Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PA State Parks: Little Buffalo

One of many hats is substitute teaching. On one of the last days of school this past year, the fifth grade class had finished its planned activities so I taught a little Pennsylvania history.

“How many state parks can you name?”

Hands raised all over the room.

I pointed to a student. “How about you tell us one.”

“Hershey Park.”

“Well, that’s a fun place to go, but that's an amusement park not a state park.”

I received a few more wrong answers, but someone finally mentioned read more
Cowan's Gap and then another actually knew about Black Moshannon. I followed with a quick lesson on state parks. Surprised looks greeted my information that there are 116 state parks in Pennsylvania.*

The Lake at Little Buffalo
Our family definitely knows about state parks. Trips to Little Buffalo State Park have been on our agenda almost every year. When our children were small, we took a lunch and visited for a couple of hours. Their favorites, the playground and the boat dock received the most traffic from their little feet. A little later, fishing became the thing to do. I heard cries of, "I've got one," from the boat dock. The sprinklers at the swimming pool splashed on young and old. Everyone's legs got tired from the paddleboats, and as teenagers they took turns with the kayaks.

Beside the casual trips, we also had planned family gatherings. Little Buffalo became the spot to go for Mother’s/Father’s Day celebrations. The handicapped picnic table served us well while we had elderly parents. We held a Sieber family gathering and a birthday party for one of my daughter's friends at Little Buffalo. 
Mother's Day 2010

A few times, we toured Shoaff’s Mill and the train car. One year, a Civil War demonstration near Blue Ball Tavern attracted us. The kids learned to march like Civil War soldiers. At Christmas, we oohed and awed at their lights display. I loved seeing another one of Paul Fagley's charcoal burn demonstrations. Not too long ago, I enjoyed a concert by Bruce Young centered on Stephen Foster and his music.

July 14, 1991 at Little Buffalo stands out most in my mind. My husband and I attended a picnic given for the 40th birthday of one of his co-workers. Afterwards, we trugged our weary bodies up the hill to the parking lot. On the way, I felt a sign that our second child would soon be arriving. The next morning at 8:00, Tad joined our family.

At the Boat Dock 2004
What a lot of memories we have made at Little Buffalo! I feel bad for the students at school who didn't know about state parks. If you’ve never visited one, be sure to add a visit to your list of summer activities. You will be glad you did! 

*While researching for this blog, I found out that the number has risen to 120 since 2010when I wrote Archbald Pothole and Other Pennsylvania State Parks: Make-Your-Own Game Book.

Learn more about Little Buffalo: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/littlebuffalo/

My blog on the Stephen Foster presentation: http://pahistorybooks.blogspot.com/2014/06/stephen-foster.html

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