Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spirits at the Railroad House Inn Marietta, Pennsylvania

Not too far from the former home of Nellie Noll ( "the river witch" ) lies the Railroad House Inn. The establishment offers fine food, a bed and breakfast, and spirits. Originally built in the 1820’s, it had become a haven for all the men who worked along the river and many believe a few may still inhabit this historic establishment. Workers in the restaurant kitchen have witnessed cooking utensils being moved or strewn around on their own. A few have even seen the young blonde girl who causes all this commotion. She is dressed in Victorian garb, and seems to enjoy playing games with the kitchen staff. The spirits here don’t just inhabit the kitchen; they also pay visits to overnight guests. Those who have booked overnight visits to the Bed and Breakfast have felt numerous cold spots throughout the building and have seen a strange man sitting at the foot of their bed in the middle of the night. Others have encountered an elderly woman on a rocking chair, knitting the night away. Room 6 of the Bed and Breakfast may hold the most mystery. Even when the room is unoccupied, strange noises have been heard, and many have felt an overwhelming fear just nearing the room. But for the strongest spirits in the Railroad House, you need to visit the tavern, don’t just go looking on the shelves for the spirits.
Shadowy figures have been spotted throughout the bar by numerous patrons and cold spots have been felt all throughout. And all you singles guys better be wary of a flirty woman named Annie. Her spirit has been known to be quite attracted to young bachelors. You have been warned.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Washington's Crossing at the Delaware

On a chilly Christmas evening in 1776, George Washington may have changed the fate of America forever. After suffering moral defeats in New York City, General Washington needed to regain the morale of his troops. He devised an attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. Washington and his troops set camp at the village of Taylorsville, Pennsylvania, located on the banks of the Delaware River. The town was developed around a ferry crossing owned by Samuel McConkey. Mr. McConkey also owned an inn and tavern, which served as a guard post to keep alert for attacking British Troops. It’s also believed that Washington and his troops dined at McConkey’s Ferry Inn before that treacherous night on the Delaware.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on Christmas evening, Washington and his troops set out on the Delaware River. The Durham boats Washington specifically asked for seemed to be the perfect fit for all his men plus their heavy gear. The Durham boats were used for hauling iron on the river. This evening they would receive their hardest workout. A classic Pennsylvanian nor’easter was looming on the horizon. The battle through the icy waters of the Delaware was just one of the many to come in those ten crucial days. Sleet, snow and freezing rain fell down on Washington’s troops as they fought through the blustery night. After the crossing, Washington marched his men into Trenton, New Jersey and devised a two prong attack, which would change the Revolution forever.

It is thought that more men perished from diseases and sickness along the banks of the Delaware than in the battles that proceeded. The Thompson-Neely house, which still stands, acted as a hospital during the troop’s encampment at Taylorsville. It is unknown exactly how many men perished in this site, and almost all who died are still unknown. While the building of the Delaware Canal was going on, many workers found body remains in the soil outlaying the river.

A soldier’s grave was later made to commemorate all who lost their lives during that cold December in 1776. The tombstones that line the bank only represent a few of the many who lost their lives for our freedoms.

In 1918 the town of Taylorsville was changed to Washington’s Crossing. Today, many of the buildings still stand, allowing us to retrace history and walk the hallowed grounds where many had given blood and life for the many freedoms we so boldly display today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mahlon Haines Shoe House York, Pennsylvania

When driving along the Lincoln Highway near the Hellam exit outside of York, Pennsylvania, you'll pass a home sure to attract your attention. There is no little old woman with too many kids living here, but the kids are sure to love it. The fact it acts as an ice cream shop doesn't hurt either.

The Shoe House was built in 1949 for a gentleman named Mahlon Haines. Haines was quite a savvy businessman and a self-starter. In 1905, upon splitting up with his fiance, Haines traveled from Ohio to York, Pennsylvania... on his bicycle, where he than pawned the engagement ring. He used the money to buy shoes. He sold those immediately and bought as many more pairs as he could with his profits. Soon he was able to open a store in downtown York.

