Saturday, September 30, 2017

Port Allegany

This was a town that was part of my winter run throughout the northern central part of Pennsylvania. It was the last town on my drive and I was happy to visit some of the neat buildings and parks in this area. 
Main Street

Port Allegany is located in McKean County close to the New York border and it's population was 2,107 people in 2010. In the pioneering days, this was a travel stop for the settlers along the Allegheny river. The original name was called "Canoe Place" because of the settlers building their canoes here. The first settlers in the area came about from Samuel Stanton who bought a large track of land here and built a cabin. He went back home to Williamsport but died coming back to the area. Some of his family however became the first settlers in the town. The name changed to Keating in the early 1800's but  changed again to Port Allegany in 1840. 
St. Josephs Episcopal Church

House located on Maple Street

Serenity Glass Park

The town became a borough in 1882 and was an important logging town with several hotels and businesses. The population continued to increase by the 1900's and the town had saw mills, butter dish manufacturer, chemical plant, Citizens Gas Company, door and blind company. Port Allegany was also a leader in glass making and had multiple glass manufactures such as the Olean Glass Company, Ball-Foster Glass Container Corporation and the Pittsburgh-Corning Corporation giving the nickname "the glass block capitol of the world". 
Park in the middle of town

Fireside Inn

Map of Port Allegany
Google Earth

Today, Port Allegany has Serenity Glass Park and many historic structures and restaurants throughout. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Berlin in Somerset County

Driving into Somerset County was an experience in itself. The county is a matrix of rolling hills and lots of farmland. There are many Amish families with deep roots in these communities and the county has history dating back to pre-revolutionary times. The abundance of covered bridges is a huge bonus. The small towns were filled with old buildings and some cool history.
Main Street

One of the towns I got to visit was Berlin located along route 219 about 9 miles southeast of Somerset. It's population is over 2,000 people. I met some interesting people here and they showed me some of the history.
Main Street
Christian Evel Log House built in 1789

In the late 1700's the site of Berlin was primarly wooded and most of the valley contained glades of natural wild grass. The first settlers chose this particular area because of the multiple springs throughout. The first settlers were mostly from Berlin, Germany and came to Baltimore after sailing from Europe. However, it is unknown when they actually arrived in the area. Most of this land was owned by farmers. The borough was settled in 1784. In 1796 twenty-five acres was purchased from Joseph Johns for an addition of Berlin, another purchase in 1888 was a section called Vietersburg and later East Liberty.
Pious Spring in the center of town

Heritage Haus Museum

The town also has ties to the Whiskey Rebellion. The Whiskey Rebellion took place during George Washington's presidency and was supposed to help fund the war debt but many of the citizens in the area did not agree with this and started a protest against the new tax. During the rebellion a riot happened at the Berlin Schoolhouse then Robert Philson, who also opposed the tax, took matters into his own hands by raising a liberty pole out front of his store. Troops came in to calm matters and the rebellion was done.
Map of Berlin
Google Earth

Today, Berlin has a celebration each fall for the Whiskey Rebellion.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

For a good cause

I recently visited New Berlin day yesterday in Union  County which is a celebration of the towns history which includes crafts, photography, paintings, food and much more. I also had a chance to visit the original courthouse which is located in the heart of New Berlin. My wife and I were greeted by Logan who is the president of the Berlin Heritage Association. He showed us around the building and informed us of all the cool stuff that was inside the courthouse. 
New Berlin Days

Some cool stuff from inside the courthouse

After the tour we walked around town and I started noticing benefits for Logan. I came back home and researched online what exactly was going on. Logan has cystic fibrosis and diabetes. He is 27 years old and has been suffering with this for most of his life. Logan is also the President of the PA Cystic Fibrosis, Inc where he helps others cope with the disease and helped save a life through a lung transplant. Now he needs a lung transplant because of his declining health and the doctors will not go through with the procedure until he has enough funding. 

Through my observations I have noticed that there are many caring and wonderful people that are trying to raise enough money to help Logan. It shows how a community can come together and help people that are in need. 

I usually do not ask for any money from this site whatsoever but if you would like to donate to Logan for his lung transplant, please do. Any amount would be greatly appreciated for such a good cause.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ashland in Schuylkill County

Ashland is an interesting town to me because it was one of first towns I decided to visit in the anthracite region of PA. Centralia, just north of Ashland, was our main destination that day. Even though Centralia has its' own captivating experiences, the town of Ashland shows what an intact mining town really looks like. The town also has a neat mining museum. Centralia, on the other hand, is mostly empty nowadays. My trip out here a few weeks ago was great because I actually went into the mine and did the train ride. Ashland has a lot to offer for those looking into the history of mining.
Centre Street

According to the Ashland Area Historic Preservation Society, this area in the late 1700's was mostly wilderness and dense forest. In the early 1800's, a road was built from Reading to Sunbury which proved to be problematic considering the mountainous region. The road took over 5 years to build and was called the Centre turnpike. One of the tolls was located in the Ashland area. This road is credited to the start of Ashland. This area has many hills and mountains so the early settlers had a hard time getting around this region. One of the first settlers was named Jacob Rodenberger who really was not well known. However, he was credited for building a cabin which was also a tavern for the travelers from the turnpike.
Walnut Street

The first industry here was lumber. Burd S. Patterson saw this area as a  moneymaker if  there was coal. As luck would have it, the area is literally a gold mine, or "black gold" mine, if you will. Many people thought we was crazy for even having the idea of having a town in an undesirable place. Burd Patterson partnered up with John Penn Brock and James A. Hart to buy 400 acres around the old tavern and bought another few hundred acres from Judge Gordon. It was called the Ashland Estates. Most of the coal in those days was being imported. In the mid 1800's people were hired to find some of the coal veins in Ashland and the town was cleared and laid out. Peter W. Sheafer was responsible for laying out many towns in the region was also responsible for laying out Ashland. Centre Street was named after the turnpike in the area.

The population increased due to the abundance of anthracite coal that was  mined in the area. By the 1850's, the town had about 3,500 people.
  Small train near Pioneer Tunnel

In the late 1800's some of the mining in town ceased operations which made some of the residents leave town to find work elsewhere. This led to the former residents coming back every Labor Day to march in the Ashland Boys' Association Mummers' Parade and led to the creation of the Mothers Memorial Statue in town.
Mothers Memorial Statue

Today, Ashland has the Museum of Anthracite Mining, Pioneer Tunnel, Willow Park, Eureka Park, Mothers Memorial Statue, Ashland Town Clock, Station House and many others. Visiting Ashland is a neat experience, and I'd argue that it's more interesting to visit than Centralia. However, if you're in the area, check both towns out!

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Orviston is the last town along Orviston Monument Road in Centre County and the Beech Creek runs through town. When you arrive in Orviston, the paved road ends but it continues as a gravel road back down the mountain. Orviston's history is rooted in manufacturing bricks.
Back Street
Map of Orviston
Google Earth

There were clay deposits in the area which is why Orviston was established in 1905. It was named after its founder Judge Ellis L. Orvis who was born in Lock Haven in the mid 1800's and was a member of the law firm "Orvis, Bower and Orvis". The towns main industry was the brick plant for many years. Most of the clay was mined locally until the area started to dry up. After this point, most of clay was being imported from the Clearfield area. There were improvements to the brick plant throughout the years and the brick plant also saw the conversion from the steam engines to electric motors. The plant however would shut down in the 1960's and moved to Ohio.
Main Street

Train bridge

Most of the houses in town look similar with a brick pattern from the clay being mined in the area. The town has hardly changed throughout the years.  It has a front street and a back street. Some of its residents never moved out when the plant closed and decided to stay. There was also a memorial dedication in 2012 and every summer there is a festival (usually in July) where people can enjoy some entertainment and food. It proves that no matter what happens when an industry leaves the area, the town will and survive to some extent, although its' former days of glory may be in the past.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Advertising from Madera

Here is some old advertising from the Madera area in Clearfield County.
Source:Alexanders Fording

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bogert House in Ridgway

Ridgway has lots of history and its buildings show multiple styles of architecture throughout. This was one of the first towns I took pictures of and a few buildings got my attention. One building I saw was called the Bogert House.
The Bogert House

In the early years of Ridgway, there were multiple hotels in town and the Bogert was one of them. The other hotels were torn down and the Bogert House survived. Mr. McGeehin and P.F. Bogert owned the hotel in its infancy. Mr. McGeehim actually bought the old Elk County Courthouse, had it towed down the street and incorporated it into the Bogert House which was built in 1906. The old courthouse portion was in the rear of the building where the dining room is located. The hotel was in business for most of the century until 1990 when a fire consumed the building.
Old Elk County Courthouse
Elk County Historical Society

Today, the current status of the Bogert House proves to be quite challenging. According to the, Kim Zimmerman who is the Borough manager stated that the old building should be torn down due to the multiple code violations and how badly the building is rotting away.

According to the same site ( the Ridgway Heritage Council is trying to revive the old building to its former glory as they try to interest investors which was in 2011. The latest news was that the building was for sale.