Sunday, August 20, 2017

2017-22 Emporium Pennsylvania


Sizerville Pennsylvania
Emporium Pennsylvania
Port Allegheny

Campground: Sizerville State park. 50 amp electric. Water close to site. Heavily forested, campsites are nicely paved with mix of grassy sites and trees scattered around the campground and picnic area. Seasonal swimming pool. No cell phone service, no internet, no Tv signal.

Sizerville St Pk, Electric only, though I got a site next to a water spigot

Distance Traveled: 79 miles

Time to move on after spending a pleasant two weeks in the Tioga Pa area. The drive across hwy 6, the northern route across Pennsylvania was uneventful, I didn't stop at the Pa Lumber Museum, but would have had time to do so. Traveling through a small community called Sweden Valley and then heading south into the Susquehannock State Forest. My ever faithful Google maps directed me as I half expected along more rural routes, as there aren't many major roads through this mountainous country. I ended up on narrower and narrower country roads with small cabins tucked deep in the surrounding forest. Finally driving two miles along a dirt road before coming back out to civilization somewhere around Keating Summit onto hwy 155, along with resurfacing the road, half of a bridge was being rebuilt directly in front of the entrance to the state park. Perhaps not as uneventful as the day started out.

lots of bridges being rebuilt in region
this one was next to the Sizerville St Pk entrance

Note; saw numerous bridges closed/being rebuilt and lots of State roads being repaved. Must have had some serious flooding in the region in the past year or so....

It felt good to get to my campsite and back onto a modern, nicely paved campsite, surrounded by grass and trees nicely spaced so as not to be hanging over the camper. The bad news, no internet (occasionally one bar), no cell phone and no Tv or radio signals. I'm really in the wilderness.

The closest town is Emporium, six miles away. I will investigate it this week, though can't imagine how a small town like this ever came to exist in such wilderness. Already unhappy that they have parking meters throughout town. Something I think is a disservice to the visitor and to the owners of shops. Though the fee for one hours parking is only 10 cents and two hours is a quarter. A very reasonable fee for parking. About a block south of the main street are free parking spots.

The old Sylvania Building
home of the original radio tube manufacturing
and lightbulbs

was hoping to get a tour inside the old
factory, but it wasn't in the cards

Some notes on Emporium:

Lady Justice, with eyes
wide open

  • Lady Justice now sits in a corner of the Courthouse bldg where she once stood atop the clock tower. She is one of only 6 known Lady Justices with her eyes wide open, not wearing a blind fold. So if you are traveling through Emporium, be aware, Lady Justice can see and judge what you are doing...
  • The dynamite used in the building of the Panama Canal was manufactured here.
  • Sylvania and the introduction of radio tubes had its start in Emporium and of course light bulbs. During WWII the town was known as “Girls Town” because Sylvania and other businesses were run by women. Sylvania left the area in the 1960's.
  • One of the few remaining businesses are two lumber yards that manufacture frames for furniture. Unfortunately the Chinese have over recent years been able to produce cheaper frames using composite materials. Only the Amish currently purchase real wood for their products.
  • Due to the low filing fees for divorce and the number of uncontested divorce filings, Emporium is considered the “divorce capitol” of Pennsylvania.

I must say I've enjoyed reading some interesting books as if my own travel adventures aren't enough. The most recent books have taken me to Maine which of course I was visiting at the time, The southwest a thousand years ago when the Anastasi populated the cliff dwellings and my most recent book, Love Potion Number 10 by Betsy Woodman took me on a journey to India in the 1960's. A delightful book with endearing characters.

I've also got a backup of Dvd's for times like this when I have no communication signals and I have to chuckle thinking of a time when my good friend Patrick and I would watch videos each week. He would usually pick them, but occasionally I would get one. Patrick would howl at how bad the movie was. I remember one movie that I had selected was about a Russian water polo team.... it really was a bad film.

