Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A "Charlie Brown" tree
Recently, a Christmas tree in Reading, Pennsylvania, made the news, not because it exemplified the best but because in many people’s words, it looked ugly, like the “Charlie Brown.” Christmas tree in the movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas. As children in the movie made fun of Charlie’s tree, so did the people of Reading make fun of the town tree. read more

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas in the Park

 A Cinderella carriage is probably the most unique feature of the Richfield Christmas event.  Two beautiful horses pull a white wrought iron carriage around the park with riders. Enchanting! read more

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pennsylvania Christmas Bazaars

Heirloom Baby Set
Purchased at a Bazaar
In our area there are numerous church bazaars. One benefit of attending is to obtain gifts for Christmas, but a more important service is supporting the work of a church in advancing God’s kingdom.

My first experience with Christmas bazaars read more

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Millerstown Holiday Craft Show

For years, I have read in the paper about the Millerstown Craft Show held in Greenwood Elementary School. This November, I finally got there.

From the outside, I could tell that it is a huge event even if I hadn’t read in the paper Read More

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas in Small Pennsylvania Towns

I live near the small Pennsylvania town of Thompsontown and travel through many others to work, to shop, and to visit family. Most of the small towns in Central Pennsylvania celebrate in similar ways. 

 Almost all of our small towns hang decorations of wreaths, angels, and other assorted other shapes lit up by Christmas lights from their street light poles. This year Selinsgrove, Read More

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving in the 50s

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner during my childhood started months ahead. We grew most of the things used for that special meal back then.

Early in the growing season, we picked strawberries and made the jelly with Sure-Jell. Next, late in August, we gathered fully ripened corn. The most memorable time read more

Monday, November 17, 2014

Interview with Sarah Whitesel: Homeschool Graduate

I’d like to introduce the next participant in my interview series, Sarah Whitesel who is the same age as my daughter Suzanne. When the girls were young, Sarah’s mother and I teamed up to do testing, go on field trips, have play dates, and start a homeschool support group. I did Sarah’s evaluations all through elementary school and loved the results I saw. She was every homeschool mother’s dream child. read more

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Small Rewards

Mrs. Sieber 
We’d been caring for my mother-in-law for over a year. At first, her mind stayed sharp. She and I even did crossword puzzles together with me reading the clues and her answering from the knowledge she had gained from years of completing one every day. 

Unfortunately, read more

Monday, November 10, 2014

PA Animals: Bald Eagle

 At Trough Creek State Park, we hiked quite a way to a vantage point for seeing a resident eagle family. Two white heads poked out of the huge nest. Mamma and papa eagle took turns bringing food for the two babies.

After our trip, I read more about bald eagles and found out read more

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PA State Parks: Milton

 Access to the sun and flat land characterize the Milton State Park. The road into the park leads right to a boat ramp on the West Branch Susquehanna River and lots of parking for vehicles with boat trailers. The most spectacular feature in the fall is a row of young maple trees sporting red leaves. Kids would like the nice playground. Milton State Park is a great place to be on a fall day because of the abundance of sunny areas. read more

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pennsylvania Animals: Eastern Chipmunk

The most fun we had with chipmunks happened one year while on vacation. We bought a huge bag of peanuts and fed the chipmunks all week. Soon they were climbing up on our laps and taking the nuts from our hands.

While we were feeding them, read more

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interview with Marsha Hubler: Homeschool Evaluator

Hi, Marsha, thank you for coming to my blog today in your role as homeschool evaluator. You’ve evaluated our children as well as many others. On the average how many evaluations do you do every year?

Thanks for having me, Sandy. I appreciate it. I do an average of 130 evaluations a year.

