Friday, March 28, 2008


Boy, I've lost track of time this week and forgot until tonight that I had intended to do a post sometime this week about THE BIG EVENT of the year here.

That being, none other than the RED MO White Water Canoe/Kayak Race! And tomorrow, Saturday, March 28th is the day it will happen!

Getting a comment tonight from a young man, local to this area, on a post I did a year ago about this race is what opened my eyes and made me sit up and think -OMG -I'd almost let it slide by completely.

I shouldn't have forgotten as this week especially and actually over the past two-three weeks, I've been seeing on my sitemeter a whole lot of folks looking for information about the RED MO race. Not that I have tons of new information about it, cause I don't. As a matter of fact, I don't recall seeing anything in the lovely local newspaper -The Clearfield Progress -nor did I see anything online in the CDT (Centre Daily Times) about the race either. But as I had stated in my post last year (see here), my opinion about local-type coverage in EITHER of those papers hasn't changed over the past year.

But I can't let the opportunity to tout my home area a bit go by unnoticed now can I? This race garners participants who come from I think as far west as Missouri and Iowa -definitely from Michigan and Ohio, lots of folks from Pennsylvania, certainly, but also Maryland, New York and well, who knows how far off they might just show up from this year? I don't know all that much about the race -what it's like to run those rapids for example -just that it is a seven-mile course on the Red Moshannon, beginning at the big bridge in Peale, Pa -the ghost town here -and ending at the bridge at the foot of Cooper Mountain on Route 53, between Drifting and Moshannon, PA. Depending on weather conditions both in the weeks prior to the race, as well as on race day itself, it can be a fairly nice, sometimes "smoothish" run (I've been told that by some folks who have run it) or it can be hell on wheels too if the weather is really trashy and the water might be very high, wilder than the normal then, ya know. But regardless of that, a very good friend of mine, who has run the race for many years -even offered to take me on a canoe run down the Red MO (not on race day though) just so I could see the sights along the route for myself -has said about it, the scenery is awesome. But, because when a nice canoe trip on a warm summer day down the Red Mo isn't likely to happen since it is generally too low during the summer months to make a run on it in a canoe -wading it for seven miles might have some potential, if one had the stamina for doing that I suppose -and also because I have enough physical problems as it is now with my back, my legs, etc., I politely thanked him for his thoughtful offer and said maybe in my next life, with joints that all function easily I would consider that idea.

So tonight, I'm gonna sort of give you a little view of some sights you might see as you travel through here -past my house -enroute to the bridge to "put in" for the mighty Red Mo race tomorrow. (Just please don't speed past here though -we do have a few small children, as well as pets that occasionally might be outside, plus I really don't relish the thought of someone hauling canoes/kayaks on their vehicles or behind them, losing control and any of that stuff landing against our parked vehicles or even worse, coming undone and rolling -or flying -into my house -or those of any of my neighbors either, for that matter!)

Depending on which road you use to come down to Grassflat and then, on down to Peale, you might pass this little restaurant/bar along the way. The is "Jim and Charmaine's" -and yes, my regular readers have often heard me mention going up there for lunch or just for coffee at times, to be able to sit and b.s. and visit with Charmaine, Shirley or Charmaine's sisters -Jeanne and Annie or even their mother, my good friend -Helen Ann -commonly referred to by my kids and me as "Aunt Helen Ann."

If you made the turn into Grassflat by Jim and Charmaine's then here's two places you will definitely pass by on the way to Peale!

The first picture here is of the Grassflat Moose. Once upon a time -oh a hundred years or so back in time -this place was a hotel here in town. Hard to believe we actually ever had anything along those lines here, but we did. (When I was a kid, we even had to general stores operating here as well -even then!)
You'll also pass this place - Cooper's Bar and Grill - located almost directly across the street from the Moose building. I don't know how long that this building has been a bar/tavern -been that all my life -and I know apparently in the 30's, maybe early 40's, it was a bar owned then by the couple who used to live next door to our house back then.

A little farther down the road, after you go through the four-way intersection in the middle of the village, this is a view of the street just before you pass my house. This is the lower end of town -the view of the area called "West Clymer" (even though it is on the eastern end of town -go figure, I know.) It's a pretty little quiet street -normally -except on the last Saturday in March when the traffic here gets really hectic with the canoe/kayakers driving past on their way to the Red Mo. Along this street, you will pass by seven houses that back at the turn of the century, until about 1905 or so, were inhabited by either my great-grandparents, siblings of theirs or children of theirs as well as one family who were cousins of my great-grandfather too! A lot of Swedes in town on this end anyway then!

As you pass my house, you might even see my son-in-law, leaning on one of the vehicles parked out front of our place. Our parking area sometimes gives the aura of being a used car lot -or even has the makings at times to be a junkyard too, depending on how many vehicles my son-in-law might be either working on fixing or that he has collected and is stripping of good, usable parts!
Behind that parking area, look close -you'll see my house there. Look even closer and you might see one or both of the cats in the front window, or even Maya watching the traffic as it whizzes past our place. You can be sure she'll be asking this question about the cars and boats -"What is it?"
This is something you will no longer see on the drive to the bridge though. This was the last house in Peale until about 18 months ago when some "genius" -an arsonist -set fire to the place and by the time the fire was discovered, the house had already burned completely to the ground -thus effectively destroying the last real trace of a life that once existed in the old village of Peale. What ever would possess someone to deliberately wipe out a piece of history like that is absolutely beyond my comprehension! What joy does that bring to anyone, ya know?

