pretty high elevation.

Mt. Davis lake from the summit.
This is actually the best view, rather than the fire tower.
This state forest facility is near the remnants of an old CCC camp.
Looks like an old CCC cabin.
This young man waved hello as he passed. I found quite a few Amish farms in the area.