Why did you decide to do this? read more

Monday, October 27, 2014

PA State Parks: Raymond B. Winter

One sunny fall day, we drove into the Raymond B. Winter State Park, parked in one of the main parking lots, and started walking downhill. We walked past a pavilion and a nice playground with one of those fun diggers like a miniature backhoe for kids. Ahead we could see the lake glistening through the trees. Upon reaching the lake read more

Friday, October 24, 2014

PA Auctions: The Crawfords

He married her after serving in World War II. She must have valued his service to his country because she kept so many of his awards and treasures from being a Navy captain: patches, hat bands, pins, and even furniture with metal plaques signifying who gave it to him and where. Their names were Robert E. and Jeanne Crawford. They lived read more

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Interview with Beth Yoder: Homeschool Mother

Welcome to my blog, Beth. This is a different place for me to talk with you. We usually discuss everything from menus to our work while striding down the walking trail at our local park. Yet I know you have words of wisdom for other homeschool moms since we traveled the homeschool journey at about the same time. 

First of all, would you tell everyone how many children you have, and how many years you homeschooled? read more

Monday, October 20, 2014

PA State Parks: Sand Bridge

I've always liked miniatures. As a child, I spent hours building doll house furniture from spools, Jell-O boxes, tiny gift boxes, and other foraged items. Now an adult, I pour over books about famous doll residences.

This past weekend, a different kind of miniature garnered my affection read more

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interview with Karen Lange: Homeschool Author

Welcome back to my blog, Karen.

Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by!

What prompted you to write Write for Life?

The lessons in Write for Life Volume One are ones I use with my teen homeschool students in an online writing co-op. I’ve long wanted to convert the lessons into book form for use at home or with student groups. These are lessons I wish I’d had when homeschooling my children. They break writing the research paper down into more manageable, less intimidating steps, offering tips, advice, and insight into the entire process.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book? read more

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Homeschool Project: Cut-and-Assemble Buildings

Toy men used to be his passion: cowboys, Indians, soldiers, and farmers that were supposed to be attached to the tractor but he always managed to pull off. When Suzanne and I started a cut-and-assemble building, I didn't realize that it would be a playscape. Matt occupied himself for hours playing pretend with tiny men and our cut-and-assemble buildings.

Let me back up and explain about cut-and-assemble books read more

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Homeschool Project: Ducks

“You want to hatch duck eggs? Sure!”

Those words sealed my fate for the next five months, caring for ducks on top of preparing for a wedding in the family, homeschooling a sophomore, and helping with an aged mother-in-law. I know, the fifteen-year old who asked if we could hatch duck eggs should have been doing all the work. I understand that I should have been wiser about saying yes so easily. I realize that I shouldn’t have ended up in the predicament that I ended up in, but don’t you sometimes make mistakes too? Besides, I thought it would be a great biology project! read more

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

PA State Parks: Cook Forest

Sometimes, scheming plays a part in making something wonderful. On a vacation to Erie, I found a wonderful book at a local library. Yes, I go to libraries on vacation. They are delightful places. The book, Cook Forest: An Island in Time, told of determined men who wanted to preserve a forest of virgin timber. To do so, they needed to raise money to buy and to maintain it. The men found ways read more

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pennsylvania Animals: Eastern Wild Turkey

Gobble, gobble, gobble. Do those words make you think about Thanksgiving? Besides the honorable holiday, turkeys remind me of a magazine article I once read by Peter Lord. He used the contrast between turkeys and eagles to teach spiritual truths.

Male turkeys are called gobblers and the females, hens. Gobblers grow to be about two and one-half feet tall, three to four feet long, and 25 pounds. Females are much smaller and weigh half as much. Males have spurs for fighting and beards up to twelve inches long. A few females also have beards. Only males gobble. Both sexes read more

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Greenwood Furnace: Iron Master

Greenwood Furnace Visitor's Center Mural
of the Original Furnace Operation
One person stood at the head of the hierarchy that made up the system of workers at Greenwood Furnace—the iron master. In the early days of the furnace, the iron master owned and oversaw all of the operation of the business. Later, Read More

Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with Alison Treat: Homeschool Graduate and Homeschool Mother

Hi, Alison, welcome to back to my blog. 

