Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 38 Berks County, PA

We always plan a day in Berks County where I grew up when we come home at Xmas & the summer every year to see family & friends, buy pretzels & go to the original Vanity Fair Outlet in Reading. So here's some pictures of where I grew up.
Roadside America is in Shartlesville along I-78 and bills itself as the largest indoor minature village. It's about the size of a basketball court, it has lots of trains and handmade buildings.
The PA Dutch Gift Haus next door has Hex Signs & souvenirs.
Northern Berks County is noted for the PA Dutch Hex Signs on the barns.
Some people claim they are for good luck or to ward off evil spirits but most folks keep them painted "chust for nice."

I stopped to see my old boss Tom Schaeffer in Shoemakersville ( we call it Shoey)
I had sent him the pictures of the car license plate from various places around the country. 11,649 miles since we left NC.
My father was pastor of 2 churches, St. Lukes UCC in Shoey

and my home church, St. Michael's out in the country. (founded 1765)
The house I grew up in-the parsonage.

The 1st house I owned when I was married.
We always stop and buy as many boxes of pretzels as will fit in the car everytime we go back to Reading. Unique "Splits" are pretzels unlike any other you've ever had. Check their web site for ordering- the shipping is expensive however. We only had room for 2 boxes of 6 bags.
Hopewell Furnace NHS is in southern Berks County.
The NPS has rebuilt the foundry buildings around the original blast furnace and foundations.
The Furnace was a self contained iron making village producing pig & cast iron from the mid 1700's till about 1840.

Charcoal was the fuel for the furnace. Colliers consumed 1,000s of acres of trees to make the charcoal. The charcoal hearth was about 20' across and covered with leaves & dirt and when lit, burned slowly producing charcoal after about a week.

Wagons for transporting the 3 raw materials : iron ore, limestone & charcoal
Iron is created in a blast furnace by adding layers of the 3 materials

from the top into the stack.
The water wheel turned the blast machinery
forcing air into the bosch increasing the temperature and driving out the impurities in the iron ore. The same basic way Iron is made today.
The crucible is tapped at the bottom for raw pig iron and cast iron.

Pig iron was the base iron product produced to make other wrought iron materials.
Sand casting was the way to make a large amount of 17-19th century iron products.
Sand was hard packed around a wooden mold and molten iron was poured in to create
pots and pans and stove plates for

Franklin stoves. One of the most important products of the late 18th century

Hopewell also produced cannons for Washington's Army at Valley Forge about 30 miles away.
The Village also preserves a number of original bulidings, the store/office , Ironmasters home
the Wheelwrights shop

and a typical PA Bank Barn
The horse & sheep are not original to the village.

Day 37 Johnstown Flood & Flight 93

I had read alot about the Johnstown Flood when I was a kid. Much of what we saw in the visitor center was pictures of the big flood of 1889. We learned that there were 4 other major floods, the last one in the 1970's

The Little Conemaugh River valley was the site of the South Fork Fishing club owned by wealthy Pittsburgh Robber Barons like Carnegie & Fisk.
The Unger house was owned by the on site manager of the club.
This is all that remains of the 2 abutments of the earthen dam. You can make out the flat sections with the trees in the valley were the dam washed out.
The earthen dam had partially washed out a few years earlier & when the rich guys bought the property they partaily repaired it but actually made the dam breast lower to accomodate wagons moving across the top.

The visitor center had alot of these pictures taken after the flood.

The RR bridge collected alot of debris, houses, people and actually caught fire and some people were burned alive as they were drowning.

Before and after pictures
The South Fork Fishing Club House. There were hearings afterwards, but of course none of the rich guys were responsible. Many did send money to help in the relief.
We went from the site of one disaster about 40 miles to the site of another.
The NPS still uses this mining building as temporary visitor center. It was used as the command post for the FBI, NTSB, & police during the investigation after the crash and will be part of the permanent memorial .
The visitor center had a variety of panels telling different parts of the story about the crash
about the victims
and accounts from the cockpit recorders
and phone calls made by the passengers.
Just like at the Vietnam Memorial, folks left momentos on the fences surrounding the crash site.

I talked with one of the local volunteers who explained that the grassy area along the line of trees is the crash site.
The NPS consulted with the family members who decided to replant the area as it had been before the crash. The flag marks the crash site.

They did have the plans posted for the future memorial and the family members have been part of the planning process with the NPS.
Just as we were leaving Flight 93, one of the blackest storms I've ever seen blew in and we had some nasty driving when we got on the PA. Turnpike, our country's first limited access highway.
We went through the 1st of 4 tunnels on the TPK.
Allegheny Mountain which we drove over twice before at Allegheny Portage & Horshoe Curve

We climbed over several mountains and could see the weather in front of us.

Luckily this weather wasn't at 11,00 feet in Colorado, there were no switchbacks, a mild 3-4 % grade and guardrails.
After we went through the Tuscarora Mountain tunnel the weather cleared up
Kittatinny Mountain
and finally the Blue Mountain- which is the 1st Mt. in the Appalachians in PA. and the mountain I saw most of my life growing up in Hamburg & Shoey