Elk Country Visitor Center/ Benezette Pennsylvania

numerous blinds to view elk in the area

Well it's time for a little touring so I'm heading out to do a loop tour along the Elk Scenic Drive. Numerous maps, brochures and Elk State Forest maps all tout the story of Elk being re-introduced to Pennsylvania. At one time before the “white man” arrived, it is believed that there were over 100,000 elk in this region. Having been wiped out by the European settlers, along with eliminating the river otter, beaver, mountain lion, fisher, Osprey and falcon. We have not been good stewards of this land. Coal mining destroyed fishing along the rivers in this area and the forests were all cut down.

Thanks to conservationists who began to realize the devastation that had taken place, a turning point took place around 1913 when the beaver (a pair of them) were brought over from Wisconsin. Later, the elk would arrive (starting with around 50) from the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area. The CCC's replanted trees and after the hunters organized and developed a plan to help the elk survive things are back on track. Well, with about 1,000 elk now living and surviving in Pennsylvania along with the usual hunting season taking place to keep the elk population at sustainable levels that is.

I think the elk are pretty smart because I sure didn't see any of them out and about. It may be the time of season, who knows. I was up pretty early and drove to numerous viewing areas. Pretty scenery, but no elk to be seen. The main visitor center is having a huge weekend extravaganza. With vendors, food, local crafts for sale, presentations on the elk of course, but don't expect with all those hordes of people and cars to see an of the famous elk. I don't think I'll be attending....

Oh I did see 4 white tailed deer as they gracefully ran across the road in front of me, climbing up a hillside in perfect formation. Relatively small deer but a joy to see. I'll wait till I get back out west to see the elk and buffalo and other big game animals in natural settings, or maybe even another trip through Alberta Canada where I saw lots of elk, bear, and moose.

Lynn Hall in Port Allegheny

Lynn Hall, under renovations

To me, this was the trifecta of touring experiences. Architecture, restoration in progress, personal tour by the owners/renovators. I couldn't ask for more. The builder/designer of Lynn Hall was Walter Hall who began building the structure in the 1930's. At the time, this was a fairly wealthy region. Walter designed in the Organic Architecture style, which would later be called the Prairie Style by Frank Lloyd Wright. And that's where the connection becomes so interesting. Wright designed the famous “Falling Water” Home but the owners were having second thoughts about building. The son of the owners of Falling waters happened to travel north through Port Allegheny where he first saw Lynn Hall. He knew the builder of it had to build Falling Water. And that's how Walter Hall became the contractor, along with his select workers ended up constructing Falling Waters. Frank Lloyd Wright visited Lynn Hall and one can see similarities in both designs. Of course Lynn Hall was designed and constructed by Walter before Falling Water was started. Although not an architect, he sure captured the Organic architecture style.

The new owners of Lynn Hall were kind enough to stop construction on their building efforts to give me a tour of the once grand residence/restaurant/dance hall. Any student of architecture would enjoy seeing the original plans, the current state of the building and the restoration efforts I was able to see.

the guest house, currently the owners using
will become a Air-B&B 

view of guest house overlooking main building

The horizontal lines, placement of long expanses of windows, built-ins and fireplaces, even a natural spring that once fed various water features inside and outside the house. All gradually went into deterioration over a 35 year period after the place closed in the 1950's. In recent years, two sets of owners have undertaken the restoration process. The current owners, two guys from Florida, have begun hopefully the final phase of reconstruction. Having put in 6 months of work installing a new roof and heating throughout. They should be in fine shape to complete inside projects well into the winter months. And with luck, it will be open to the public next year/Spring?

various shots of Lynn Hall

all new heating installed

so much work to be done on interior 
pictures of work crew used on Falling Water site

Walter Halls work crew at Falling Water

restoration project, in progress

Corning glass blocks used throughout

an experimental Corning Glass panel used in Lynn Hall

thanks guys for a great tour

future views from new bedroom project

future bedroom project, second floor

flooring got damaged in the ballroom
before new roofing completed... will become private living quarters

all new radiant heating installed

once the main ball room, dancing

an on-sight spring once fed this water feature 

great lines on building

already planting and redesign of outdoor water features

main entrance to the original dining room, ball room
hotel section was never completed

this was my kind of exploring and discovery

Needless to say, this was a fun week for me. Thanks to a great Visitor Center Experience back in Tioga Pennsylvania for directing me to Lynn Hall and many other great places to explore in Pennsylvania.

