Monday, February 28, 2011
The Cornwall furnace in Lebanon county is one of the most storied and historic furnaces in North America. The furnace was originally established in 1742 by Peter Grubb. Peter seemed to be very successful with running the furnace. At one time Pennsylvania made a vast majority of the world's iron, Cornwall being one of it's top producers. But Peter may have had a dark side.
One of the most horrifying tales about Peter surround him and his proud hunting dogs. Mr. Grubb was an avid hunter and a dog enthusiast. He was also known to work his dogs to extreme measures, in order to be sure they were the best. One particular day Peter was bragging to his friend about his canines amazing hunting skills. However on this day the dogs wouldn't live up to Peter's expectations. According to legend, Peter's friend began to jokingly insult the exhausted pups, which began to enrage Peter. But what he proceeded to do would shock and horrify the locals. Peter gathered some of the furnace workers and had them help in exterminating the defenseless dogs. Peter rounded up the dogs and began to burn them alive in the fiery hot furnace, saving his most prized pooch for last. Peter Grubb was said to be forever haunted by the terrible deed he had done, he would often hear phantom barks and felt otherworldly eyes often watching him. Seems the dogs wanted to remain a constant reminder to Peter for the heinous acts he committed.
More on the Cornwall furnace and other nearby spots
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Back in 1969 while enjoying a few beers with a friend, Bill Schwarz popped off an idea that would change his life and his neighbors life for a long time. He decided to build a snack stand and sell roadside munchies near the resort town of Mt. Gretna. What set his stand apart from the others was it's odd structure. He chose to build a giant root beer barrel to set his shop up in, and of course one of their specialties was root beer right from a tap. The local landmark had become a roadside favorite for travelers along route 72.
After many years of wear and tear the barrel began to fall into disarray. Fortunately a local Eagle scout, with the assistance of Bill, were able to rebuild this roadside giant using much of the original lumber. For this Outta the Way would like to send a toast to Bill for his creative imagination, and to the local scouts for making sure a dream never dies!
Watch the barrel's return!
Inn 422 is a Victorian style Bed and Breakfast with enough history and mysteries to fascinate even the most skeptical. The original home on the property was built by Robert and Anna Coleman. The Coleman family was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious families in the nation. The home would be for their daughter Anne Caroline, a recent law school graduate of Dickinson College. Anne would have only a short time on this world, but she definitely made her impact felt.
During her short and tumultuous life she had practiced law at what would eventually become the Lebanon Historical Society. Besides being a successful lawyer, she also caught the eye of a young man full of aspiration; a man her family didn’t approve of. Even though this young lad was a recent law graduate himself, the Coleman family felt he was only after their money. In those times most wealthy families pre-arranged marriages, so when the two became engaged, her parents became enraged. After being forced by her parents to split, Anne became quite depressed and eventually committed suicide on an overdose of Laudanum while visiting Philadelphia. Her would be suitor who was deemed not good enough for the family became heartbroken and vowed to remain a bachelor forever. He stuck with that vow until the day he died, and is forever remembered as the only bachelor President, James Buchanon. Upon President Buchanon’s death, he had all memories and photos of Anne burned and destroyed.
By the 1880’s, the former home of Anne was replaced by the current residence that now sits in its place. The home was built for the Superintendents of the Lebanon Coke and Iron Plant. Eventually the home was transformed into the Bed and Breakfast it is today. Though the home has changed, not all believe the history or the mystery is forgotten. Anne’s spirit is known to still frequent the Inn, keeping overnight visitors restless as she opens and closes windows and doors, and is particularly fond of rearranging the pillows on the bed.
More on Inn 422 and other Outta the Way spots
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Designed by B.F. Willis, there was originally a complex of several other buildings right next to the prison, including the York poorhouse, and a hospital, which have since made way for an elementary school.
