Here it is folks - October 20th and time for the great unveiling so we can give everyone a little bit of a glimpse into our lives - especially pertaining to the spots surrounding us, or things we tend to see as we glance around.
This idea was started a couple weeks ago by Gene Bach - a firefighter out in northern California and author of a really great blog - Turning the Pages of Life. Gene thought this would be something really interesting - and perhaps even a bit educational too - for us to try to showcase our village, town, city and items of interest around each of us.
I live in a small village in central Pennsylvania -in Clearfield County. The name of the place where I live is, in my opinion, a bit misleading - Grassflat -because about the only place that is flat here is maybe down in the valley part of town where my home is located. One thing for sure, there is no way into this place without traveling down some hills! Ok, these hills are also part of the Allegheny mountain chain and, compared to the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas, these are small potatoes. But, even so, in the dead of winter, when the snow flies here, they can be a bit difficult to manipulate a vehicle to get out of town.
The photos to the left here were taken back in March of 1994 - which was really the winter from Hell in central Pennsylvania. We had snowfall, many quite significant accumulations too, from January 2nd of 1994 until the end of March, including a massive blizzard in early March during "Spring Break." Some spring! I don't recall offhand now exactly how many inches of snow fell during this blizzard, but that winter of 1993-94, this area had an overall accumulation of 114 inches of snow! Now, compared to some other areas, I agree, this is small potatoes, but for this area, it was a major thing! In all the years I've lived here, we've had three snowstorms that qualified as "Blizzards" - one in March of 1993, this one in March of 1994 and the third one was, I believe, in January of 1996. The two pictures in the middle -showing the small ranch house - those "bumps" in the front yard were actually of my next-door neighbor's car, which was totally covered. The other photos are of the street directly in front of my house - after the road had been found and plowed.
The photo to the right here was taken a little more recently - like last February - and it shows my little Princess, Maya, playing in front of our house in the snow. The snowfall that time was a bit more in line with what we normally receive here - probably about 8 to 10 inches of the white fluffy stuff. This was the very first time Maya had been able to go outside and actually "play" in the snow and she loved it - absolutely loved it. However, I am no longer the "snowbunny" type I once was -oh about 50 years or so ago -and this was still more snow than I really appreciated receiving.
This picture -obviously taken in the summertime because it is all green and shows the gentle hills here, was taken atop an old coal mine tipple that sits on the hillside about a half-mile from my home. This is a view of the lower end of the village where I live and those little white specs almost in the middle of the photo are of my house and the houses directly surrounding my place. Ok, so it doesn't show MY HOUSE specifically, I chose the photo because I think it is such a pretty shot of the area and the fullness of all the trees around the town.
The picture here -to the right -is of one of the more historic elements around where I live. There is a ghost coal mining town about 1-2 miles down the road from my home and this is the railroad tunnel atop the mountain in the once bustling little town of Peale, PA. The town of Peale was built by the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company (CBC) back around 1883-1884 and when the town was ready to be populated and the mines there worked, the coal company moved people from another coal town about 90-100 miles from here in Lycoming County over a weekend in October of 1884. This was most likely one of the views those early settlers saw as they moved here from McIntyre. My great-grandparents and six of their children were among those who made that trip and relocated to Peale at that time.
This stream is called the Red Moshannon Creek and it runs through the mountains here, below where the Peale Tunnel in the above photo is located. This stream is red in color from drainage from the old mines that operated in that area 100 to 120 some years ago, well before any EPA requirements were in place.
Every year, for over 40 years now, there is a big canoe/kayak race that takes place the last Saturday of March and the racers put in at this location. It's become a very well known race and frequently competitors come here from places I think as far west now as the Mississippi River. The race is a seven mile course and ends at a bridge along Rte 53 between the villages of Moshannon and Drifting and can be a really hazardous run too if the weather and water aren't totally cooperative.
And here, to the right, is a view of the Black Moshannon Creek, a great trout fishing stream that runs through the mountains here and it is where this stream and the Red Moshannon (above) join at the foot of the mountain near here that the canoe race ends. There used to be an old iron bridge that spanned the place where the two creeks come together but it was replaced about two-three years ago with a new concrete structure and now, it's very difficult to get some really nice pictures of where the two streams come together.
This is a glimpse of something my son and son-in-law like to do whenever they can - winter baja stuff with their volkswagon bugs! This, taken atop the mountain in Peale (above the tunnel) is my son's little bug which he dearly loves to take it out and get it all muddied up and see how much action and traction he and his brother-in-law can get with these vehicles on the old dirt roads surrounding the area. Frankly, I don't begin to understand why you would go to all the trouble of rebuilding such a cute little car and then, go run it into mud holes, slopping it all up and possibly even ruining it too. The only difference as you know between men and boys would be the size and price of their toys. Guess this shows that to be the truth, doesn't it?
And this is my son-in-law during one of his most favorite times of the year - late November, early December when it is deer season. For those of you who don't like this type of activity, I do apologize but around these hills, this is the norm. My son-in-law does not hunt these purely for the sport or the antlers but rather for the meat which he adeptly cuts up and it serves to stock our freezer then usually for several months when he is fortunate enough to get a nice buck or a doe. Although my older daughter professes to not like venison, she has had it served to her here on many occasions, went back for second helpings of it too and never knew the difference! It really is a healthy alternative to beef as venison is much less fatty - also pretty doggone good too!
This is the main road, Route 53, that goes by (not through) the little village of Grassflat. This picture is taken on the northern side of the town at the entrance by Jim and Charmaine's Restaurant - one of the places I mention frequently in various posts on my blog. To the left, by the trees along the road is the Marquee for the restaurant which was demolished a week ago yesterday when a drunk driver coming down the slight hill there ran off the road and hit the marquee as well as a telephone/power pole there and plunged the entire town into total darkness for 11 long hours last Thursday night at 12:55 a.m. To the right, just beyond the sign to Grassflat is where the local funeral home is located. The driver of the vehicle last week was just lucky in that he escaped with no injuries whatsoever. Wonder if he was thinking when he crashed that he was pretty doggone close to where he might have been laid out if the circumstances had been a lot more unfortunate for him?
Interstate 80 - one of the "coast-to-coast" highways in the U.S. - runs through our area within about 5-6 miles from my house. This bridge is of what is known as the Viaduct Bridge on I-80 - one of the highest and longest of the interstate bridges in Pennsylvania. The stream it is crossing over here is the Red Moshannon creek -a couple of miles above where the "Red Mo" canoe/kayak races take place every year. There is also an old railroad bridge that spans the creek at this location and the interstate bridges cross over that bridge as well.
And here is the railroad bridge built in the mid-to-late 1880's as part of the Beech Creek Railroad line. This bridge, just below the above interstate bridges is, if I remember my statistics, roughly a quarter of a mile long and about 155-160 feet high. It hasn't been used for many years now but it is one of the things that is a big part of the history of the area where I live. Just beyond the mountain in the distance on this picture is the little village of Lanse, PA and adjacent to it, is the village where I live - probably about 4-5 miles (as the crow flies) from where this bridge span is located. I love the coloring of the trees in this shot especially!
This is a view I see everyday from where I sit at my computer -with the exception of the young lady seated at the counter that is! The young lady at the table is my "baby" daughter, Mandy and the other good looker is my niece, Angie. This is looking out towards my kitchen, through the dining room of the house and was taken when Angie, her husband and their two children were here on the Fourth of July. Although my kids have several cousins on their Dad's side (no first cousins on my side since I am an only child), this niece, her brother and sister as well as their two half-sisters and half-brother are the only first cousins my kids have that they actually know! That, to me, is just terribly sad. But their other cousins either live in Illinois or one in Georgia and they've never had the opportunity to meet them.
This is my final picture in this edition of "The View From My Window" and this is what I often have behind my back as I sit at the olde computer here and blog away. The little girl on the left is my great-niece, Lizzie - daughter of my niece, Angie, in the above photo and that, of course, is my little Princess Maya on the right. Maya and Lizzie were born four days apart so they generally play together relatively well -as well as any two four-year-olds will play together anyway!
I have to confess now too that not all of these photos were taken by me. All the photos taken of the mountains, the streams, the ghost town, were taken by a very good friend of mine - Jeff Feldmeier, from Allen Park, Michigan. Jeff grew up in Michigan but has family that still lives in this area and he is very interested in the local history, the geography of the area too. As such, he probably knows more about these hills that do many of us who have lived here all our lives.
This area used to be very productive - coal mines, railroading, lumbering - and now, while there is still some activity in those industries here, it is but a shell of what it used to be.
My home town, when I was growing up, had two general stores, a restaurant, movie theatre and three places that were "watering holes" - the Moose, Johnny's Bar and the Jednota Club. We also at that time had four churches within the village as well as two churches right on the outskirts too. Today, we still have the Moose, the bar is now called "Cooper's" and there is one church left. The stores have been gone for about 20-30 years now. We had a post office too when I was a youngun and we no longer have that either. It was replaced in 1994 with "cluster boxes" which in essence is just rural delivery but to one of three clusters of mail boxes strategically placed within the town. The nice thing about that is you can pick up your mail anytime -day or night. The drawback is that if you need stamps, you do it via leaving either an envelope in your mail box one day for the carrier to pick up and return it the next day with your stamps or you have to drive to one of the adjacent villages to the post office in those towns. The other thing that is missing with no post office is that the town lost much of its social fabric when the post office was removed. It used to be the place for people to gather and converse - or gossip -exchange information as to who was sick, getting married, having problems - you name it, the people relied on that for a means of communication and it drew folks together.
And I do miss that - a lot - today.