Haines was very creative and was known to use various antics and marketing gimmicks to attract business to his shoe store, including paying people on the street if they knew who he was. One day he had an ingenious idea to build a shoe house. He would use the home to help further promote his shoe business. In the beginning the home's intention was to be used by young newlywed couples. The recently married couples could stay there free of charge, and would have servants to help them during their stay. I'm guessing this was his way of acquiring a customer for life. After all, if someone paid for my honeymoon, I'd be likely to buy shoes from him - for myself and my family - for the rest of my life.

On Outta the Way's visit, we toured the Shoe House, and, for a small fee you can as well. The Shoe House is much bigger on the inside than the outside lets on. The owners of the Shoe House are very friendly and outgoing. They have shoe memorabilia that they have collected, or have had donated to them throughout the rooms of the house. Some of these items are quite rare and rather valuable. Even the windows in the home have shoes painted on them.

While on the tour you'll get a visit to every room, though no photographs are allowed. In our opinion this just helps to add to the mystery and gives you more of a reason to visit.

On the way out, be sure to grab an ice cream cone and check out the shoe-shaped doghouse as well. What dog wouldn't love a giant shoe to sleep and play in!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cabela's Taxidermy Hamburg, Pennsylvania

In the hills of Hamburg, Pennsylvania, there have been sightings of 30-point deer, large black bears and even lions!
Located in the mountains of Northern Berks County, Cabela’s leaves its presence known. While traveling I-78, you can see the store from a few miles away. At 250,000 square feet it’s their largest store.
From what I understand, this is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Pennsylvania. This was always something that somewhat irked me with all this great history in the state. I completely understand that we’re an outdoorsman state. I have never been a hunter nor much of a fisherman myself. So why would I write about this place? Well, I can tell you this is the only store I’ve ever entered with a camera in hand and didn’t feel the least bit odd about it.

What Cabela’s has in this store can only be described as a hierarchy of taxidermy. There are deer mounts that line the entire store. These aren’t necessarily your normal whitetails either. There are racks from all over the country, many unusually large. I myself never knew a deer could have over 100 points. Well, they do and if you ever wanna see a rack from one, this is the place to visit.

Right in the center of the store is a huge display of all different animals, from foxes to wolves to bears, all set up in different sceneries with various ecosystems. This setup is definitely a sight to see. It looks like something you would spot in a museum.
Amidst the largest supply of fishing gear I’ve seen in my life, is an African desert setup complete lions, tigers, a rhino and even an elephant. From my understanding, all animals were donated to Cabela’s and none were hunted in an illegal manner or even from the sole purpose of being in Cabela’s itself. If you are an avid hunter or outdoorsman, this is definitely a place you should check out. If you’re into different, or an animal lover, this is still a place you’ll definitely enjoy. After all it’s not every day you can go into a store and see lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Perched high up on the Kittatinny Ridge of the Applachian Mountain sits a sanctuary for raptors and birds of prey.

Hawk Mountain provides the world’s first refuge for hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures. Offering 8 miles of trails and picturesque vistas, there is no

shortage of nature to admire here. But things weren’t always so safe here for our feathered friends.

In 1929, the Pennsylvania Game Commission was paying hunters $5 for each goshawk they shot down. This was big money considering the Great Depression was upon us. The state believed the hawks were harming farmers’ livestock. In 1931, an amateur ornithologist from Philadelphia was visiting the area. What he found astounded and shocked him. Hundreds of hunters perched high in the mountain shooting the birds for their own pleasure. The dozens of carcasses lying on the mountain floor would become an inspiration to eradicate this horrible movement. Richard Pough, the young man from Philadelphia, tried to stop the hunters on his own, but was unsuccessful. Eventually photos he had taken of this travesty made their way into the hands of conversationalist Rosalie Edge.

Initially she leased 1,400 acres and hired a warden to keep the hunters off the property. By 1938 she had purchased and deeded the property to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association. Interestingly, the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is not supported by the Pennsylvania or Federal Government, it is all privately run. Aside from the hundreds of raptors who migrate here every fall, there’s also a small pond where you’ll find frogs, turtles, fish and even newts. The sanctuary also has a native plant garden, consisting of over 250 species of Pennsylvania native plants.

It’s not only nature lovers who enjoy Hawk Mountain, Paranormal investigators are quite attracted to the place as well. The land was originally traced back to the Lenni Lenape Indian Tribe. Remains of a ceremonial ring have been found on the mountain, as well as Native American artifacts. It’s thought that this ceremonial ring could have been used for spiritual rituals. But this mountain has an even more horrid past than some ritualistic animal killings.

In the 1750’s, tensions between colonist and Native Americans began to escalate. On a cold February evening, a group of Indians slayed 5 family members relaxing in a family cabin. What the natives didn’t realize was that the family’s young son had survived the ordeal. Hiding in the nearby woods, the young man witnessed the brutal attack of his family. After many traumatic years, the son returned to the mountain and built a larger home, which he eventually sold to Mathias Schambacher and his wife. Sometime during the mid-1800’s, the couple opened the doors as a tavern and roadside inn. Slowly, overnight patrons from the inn began to steadily disappear. Everyone in the mountain area started to become suspicious of Mathias Schambacher, though not enough evidence was found to arrest the man.

In 1879 while on his death bed, Mathias had his wife contact a preacher for a death bed confession. Mr. Schambacher had admitted to killing between 11 and 14 men. He claims he lost count after his well become filled with human skulls. During his funeral, witnesses have attested to seeing lightning hit his grave. Maybe this accounts for the strange flashing lights many have witnessed on Hawk Mountain.

Many other visitors have sensed and seen what appears to be a 10-foot apparition that evil radiates from. Maybe this apparition haunted Mr. Schambacher as well, since he claims to have committed the murders due to a strange voice he would hear demanding him to kill. Perhaps undiagnosed schizophrenia is the reason. Whatever the reason, there is something mysterious going on here. Shortly after the purchase of Hawk Mountain, many of the staff felt a supernatural phenomenon immediately, and many human remains have been found in the area.

So whether enjoying nature is your thing, or if you prefer to live a little on the dark side, Hawk Mountain is a definite must visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Linfield Industrial Park

Located near the lush maintained greens of the Linfield Country Club, lies an industrial complex that hasn’t been maintained for nearly 25 years. Situated behind trees and large overgrowth, the Linfield Industrial Park lies abandoned and almost completely forgotten about. As you walk your way through the gridded streets, you see Mother Nature reclaiming what was once hers.

Grass and weeds shoot through the macadam, while buildings show the effects of neglect: bricks crumbling, steps broken and shard pieces of glass, representing windows.

On the inside of a few buildings it seems as though all who worked here just simply vanished. There are still cabinets full of paperwork, machinery and even a forklift overcrowded with vines and weeds. The entire complex is like an industrial wasteland. But things weren’t always like this at Linfield. At one time this complex helped employ numerous citizens in the area and gave them a better way of life.

Linfield was an industrial hub up until the 1960’s and was once the home of the famous Kinsey Distillery.

The Kinsey Distillery began shortly after Prohibition and was in operation up until 1986. It’s thought that most of the whiskey distilling took place at their main plant in Philadelphia and the Limerick Production plant was mainly used as a warehouse to store what was once the “world’s largest single concentration of aging whiskeys.” The warehouse was capable of holding more than one million barrels. In 1986 the distillery closed its doors and has been left to crumble ever since. Urban explorers and photographers have since become fascinated with the area. The nearby Limerick Power Plant gives the area a post nuclear holocaust feel that many find to be haunting, yet beautiful. Linfield is one of those places you could spend a day at, just being in awe of its decrepit-ness, while feeling its history pulsating through you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Union Canal Tunnel

Looking to pass through the oldest transportation tunnel in the United States? Better have a boat in tow or be ready to get wet.

The Union Canal was originally proposed by William Penn in 1690 in order to access a second settlement on the Susquehanna River. Original surveying for the Canal was done in 1762 then again in 1770. In 1792, the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Canal Company began construction. Several miles were dug and 5 locks were built between the towns of Myerstown and Lebanon. Unfortunately a lack of money ceased the work.

