Monday, July 23, 2012

Austin Dam

The small town of Austin, Pennsylvania is a place that is proud of their resilience. They have suffered through tough economical times, blazing town fires, and unfortunate flooding. Though none were more tragic than the catastrophe that occurred on September 30, 1911.

At the turn of the 20th century a thriving lumber industry was helping to keep the tiny community afloat, though the timber was quickly disappearing. In an effort to keep an economicable market in the area, a local Senator persuaded businessman George Bayless to open a nearby mill. Subsequently the Bayless paper company began construction and started production in 1900. The company employed 200 locals when it first opened. In 1909 after several years of operation the company decided the rain short seasons were slowing production. In a effort to have a more steady supply of water a dam was built nearby. On December 1, 1909 the largest gravity dam in Pennsylvania was completed. The structure was a major engineering feat for it's time. The dam stood 50 feet high, 540 feet long, and 25 feet thick, unfortunately it was designed to be 30 feet thick. In less than two months problems were already occuring. In late January 1910 an unexpected early winter thaw caused a massive bowing in the dam wall. Several attempts were made to alleviate the pressure, sadly many of the engineers recomendations were ignored and the attempts were fruitless.  Many of the townsfolk feared the dam would eventually lead to catastrophe, but also realized without it there would be no industry.

Saturday September 30, 1911, the men and women of Austin are gathered downtown. The women off enjoying a day of shopping and strolling, while the men are fullfilling their civic duty and voting. At approximately 2:15 PM, from her home on the hill, local outcast and bordello owner, Cora Brooks witnessed the dam give way. In a panic the woman telephoned as many of the locals as she could to warn them of the impending danger. Shortly after alarms in town began to scream out, unfortunately many ignored the sirens as just another test. Within 15 minutes the modest village was being pounded with large quatities of water and pulpwood that had been swept down by the raging whirl. The horrendous disaster claimed the lives of 78 indivuals and left the town ravaged and destroyed.

Immediately following some of the townsfolk left and vowed never to return, they claimed to have had their share of floods and fires and were through with Austin. Fortunately those who stayed strived and demanded to make their town better than ever. As a community they rebuilt their tiny village and continued on. The once destroyed Bayless paper mill went back into operation. Ironically the stay was short lived, in 1933 a fire destroyed the paper manufacturer and operations ceased infinitly. Even the Austin dam was repaired, sadly in 1942 it failed again. This time was much less drastic and claimed no lives.

Since than the town of Austin, Pennsylvania has struggled like so many other small towns in America, but they have what most don't...charm. The remains of the dam still exist just north of town. They are a constant reminder of the tragedies that have occured here, and also a rememberance of the times that came before. While so many other communities are destroying their history, the town of Austin is embracing theirs. The dam is surrounded by a beautiful, virtually untouched landscape.

They have also found the area serves as a great natural ampitheater, and the remains of the dam offer an amazing backdrop for a laserlight show. Every year they host an annual celebration commemorating their tragic history, and having damn good time while they do it!

Join the celebration July 28, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Joe Paterno Statue...Gone!

Lately there's been a great deal of controversy surrounding Penn State and it's football program, and the actions of those involved with the team. All of this turmoil has now led to the removal of a Beaver Stadium staple. For over a decade a statue of coach Joe Paterno has adorned the corner of the stadium. The area became known as Paternoville due to the large number of students who would camp out near the area before important home games. On the wall that surrounds the statue is a quote from the former coach stating how he hoped he made Penn State a better place. No matter your opinions on this scandolous and controversial story, the JoePa statue will no longer be a Penn State landmark.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

GIANT Paint Can Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Driving along interstate 81 in Pennsylvania can be quite montonous and unenjoyable. Luckily there are a few bright spots along this nearly 233 mile stretch of highway. Near the Mason-Dixon line at exit 24, welcoming you to the Blue mountains sits one of the largest paint cans in the world. The 35 feet high can comes adorned with a lid and a handle. Originally the structure was a water tower from the previous owner. When the Benjamain Moore paint company purchased the property they decided to use the eyesore as a marketing tool. Now if only we could find a way to spruce up all of I-81. Maybe they should put a giant object near every exit!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Meet Duece Tooee

We would like to take this opprutunity to introduce the newest team member of Outta the Way. Duece is a unique character who introduced himself into our lives on my most recent birthday. While visiting the Ripley's Odditorium in Atlantic City Duece found his way out of his glass cage, and into our car. Since then he's been traveling around with us on our adventures and sneaking into as many photo ops as he can. He enjoys being the center of attention, often riding in the middle of the back seat, getting a great view of all those who tailgate us. He also enjoys saltwater taffy, hide and seek, playing woodwinds, and looking for his one true love, a two tailed female companion. Keep your eyes peeled for Duece in more upcoming blogs, he may even be hiding in some strange places.

Age-2 Human yrs.-25
turn-ons-walks on the beach, sharing milkshakes, marathon runners
turn-offs-multiple personalities, meat eaters
fave. music-"The Turtles"
fave. book-Tortoise and the Hare
fave. movie-(tie) "TMNT 2-Secret of the Ooze"/ "Brothers of the Head"
fave. quote- "two heads are always better than one"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Archbald Pothole State Park

Pennsylvania is a state known for having some of the worst roadways in the country, so it's only fitting that the state has a park featuring a colossal pothole. Though this one isn't quite like the normal potholes that dot the states highways and byways. The Archbald pothole dates back  over 15,000 years ago. The hole formed during the Wisconsin glacial period, resulting in a 38 feet deep hole in the surface of the earth.