Thanks, Sandy. It’s great to be here again.

Could you tell me if you think having been homeschooled made it easier for you to decide to homeschool your own children?

Making the decision may have actually been more difficult for me. Initially, I felt that if I started out homeschooling my kids, I would be stuck and never be able to send them to school. I also knew the homeschool “culture” a bit and didn’t feel that I fit into it. I overcame these fears by Read More

Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with Karen Lange: Homeschool Mother

How many years of experience do you have as a homeschool mother?

My husband and I homeschooled our two sons and daughter for grades K-12 for a total of sixteen years. During that time, I was the coordinator of our local support group, and we were actively involved in several co-ops.

Why did you start to homeschool?

We felt led to homeschool after doing some research and talking to friends who homeschooled. One of the main reasons we chose homeschooling was because we felt that the home was the best place for our children to learn. We’d also decided that the local public and private schools were not good options for                                                                                us.

What was your favorite part of being a homeschool mother? Read More

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pennsylvania Birds: Great Blue Heron

"Smooth-neck's" Habitat
This past summer where I walk regularly, I have been observing some resident great blue heron. They each have their own territory. “Rough-neck” likes to hang out in an open part of the stream. “Smooth-neck” always could be found right next to a bushy area. For a week now, I have intended to bring my camera on my walk to take a picture of them. The last three days they weren't there. Now I know why. read more

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Greenwood Furnace: The Collier

Ben Ranney, Park Naturalist
  at Little Buffalo State Park
 dressed as a collier
What is a collier?

A man who made charcoal to fuel the furnaces that produced iron in the 1800s and early 1900s.

How was he taught?

A collier was trained by working under a master collier.

Where did he live?

The collier’s families lived in the company’s town, but the collier lived in a hut or cabin near where he built the pits to make charcoal from April through November.

How much did he get paid? Read More

Monday, September 15, 2014

Interview with Matthew Sieber: Homeschool Graduate

What did you like best about being homeschooled?

There is a lot I could say like freedom, efficiency, time with family, free time, and lots more. To pick just one thing, I would say the fact that I wasn’t stuck in a classroom throughout the day.

I don’t know if I want to hear your answer to this, but what didn’t you like? Read More

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pennsylvania Animals: Black Bear

Of all the animals that I talk about with other people, this one gets the most excitement, mostly because in my area so many people have seen a black bear up close and personal. My few sightings have been dramatic, also. Once Read More

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Greenwood Furnace: The Woodcutter

Piles and piles of wood. Does it sound like our yard now that my husband is ready for the wood burning season? No, I’m referring to the piles and piles of wood prepared by long ago employees of Greenwood Furnace, woodcutters.

First, woodcutters visited the company office in the fall to get their contracts. Since the furnace shut down in winter, iron workers sometimes turned into woodcutters. Greenwood Furnace paid for 5,000 cords of wood each year to be made into charcoal to fuel each of its furnace stacks. That much wood came from approximately 150 acres of woodland. The best cutter from the previous season Read More

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview with Joanna Wert, Homeschool Mother

When we decided to homeschool, we knew only one person already doing it, Joanna Wert. She welcomed me into the Snyder County Homeschoolers, encouraged me about our choice to homeschool, and shared many bits of practical advice about how to do it. I love this dear godly woman. She has been an inspiration, as well as a dear friend.  

How many years of experience do you have as a homeschool mother?

I am currently in my 27th year of homeschooling with just one year remaining after this one.

Why did you decide to homeschool?

I started homeschooling because God led me to do it.

What do you like about being a homeschool mother? Read More

Friday, September 5, 2014

PA Insects: The Praying Mantis

 Walking across the road of the Shamokin Dam Giant Store, I encountered a praying mantis also walking on the road. I put my hand down to him, knowing what he would do. He climbed up and continued up my arm, and then my shoulder. Eww, I couldn’t quite manage when he reached my neck. Gently, I brushed at him. He landed in the island between the parking spaces and the road.

