Americaâ€™s Hidden Gems are all over the nation, including Pennsylvania. There are 18 national parks, over 3,000 listings on the National Registry of Historic Places, seven National Heritage Areas and 164 National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania. From the days of William Penn, Pennsylvania was a leader among the nation in agriculture, anthracite, lumber, steel and religious freedom. There are also countless â€œhidden gemsâ€ that are not on any historic list. Included here is merely a sampling of the many interesting gems that lie in the Commonwealth.
America’s Hidden Gems are all over the nation, including Pennsylvania. There are 18 national parks, over 3,000 listings on the National Registry of Historic Places, seven National Heritage Areas and 164 National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania. From the days of William Penn, Pennsylvania was a leader among the nation in agriculture, anthracite, lumber, steel and religious freedom. There are also countless “hidden gems” that are not on any historic list. Included here is merely a sampling of the many interesting gems that lie in the Commonwealth.
Anthracite Heritage Museum
Mining in northeast Pennsylvaniadates back to mid to late 1700s. Many Europeans settled in the Scrantonarea to work in the anthracite mines. At one time, Scrantonwas known as the “Anthracite Capital of the World.” Anthracite is a harden coal with a high luster and an extremely high carbon count. It is used as a source of energy. These miners, and their families, played an instrumental role in the industry of America. There is a small admission fee. For more information, visit http://www.anthracitemuseum.org.
William Penn founded Pennsylvaniawith religious freedom as a main objective. The Ephrata Cloister was and remains an example of that “Holy Experiment”. In 1732 German settlers founded the Ephrata Cloister as a religious community. While there was a small congregation of married couples with children, the community emphasized celibacy. Men and women – Bothers and Sisters as they were called – lived and worked side by side enjoying their religious freedom. One trade the Cloister was well known for its German printing press, its art and its music. There is an admission charge. The Cloister is located in Ephrata, LancasterCounty. For more information, visit http://www.ephratacloister.org/.
While admittedly not a historic site or a national park, Ferryboat Campsites is definitely a “hidden gem.” Located in Liverpool, PerryCounty, this is more than a campground. If you are traveling up the Susquehanna – perhaps for game at PennState– and feel the need to cross the Susquehanna River, do so via a ferry. The Millersburg Ferry has operated since 1817 and still carries vehicles and passengers across the river today between Millersburg and Liverpool. For more information, visit http://www.ferryboatcampsites.com/.
Hyner View State Park
Hang gliders will love this little gem. Nestled away inClintonCounty, this six acre park sits atop the mountain ridge overlooking the mountains and the West Branch of theSusquehanna River. The park also offers camping and hiking and swimming.
Johnstown Flood Museum
Located in a river valley, the people of Johnstownwere accustomed to spring floods as the snow melted up north, rising the levels of the nearby rivers and lakes. One incredible storm and a neglected dam however led to the worst natural disaster Johnstownhad seen. On 31 May 1889 CambriaCountyresidents found streets flooded and began to move themselves and their belongings to the second story of their rustic houses. The Flood of 1889 led to 2,209 deaths. It is said that the water gushed into town with the force fo the Niagara Falls. Houses were crushed like cardboard. People, including, children were caught up by the raging waters and thrown about as the water carried them away. Some survived but many did not. Today there stands a Johnstown Flood National Memorial which is a National Park site. For more information, visit http://www.jaha.org/FloodMuseum/history.html.
Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
The Susquehanna and the SchuylkillRiversand the virgin lumber of our mountains added to the allure that led many lumberjacks to Pennsylvania. The PennsylvaniaLumberMuseum, located in Galeton in PotterCounty, preserves this heritage. At the museum, see a recreated logging camp. Imagine yourself living in that camp while you worked alongside several other loggers. Imagine yourself trying desperately to free up logs which jammed the rivers. The museum includes a locomotive, a steam powered sawmill, a boiler house, a saw carriage house, an engine house, a loader shed, a blacksmith shop and a mess hall or bunk house. There is an admission fee. For more information, visit http://www.lumbermuseum.org/.
The Mill at Anselma
Located in Chester Springs, the Mill at Anselma is an intact, authentic, small water powered grain mill. It is listed as a National Historical Landmark although it is privately owned. The Mill was built around 1747 by Samuel Lightfoot and by the middle 1800s the Mill was supporting ChesterCounty’s livestock and dairy economy. By then it was owned by John Oberholtzer and was also producing flour. Throughout the year the Mill offers demonstrations of 18th century life. There is a small admission fee. For more information, visit http://www.anselmamill.org.
May is National Preservation Month and the theme this year is "Discover America's Hidden Gems". Preserving Pennsylvania’s history allows future generations to appreciate the diverse background of our state and of our nation. Again, this is only a small sampling of the hidden gems that Pennsylvania holds. We can still learn much from those long passed.
ABOUT JEANNE RUCZHAK-ECKMAN
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and SolancoNews.com. The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from LockHavenUniversity. Her interests include history/travel, learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, Orthodoxy, preparedness and gaming. You may contact Jeanne with your comments and questions.