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!