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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

Coal Country and the Occasional Colors

Coal Country and the Fall Colors

On October 14, I set off to see I could find in the way of Fall My route started in Harrisburg, PA and a large, clockwise, circular to the north. As usual, I was also in of scenery, history, truth, and driving pleasure—and the faithful BMW Z4 has never failed to deliver on all of the

The mighty Susquehanna River to stretch impossibly wide at although it’s just a mile. The North Branch of the begins at the outlet of Lake in Cooperstown, NY (the site of The and The Pioneers. just in case are any James Fenimore Cooper out there). At 464 miles long, the is the 16th longest river in the (and the longest without any water traffic).

Looking from my vantage point, stood proudly in the distance, the Harvey Taylor Bridge in the

A bit of navigation took me to Washington in the city…

…which borders the John Harris Mansion. Jr. built the house in 1766, but the was named for his father. John Sr. was the European immigrant to settle in area, in about 1710. He a prosperous trade with the Native Americans and later the first ferry across the John Jr. inherited his father’s in 1748 and built the stone near the site of the family’s house. (He wisely chose ground, since the Harris’s routinely flooded out of their home.)

From the front little has changed from the original construction, other the addition of the alcove at the west end (on the in these photos).

In back, the mansion was expanded several Eventually, a businessman and politician questionable ethics, according to acquired the mansion. Simon used his fortune to remodel and the house extensively. At one point, he had to the floor by three feet so the house could accommodate the windows that he had bought in Cameron, incidentally, served as Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War at the of the Civil War—but left a later under a cloud of for corruption and fraudulent war contracting. He is below seated across Honest Abe.

These don’t really qualify as Colors, but they were nonetheless.

Next I found myself in a alley, wondering if there be anything else scenic in the I didn’t know the half of it…

the corner I found the Pennsylvania Capitol (recall that is the capital city) and the Grace Methodist Church with its facade. The Capitol is the third building for Harrisburg, the first burned in 1897, and the second completed. After the fire, United housed the legislature for a of years. At its dedication in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt called the new The handsomest building I ever That did not prevent its architect, M. Huston, from going to for 2 years after his conviction for in the procurement of materials and furnishings for the new (Historic photo is from the of Congress.)

The 1907 Cathedral of St. sits a little farther on State Street and is equally from the front, back, and (Interior photo by Marc

Leaving Harrisburg, I motored up the bank of the Susquehanna, turned through the not-so-metropolis of Shermans and before long found on the banks of Shermans Creek. I actually identified a Fall or two.

At the intersection of Landisburg and Roads, one finds an old mill, as one might. As always, to the rescue with a full set of about what turned out to be the Mill. The stone and log portion of the closest to the road, was built in and operated as a grist mill. In it was converted to a spoke and wheel and the frame portion was added. By the business closed for good. the water wheel is inside the rather than outside as is the case.

Remember The Mystery of the Schoolhouse. Well, I found one of them—there must be hundreds of things across Pennsylvania. one, unlike all the others seen, still has its bell

This magnificent old home right on a curve on Waggoners Gap just waiting for an errant to come charging through its Thankfully, there did not appear to be any of such an occurrence.

Out back was one of the farm scenes I’ve in a long time.

Waggoner’s and Mill are located nearby, on property. Discretion (and a dog) prevented me from any better photos. The bridge from 1889 and the Mill was in about 1812 on the site of an log structure. Shermans Valley (State Highway 274—and did guy Sherman used to own everything. ) crossed this bridge but now over a modern one.

Outside of Loysville, the Centre Church has been in existence 1766, with its current building completed in 1850.

Did I the scenic vistas? Pretty everywhere you looked.

I also to mention that my route from Mad Maps (Capital to When pressed for time, great to just grab one of pre-programmed tours, and they disappoint. This one featured driving in addition to historic and scenery. Many of the roads and turned up and over the mountains in a series of smoothly paved The Z4 really thrives on roads this, and with the engine above 4,000 rpm it would fly up any angle of ascent. Moreover, its and brakes left nothing to be and further added to the motoring

In 1793, a 21-year-old Scottish man Samuel McCulloch arrived in part of Pennsylvania with his brothers and soon started a distillery. Needing a steady of milled corn and barley for he bought the local grist in 1804, added a sawmill, and the of McCulloch’s Mills was born. days, its primary claim to is the sprawling McCulloch’s Mills The original church is visible in the and appears not to have been for many years. It was built in as best I can tell, and there are mill-like buildings and barns in area—but I never saw a single or other signs of life.

I saw plenty of abandoned houses on trip, I was glad to see many from the early 1800s were thriving. (This one is for in case anyone is interested.)

The nonexistent town of Nook, PA the stately St. Paul’s Lutheran which was celebrating its 175th Each of the wooden benches in the log church included an earthenware for use during the services. The current church was built in 1875 spittoons).

Best of all, the parking lot offered some Fall Colors. Finally!

This stately home was part of the Monongahela Farm, by the Wilson family of Pittsburgh. Now the Juniata Valley Winery and the House Bed and Breakfast. As it happened, the room was open when I by, prompting a U-turn, some sampling of the wines, and the purchase of six

Here are the friendly proprietors of the Karin and her sister Colleen (or is it and her sister Karin?), who operate the and bed and breakfast along with husband George. They very friendly and helpful—and proud of their wines.

PA is situated on the western side of the River, while Mifflintown, PA the eastern side. This is the that connects the two towns, from the Mifflintown side. side was founded by John in 1774. As best I can tell, he was not to John Harris Sr. or Jr. of Harrisburg The 1895 drawing of Mifflintown the extent of the city.

