It’s Very Early Fall in Lancaster County

An unusually bright and sunny day greeted me in late September in Lancaster county. The sky was so blue and the white so white that it almost hurts my eyes. I’m not used to this here in Pennsylvania. As it was a Sunday, the buggy traffic was out in force, and the field horses were grazing in the fields.

Buggies are upcoming in the next episode!

Memorial Day Away

I am spending this Memorial Day at a state park cabin. I will be back soon with more photos of northeastern Pennsylvania, including some new locations.

In the meantime, here is a look back at my visit to Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery.

and the Foster Joseph Sayers Memorial at Bald Eagle State Park …

A Drive Through Clinton County

Here are some shots from southern Clinton County. Most were taken on my drive from the Lock Haven area to Logan Mills this past fall.

One of the more creative uses of hay bales that I’ve seen.
Horses enjoying the fall air.
There were some lovely trees along the way ….
This must have been a lovely home at one time.

This next stop, made before my drive south, was bittersweet. I visited the Woolrich factory store at its original location several times when I was younger. This store is just not the same, although I am glad to see there is still a presence in the town of Woolrich. The business was bought out my an Italian company which had been a minority investor. They still manufacure items under the Woolrich brand, but it is now made in Italy since local maufacturing has been shut down. The new stuff is very nice but is expensive, as the present owners are trying to position Woolrich as a luxury brand. Woolrich made good quality products at fair prices, but a luxury brand it was not. The new direction doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the heritage of the brand. While I was at the store, I managed to buy one of the last made in the USA pieces.

The Wertz Covered Bridge

The Wertz Covered Bridge, also known as the Red Covered Bridge (but aren’t most of them), is a historic wooden covered bridge located at Bern Township and Spring Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The bridge is a 204-foot-long, Burr Truss bridge, constructed in 1867. It crosses the Tulpehocken Creek. It serves as the walkway entrance to the Berks County Heritage Center, which also includes the Gruber Wagon Works. It is one of only five covered bridges remaining in Berks County. It is the largest single-span covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was restored in 1959 and later in 1984, however, when the Warren Street Bypass opened, the bridge was closed permanently in October, 1959. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1978.

The bridge is part of the Berks County Heritage Center, an historical interpretive complex commemorating important eras of Berks County cultural history. The Gruber Wagon Works (a National Historic Landmark) the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Deppen Cemetery, Bicentennial Eagle Memorial, the Distlefink statue and a salad and herb garden are all encompassed within the Heritage Center.

The view from Tulpehocken Road.
Inside Pennsylvania’s longest single span covered bridge.
The Bat Colony of the bridge. I love bats. They eat insects and are so cute.
A look around the Berks County Heritage Center…
A look up at the bridge.
The view from the other end.
Tulpehocken Creek

A Little Diversion

On my way home from Swatara and Memorial Lake State Parks, I decided to swing through Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. Middle Creek is not a place I visit much in Autumn, but it is well worth a stop. Middle Creek is administered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for game propogation and wildlife conservation, but it feels park-like. With opportunities for hiking, picnicing, boating and fantastic birding and wildlife watching, it makes for a great day out.

The view from the Visitor’s Center.
Relaxing by the lake.
The nearby area has some lovely farms.
These horses are enjoying a fine Autumn day.

A Pair of Parks

The 3,520-acre Swatara State Park consists of rolling fields and woodlands situated in the Swatara Valley, between Second and Blue mountains. Swatara Creek runs through the park and is surrounded by forests and wetlands that support an abundance of wildlife. The park is also a hotbed for fossil hunters.

In the past this landscape was dominated by a feeder branch of the Union Canal and then a railroad. Today, Swatara Park features a rail trail, hiking (including a few miles of the Appalachian Trail), fishing, hunting, cycling, horseback riding and kayaking.

The lovely rail trail.
Off for a ride.
The mountains are ablaze in Autumn.

Nearby Memorial Lake State Park consists of 230 acres at the the base of Blue Mountain in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County. The park is surrounded by Fort Indiantown Gap, the headquarters for the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard. The park is dominated by its lovely lake. It is a great spot for a picnic or some boating and fishing. There are also hiking trails at the park and and an exercise course.

Fort Indiantown Gap was named after the American Indian village known as Indiantown and the gap in the Blue Mountain where Indiantown was located. Indian artifacts found in the Lebanon and Swatara Valleys indicate a human presence as early as 2,500 BC.

Established in 1931, Fort Indiantown Gap was built as a National Guard training center. During World War II, it was used as a training site for seven Army divisions, and also as a demobilization site once the war was over. Memorial Lake was established in 1945 in memory of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who served in World War I and World War II. In 1955, Memorial Lake was transferred to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and became Memorial Lake State Park.

I would love to have a canoe moored here.
Done fishin’ for the day.
A beutiful picnic spot.
Let’s just enjoy the beauty of the lake.
A great view of Memorial Lake.

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.

Let’s Hang onto Autumn a Bit Longer

Here are some late leaf season shots of Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County. I’ve been holding off on the Christmas posts as long as I can just as I was trying hold onto Autumn on this day in late October.

Blue Marsh National Recreation Area contains an artificial lake located northwest of Reading, Pennsylvania. It was constructed and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is fed by the Tulpehocken Creek. Blue Marsh was the name of the village that was located where the lake now is. It was the first settlement in Lower Heidelberg Township. The United States Army Corps of Engineers began constructing the lake in March 1974 with the impoundment of the Tulpehocken Creek and was completed in September 1979. The lake is now a popular spot for recreation, including swimming, boating, fishing, wildlife watching and picnicing.

A view toward the mountains.
One of several great overlooks toward the lake.
The Autumn color was haning on.
This snag looks great against the fall leaves.
A view toward the dam.
A lovely old barn.
This shoreline is very inviting.
The color of this tree is just … wow!
A great view of the lake.
A close-up toward the left.

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.