You won't see this from the road, but you will pass the little tram path that leads back into the forest to where the Peale cemetery is located. Of all the graves there, only one has a marker still standing -a memorial to Martha Renfrew who died I believe in 1887 or 1889 -something like that. Come back sometime in the spring or summer, and take a walk back into the woods and see a little more of the history of this once bustling town. Near where the cemetery is, there also used to be a baseball field -well used, much enjoyed, by the residents of a time long since passed.

AH, You've arrived! You're at the bridge!

Yep -here's the Peale bridge over the Red Moshannon Creek! The view here is looking upstream from the bridge -towards Viaduct and Winburne, etc. But it's a pretty sight when the weather is right. If race day happens to be rainy -or even blizzard-like conditions (that's happened before, ya know,) I don't know how pretty one might find this view under those circumstances though.

Look around at the people milling about there and you might see the guy on the left here -that's my neighbors' son - Howie Pillot -and the pretty young lady is his daughter, Anna. Howie's run this race for many years now as well as having canoed I think from Philipsburg down the Red Mo clear to the bridge at the foot of the mountain. A nicer guy you couldn't meet either!

Here's Howie and Anna (his daughter) several years ago as they ran the Red Mo race as a father/daughter pair. I don't know if this was a race they won that particular year but I do know they have won the race, running in that category on at least one, probably a couple times for that matter. The odds that you might possibly see and meet Howie -usually are pretty good on race day that he'll be there -most likely with his son, Carl, racing with him now though. Anna's in college now -geez, the way time flies, she might even have graduated college by now! I'm getting really old -fast!

Here's another view of the Red Mo from the Peale bridge. This is looking downstream -towards the rapids ahead and the Moshannon bridge where the Red Moshannon converges with the Black Moshannon Creek. Shortly after the two streams come together at the foot of Cooper Mountain, the stream then dumps into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. (That would be the photo you see at the very top right hand corner of my blog, ya know. Just telling ya'll, so you know!)

This is also something you WON'T see on your way to the bridge -you'll have to come back another time to visit Peale to see this. But if you were to cross the bridge and drive up the really steep, very rutted road, known here as Tunnelside Hill Road, as you near the top, you will see the remains of railroad trackage. Park your car, and walk down along the track about a half mile perhaps -heading east -and you'll come to this sight - the Peale Railroad Tunnel. It really is quite an awesome sight to behold -and a very pretty walk with a great overview of the forest around there too.

This sight is one you will pass as you are coming down the Red Mo, almost to the end of the race at the Moshannon Bridge! The shot is taken from the bridge, looking upstream, so if you're running the race, you'll of course, see this from a reverse angle. If you're at the bridge, waiting for the competitors to arrive, this might be the view you would see then from there as they finish up the race. Just to the left on the picture, is the Black Moshannon creek, barely visible, but this is where the two streams come together and reform as one - the Moshannon Creek.

Here's the way the bridge looks these days as you look west on Route 53 -that's Cooper mountain the road is just starting to climb there as soon as you cross over that bridge. Until just a few years ago, the bridge across the creek here was an old iron bridge and most people in this region referred to it simply as that -"the iron bridge" and usually everyone knew you meant the one across the Moshannon creeks between Drifting and Moshannon. That bridge had so much more character and yes, beauty to it than this one does! The personality is now gone with the death of that old bridge. Too bad that they don't construct bridges that way any more, isn't it?

Here now is the end of my little tour -as well as the end of the Red Mo White Water Canoe/Kayak race, if you've been running it. This is the water below the Moshannon bridge -after the two Moshannon creeks -the Red Mo and the Black Mo -have joined up and this is just above where the stream will join into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

To me, this is some of the most beautiful countryside on this part of our big, beautiful planet. Of course, I do concede to the fact I am very partial, biased, yes -prejudiced -here in my opinion of this. But if you don't believe me, come out and visit and see it for yourself. It is really a beautiful sight to behold!

Good luck to all you canoers and kayakers as you tackle the always daunting run on the mighty Red Mo in the ghost town of Peale, PA later this morning! And, I promise too, I will keep an eye out in the local papers for the race results - hopefully, they will be published in one of the two crackerjack news reporting services available here!


Skittles said...

Hey Jeni,

Thanks for the lovely tour! :) We've spoken on the phone, I have directions how to get there.. and now I get a chance to see it!

Funny. Mike is on vacation for a week now and we had seriously considered coming to see you. We just balanced the checkbook though and it looks like we'll be staying close to home.

Minnesotablue said...

The scenery is beautiful. No wonder you love living there.

SnoopMurph said...

I love the tour-you should consider writing a little history of your hometown for publishing if you haven't already.

Next time I am on the East Coast in PA, I am looking you up!

Travis said...

The photographs are wonderful. And I agree that the area is scenic and charming.

I'll bet the water in that river is cold this time of year.

It's a shame about that house being burned.

Sandi McBride said...

Oh that was invigorating...particapating in a race without leaving my chair! Lovely

Paula said...

Thanks for the little tour ~ I loved it! We are white water rafters and I've decided that I NEED a canoe as well. You never know, maybe I'll bring my little boat and run your race one of these years. Sounds like a hoot!!