Reorganizing in 1811 to form the Union Canal Company, work began again in 1821 and finally the Canal was opened in 1828. During the time of May 1825 and June 1827, men were hand drilling through the ridge and blasting gunpowder in order to build an engineering feat. At the time of the tunnel’s construction, it was considered unheard of in this country. Boats would be pulled through while the mules were led over the top of the ridge.In 1832 a branch of canal was finished reaching into Pine Grove, so the coal in that area could be easily transported.

During the 1850’s, the locks of the canal were enlarged to accommodate larger boats. In 1858 the tunnel which originally was 729 feet was shortened to 600 feet. Around this same time, transportation was seeing a transformation and the railroad was growing. In 1857 the Lebanon Valley Railroad was built and seriously reduced the canal’s revenue. To make matters worse, a flood in 1862 destroyed much of the canal. Costly repairs, water problems and the advancement of railroading forced the canal to close in 1885. In the early 1930’s, the Civil Works Administration began restoring the tunnel of the canal.

In 1950 the Lebanon County Historical Society purchased the tunnel. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Union Canal Tunnel Park was opened up in October of 1988.

Instead of getting wet and swimming through the dark tunnel alone, you can contact the Historical Society and they’ll be happy to boat you through.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hans Graf Cemetery and the Haunted Dogs

It’s not only human spirits that haunt the little borough of Marietta. Just a short drive away in the neighboring small town of Rowenna, lies an old family grave plot thought to be haunted by dogs. The Hans Graf Cemetery is the plot of the Graf family, one of the first families to occupy Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The graveyard is very old and mysterious. The graves are encompassed inside a crumbling stone wall. Local legend states if you circle the perimeter seven times by the light of a full moon you will perish. Most of the tales stemming from the cemetery involve phantom canines. A ghostly apparition of a dog has been spotted by numerous visitors near the grave of Hans Graf. Several paranormal investigators have experienced odd phenomenon as well. Several EVPs of dogs barking have been caught on audio, and during numerous visits dogs were often heard when encountering the cemetery.It’s not known why dogs would haunt this cemetery. Perhaps they’re protecting the Graf family from unwanted intruders

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ghosts at the Fulton Theatre Lancaster, Pennsylvania

If you prefer to hunt your ghosts with a little more style, take a stroll to the nearby Fulton Opera House in Lancaster city. This historic playhouse is a hotbed for paranormal activities. The Fulton was built over the foundation of an old prison. In 1763 the prison housed 14 Conestoga Indians who had escaped the Paxton Boys Massacre. The prison was meant to protect the natives, though all it did was made it easier for the mob to torture and kill these poor souls. On a quiet night you can still hear their screams coming from the corner of the building.

In 1852 the theatre went into operation and since than has hosted thousands of plays. Many top actors and actresses have passed through here, including Mark Twain, W.C. Fields and the infamous John Wilkes Booth. But a few of these thespians may still be hanging around the theatre. It’s believed that the ghosts of Sara Bernhardt and former silent movie start Marie Cahill still call the theatre home. Apparitions have been spotted by numerous guests throughout the theatre. Actors and workers at the theatre have also witnessed pianos playing themselves and have heard phantom applause.
If you do attend a show at the Fulton, don’t be too shocked if you feel you’re being watched, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spirits at the Strasburg Cemetery

Annie Gonder doesn’t always prefer to stay at home. The nearby Strasburg Cemetery where her remains are buried also seems to be a favorite spot for her. As you approach the rusty iron gates of the cemetery, you feel a presence around you. The bats flying overhead make your pulse race higher as you approach the old, worn tombs of the Gonder family. Something seems afoul. The gravestone of Annie is placed in the opposite direction of the rest of the family. Was the family so ashamed of Annie they turned their backs on her even in death? Or was Annie getting the last laugh on the Gonder family, and shunning away from them? If you hang around the Strasburg Cemetery long enough, maybe you can ask her for yourself!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ghosts in the Gonder Mansion: Strasburg, Pennsylvania

The modest town of Strasburg is mainly known for its historical railroad. Thousands flock to this small town every summer to take a leisurely stroll through the Amish farmlands, not realizing the nearby town is rich in ghostly tales of the afterlife. After-hours this town comes alive with spirits. Ghost carriages have been spotted on Main Street carrying Union Civil War soldiers who are on leave. There’s also the nearby John Funk house which dates back to 1789 and is thought to be haunted by him and his wife. Mr. Funk is such an active spirit; conversations with him have been recorded. He’s also been known to wait on customers in the store that now occupies his former residence. But there’s another nearby home with a past so full of mystique, it’s where urban legends are born.

