I started out the day at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The gorge is nearly one mile across and 800 feet deep. Unfortunately, I got there a week too late to enjoy the fall foliage of the surrounding tree covered hills. I had thought I would make it in time, as when I used to show at the horse finals in Harrisburg during the 3rd week of October the trees were always glorious. Oh well, I suspect all the storms were a bit too battering this year. The dogs and I took a half mile stroll along the easy trail instead of venturing down the trail to the bottom of the gorge and then headed to our next destination, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.
I figured I probably wouldn’t end up at a Lumber Museum again in my lifetime, so it would be something different to check out. With only a few exhibits indoors, the majority of the features were outdoor buildings depicting the lumber industry in the early 1900s. The village included an engine house, loader shed, locomotive and log cars, a horse barn, a filer’s shack, a blacksmith shop, a laundry shed, a bunk house with a mess hall and kitchen, and a sawmill.
The locomotive was a Shay which became very popular as its design enabled the train to maneuver around sharp turns and climb steep grades. At 70 tons, with its vertical cylinders and flexible drive shaft, the engine had the power to pull approximately 22 log cars.
As opposed to loading log cars by hand which was slow and tedious, bigger operations, like the village I visited, used steam-powered log loaders. The log loader used a rotating cab, a stationary boom, and tongs hooked to the end of a pulley and cable system to lift and swing the logs onto the flat train car.
The circular saw, steam powered mills ranged in size from small to large employing anywhere from 2 to 3 men up to hundreds. The mill I visited was of medium size and was capable of producing 12 to 15 thousand board feet of lumber daily. Logs were moved from the pond to the log deck, “dogged” to the carriage, sawed by the circular head saw, and then trimmed on the edger and tail saw before being stored.
In addition to the logging village, the museum had on display a C.C.C. cabin. In 1933, President Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps to help alleviate unemployment caused by the great depression. From 1933-1942, young men were hired to plant trees, construct forest roads and trails, and to improve the nation’s natural resources. Ten C.C.C. camps were established in the Pennsylvania area. One cabin was relocated to the museum site in order to preserve a part of history.
The museum also had a mile long nature trail that I didn’t walk, but I saw a geocaching sign posted in the visitor’s center advertising an event to promote both geocaching and use of the sustainable forestry trail.
Scout, Petey, and I continued on to Kinzua Bridge State Park to see the tallest railroad bridge in the world, at 301 feet, when it was erected in 1882. It was rebuilt with steel in 1900. To tell you how dated my Reader’s Digest book is, the print suggests that I take a scenic ride along the viaduct. Due to rust and dangerous conditions; however, the bridge was closed in 2002 before a tornado demolished half of it in 2003. Given the worksite nearby, it appears the bridge is being reconstructed. The area was still very neat to see, and we took a hike in the leafless forest of trees nearby.
My final stop for the evening before taking a two hour drive to get close to my next scenic tour starting location was at the Bullpen in Warren. I decided it was time for a local meal instead of Subway, McDonald’s, Walmart or other snacks. I clicked “Points of Interest” and “Food” on my GPS, and of the five options appearing on the first screen I liked the name “The Bullpen” the best. I followed the directions for a mile that took me out of the main town to a neighborhood. Great, I thought, the address listed for the restaurant is the owner’s home…not so, the pub, in a gray, wooden house was located smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood with houses on all sides.
I wouldn’t have even noticed it if it weren’t for the neon beer sign in the window. It hardly looked open, but the locals certainly knew about it. The bar offered a variety of food. I went with the wings and fried pickles, both delicious. I sat at the bar, talked to Wendy and Joe, and mostly just soaked in the local atmosphere. Most of the patrons buy a mug for $5 which hangs from the wall or ceiling and it is theirs to use each time they visit. Joe has had his mug for 24 years! It would have been fun to watch the baseball game there, but I was pretty far away from my final destination for the evening, so I paid the tab and wound around the dark back roads to my next Walmart.
websites: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/kinzuabridge.aspx, www.lumbermuseum.org, www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards