Look at a satellite image of the United States at night you’ll see two
dark areas in the mid-Atlantic region. At the heart of one of them is
Cherry Springs State Park.
the early 1990s, a handful of amateur astronomers discovered the
exceptional viewing conditions of Cherry Springs’ skies and the word
began to spread. Star-gazers who had previously traveled many miles to
view planets and nebulae without atmospheric disturbance discovered
they had some of the best dark skies right in their own back yard.
The Pa. Bureau of State Parks in May 2000 designated Cherry Springs as
a “Dark Sky Park.” Managers now consider dark skies to be as valuable a
resource as air, water, and wildlife.
of the country is affected by “light pollution” -- lighting that
escapes upwards into the atmosphere where it reflects off moisture and
blocks a view of the night sky.
Springs has no sky glow. While residents of darker communities may see
3,000 stars, the skies above Cherry Springs can sometimes display
upwards of 10,000 stars.
club from State College, the Central Pennsylvania Observers, holds
“star parties” at Cherry Springs to introduce the public to stargazing.
Cherry Springs was also the pilot location for the Stars-n-Parks
program, sponsored by the National Public Observatory (NPO) to foster
public awareness of light pollution and the preservation of the night
For information on Cherry Springs State Park: www.dcnr.state.pa.us
For information on the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund/Association: www.csspdarkskyfund.org
popular man-made lake at Lyman Run State Park reopened in 2008 after an
eight-year absence. The 40-acre lake was drained in 2000 after
structural deficiencies were detected in the dam.
new dam completed in 2008 allowed for the restoration of a cold-water
lake that has been popular with trout anglers, boaters and swimmers.
Other renovations were also completed at the 595-acre park, including
modern restrooms and shower facilities in two of its campgrounds.
For information on Lyman Run State Park: www.dcnr.state.pa.us
rare piece of artwork has occupied the wall of the Coudersport Post
Office lobby for more than 60 years. It depicts three hardy woodsmen
who have looked down over tens of thousands of customers since the work
debuted in 1939.
On Saturday afternoon, Feb.
16, the trio took their place as a tribute to Potter County’s lumbering
heritage. It was part of a U.S. Treasury Department plan to decorate
select federal buildings across the country with murals and sculptures.
Lohrman, a professor of art and history at Meriden College in
Connecticut, was commissioned to create the Coudersport piece,
depicting woodsmen who attacked the virgin timber as passenger pigeons,
plentiful in the late 1800s but now extinct, flitted in the nearby
woods. The artwork was produced with a plaster cast.
of a dam that gave way in 1911, causing a devastating flood in the
southern Potter County borough of Austin, are the backdrop for a public
park that is a symbol of volunteerism and community spirit. Donations
and volunteers have resulted in the development of the Austin Dam
Memorial Park, located along Rt. 872, about two miles north of Austin.
dam was built by the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company to solve the water
shortage the plant encountered when Freeman Run ran low in the summer
and fall. On Sept. 30, 1911, the dam failed and a wall of water swept
down the valley and through the town of Austin. An estimated 78 people
The tall concrete columns that
stretch across the valley stand as a silent reminder of the tragedy.
Visitors can drive to the base of the dam ruins on an access road
one-half mile north on Rt. 872.
Austin Dam Memorial Park hosts The Dam Show, an eclectic music festival
featuring natural recording artists. During the evening portion of the
show, the dam ruins are bathed in a dynamic, colorful light show.
rich and colorful heritage is on display at the E. O. Austin Historical
Museum, located on the town square. Many artifacts are on display in a
building that was constructed as an exact replica of the town founder,
E. O. Austin’s, home.
More information on the museum is available at www.austinhistoricalsociety.com
For information on the Austin Dam Memorial Association: www.austindam.net
For information on The Dam Show: www.damshow.com
books are filled with tales of utopian dreams that turned sour. One of
the more famous of these stories can be traced to southern Potter
County, in the vicinity of today’s Ole Bull State Park. It was there
that Norwegian Ole Bull -- the most famous violinist of his time --
sought to develop a settlement where immigrants could enjoy the
blessings of liberty and prosperity of the New World.
some 150 years later, there is little trace of the colorful Bull or his
colonists. But the land they tried to tame in the 1850s is another kind
of Mecca – enjoyed by thousands of campers, hikers, picnickers and
nature lovers every year.