The Gonder Mansion was built by a local railroading tycoon. The Victorian home was built right next to the very modest home the family formerly resided in. But when moving next door, they left something behind in the former home. The wealthy brother had left his sister Annie to live in the home herself, secluded away from the rest of the family. Annie was thought to have several mental disabilities that the family seemed to be embarrassed by. Eventually Annie moved away from the town and her family, but vowed revenge.
A few years later, Annie took her own life by drowning herself in the nearby Pequea Creek. Since then, it seems as those Annie has kept her promise. Her spirit is said to haunt the Gonder Mansion and is particularly fond of scaring men of the house.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lancaster Cemetery and Augusta Bitner's Grave

Take a late night stroll through the Lancaster Cemetery and you’ll feel the history of the city engulf you, but be cautious of what else you may encounter in this plot of graves. Late night passersby tell tales of encountering a woman in a Victorian dress strolling the hallowed grounds. This woman is thought to be the spirit of Augusta Bitner, a young woman who died during childbirth and has yet to come to rest. Her grave is one of the most exquisite in the cemetery: a large statue of the Virgin Mary, which is thought to come to life during full moon nights. If you visit on the eve of her death, you may even witness tears of sorrow slowly weeping from the statue’s eyes. It’s thought Augusta will never rest until she learns the fate of her precious child who cost her, her own life.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Haunted Lancaster County Prison

The City of Lancaster gets commended for striving to keep the history of the city. Most downtown businesses are in buildings dating back over 150 years. Given all this history and the fact that most still exist, leaves the City of Lancaster ripe with ghost tales.
Originally built in 1737, the Lancaster County Prison, with its castle façade, is a great representation of this. Yet behind that façade that houses criminals, many strange happenings are going on.
The prison held public hangings until 1912 and those sentenced to death were chained to cinder blocks right behind these castle walls. The cells and chains used to hold the prisoners are still in existence, and some believe the prisoners might not be far behind. Late nights in the cells are sure to send a shiver through anyone. Whispers, scratching and chain rattles are a normal occurrence. I’d rather not spend an evening in the prison to find out. I recommend that you don’t either.

Monday, October 4, 2010

River Witch of Marietta, Pennsylvania

Located along Front Street in Marietta is the former home of one of Pennsylvania’s most famous co-conspirators. Nellie Noll, a/k/a the “River Witch,” helped play a very key role in the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer. Nelson’s neighbor, John Blymire, had fallen on some very hard luck. He became convinced that someone had cast a hex on him. He was also able to persuade two teenagers that they, too, had been hexed, that’s the reason for their failing crops. Mr. Blymire contacted several local witches and was convinced that he had been hexed by someone near him. The trio then consulted with Nellie Noll as a last ditch effort. For reasons which are still unknown, she told the men they had been hexed by the Witch of Rehmeyer’s Hollow – Nelson Rehmeyer. In order to break the hex, she informed the men all they would need to do was to retrieve Rehmeyer’s spell book and burn it or get a lock of his hair and bury it six feet underground. The men’s plan eventually came to fruition after they murdered Nelson Rehmeyer in his home. They were never able to retrieve the spellbook of the imposing Rehmeyer, but his hair – and the rest of him – made it six feet underground. The ensuing murder trial made national news and was a media sensation. The Philadelphia Record called the trial “the weirdest and most curiously fascinating in the history of modern jurisprudence.” And to think all this mayhem occurred due to Nellie Noll, the River Witch of Marietta.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania:Ghost Stories