The geological wonder was first discovered by a coal miner in 1884. The miner used a blast of explosives to extend a mining shaft. The resulting blast culminated in tons of water and rocks falling into the mine and jeopardizing the lives of many. After recouping from their near death experince the men were ordered by a supervisor to clear all the debris away, they soon realized their vertical shaft was a geological gem. After being used as ventilation support for the miners the area was fenced off and has since served as a tourist attraction. In 1914 the large pothole was deeded over as public property, since than the county of Lackawanna and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania have maintained the area. This is a task easier said than done, it seems several residents take out their dislike of potholes by throwing their trash and debris into the large hole. I can't help but wonder how many garage receipts are down there for alignment jobs on vehicles.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Community Bridge Frederick, Maryland

As you approach the community bridge in Frederick, Maryland you notice the natural beauty that adorns this structure. Ivy has begun to crawl up the old stone walls. The rock from the walls have colored and weathered over the years giving each a unique look. But the closer you get, the more you notice something amiss. This old stone structure is actually a piece of art. The artist spent 5 years creating the mural using ideas from 100's of local residents. The artist used an art technique called trompe l'oeil, which means "deceive the eye." In September 1998 the artist unveiled his work of art to the community. Since then the locals have embraced their bridge, while the tourists have been being tricked into admiring art.  Learn more about the artist here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

GIANT Slide Mt. Tabor Park Rocky Ridge, Maryland

Several years ago while traveling through Northern Maryland we made a side visit to the Rocky Ridge municipal park. The community park isn't particularly large, but it sure packs a punch. Unfortunately the day we visited their main attraction was under restoration. To bear our disappointment we rode the old time merry go round, that has certainly been removed from almost every other park in the country. Since that time my daughter has been consistenly reminding me that we need a revisit.

A few weeks ago I made sure to put a trip together that would involve a stop at the Mt. Tabor park in Rocky Ridge, Maryland, and just in case I grabbed a couple towels before we left the house. When we arrived in the parking lot everyone was quite excited but didn't wanna show it. We quickly and quietly scarfed our lunches down under a shady pavillion, than we made the dash to the big red slide. This slide isn't anything like your normal sliding board. It towers 35 feet in the air, and consists of a 100 feet sliding surface that mostly resembles old bowling lanes, with small ramps built in. We grabbed our towels and rushed off to the top, placed myself on the edge and was face first in a pile of sawdust in no time. Pretty soon my daughter and I were racing each other, while trying not to abuse ourselves too much. Burlap sacks are usually located at the foot of the slide, but we found we accelerated much quicker using the smooth side of a beach towel. Some younger visitors opted to go without anything. I wouldn't recommend this as I ended up with a nice brushburn on my elbow just from rubbing the wooden surface accidentally while racing. That also ended my turns on the slide, as the park crowd was now quickly gathering. As we headed to the car we had smiles on our faces, brushburns on our bodies, the memories of our adventure, and hopefully some cool scars to prove it!

Fork in the Road Centerport, Pennsylvania

If you find yourself at the fork in the road in the tiny town of Centerport, Pennsylvania, which way will you go? If you're like us you'll choose the road that gives you the quickest opprotunity to turn around and get a photo. At the intersection of Main st. and Centerport rd. you'll find a large 8 foot fork.
Suspiciously the fork just appeared in 2004, leaving borough officials and townsfolk confused. After some investigative reporting a local resident came clean. The small concrete island is an old family property, that he felt needed a bit of charm. The man has no plans of removing the giant fork anytime soon., the residents and myself couldn't be more pleased.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fulton Steamboat Inn

As you travel past the commercial outlets along route 30 in Lancaster, you may have spotted the famous Steamboat Inn, a victorian style hotel located in a steamboat. So now you may be wondering, why a steamboat? It's due to the fact that Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat was born nearby. So it's only fitting to have a steamboat hotel to honor him? Right!

Aside from the kitsch of the place, it's a very fine hotel with spacious rooms, king sized beds, and flat screen televisions. Not to mention the fine dining thats available in the immaculate restaurant.

If you're looking for a place to stay in Lancaster that's a little more unique than the Holiday Inn, Outta the Way would recommend a stay at the Steamboat Inn, or the Red Caboose Motel. Even if you don't check in to these two unique lodging establishments, be sure to check them out!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Red Caboose Motel Strasburg, Pennsylvania

The Red Caboose Motel is appropriately located near the famed Strasburg railroad, and is home to a number of retired railroad cabooses. In 1969, Donald Denlinger a museum president, attended an auction with a friend in nearby Mill bridge. On a whim he threw in a lowball bid on some railroad cabooses. Well, needless to say he ended up the proud owner of 19 N-5 cabooses, each weighing in at 475 tons.  As winter approached he needed to move these behemoths. Not wanting to spend the additional dollars that would be needed to move these mammoth machines, he got the brilliant idea to transform them into motels. An idea so crazy it may work.

Through tireless efforts and an immeasureable amount of work, he made all of the cabooses livable. After wiring electric and adding other amenities such as potbellied stoves and bunk beds, his project was finally completed.

While he was the owner, Mr. Denlinger was known to wear a conductor's outfit while he greeted and assisted guests. He also did extensive research on each caboose and placed historical information on each caboose to enlighten visitors even more.
Today the Red Caboose is under new management but still carries the same flair, all of which is topped off by the victorian decorated dining caboose that still serves three meals a day.