Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category

Archbald Pothole

Posted by Stu On January - 24 - 2012

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Now that’s a deep hole.  This is allegedly the largest pothole in the world, though I haven’t seen anything official confirming this.  The pothole was found accidentally in 1884 when miners were blasting underground.  The pothole was cleared out and was initially a privately owned tourist attraction.  It’s now a state park and free of admission.  Visitors are fewer in number, as it seems looking down a large hole has lost its appeal.  It is interesting for a few seconds, but I found myself thinking, “Next!”

The top of the pothole is fenced off but has a small observation deck going part of the way over it.  I was annoyed to see garbage at the bottom of it, but that’s to be expected I guess.  Even though I visited in the middle of May, there was still some snow and ice at the bottom.

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Archbald Pothole is just off US-6 BUS in Archbald.

Popularity: 11% [?]

Sheppton Mine Disaster Site

Posted by Stu On January - 24 - 2012

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In August of 1963, three miners were stuck 330 feet below the ground when the Sheppton mine caved in.  Two of the miners stuck together and waited two weeks for rescue, initially eating tree bark and sucking water out of the bark for survival.  Within a week, holes were drilled to them that allowed air, food, water, and the beginnings of a rescue.  One miner, Louis Bova, was never seen again, despite making contact with his two coworkers, and his body was never recovered.

I first heard about the Sheppton mine disaster from a principal in a nearby school where I was doing some observation hours.  I was told a memorial could be found along a main road in Sheppton.  It surprised me that I had never heard of this mine disaster before, and it was more confusing that there was little information regarding its location.  I was determined to find it on my own, so one day in May 2011 I decided to make a small trip out of it; in addition I decided to check out and geocache in a few surrounding towns I had never been to before:  Sheppton, Oneida, and Brandonville.

Sheppton and Oneida are right next to each other, and each is just a few blocks long; the mine site was between the two towns.  I drove around and found no roadside monuments.  Sheppton actually reminded me of Children of the Corn, to be honest; most of the buildings on the main street are vacant, and I saw nothing but groups of kids walking around.  Down one road, however, I saw the following sign, and I figured that was a good starting point:

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I parked near this sign and simply started roaming the field behind it.  For a little while there was a path, but it served little good since it went right into a pond:

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I walked across a rocky stream because I thought I saw another trail to my side:

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Following this path a bit, I saw something off in the distance:

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This monument was certainly not just off a main road, but rather a good distance off a back road.  Still found it all by myself.  It’s much more a grave than a memorial for a mine disaster, however.  It’s dedicated to Louis Bova, the miner who could not be found.

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Popularity: 95% [?]

Indian Echo Caverns

Posted by Stu On June - 14 - 2011

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Indian Echo Caverns were the first caverns I ever went to.  I was only 10 or so and the family took a weekend trip to Hershey Park; the caverns are only a few miles away.  Since we were on a cave kick last summer, I decided to revisit Indian Echo to see how it compared to the other ones we went to and also to see if it was as cool as I remembered.  It didn’t disappoint, and out of the 3 caverns we went to last year, Indian Echo was our favorite.

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Indian Echo is significantly larger than other nearby commercialized caves.  As such, the tour is a bit longer, and it just feels like it’s much more worth the admission fee.  There are several rooms you tour.  As with all cave tours I’ve taken, the guide points out formations and what they supposedly look like (i.e., “the ear of corn”).  I also remembered from my childhood visit something about a hermit living in the cave.  This is indeed true, and his “bed” is shown at the end of the tour.  There is also the story of what the Cavern folks call the Mystery Box, a chest of peculiar items allegedly found in the cave by some explorers in 1919.  The box houses such random things as centuries-old coins and an apparent diamond-making kit (it doesn’t work, folks); the box is now displayed in the gift shop.

Despite its name, we were told there is no evidence of “Indians” ever going into the cave.  You can find 200+ year old graffiti inside, however.

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The “Ear of Corn”

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The hermit’s “bed” was this shelf of rock.  He lived in the cave for nearly 2 decades and was found dead in here.