In the October Outta the Way zine we'll take you on a haunting journey through Lancaster county.
We''ll start in the sleepy town of Marietta where spirits have been known to get restless after night falls. You'll learn the history of the "River Witch", grab some spirits with a few spirits, and take a journey into the darkside in a cemetery haunted by phantom dogs.
Next we'll lead you into Lancaster city and visit a few historical spots, each with a ghastly past. One enshrined in glitz and glamour, the other a medieval looking fortress you don't even wanna spend a night in. Than it's off to a city cemetery with local tales of statues coming to life, and spirits roaming the grounds still searching the truth.
Lastly we're off to the railroading town of Strasburg, and a visit to a few homes with more than their share of spine tingling tales. Finally we'll visit the local cemetery and the grave of a mysterious local woman who still has many unanswered questions, even decades after her death.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Abandoned Luncheonette" Rosedale Diner

The late owner of the abandoned Pizza World, also owned another restaurant, though this one will be remembered forever. The Rosedale Diner which had been sitting across the street from Pizza World, caught the eyes of two upcoming musicians. Daryl Hall, a Pottstown native, and John Oates approached the owner about granting permission to photograph the diner which had sat defunct since the mid 1960's. The owner verbally agreed for an autographed first album fresh off the presses.

In 1973 Hall & Oates released the album "Abandoned Luncheonette", featuring one of their most recognized hits "She's Gone." The Rosedale Diner remained in it's dilapidated state until 1983 when it was eventually scrapped. During that 10 year frame it became a hallowed ground for Hall & Oates souvenir hunters. Some debris from the old diner can still be found near the towpath park on Route 724.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Abandoned Luncheonette" Pizza World

What is it that I find so intriguing about an abandoned pizza shop? There's no real historical value. It's not located in the heart of a large city, in fact it's in a rather remote location. What I find so fascinating is it's modern architectural style. The bright red diamond shaped roof set off with the overgrowth of weeds and trees makes for an interesting contrast.

In this day and age where every business that goes belly up, gets destroyed, and is quickly replaced with a franchise it's a rarity to see an abandoned gem like Pizza World still standing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pennhurst "Haunted Asylum" My Thoughts

Even though the Pennhurst school and hospital closed in 1987 it is still not without controversy. This time the controversy isn't over mistreatment of patients, it's over the possibility that these former patients will be exploited.

The former institute is being renovated into a haunted attraction, this has caused quite a stir given Pennhurst's notorious past. Many fear how the scares will come and if they'll be at the expense of those with mental disabilities. But haven't we been doing that for years? Isn't anyone who murders someone being exploited for someone else personal gain? When a murder occurs in any small town what makes front page news? And every summer we flock to the big screens to watch the latest psychopath on the loose hacking everyone to bits. We find it entertaining! But do we find it to be exploiting to those with mental disabilities? A few may but I believe the majority doesn't. Point being we don't often associate Leatherface as someone with mental disabilities. I'm also not comparing the patients at Pennhurst with a fictional character such as Leatherface, but he is obviously psychologically challenged.

When a family member murders their entire family and themselves you always hear the whispers around town, " something was wrong with them" or "they weren't right in the head!" Yes, something was wrong! People don't murder each other when they have a stable mind. What I find the most horrifying is the way the system has failed those with mental disabilities the most.

I'm someone who will admit to having been a victim of the mental health care field. I can tell
you firsthand there's too much over medicating, not enough listening, and still too much prejudice against those who suffer. I often say a majority of society is closer to having a breakdown than they care to believe. Often times it just takes a traumatic circumstance in your life, or a past tragedy you still haven't properly dealt with. Mine came from a combination of both. Most of the medications prescribed to me often made me feel worse than I originally felt. I would personally rather feel depressed than to feel no emotion at all.

I'm not too sure of the intentions of the haunted attraction, though they are working with a psychiatrist  in order to remain sensitive to the disabled, I'm willing to give them a chance.
There are talks that the monies raised will be donated to charity's that care for the disabled, and will also go into helping to restore the legacy of Pennhurst.

In this day and age of instant technology, not all are too immersed in protecting or learning history. I feel if this is a way to generate interest in Pennhurst and help to preserve it for many other generations to learn from, than I'm all for it.

