Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eldorado Found

Preface: We don't normally dwell on the past here at WRWT. We're much more interested in future tramps, trips and adventures, but the following narrative was too good to pass up at any time of the year. The accompanying small snippets of aggregate text seen below have been extracted from Pennsylvania folklorist Henry W. Shoemaker's novella;

Eldorado Found
The Central Pennsylvania Highlands
A Tourist's Survey

-Published in 1917 by the Altoona Tribune Publishing Company

has been described as a 'domain in itself' and rightly so, as it is a veritable paradise for the nature lover, the alpinist, the sportsman and the camper. Beginning at Hecla Park, with it's beautiful forest-shaded lake at Mingoville there is an unending series of wonderful pictures. The road across Nittany Mountain to Penn's Cave is at it's best in mid-June when the traveler passes between a double row of flowering laurels for a distance of about five miles.

Nittany Mountain

Penn's Cave is beautifully situated at the foot of the termination of the lofty Brush Mountain. The cave is one of the finest in the Eastern United States, the roof is high and a boat ride of one-quarter mile adds to the picturesqueness of the trip. The Karoondinha, or John Penn's Creek, rises in this cave.

The road from Spring Mills, along the banks of the Karoondinha, is beautiful in the extreme. The remains of old beaver dams at Beaver Dam Station can still be seen in the wide meadows.

The road from Sober Station into the Seven Mountains is well worth following. The gorge is filled with the original white pine and hemlock timber, with rhododendron trees forty feet high growing among the tall boles of the evergreens, blooming luxuriantly and perfuming the way with their wax-like blossoms. Every half mile pure, gurgling springs are met, with their trickling surplus keeping the road always damp. even in the driest spells. The jungle is so dark that crickets make music all day.

Around Sober Station

The Road from Sober Station to Coburn (in Penn's Valley) is beautiful in the extreme. Much original timber is standing along the Karoondinha, which enhances the scenery considerably. About a mile east of Sober, a bridge crosses the Karoondinha, on which is the unique signboard "To Poe Valley". Fourteen years ago, when this writer first crossed over into Poe Valley, the scenery was even wilder and more primeval.

It was to Poe Valley in 1838, that the noted poet, Edgar Allan Poe, came from Philadelphia in search of an inheritance. The remains of the house where he stopped is still pointed out to travelers. Deer abound in this valley, and the wolves made it one of their last retreats. Jonas J. Barnet of Weikert, Union County, heard them tonguing deer at night when camping in Poe Valley in the winter of 1863 and a wolf followed Andrew Hironimus out of the valley one night during the same winter.

At Coburn (village of Forks - W.R.), there is a fine grove of gigantic original white pine trees, along the east slope of the gorge where Karoondinha cuts through Tussey Mountain (First Mountain - W.R.). There is no driving road through the gorge, but there is an excellent bridal path.

In the gorge, at Blue Rock, is the birthplace of Daniel Kerstetter, (1824-1907) one of the greatest panther hunters in the Seven Mountains

Following Karoondinha to Cherry Run, much fine mountain scenery is revealed...

There is a superb rock formation to the mountains that is reminiscent of alpine countries, and much original hemlock on the mountain tops. The banks of the stream are dotted with hunters and campers cabins.

Karoondinha at Cherry Run

The road from Coburn (Forks) to Woodward skirts the foot of Tussey Mountain (Woodward Mountain- W.R.), and passes through many fine stretches of original timber. Pine Creek rises and sinks at several points along this road. About three miles east of Coburn on this road are the celebrated Caves of Coburn. These caves are on a level with the waters of Pine Creek and can only be entered at low water, preferably in mid-summer.

Pine Creek Farmscape

From Woodward, the road through Penn's Valley narrows to Hartleton and Mifflinburg, formally Youngmanstown, is much traversed, and contains many fin bits of wild scenery. It is now being sadly "thinned out" by theorists in the employ of the State Forestry Department. Visitors to Woodward should not miss taking a hike into Pine Creek Hollow, which lies beyond the towering Shriner Mountain (Winkleblech Mountain - W.R.).

The Tom Motz tract of original white pine trees, one of the few tracts of such timber remaining in the state, is a treat for the eyes, never to be forgotten. The giant trees, rising to a height of nearly two hundred feet, and straight as gun barrels, are always sighing in the wind, and are weird and sad survivors of the grand forests which once covered the Central Pennsylvania uplands. A fine stream flows through the tract giving the locality excellent camping facilities. This tract should be preserved for future generations to show Pennsylvanian's-to-come the kind of timber which once grew with lavish prodigality in our highlands.

Click here for more information on Henry Shoemaker.

Editors note: The "unique signboard" noted above most likely read "PoValley" as the modern day spelling of Poe Valley is incorrect. The valley was probably named for Daniel Poh, a Pennsylvania-German frontiersman who took up considerable land in said valley - W.R.