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The Mystery Box.

Popularity: 11% [?]

The Shoe House

Posted by Stu On June - 14 - 2011

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In 1948, Colonel Mahlon M. Haines, the owner of several shoe stores in PA & MD, decided to implement what is likely the ultimate advertising gimmick.  He had a house shaped like a shoe built in Hellam.  The house was actually intended to be used as a vacation getaway for older couples.  Due to the building’s peculiar architecture, however, moving around was quite difficult.

Ownership has changed hands a few times over the years.  Fortunately, the current owners have decided to keep the house open to visitors.  Even more fortunate, they are very nice people.  Looking up information about the house, I saw at least two different sets of hours posted online.  We went on a Monday in August of ’10, and after nearly a 2-hour drive, we were greeted with a CLOSED sign.
Apparently the schedule I decided to abide by was inaccurate.
Outside, however, I saw one of the owners doing some yard work.  I approached him and explained I had driven quite a distance to come to the house and had read it would be open.  I asked for permission to photograph the grounds and he agreed.  He even opened the gift shop for us so I could buy a magnet.  I did not get any pictures of the inside of the house, however.  I wasn’t going to press my luck any further; I already felt like I inconvenienced him enough and wasn’t about to ask for a private tour or anything.
Perhaps I’ll get back someday and take the tour.  I’m pretty curious to see what the inside of the house looks like.

The owner said the house is fairly hard to find because of local advertising ordinances; you’re not going to see any billboards for it.  Just look up Shoe House Road in Hellam, PA.

For the correct schedule of hours and admission fees, go to ShoeHouse.us.

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Popularity: 10% [?]

Hopewell Furnace

Posted by Stu On April - 27 - 2011

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Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site consists of a restored town from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as ruins of a blast furnace.  Iron was produced here from 1771 until 1883.  The work was somewhat dangerous, but the workers generally made decent money and lived good lives.  This, unfortunately, was not the trend with other mining and furnace sites, where workers often worked in poor conditions with very little pay.

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The history of Hopewell Furnace is rather tame.  A park worker told us nothing significant happened here that anyone knows of, nor did anyone famous ever set foot here.  It’s not all that different from other restored towns I’ve been to; it reminded me quite a bit of Allaire and Batsto.  So why make it a national historic site?  The guide said it’s more of a tribute to the common working man of the time.  A place doesn’t need a celebrity or some big historical event to have significance.

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Several of the buildings are still standing and are in very good shape, and most are filled with relics or replicas from the time.  The water wheel still turns.  Some farm animals roam the grounds.  During our visit, a reenactment of using the furnace was taking place.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Lost River Caverns

Posted by Stu On January - 18 - 2011

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Probably the only instance I’ve come across where the gift shop is far more entertaining than the attraction itself.  Lost River Caverns’ gift shop is, for lack of a better word, awesome.  Part of it serves as a mini museum of the most random stuff you can think of, very similar to Space Farms.

Up first we have some scrimshaw:

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Up next we have some guns, angry dead things, and archaeological artifacts completely unrelated to the cavern:

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And then some fossils, at least somewhat related to caves:

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After getting past this unique collection, you head down the stairs to the… WHAT IS THAT?!

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Dinosaurs?  Pirates?  Other random critters?  Oh yeahhhhhhh.

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…oh right.  There’s a cave here supposedly.  We had to wait a bit for the tour to start, so after looking around at all this wacky stuff, I temporarily forgot why I was even there.  We were the only people on this tour, which was nice.  The guide told us the place is called Lost River because, yes, a subterranean river runs through the caverns, and nobody knows where it goes.  Scientists have tried several times to find where, if it even does, reach the surface.  Its source is also unknown.

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Like Howe Caverns, Lost River has an underground chapel.  A number of weddings have taken place here.

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Lost River Caverns is small compared to other caves, but I think it’s still worth a trip.  If you’ve been to other caverns, there’s probably nothing new here for you, but man is that gift shop awesome.

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Popularity: 11% [?]

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