Though I would prefer that if instead of a guy in a hockey mask wielding a chainsaw, how about a terrifying doctor chasing victims down attempting to strap them into an adult crib, and inject them with Thorazine.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Suffer the Little Children" of Pennhurst

I'm not the type of person who is easily offended. I've seen many of what are considered the most disturbing films of all time, most without so much as a slight grimace. I understand that the graphic images depicted in these films are not real and are strickly for entertainment, even if it's entertaining minds as twisted as mine. But none of these films would prepare me for the disturbing images I witnessed in Bill Baldini's shocking expose, "Suffer the Little Children", showing firsthand the patients at Pennhurst State School and Hospital. These children and adults were ostracized from society in order to help protect us, but who was there to help protect the children from society?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pennhurst State School & Hospital

The Pennhurst facility in Spring City, Pennsylvania has become synonymous with an institute of fear, though the hospital's original intentions were to do help, not harm.

The institution originally opened up in 1908 and was a home and school for those with mental and physical abnormalities. Most of the patients were children, but ages ranged up past 70 years old.

From the initial opening of Pennhurst many had their doubts it would be successful. For starters the institute quickly became overcrowded, others were appalled at the methods used to control unruly patients, but most turned a blind eye to the warehousing of those with mental and physical deformities. That quietly changed in 1968 when a Philadelphia newscaster would shed much light on the atrocities that were taken place behind closed doors. Viewers witnessed disturbing images of multiple patients twitching, rocking back and forth, and pacing relentlessly, while also encountering grown adults in large cribs, limbs bound and strapped to the bars. These disturbing images embedded themselves in the viewer's mind and began to raise awareness, and lot's of questions as to how these members of our society were really being helped.

The expose helped to play a major role in the eventual closing of Pennhurst in 1987. Since than risk takers have been facing heavy fines and exposure to deadly asbestos just to get an inside look at this landmark institution, which played a key role in a civil rights movement for those with disabilities.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fricks Lock

Located near the banks of the Schuylkill river, in Chester county lies a historic town with a futuristic presence. Fricks Lock was once a booming canal town and later a central hub for the railroad industry. Now the town resembles a post-nuclear holocaust. Homes dating back to the 1700's sit boarded up, left to crumble back into the environment. It's unlikely these homes will ever be restored and lived in again. Would you want two large cooling towers staring at you through the windows?

When the Limerick power plant was built the remaining few residents of the town were bought out and forced to re-locate. PECO owns the town and keeps it under surveillance due to those who can't appreciate history, and instead of helping to restore choose to destroy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Abandoned on the Schuykill River

In the September zine of Outta the Way, we take you urban exploring along the banks of the Schuylkill river. First we'll visit a historic town left unkempt due to nuclear energy staring down it's back.

Than we take a look at a large industrial park, with a historic distillery located inside, that's being taken over by the same land it invaded many years before. Than it's off to pay homage to the "Abandoned Luncheonette"; and a nearby modern pizza restaurant fighting off years of decay and abandonment.

Lastly we'll show you one of the most famous and controversial places in Pennsylvania, which now lies in a near desolate ruin. Walls crumbling in as the roof collapses above, weeds poking their way back through sidewalks, and enough horrifying tales to make anyone's skin crawl.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wallace-Cross Mill

In a world full of technology and everyone afraid to either live with, or without it, I always find comfort in a place where time seems to have stopped. Tucked away on a rural road in southern York county lies one of these hidden treasures.

The Wallace-Cross mill was built in 1826, and is a rare example of a water powered grain mill. Most of these mills have been destroyed or have been upgraded tremendously. This small rural mill was able to bypass all this technology and was still operating successfully up until the 1980's.

Today the mill has been restored to how it looked in the 1950's, during it's pinnacle time when the mill was in operation 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The mill also contains exhibits as well as operational equipment and is open for public tours.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Great American Holly Tree

Located on the grounds of the Indian Steps Museum, hovering higher than the two-story museum, Is thought to be the largest American Holly tree in North America.

The tree was just a tiny seedling when the Pilgrims originally landed at Plymouth Rock. Today the holly tree acts as a living American artifact.

