Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ghost Town

Been to a ghost town lately? I live about 1 1/2 miles from one. Plus, I have connections via my ancestry to another ghost town in this county as well as one in Lycoming County - all in central Pennsylvania. For all I know, I might even have a ghost town connection to some up in Tioga County, which is where one side of my Dad's family - heck, maybe both - originally landed when they came here from Scotland.

But the one with which I have the most familiarity, knowledge, is the one just down the road from my house - Peale, PA.

This place, built and settled in 1884, was the second home of my maternal grandfather as his parents and siblings moved there en masse with virtually the entire town of McIntyre, which was located in Lycoming County and now is also a ghost town too. My great-grandparents (Carl and Myja Lisa Eld) lived in Peale until the late 1890's when they made the big move west - all of a mile or so up the road - to the little village of Grassflat, which is where I live now. (A little side history here - my home, built in 1903 by my grandparents is catty-cornered, sort of, from the home my great-grandparents built, and which is now occupied by a very nice family who have been here probably about 30 years now.)

There is another ghost town - Gazzam - which was located a little west of Clearfield and it was there that my Dad's mother's family lived for a while and I think too that my dad's parents may have lived there too after their marriage. Not quite sure on that so would have to check my family tree information to be sure there.

So anyway, as you can see, I have connections to these two ghost towns here within the state. And, although I am interested in the history of all three, Peale is the one that most fascinates me.

Shortly after I got my first computer, just for the heck of it one night as I was unwinding from work, enjoying a beer - ok, maybe even two or three - I was surfing on the net and just for the heck of it, I keyed in Peale, PA for my search term.

Imagine my surprise when I turned up a website - an actual full-fledged website - devoted solely to articles and information about this little town that has been devoid of occupants year-round since the late 1950's and the only folks that gravitate there since then are mostly the people who have maintained hunting camps there.

Through my first look at this website, I discovered that the guy who had written a great article about the railroads and their impact on the town as well as the entire area here, has roots back to my hometown and also, that I know his relatives still in this region quite well. I e-mailed him - Jeff Feldmeier - immediately and we have over the past 7 years or so now, established a strong friendship, do lots of e-mailing about local history and such. I also e-mailed the administrator of the site, John Krygier, at that time too and have since established a good relationship with him, although we don't commmuncate all that regularly.

However, about 2-3 weeks ago, my friend Jeff wrote and told me he had heard from John and that John is thinking of dropping out as administrator of the site. I can understand his issues - he teaches at a university in northwestern Ohio, has a family, two small children and not that much time left over to devote to this website. Jeff though told me he had written and suggested to John that perhaps I would be interested and willing to take over the webstie because, as he put it to John, she "it on the computer all the time!" And, that I am a computer junky is indeed very true.

But for me - the clinker in this idea is that I know absolutely zilch about about websites, administration of them - ANYTHING - other than how to click into one and maneuver around on them! But, because I am very interested in seeing this site gets kept alive and at least semi-healthy, I e-mailed John and told him I would be interested in this provided he could give me a crash course in website, html, ftp, site administration - all that good stuff. And also, I told him he would have to figure out if this can be done on my computer as it is or will I need lots of upgrades to it, what software will I have to download, which might be free and what would I have to purchase in that respect too.

I heard back from John and we are now in the process of figuring out how soon I can start downloading some freebie program he says I will need for openers. Then he will start to send me the files that go with the site and explaining what I need to do with them and how to do that too. Eventually, I am going to have to do some upgrades to my system - for sure (whether I take on this job or not) and eventually I am also going to have to add some software that isn't available as a "freebie" too, but at least for now, it looks like I'm going to be taking over the website and caring for it, very lovingly too, I might add!

Here's the url for the Peale site I will be working on as "administrator" in the near future. Check it out and see if you agree with me that the information it holds there is far to important to be lost in cyberspace forever.

Darn - I guess I did something wrong that the url didn't copy over as a clickable, so you'll have to copy and paste it into your browser to view the site. But trust me, it's worth looking at, good information, lots of sentimental value to it as well.

Just call me a "web administrator" sometime in the near future!


Mike said...

Ghost towns would be a cool thing to see. There are none around here that I know of. The closet thing was a fake on in Ohio. An interesting thing to be an administrator of one. Good luck with it.

Gene Bach said...

It's not as scary as it seems. Once you get into it you'll have a lot of fun with it.

Make sure you do a LOT of thinking about the site BEFORE you start building it. Yeah, you can always go back and change everything, but it can be a real pain in the butt.

Get a program that will enable you to work with graphics and change them to what you want them to be. ALWAYS compress your picture before you upload them to your site. Large file sizes in picture take a long time to download. If you have DSL or wireless you may not notice. However, a lot of folks still work off of dial-up and those are the ones you'll really need to be concerned with. Try and keep pictures at 50k or less.

Try and get a header you can use on all your pages. In other words, design your site so that when a user moves from page to page it doesn't change dramitically. It's distracting to have to "learn" a new page every time you click on something.

Keep your content fresh. Hopefully you'll get people to make return trips to your site. In order to do that you'll need to offer them something different from time to time.

No matter what program you use to build your site, KEEP YOUR FILES ORGANIZED! That'll come in real handy down the line when you want to find something, change something, add, or delete. Build your pages and then put your content into folders (pictures/files/etc) that relate to the page. Think about your program as a file cabinet. The more organized you keep it, the easier it will be to use.

I don't know much but I have built a couple sites before. Feel free to contact me any time.