How did I know he would climb up? That’s what they do. In fact, our family Read More

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Greenwood Furnace – The Village

View of the 1800s blast furnace  in the
Greenwood Furnace State Park Museum
Imagine again going up Big Valley through Belleville over the mountain down into the valley but this time in a horse and wagon. On entering Greenwood Furnace State Park area instead of nicely printed signs, a museum, and campsites, you see rows of wooden houses, a company store, and a huge building with the top belching smoke and heat. The year? 1880.

You enter the company store which looks like the social center of the operation and talk to some residents. You find out that the town Read More

Monday, September 1, 2014

Interview with Amber Schamel, Homeschool Graduate

 One of the delights that I have encountered while working with Helping Hands Press is the people I’ve met. Amber Schamel is one of them. She garnered my attention first when I learned that her parents homeschooled her. Next, I enjoyed reading her books, The Swaddling Clothes and The Healer’s Touch. And in addition, she writes a terrific blog!

Amber, did you like anything in particular about being homeschooled? Read More

Thursday, August 28, 2014

PA Wildlife: Eastern Coyote

As I grew up, I never heard about any coyotes in our woods. As I read about the creature and its history in Pennsylvania, I now understand why.

The Eastern coyote can be one of four colors: red, blond, dark brown, or tri-color. Females are 35 to 40 pounds while the larger male generally is 45 to 55 pounds. Many have black lines on the front legs from top to bottom.  Their bushy tails look like a fox’s.  On their heads are ears that stand up and come to a rounded point. Like their wolf relative, coyotes howl and yip. Coyote are most active at night but they  also hunt in the mornings.

Coyotes prey on deer, small mammals, and birds. They also eat plants and fruit. Even pets and livestock are part of their diet but to a much lesser degree.

Coyotes stay with their mate for several years and sometimes live with more than one litter for up to two years. Other adults may stay nearby and help with the feeding of the litter which averages five to seven pups.

A member of the dog family, the Eastern Coyote is a result of a wolf and western coyote cross breeding. This makes them larger than the western cousin.

Little is known about the early history of coyotes in Pennsylvania. Hunters and trappers of the 1700s and 1800s may have turned them in and called them wolves. The oldest proof of them living in Pennsylvania is a photo taken in the 1930s. Men saw very few of them until the 1980s when their population seemed to explode. Experts believe that they migrated from the New York Catskill Mountains. The largest population at that time lived in the Pocono Mountains. By 1990 coyotes lived all over the state although most stayed in the northern half. In 2003, the estimated Pennsylvania state coyote population was 25,000 to 30,000.

Coyotes can now be hunted and trapped year round and in unlimited numbers.

Life Lesson: The story of the migration of coyotes into Pennsylvania and their explosion of population is reminiscent of how sin can move into one’s life. Telling oneself, “Oh, it won’t hurt to do it this once,” can be a pathway down from the mountains that allows sin to spread, hurting oneself and loved ones. Romans 1:21-32 shows the progression sin can take from few to many.

Dear God, help us to stop sin at the mountain pass and keep it from detonating our lives.


Hayden, Arnold. “Eastern Coyote,” Wildlife Note—175-39. Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PA State Parks: Greenwood Furnace

Up Big Valley through Belleville over the mountain down into the valley lies a unique slice of history, Greenwood Furnace State Park. My introduction to the place came as a child when we used to picnic and swim there. Little then did I realize the rich history of the place.

Greenwood Furnace State Park is located at the site of a charcoal-fueled iron furnace which operated from 1834 to 1904. Many of the original buildings remain. Walking the grounds and reading the numerous signs telling of each building’s history, one can almost imagine the sounds and sights of the 1800s operation. In addition, the visitor’s center shows a video and the museum adds even more to one’s imagination of what it had been like.