More photos:

Emporium and surrounding area

Lynn Hall photos

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017-21 Tioga Pennsylvania and Watkins Glen New York


Hammon Lake,Ives Run Campground

Tioga Pennsylvania (Part 2)
Watkins Glen New York

Campground: Ives Run Recreation area. COE park. (2nd week) (see previous report for more info)

Being only about 15 miles from the New York boarder, I had to drive back into the state to do a bit more touring. First stop was to Corning NY and yes it's where the Corning factory is as well as an awesome glass museum, but I was only in town long enough to have breakfast and pick up a prescription at Walgreen's. And then it was onto Watkins Glen, home of a Nascar racetrack as well as the Watkins Glen State Park where I was about to go on an amazing waterfalls hike through the deep canyon that they call a glen. The town sits at the southern end of Seneca Lake and is one of the finger lakes in New York.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

I paid my $5 entrance fee and entered from the South entrance to the park, though I could have entered right from main street downtown as the glen exits right in town. No I took the more scenic route which I'll tell you right off the bat involved all of the 800+ steps leading down into the gorge and eventually back up along what is called Jacob's ladder, at 180 steps. Along with the mile and a half walk one way, the steps alone gave me my workout for the day. Though I hardly noticed the steps as I encountered one after another of the 19 waterfalls along the gorge trail. Well actually those last 180 steps of Jacob's ladder just about did me in.

The layers of slate rock forms the most distinctive vertical walls creating the canyon effect along the trail that leads one to each of the waterfalls and gentle spillways. I was able to view them from above, below, from behind the waterfalls and even through them. With multiple stairways, tunnels and cavern like walkways opening up to one after another better views than the last one. What a fun and unexpected treat.

I might mention that the day I went was the Monday after the big Nascar races and their was a steady stream of Rv's exiting the area. Just about every other vehicle was a travel trailer, motor home or 5th wheel camper. Policemen directing traffic throughout town and roads exiting the area. They tell me the Rv-ers pay up to $800 for the long weekend to be at the racetrack. Soooo glad I wasn't a part of that group.

19 waterfalls
the beginning of my tour, after descending about 50 steps 

deep gorges to walk through

800+ steps, well worth the effort

each view better than the previous one

tunnels and cave like entrances to explore

a mile and a half of wonderful waterfalls

and great trails through caverns

and those steps leading to more waterfalls and gorge views

one of my favorite spots

the tree shows how high the water often gets in the spring runnoff

walking under one of the falls

dramatic views from below and from across the bridge

a curtain of water 

the gorge was as stunning as the waterfalls in it

what a great way to spend a morning

RV Solar Panel Update. As you know from my previous report, I'm spending two weeks at a COE campground and my campsite has no hookups. With that said, my solar panels are working out perfectly and the weather is awesome being only in the mild 78-80 degree range during the days and cool evenings making for great sleeping weather. The batteries charge up quickly in the morning and I'm able to use everything except the microwave as I don't want to damage it since it uses so much power to operate. Coffee pot, TV, Roku, radio, charging all my electronic devices, lights, furnace to take the chill out of the air in the mornings. And of course it's nice to be able to have all the windows open during the day to catch those refreshing breezes off of the lake. Couldn't be more pleased with their operation. And fortunately I have not been parked next to any of the other campers who are using noisy generators throughout the day. Life is good “off the grid”.

Needless to say I've enjoyed my two week stay here in Tioga Pennsylvania, meeting a few fellow campers. Learning about their future plans for more camping. Doing little projects around the camper to as well as just relaxing, reading a good book and taking that all important afternoon siesta.

I'd like to thank all those who have kept in contact with me this summer. You can't imagine how nice it is to hear from you as I travel around the country. I feel so much closer to you my friends, fellow travelers and of course all important relatives, whenever you have the chance to drop me a line. And I hope you realize that when I'm writing my blog reports, I often think of each and every one of you as I always feel you are a part of my journey.

Have a super great day,,,,, till the next report

More photos: