Last week, if you recall, I mentioned that a group of four people from Sweden are going to be coming to this area for a very short visit the latter part of this week. The one lady in the group and I have been communicating for about eight years now about family tree data she has been able to secure for me from Sweden. In her note to me about their pending visit, she said she and the others would like very much to see the "sights" in this area and that got me trying to think what on earth would I show them that would or could constitute for "sights" here. That is, until my friend, Jeff Feldmeier sent me some photos today from his visit to the area last week. So I thought maybe I'd show you, my readers some of the local "sights." (Because these photos were all posted to Jeff's webshots, in order to download them, I had to download an "image converter" thing but being el cheapo that I am -or is that 'el broko' - the free version puts a watermark on the photos and that is what you will see in the right hand corner. But these photos are all courtesy of Jeff Feldmeier's fine photographic skills and I hope you can appreciate the beauty of these hills anyway.)
The first photo here was taken at Karthaus - a little town further back in the mountains than where I live. It's about 10 miles or so from my home and is situated along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. This photo shows the bridge across the river between Karthaus and the road that leads to Pine Glen. I think it's surely a beautiful sight and from this angle though, is one I won't be able to get to this location upstream along the railroad trackage there to give the Swedish visitors this particular view as I can do here for you.
This picture, to the left, is of the Black Moshannon Creek just outside the little village of Moshannon which is about eight miles from my home. This stream, a really great mountain stream, noted too for being a good fishing stream, joins up with the Red Moshannon Creek (the stream used for the Big Red Mo Canoe Race the last Saturday in March every year) shortly before the waters then empty into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
To the right here, is another view of the Black Moshannon Creek. According to Jeff, this is located near "Meyers Run" and to be honest, I don't know where the heck Meyers Run is! There are many little rills and runs around these mountain streams that feed into them and they all run through some really heavily wooded areas, deep in the boondocks here beyond my accessibility. But I really think you have to agree on the beauty of this picture though, don't you agree? This is back in the hills in an area that is frequented mainly by hunters and trout fishermen - people accustomed to trekking in the wilderness and not necessarily a place easily accessed by old ladies who don't know their way around the forests here very well - like me.
The stream shown in the photo on the left here is of Black Bear - the mountain stream that runs sort of "behind" the small village of Winburne about five miles from my home. This stream is the feeder stream from which the majority of folks in the are get our water supply for our homes and most visitors to the area usually think we have some of the best water around. Where this photos was taken of the stream, it's doubtful I can get my Swedish visitors up exactly to this location but I can get them to a crossroads between Winburne and Black Moshannon State Park where they can see the stream - a little bit wider at that spot than it is in this photo. This stream is also known for being a great place for trout fishermen to try their luck too in this area.
The photo to the right is of Winburne, where the railroad tracks used to cross the highway and near where the old train station used to be in that village. This old train station, along with one that used to exist many, many years ago up in the mountains of Peale - the ghost coal mining town - were points of disembarkment for many new immigrants to the vicinity around the turn of the century. There also used to be a trolley that ran between Winburne and Philipsburg too - Philipsburg being the closest town to this area of any size, with a couple of stores still existing there now too.
On the left here, also in Winburne, this is where the railroad trackage used to be as it went between the train station and north of the village towards the coal mines and the old tipple sight in Winburne. This is the intersection of Church Street with Main Street - Church Street is the one veering off to the right. The smallish building you see in the front of this photo is of the old office of what used to be the Winburne Water Company - a now defunct corporation that is part of the Cooper Township Water Authority today.
And finally, on the right, this is just north of Winburne and is of Wells Run - a stream until viewing Jeff's photos today, I didn't even know existed either.
Imagine that! I've lived in this neck of the woods for well over 50 years and this stream is only about four, maybe five miles from my home and yet, I never knew this is its proper name - Wells Run! If I am following Jeff's descriptions properly, this is probably what locals tend to refer to as the "sulfur creek" that runs through Winburne. We have the equivalent to it here in Grassflat, where I live too - what we call the "sulfur creek" here is actually named Moravian Run. It, and the stream through Winburne both were heavily polluted many, many years ago by the old coal mines that brought these towns in to existence in the late 1800's and will probably never carry water again that could be used to support fish or for drinking purposes either. Which is really a shame because when you view them in the light of Jeff's camera lense, it really is a quaint scene, isn't it? Almost calls you to pack a picnic lunch and sit along the banks on a quiet, sunny spring or summer day, doesn't it?
And there you have my very short tour of some of the beauties of this region. How often I have gone by some of these areas for one reason or another and never really looked closely at them, never really saw how pretty these places are, most of the time. When I worked in State College and when I was attending Penn State, I generally drove by the Black Bear stream almost every day but I was usually in too much of a hurry to get over the mountain to work or to classes to really pay close attention to how pretty it is out in the wilderness here.
And now, later this week, I'll try to take my four Swedish visitors to attempt to show them a little glimpse of some locations here that really are quite lovely to behold if one takes the time to look at the beauty of the area for a change.
Perhaps later this week, I'll take you all on a little "look-see" around a bit of what is left of the ghost town of Peale - a place one of the Swedish visitors has expressed a desire to see. From it's birth in 1884 and for maybe a decade, Peale was quite a little boom town until the mines there began to be disbanded and folks moved up the road about a mile or two into Grassflat or were sometimes also transferred to another coal town in Indiana County - adjacent to Clearfield County -to Clymer or Commodore, PA.
One thing I find quite fascinating though about Peale is how many people who immigrated to this area in the late 1800's, and their entire families have left the area completely now for work in the cities of Cleveland, Detroit, Erie, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia -even to Chicago and New York -and so many people then have roots to this tiny area in the hills of central Pennsylvania.
A cousin of my Mom's who lives in the Cleveland suburbs told me a couple years ago about how when he worked for Sears in Cleveland that rarely a day went by that he didn't encounter a customer whose family had migrated to Cleveland from this small section of the state. He said it was like having old home week almost on a daily basis.
There are times I've thought perhaps I made a mistake -after having left this place in the mid-1960's only to return in 1972 - by coming back here because work is not plentiful and what work there is, often is not the caliber that pays very well. But those times when my mind wanders off in that direction usually dissipate quickly as I look around and think of what the area does have to offer. A good place, generally relatively safe by most standards, with its own unique charms and links to the past. I love the fact that many of the people who are my friends, my neighbors, I've known two, even three generations of their families from my childhood to today and I like that - knowing who people are by who their ancestors were, you see. For the most part, it is a friendly community and I appreciate that aspect of this region very much, indeed.
Come visit us here sometime and explore the mountains, the streams, the coal mine ruins today in some parts of the region because there really is a lot to see, to be learned, about the way things once were, how many of our ancestors existed when they first arrived in this country a century ago.
Who knows - maybe you'll decide it looks like a very inviting place to settle, even today.