Each summer, Paul Fagley, the resident historian, offers classes for teachers to learn about charcoal burning and archeology. See my experience at the charcoal burn in my February 2014, Pennsylvania History Class 2 blog

Here are a few snapshots I've taken in the park:

Inside the museum, a wall mural of the original furnace building

What is left of the original furnace building

Ironmaster's Mansion

Church added in 1865

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Homeschooling Using a Child’s Interests

1. Find out what your children’s      
Lego Creation by Matt
interests are by observing, asking 
questions, and praying. 

The interests of some of our children showed themselves early and easily. Suzanne liked to make things almost from the day I brought her home from the hospital. Not quite, but it seems like that. I remember fixing up a little corner in our trailer where she could create. A small table, a small chair, and lots of fun things to glue onto paper. Matt fell in love with Legos. Tad’s interests developed more slowly. He drew cars first, then began to notice makes and models on car trips. Ben, at a young age, liked people!  

2. Think and pray about how to use these as motivation, learning experiences, and sometimes, a full year’s curriculum.

My key to Suzanne lay with her skilled hands. We shopped at A. C. Moore often. When I picked curriculum for her, I looked for kits, models to assemble, and things to cut out. When we cleaned our storage room a year ago, she and I threw out six garbage bags of projects she had made. Nothing lost. The value of those projects have shown up in her care for her own home, her landscaped yard, and her joy in her various jobs. 

In her senior year, I let her surge ahead and counted hours for a science course centered around her love of gardening. She gardened, read about plants, studied a little botany, and made flower garden plans. Even her nemesis, math, became easy for her as she studied catalogs, prices, and figured out costs. Another course that year developed from her interest in getting healthier and losing weight. She read lots of exercise and health books. She still loves that kind of book! Some other day, I may tell you how I logged a course using Ben's people interest.

Car by Tad
3. Dare to experiment!

You need to let go of the kind of school that happened inside the walls of a public school building. Most of traditional school depends on what will work with a large group. Homeschooling is different! Let people raise their eyebrows. Put away the fears that want to creep up. God can give wisdom and will direct when we ask.

An excellent resource for using high school age students’ interests is Delight Directed Learning  by Lee Binz

Landscaping by Suzanne

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PA Wildlife: Bobcat

Imagine our surprise at seeing a bobcat when looking at some webcam photos my friend took. After all, how many bobcat have you seen? The Pennsylvania Game Commission says probably not many because of their shyness, ability to hide, and nocturnal habits. In 2000, the estimated population of bobcat in Pennsylvania was 3,500.

Bobcats in our state average 15 to 20 pounds, have gray-brown fur with dark spots and stripes. Their lips, chin, front of neck, as well as, their belly is white. Including their six-inch tail, they average 36 inches in length, just like the fisher.

What sets them apart from most other cats is their extra fur that extends down from their jowls. The other distinguishing characteristic is their longer back legs which give them a different gait.

Like the fisher, bobcats attack and eat porcupines. They also eat all kinds of small animals and carrion. They have little effect on Pennsylvania’s deer herd because they only eat the crippled or sick deer.

Some bobcats live up to 14 years in the wild and inhabit mostly mountains, isolated forests, and swamps. They seem to prosper best near clear cut forests because of the increase in small mammals that lumbering brings to the newly cut area.

Many bobcats used to roam this region, but with more mature trees and populated areas they declined. Beginning in 1970, the laws changed to protect them and subsequently allowed them to increase. In 2000, the Game Commission made the decision to again allow limited hunting of them.

Reference for writing this was Chuck Fergus’s Wildlife Note #3 on “Bobcats” published by the PA Game Commission online.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Niagara

Taken in the Erie Maritime Museum
Looking out the window, I could see the ship that I had wanted to investigate, but sadly the weather didn't permit it. Rain poured down so I had to be content touring just the Erie Maritime Museum that day. The ship, called the Niagara, is a reconstructed version of a ship first used in the War of 1812. The ship is also the official Pennsylvania State Flagship.