The 132-acre Ole Bull State Park affords
visitors the opportunity to walk on the very land where Bull once
plotted his villages. Located along Pa. Rt. 144, it’s in the heart of
an area still often referred to as the “Black Forest,” because of its
once-dense tree cover, mountainous terrain and wilderness habitat.
features camping and picnic grounds, swimming, hiking, trout fishing,
cabin rental and some hunting opportunities. Additional details are
available at the park office, (814) 435-5000.
buffs seeking to find visual reminders of Bull and his followers won’t
go away disappointed. A short hike up a mountain trail takes the
visitor to the vista where Bull’s home – a modest two-story log
structure – was built in 1852. Some of the foundation stones remain in
place as a memorial to the colony’s founder.
cabin site affords a breathtaking view of the vast Kettle Creek valley
that the Norwegians attempted in vain to settle. The mountains were too
steep and the climate too cold for farming. The colony was poorly
managed, under-capitalized and doomed to failure. Within two years, all
but a handful of the Norwegians had abandoned the region.
evidence suggests that there were 300 or fewer colonists and the land
purchased by Bull consisted of 11,144 acres. When Bull purchased the
property, three prime parcels in the fertile valley were excluded from
the sale. The seller did refund to him the original purchase price of
about $10,000. At the same time, the construction of cabins, the
schoolhouse, a grist mill, hotel, general store and other improvements
were made primarily on property that Bull never owned, so he and some
of the colonists lost a small fortune.
For information on Ole Bull State Park: www.dcnr.state.pa.us
half-century after Pennsylvania established its first and only
state-owned ski area, Ski Denton lives on as part of Denton Hill State
Park. Under private management, the resort still caters to skiers and
snowboarders, but it has expanded operations to appeal to mountain
bicycle enthusiasts. Ski Denton is also the site of two major archery
festivals each year.
Its summit is some
2,440 feet above sea level. Construction of the resort began in 1958.
It was state-operated until 1979, when Ski Denton became a concession
run by a private contractor. It’s located across Rt. 6 from another
attraction, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.
For more information on Ski Denton: www.skidenton.com
state museum in the heart of Potter County documents the history and
equipment of the state’s forest industries. The Pennsylvania Lumber
Museum is located along Rt. 6, between Galeton and Coudersport.
addition to a visitor center, the museum features a replica logging
camp including mess hall and bunkhouse, blacksmith shop, filer’s shack,
horse barn, locomotive and engine house, along with a steam-powered
sawmill and log holding pond. An authentic 1912 Shay locomotive
towers over the grounds on a stationary track and a rare 1910 Model 10
Barnhart log loader adds to the realism.
at the Lumber Museum include tours, educational workshops and classes.
During the Bark Peelers' Convention each July, the work skills and
leisure activities of Pennsylvania’s turn-of-the-century lumberjacks
are re-created through contests and demonstrations.
For hours of operation, call the museum at 814-435-2652.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum: www.lumbermuseum.org
located in both Potter and Cameron counties, offers picturesque views
and an abundance of wildlife, including nesting bald eagles, elk, and
many birds and butterflies. The 1,910-acre park is home to the lake
that has formed behind the George B. Stevenson Dam, built for flood
protection in 1955. The 142-acre reservoir offers opportunity for
fishing and boating.
trails take hikers through a mixed hardwood forest, spruce plantation,
grassy openings, vernal ponds, streamside bottoms and a wildlife
viewing area. The 35-site campground has a modern washhouse with hot
water, flush toilets and showers, and playground equipment. There are
three picnic areas.
For additional information on Sinnemahoning State Park: www.dcnr.state.pa.us
State Park is nearly surrounded by forest and is near the largest
blocks of state forest land in the state. The 23-site campground in
Potter and Cameron counties has flush toilets and showers. Eighteen
campsites have electricity. The park also features hiking trails, a
play area and outdoor amphitheater.
picnic pavilions and over 200 picnic tables are available. Sizerville
State Park also has a 105-foot-long concrete pool, with an adjacent
wading pool, open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.
State Park opened for public use in 1924 with the first facilities
built in 1927. The name "Sizerville" comes from a logging boomtown of
the same name that flourished around the turn of the century.
Sizerville itself was named for the Sizer family who were, according to
local legend, the first settlers in the area. Beautiful white pines and
hemlocks grace Sizerville and bring to the visitor's eye and mind a
quiet, relaxed atmosphere. The pines were planted in the 1930s as a
conservation effort by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Several
thousand acres in and around the park were planted to replace the
massive tracts of old growth timber logged at the turn of the century.
The East Branch of Cowley Run, located in the park, has historical
significance in game management in Pennsylvania. In 1917, a pair of
beavers was presented to the Pennsylvania Game Commission by the State
of Wisconsin because beavers had become extirpated in Pennsylvania.
This first pair was released on East Branch Cowley Run, and beavers are
still found in the area. Elk once lived throughout the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Now through the efforts of the Pennsylvania Game
Commission and Bureau of Forestry, reintroduction of this majestic
animal to the Commonwealth has succeeded. Pennsylvania's only elk herd
lives in the mountainous, mostly wooded area of Elk, Clinton and
For additional on Sizerville State Park: www.dcnr.state.pa.us