Friday, May 27, 2021
Temperature Low, 56 Degrees; High, 69 Degrees
Old Covered Wagon Tour
Well the weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse. It is cold, wet and just down right miserable. It is definitely not what we signed up for. I guess the old saying still holds true that being into every life a little rain must fall. But, please someone turn the thermostat up a bit!
So, what have we been up to. First and foremost, we’re spending a lot of time with my sister Cindy, and her husband Charlie. Which is the best part of this trip.
We went over to her house on Wednesday.
We had supper together. Once again she prepared a delicious meal. I again became a member of the clean plate club – which is not hard to do at all with the wonderful meals she prepares. It’s just great getting to spend time with them. I can’t think of anything better than spending time with family.
Thursday morning we did some sightseeing in the area.
It was a beautiful day so we decided to take the Ole Covered Wagon Tour into the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It is also known as The Pine Creek Gorge which begins south of Wellsboro and continues south for 47 miles. It’s deepest point is 1,450 feet and rim to rim at its widest it is 4,000 feet.
The Ole Covered Wagon Tour is a family owned and operated business. They provide a horse drawn covered wagon tour into the gorge. No, they don’t go the entire length just an hour up and of course an hour back.
Our two horsepower team. I’m standing with Doug and Ms. Barbara is standing with Ike. They are Belgian Draft Horses and are 6 years old. They were purchased from an Amish farmer in the area and they will continue to work pulling the wagon until they are about 15 years of age. When they reach that age they will be sold to either the original owner or another Amish farmer who will continue to use them to do light duty work such as pulling a mower or plowing a garden. They are never sent off to the glue factor. The tour has a total of 6 teams of horses that they rotate on a daily basis. In the background holding the reins is the owner of the tour, Brad.
This is Jim our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. It was fun listening to him as he shared with us his wealth of knowledge about the Canyon.
Over the bridge and into the Canyon.
The ride up and back is on The Pine Creek Rail Trail which has been voted by USA Today as one of the 10 greatest places to take a bike ride. The trail begins in a small town called Jersey Shore, which is just west of Williamsport, and runs north for 62 miles to just south of Wellsboro.
Since it only has a moderate 2% grade it is great place for a bike ride.
There are numerous access points along the trail where you can park your car and enter the trail.
As you ride along and look at the dense growth of trees on either side of the Canyon it is hard to imagine that at one time the slopes were bare of any trees. In the second half of the 19th century the slopes had dense growths of two types of trees that were very much in demand – eastern hemlock and white pine. Enter the logging industry who went to work.
In the beginning log rafts were floated down the Pine Creek to saw mills in Williamsport.
Then in the late 1800’s the railroad laid a line from Williamsport north. Then logging began in earnest. However at the start of the 1900’s the trees were completely gone and the logging industry vanished from the area. The train, though, continued to run carrying coal, freight and passengers between New York and small towns in Pennsylvania. The tracks were finally removed in 1989 – this is portion of the original tracks left as a sort of memorial of those days.
So how did the trees come back?
Enter the Civilian Conservation Corps which began in 1933 and ended in 1942. It was made up of men between 17 and 25 years of age who came from families on various forms of government assistance. They were required to enlist for a minimum of 6 months, however, some stayed for up to 2 years. Most men came to the camps hungry and poorly clothed. They were issued uniforms and given 3 meals a day. There was a doctor in each camp and each camp also offered the chance at additional education. They were paid $30 a month and were required to send at least $25 back home. The camps were run by the military but the work was under the direction of the Forestry Service.
This is the road that leads back to The Darling Run Camp that was established in Pine Creek. Nothing remains of the camp today except a few old foundations. However, when it was active it was home to 125 men, one of which was our guide Jim’s grandfather. He shared with us that these men planted 6 million seedlings over the course of two years in the Canyon. In addition to planting trees, they fought forest fires, built roads and buildings, and created state parks. In the Canyon, Colton State Park and Leonard Harrison State Park were built by the men of this camp. Today, the site of this old camp is being developed as a primitive tent only camping site.
Some of the sights up and back in the Canyon.
Ducks galore and of course if you looked real close you could see trout in the creek.
Look close in the middle of the picture and you’ll see a broad leaf plant known as Skunk Cabbage. Pick it and you know immediately how it got its name!
And the mountains, towering all around you. Absolutely breathtaking.
This tour had to be one of the most delightful that we have taken in a long time. We learned so much, and there was so much of God’s handiwork all around you to enjoy.
Sure enough, another new T-Shirt!
But the day wasn’t finished.
My sister, Cindy and her husband, Charlie and their dog Eddie came over for a visit and supper.
Even Eddie likes whipped cream!
A perfect end to a perfect day.
So that is what we have been up to on The Road of Retirement. Life is good, really, really good. Our time with my sister and her husband make this trip definitely well worth the distance traveled. I wouldn’t trade a minute of our time together for anything else in this world.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. We always appreciate your company, your comments, and your suggestions. Keep safe, keep healthy, live to the fullest the days that God gives you.
These are the voyages of Elvira and her two intrepid travelers. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before.
See you on down the road!