Inside the museum, we found plenty to interest us, uniforms of seaman, furniture used by captains, and drawings of sailors and their skills. We also learned lots of history.

From the start of the War of 1812, Britain took control of the Great Lakes. The United States government realized that to win the war they needed to be the ones in charge of the Great Lakes. With this goal in mind, the United States in January, 1813, ordered construction of ships at Erie, Pennsylvania: the Niagara, the Lawrence, and four smaller ships.

A month later, these ships became the fighting force against a British fleet in The Battle of Lake Erie. The Lawrence and two British ships battled while the Niagara sat blocked by another of the U.S. Fleet. Before the Niagara could get into position for fighting, the Lawrence became incapacitated, eighty percent of its crew, dead or wounded and all of its guns inoperable. With four remaining experienced seamen, Commander Perry took the flag, left the Lawrence and rowed to the Niagara. A crewman raised the flag and fifteen minutes later, Perry’s intense barrage and a damaging collision between two British ships brought the British to the point of surrender. The Battle of Lake Erie became the first decisive battle in the War of 1812. The victory boosted American morale.

The Niagara remained in operation until 1820 when the Navy sank it in the salt water to try to preserve it. During the 100-year anniversary of the battle, the city raised it, repaired it, and displayed it. In 1931, the Pennsylvania government took custody of it and again restored it, finishing in 1963. Unfortunately by the 1980s it became even more decomposed. This time when the builders restored it, they used mostly new wood and only kept the old in nonstructural places. In 1988, the Niagara sailed again on Lake Erie and Pennsylvania legislators voted to make it the official state flagship.

Today, the museum uses the ship for tours and as a floating history classroom for students. Middle-school and older students can actually help sail and maintain with prior arrangements.  

Chairs from the Lawrence at the Erie Maritime Museum

Oops, there's my handsome husband
pretending to be Commander Perry!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Homeschool Success Story

Our third born son was the easiest baby, toddler, and preschooler. He played contentedly and never gave us much trouble except when we brought the fourth baby home. When I was busy, he smeared Fast Orange all over himself.

I did a lot of reading to the first two. Number three listened and at a young age answered questions about what I had read. He seemed really smart.

Imagine then my frustration when I had a lot of trouble teaching him to read. I had already taught the other two. This one didn’t respond to the same things. For one thing, he couldn’t remember the words from one day to the next. I taught him the sounds but they didn’t seem to stick in his head. To compensate, I read his other subjects to him, doing oral reviews and tests.  

After trying a few other reading programs, I purchased the Sing, Spell, Read, and Write which is very auditory. From a learning consultant and a homeschool convention speaker, I learned about brain dominance. I made him wear a patch over his left eye to change his visual dominance to match his other areas: hearing, hand, and foot. He did this until his right eye became dominant which only took part of one school year. He did not have peers who made fun of him. In fact, he really never knew he was far behind.The summer he turned eleven, he had a different swimming instructor. Her insistence on him moving correctly fit in with what I have learned about “patterning.” Gross motor skills are very important for brain development. That school year is the year that he learned to read.

His skills continued to improve. I read his other subjects for the rest of that year and some of the next to allow his reading ability to catch up to where he was in science and history. By his junior year of high school, he had become an avid reader, evidenced by the eighty age-appropriate books on his portfolio reading list. He actually enjoyed reading!

I substitute teach in public school where I sometimes work in learning support classrooms. I often see children who have the same problems as my third born. I haven’t seen the success stories that I had with him. 

Above all else, our miracle occurred because of God’s mercy in answering our prayers for our son to learn to read and for me to have wisdom for teaching him. I also had a stubborn hold on promises that I had received while reading his Word.

