Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 27, 2019

Pennsylvania Off the Beaten Path

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Raccoon Creek State Park is located at 3000 State Route 18 in Hookstown, PA, Beaver County, west of Pittsburgh.

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The land that surrounds man-made Raccoon Lake is landscaped. In the fall one can see the changing colors of 42 different kinds of trees. Hikers can follow five miles of trail crisscrossing a 314-acre wildflower reserve where more than 500 species of flowering plants can be found. Peak blooming seasons are mid-April to mid-May and August through October.

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Another hiking trail includes a tour of the Frankfort Mineral Springs. During the 19th century, the mineral water here was reputed to possess healing powers and the springs are quite famous. The annual winter freeze forms tremendous ice sculptures that stand immobile until they melt in the spring. The lake has bluegills, sunfish, bullheads, brook and rainbow trout, walleye, crappies, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and yellow perch. There are also a wide variety of interpretive and educational programs such as walks for bird-watchers, night hikes, snowshoe hikes, four self-guiding nature trails, and a Christmas bird count. In the winter there is ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The park has five picnic areas as well.

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Nemacolin Castle on Front Street in Brownsville was named for the Indian leader Nemacolin, who established the first English trading route between Ohio and Maryland. Nemacolin Castle sits on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River. The early trading route connected with the river at present-day Brownsville and in 1806 it became a part of Route 40 the country’s first east-west highway. What is now the castle started as a simple trading post on the site of old Fort Burd which guarded the trade route. As the post prospered its owner Jacob Bowman gradually added onto the original stone structure turning it into a red brick Tudor-style castle with a crenelated octagonal tower and 22 rooms. The guest bedroom in the tower offers a wonderful view of the property and has a ladder leading to a second level which overlooks the entire town. Most of the rooms contain original 19th-century furnishings. In the “Bishop’s Bedroom”is a rare Napoleonic rosewood bed and a flawless 30 square-foot mirror made in 1850. Visitors may picnic on the grounds outside the castle.

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National Watch and Clock Museum located at 514 Poplar St., Columbia. When entering the museum one is given a card and must punch in on an industrial time clock. The museum is managed by The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

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The museum traces the history of time measurement from a reproduction of the incredible non-mechanical Rhodes Antikytheron clock circa 79 B.C. to the most sophisticated modern atomic clock. Among the musical clocks are a 1770 Glune glass bell clock, an 1840 organ clock, a 1903 Regina music box and a 1905 Symphonic/Leipzig German clock with 10 interchangeable discs each with a different melody. On display are also clocks with Japanese characters, mantel clocks, mirror clocks, master-and-slave clocks, banjo clocks, a lantern clock, a Swiss water clock, and others. Nearly all of the clocks and watches are in working order.

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Toy Train Museum, Red Caboose Motel, and Strasburg Railroad – In Strasburg, the historical section of the Toy Train Museum has examples of all types of trains from 1880 to the present.

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Each era of development is represented. Three complex operating layouts have push-button controls with which visitors can activate the trains and accessories.

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Adjacent to the Toy Train Museum is the Red Caboose Motel. Overnight guests can stay in a refurbished N-5 caboose. Meals are served in two original Victorian dining coaches decorated with velvet curtains and brass Pullman lanterns.

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The Strasburg Railroad – a coal-burning turn-of-the-century steam locomotive pulling antique cars- runs past the Red Caboose siding.  The century-old station for the train ride is reached by a ¾-mile walk alongside the tracks or a short drive west on Route 741. The locomotive hissing steam and belching black smoke pulls an eight-car train along a nine-mile track through the Amish farmland. The wooden 19th-century coaches are period pieces complete with coal-oil lamps and potbelly stoves.

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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary – Located in east-central Pennsylvania is a  sanctuary for migrating birds of prey. From this 1,500 foot ridge, one can watch for more than 200 species of birds as well as for 14 species of raptors including eagles, ospreys, hawks, and falcons. The birds can be seen on their flights to their winter or summer ranges.

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The mountain is named for the birds that appear in greater numbers in the spring and fall. A ¾ mile trail on the heavily wooded slopes winds past two very good viewing points. The northern overlook is recommended for the fall migration. Other animals that are plentiful here are deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons.  In the early summer after the mountain laurel blooms nesting warblers and other songbirds take up residence on the tranquil mountain. Altogether there are 8-miles of ridge and valley trails, a Visitors Center, a bookstore and a native plant garden.

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  1. Very informative! I’d like to see the toy train museum and the train motel looks fun to stay in.

    • Glad you enjoyed the tour Camie. These are places that tourists usually do not know too much about or have not considered visiting.

      • I love those kinds of places!

  2. It’s really. To think the area in Pittsburgh is about 60 mile + or 3 to 4 hours from me. The area looks beautiful.

    • There is lots to like in this state. Take a look when you can Crystal. You’ll enjoy it.

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