The bridge a nice view of the Juniata

…not to mention a close-up of a Veritable Stink Bug. (Do you any idea how hard it is to get a stink bug to motionless, for an HDR photograph?) Halyomorpha appeared in the U.S. only 1998—but has quickly become a nuisance.

The houses in Mifflintown to have an unusually keen in satellite TV, judging by the plethora of

When you park a Z4 to roam on foot, even on a nice day a good idea to run the top up!

Further the road, outside of McAlisterville, I ran one of the world’s greatest collections junk. It was all carefully organized a pile of Cans and a pile of Else. And each pile to extend indefinitely. Here is a sampling:

The village of Evendale is so that is doesn’t even up on Google Maps or Mapsource—but there. It even appears to been home to a modest at one time.

Just on the outskirts of I found the Evendale Bible situated in the middle of what like a very old, small, religious communal

An 1800s religious commune have been unusual but then, approaching Richfield, I a sign for The Bison Farm Bed II. Now I’ve seen everything! The BB squarely in the middle of the buffalo and is advertised to be perfect for honeymooners. I you decide… I didn’t see anyone other than this member of the Security Team.

In Mount Pleasant Mills 342), I followed my usual of taking a wrong turn and discovered either (i) another old or (ii) a grander-than-usual house.

getting back on track, I all of several more miles stopping to look at (yet one room schoolhouse, which has been converted into a Note that this one not has its original bell tower but the in addition.

By now it was 3:30 in the afternoon, the were lengthening, and I wasn’t one-half of the way around my circular I vowed to reach Tower (about three-fourths of the way around) sundown and mashed the accelerator to the to stop exactly 2 minutes to wade through a pile of bushes to get this scenic shot, just for you, my readers!

Soon thereafter, I at the Susquehanna River once and drove through Selinsgrove a glimpse of the famous Selinsgrove half-mile sprint car racetrack in the But my real goal was Shamokin PA—home of the world’s longest dam. Yes, that’s an inflatable dam across a major I’d never heard of a thing, and (contrary to some of my I’m not making this up! the summer, the dam is inflated to create a lake for recreational purposes. deflated otherwise (as shown to allow fish migration and Spring snow melt. dam replaced an earlier one across the that dated back to the but was destroyed by an ice flow in 1904.

the river from Shamokin Dam one Sunbury, PA (formerly called It dates back as far as 1724 and was the for Fort Augusta, which was in 1756 by British Army William Clapton and James Ironically, the fort came through the urging of the local American residents, who were relentlessly attacked by the French and Indians from farther The fort also served as an base for the Colonial Army the American Revolution.

Sunbury was the of the world’s first working system, installed in the City by Thomas Edison in 1883. As the website states, It changed the In 1922, with the 75-year-old back on hand, the establishment its name to the Edison Hotel. It in operation today—and, yes, haunted of course. Ask for Ramona.

On my visit, I encountered this ghost of the past—a pristine VW Ghia coupe. Although the performance was limited, the Dean of Design, Walter D. Teague, the Karmann Ghia on his list of the most beautifully designed

The Market Street square, the river, offered this Fountain (Fall leaves and plus the magnificent Northumberland District Building. At first I it was a church. Later I realized I had parked in Sheriff Chad own reserved parking space…

In and Sunbury I found a glorious of houses. Don’t you wish still built homes these? (Okay, maybe better insulation and more outlets…)

As the sun began to set, I on and refused to stop anymore. there were scenes a cleverly decorated bar grill…

…or a cemetery…

…or another well-preserved house.

Ignoring most things along the way, I Tremont with enough left to get a photo of the confluence of Spring Creek and Coal

It’s hard to find any about Tremont. The newsletter of the Historical Society offered the report from a recent Floyd H. has put together a computer CD. Point) program. along grafic files so you can veiw all the on your computer. Unfortunately, turned out to be for Tremont, Illinois. so I use it here.

Now, as you’re along on a Z4 tour, hopelessly schedule, and with the sun rapidly it becomes even more to take note of road lest (i) you become lost or you overlook an intriguing-sounding road that hints at a possible of interest. In my case, at 5:40 in the I had a choice of Steins Mill Black Diamond Way, Gum Road, Railroad Streeet, and Road. I chose the last of and detoured off of Highway 209—and found the 1856 FriedensKirche. research revealed that the has been modified somewhat and from its early days. photo courtesy of the Small Project .)

I finally made it to Tower and discovered that (i) it has no towers and it was founded by Charlemagne Tower. Mr. a skilled attorney, secretly up huge land holdings in County because of their of coal. He managed to assemble thousands of acres before figured out what he was doing and to challenge his titles—which he successfully in court. Eventually he leased his to two companies that started coal mines, one of which was the Brookside Colliery. Charlemagne built Tower City to the miners and other workers. In 1913 at the East Brookside an evening work crew detonated 175 pounds of dynamite by A second explosion was the result of released by the first blast and when rescuers were to reach the original crew. It known as the East Brookside Disaster. the worst in the history of County. The mine closed for in 1938.

Tower City’s High School was built in but abandoned in the early 1970s.

a final look at the disappearing it was time to abandon the rest of my now—and to find a direct way

As always, the Z4 was the perfect method of willing to go zoom when or to trundle along peacefully in of history, mystery, and good fun. With all the highway getting to and from the tour, I 28 mpg overall for the day. And I’ve returned for the last one-fourth of the finding a spectacular motorcycle / car road in the process, but that’s a for another day!

Rick F.

flies, whether you’re fun or not.

2006 BMW Z4 3.0i (a.k.a. a Z3000RS motorcycle training wheels and a roll

2005 BMW R1200GS (retired, the way)

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