I hope this encourages some of you who have children who struggle. God can do amazing things! As I sit in my home office, I occasionally listen in on a Bible study that takes place in our home. Our son, the former struggling reader, leads it. 

2017 Note: This son graduated from Word of Life Bible Institute in August with a 3.97 average!

Monday, August 11, 2014

PA Wildlife: Fishers

Three Fishers
 What was that? I saw something similar to a cat up ahead when I walked up our neighbor’s road. Highlighted against the pale road, the animal looked black. Since I am very familiar with cats, I wondered about this creature’s humplike back and different gait. I asked several people. Finally, someone suggested a fisher. What? I had never heard of such a thing. I began to investigate.

From a children’s book, Follow a Fisher by Laurence Pringle, I’ve learned some interesting facts. The fisher is part of the weasel family. Most females weigh three to seven pounds. Males are almost twice as large. Average length from nose to the end of their long tail is the same as a yard stick. All fishers are covered with brown and black hair but females tend to be darker. Each of their four feet has five toes with long toe nails.

The most astonishing to me is the amount of time a female carries her young inside her body---about a whole year. What a long time to be pregnant! She also is still caring for her last litter of young while pregnant with the next and all by herself. Yes, the male doesn’t help.

They hunt mostly at night for small animals but also eat carrion, nuts, and berries. The most unusual food they consume is porcupine, an animal only tackled by two others, the bobcat and cougar. In fact, fishers have been introduced into areas that are overpopulated with porcupine to help control the numbers.

On the Pennsylvania Game Commission site, I found that fishers had almost died out in Pennsylvania but in the 1990s they brought them back by introducing 190 in the northern tier. The Game Commission believes that some also migrated from a re-introduced colony in West Virginia. One biologist, Dr. Matt Lovallo, believes that there are thousands now in Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 8, 2014

PA Memories: Kinzua Bridge by Amy K. Radford

Kinzua Bridge after It Fell
photo by Amy K. Radford
My mother grew up in the small town of Smethport, the hub of McKean County, PA. Every so often, we would make the four-hour drive in our yellow Chevy wagon to visit her hometown and family. In the days before technology, the drive was filled with music and games like counting pumpkins, Christmas lights, cows or white houses. Once the Quaker State eternal flame came into view, we knew were close.

A family tradition on those visits was to pack the family into my grandparents’ red and white striped van and go to Kinzua Bridge in Mt. Jewett, PA.

Kinzua Bridge is a part of a state park and was once known as the longest and tallest railroad structure in America, at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high. It was a touring structure that spread across a great chasm that both excited and terrified us. We would walk all the way across the bridge, trying not to look down through the wood ties into the valley below.

Other times we choose the exploration option. We hiked a trail down to the valley that allowed you to go under the bridge. Looking up from the ground caused us to realize how tall it really was.

In 2003, a tornado caused the bridge to be partially destroyed and many of us who had enjoyed this beautiful bridge were devastated. It had been such a special place to go with my family. 

10 years later I was able to visit the bridge again and was amazed at what they were able to do with the sight. The end of the bridge was repaired and a glass platform provideed a view down into the valley. The walkway also allows for amazing views of the Kinzua Valley.  There is also a trail along the side of the valley with a lookout that allows visitors to enjoy a view of the bridge and the surrounding valley.

That is what I love about Pennsylvania. There are little jewels tucked away off the beaten path.  They are where family memories are made and the beauty of the state can truly be enjoyed.

For more information on Kinzua Bridge visit:   
Pieces of Bridge
 on the Ground
photo by Amy K. Radford

The Former Viewing Stand
photo by Amy K. Radford

Amy K. Radford
 Take a look at Amy K. Radford’s terrific blog, Paradoxical Pen. She is a wife, mom of two, aspiring children’s author, and Adirondacks resident.  In addition to her past and current visits to Northwestern Pennsylvania, she’s also spent time in the Scranton area, going to college and working for a few years. Amy enjoys the outdoors, nature and spending time with her family.