Today the prison still stands, although the castle facade was torn down when construction was done to the prison. In 1908, during re-construction there was almost an uproar at the prison, as inmates got very anxious over a fire that had started over some faulty construction equipment. During the 1950's, the prison again received some more bad press when overcrowded prisoners were forced to stay in padded cells. There are also stories of segregation and misuse of African-American inmates during this time as well. But one of the most disturbing tales of this time tells of inmates being forced to eat road kill and venison the deputies would gather up along the roads. The prison eventually closed in 1979 when a newly expansive super-maximum facility was built in Springettsbury Township.
One of the most interesting things about this place is that it's for sale. Having been on the market since 2007, several investors have had a few great ideas, such as a nightclub, hotel, Halloween attraction, and even a restaurant. At 30,000 square feet seems like they all could work. Guess they couldn't come up with the 3.9 million asking price.
Aside from the desolateness of the place, there's still some prison flair left in the place. A few of the cells have hand carved drawings in them, including one with a portrait of Jimi Hendrix, surrounded by titles of many popular songs from eras past.
The prison is not open to the public and is posted with "no trespassing" signs. We would not recommend taking any visits to the inside without permission of the real estate company which owns the property. Several inside visitors have noticed use of the prison by homeless squatters and addicts, although for the right price it could be yours. Just let them know Outta the Way sent you, we could use the $25,000 finders fee!
Video of Old Prison
An inside look
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Most people aren't aware that 375 million years ago in Pennsylvania, there was a shallow ocean. It was located near what is now the Swatara State park. Of course over time this ocean dried up, but there are still remnants to be found. Fossil hunters from all around have come to dig through the sedimentary rocks that formed in the ocean, hoping to find a rare fossil.
The most popular and most often found fossil in Pennsylvania is Phacops Rana, which is also the state fossil. This organism was known as a tribolite, which is an extinct category of jointed-legged animals. The Phacops Rana is thought to be the very first organism known to have eyes, and they were quite large as well. They also had numerous appendages which were used for walking, swimming, and also feeding. This organism would be closely related to crabs, lobsters, and insects, and like these creatures it also had a hard exoskeleton.
This fossil is particularly common in the central Pennsylvania area, but finding a complete specimen is quite rare. If you wish to try your luck finding the state fossil or other fossils, visit the fossil pit at Swatara State Park.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The tiny village of Rexmont is quite easy to miss. There's not even a signal light in this sleepy town. But this village is full of history and quite a bit of mystery as well.
The town was founded in the 1870's by a successful financier named Cyrus Rex. Cyrus wanted to give the local furnace workers a chance to own property as opposed to living in factory villages. He began to sell one acre plots for the men and their families to build homes on. In 1875 Cyrus had his very own home built. He shared the home with his niece Susan Amanda.
Cyrus didn't spend much of his life in the town he founded, he preferred to travel abroad with his partner Dr. Andrew Glenninger. When he was in town, Cyrus was known to be seen parading around in elegant gowns.
Today the residence is private, but has been a Bed and Breakfast in the recent past. Even so there always seems to be an uninvited overnight guest. Former visitors to the Inn have often spotted a spirit roaming the hallways and rooms. This apparition seems to enjoy sporting long elegant victorian gowns. Perhaps it's Cyrus' niece who spent much of her life in the home, many believe it's Cyrus himself re-visiting his former home the way he was most comfortable.
More on the Rexmont Inn and other local Outta the Way spots
Monday, February 14, 2011
In the upcoming Outta the Way travel zine, we'll discover the history and some mysteries in Lebanon county Pennsylvania. We'll take you on a tour through the historic Cornwall furnace where many men and women worked for a better life, but some may still be lingering around in the after-life.
Next we'll take a look to see if dinosaurs ever roamed through the central Pennsylvania area, and if so where can you find some hidden fossils. Than we'll visit a Jurrasic rock formation that was formed long before the dinosaurs, but shares a striking resemblance to one.
Lastly we'll show you two historic inn's where you may bravely spend the night. One of these places has a unique history of a woman still mourning the loss of a broken heart, even a century after her passing. The other historic inn we visit is located in a small town where not all is as it seems, even the spirits that are still active in this bed and breakfast are not exactly what you perceive.