Each year a small branch is taken from the tree to commemorate the museum and the beautiful land that surrounds it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Indian Steps Museum

Embedded in the walls of the Indian Steps Museum are thousands of artifacts from various tribes of Native Americans. These relics are placed in such a way as to tell their story and to forever share their history and ancestry with visitors from all over.

The museum originally came to fruition after local Attorney John Vandersloot purchased a tract of land near the Susquehanna river. While excavating the land he unearthed numerous artifacts including arrowheads, stone tools and pottery. Some of these findings predate even the Egyptian pyramids.

In 1908 Attorney Vandersloot began to build a museum to forever enshrine his findings. In 1912 the museum was completed. Inside you'll find beautiful stained glass windows, a large sandstone table, stone stairs, and stone fireplaces all of which help to enrich the natural beauty.

After Mr. Vandersloot's passing the property was acquired by a few of the utility companies who operate nearby. Eventually the property made it's way into the hands of the Conservation Society of York County. Today they still maintain the museum, which has been regarded as one of the finest museums in the United States, as well as the nearly ten acres of beautiful river hills that surrounds it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Codorus Furnace Phantoms

Hidden along back roads near the Codorus creek lies an industrial treasure from centuries past.

The Codorus furnace was first built in 1756 by William Bennet, on land he acquired from William Penn. Bennet only operated the furnace for 6 years before selling it. The property eventually made it's way into the hands of James Smith. Mr. Smith was a member of the Continental Congress, as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but apparently not very business savvy. After losing $25,000 he also sold the property.

Not all times were hard for the furnace. During the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812, the furnace supplied the Continental Army with cannons and cannon balls. The furnace also helped to replenish General Washington and his troops dwindling supplies, during their harsh winter at Valley Forge. Surprisingly this small furnace helped to regularly employ 60 men until operations ceased in 1850.

Though not everyone believes all who were in the industry have completely left. Numerous spirit investigators and paranormal groups believe there's still a spiritual presence in the area. Many local passerby's have also spotted a woman in a white dress roaming around the furnace and it's surrounding areas.

Monday, August 9, 2010

York County Hidden Treasures

Wallace-Cross Mill
Originally uploaded by B.B. Bellezza
In the August Outta the Way zine we'll take you on a stroll through the backwoods of rural York county. We'll take you on a visit to a few industrial giants from the past, including an iron furnace haunted by spirits, and an old family grist mill. Take a tour of a home built to celebrate the Native Americans. Walk amongst the thousands of artifacts on a land the Native Americans found to be very important. Lastly we'll visit a beautiful rural train town, still looking eerily similar to the days of the 1800's. Still awaiting it's chance to fully blossom. So get outta the way, because we're going Outta the Way!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hopewell Furnace

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania is full of small ghosts towns. Peppered throughout the state are small reminders of towns who strived to survive, yet fell into non-existence. From the little mining towns of western Pennsylvania, to the timber rich villages of northeastern Pennsylvania, all had aspirations of putting together enough industry to put their names on the map. Unfortunately after the industries washed up, and dispersed with technology, most of these towns vanished into state game lands. Leaving nothing behind but small reminders of what could have been, decaying foundations overrun with vegetation, and the occasional town cemetery hidden eerily in the woods leave constant reminders.
Though the most famous ghost town in Pennsylvania still attracts thousands of visitors every year. In fact the federal government helps to keep it that way.

The town of Hopewell was established due to its lucrative iron making furnaces. The Hopewell furnace was established in 1771 and would quickly become the largest iron making producer in the country. The industrial town shortly followed. The employees of the furnace would receive notes for their work, which could than be cashed in to local merchants for goods.

The furnace prospered most in times of despair, the civil war proved to be the most profitable time for the furnace. The furnace supplied goods and ammunition to both Union and Confederate soldiers. During times of peace the furnace maintained by supplying the nation with kettles, machinery and their famous pot-bellied stoves. In the year 1883 the entire town was left abandoned, leaving behind homes, furnaces, workshops, and even a church. Today the furnace and town are maintained by the United States parks department. It is considered to be the best preserved iron making town in all of North America.