Autumn in Huntingdon

On October 12, 2017 · 2 Comments

I completed the little adventure I described in County Hunter a few days ago. The first leg involved a course through previously unvisited Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Don’t confuse this with Huntington (with a T) elsewhere in Pennsylvania, a township in Adams County near Gettysburg. I kept messing up searches because my mind wanted to spell it the wrong way too. Nonetheless, everything worked out and I found plenty to do Huntingdon, the one with a D. The weather cooperated in early Autumn, the leaves showed signs of color, and the county brimmed with seasonal activities. Our drive up from the Washington, DC area that morning left us with too little time to see everything. We needed to select carefully.

St. Mary’s Covered Bridge


St. Mary's Covered Bridge
St. Mary’s Covered Bridge

I planned a route directly through the heart of the county. It took us from the wonderfully named Burnt Cabins, as we crossed the border heading north on U.S. Route 522, then northwest on U.S. Route 22 through the actual town of Huntingdon, and onward towards Altoona in the neighboring county (route). I looked for the usual attractions I liked to track on my many lists, of course. Covered bridges seemed to be a thing with me lately so I found the only remaining covered bridge in Huntingdon County online and added it to my itinerary. Really, how could I do otherwise? The bridge crossed Shade Creek on Covered Bridge Road just as it had since 1896, within eyesight of our route. It required no detour whatsoever and offered easy parking (map). Perfect.

The bridge sat just across the road from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Orbisonia. I just loved some of those place names in Huntingdon. Anyway, locals called it St. Mary’s Covered Bridge for the appropriate reason, or Shade Gap Bridge or even the unimaginative official name, Huntingdon County Bridge No. 8. I may have seen more imposing, more architecturally distinct, more historically significant covered bridges before although I didn’t have to go out of my way for this one either. It did feature a rather unusual two-tone paint job too. All-in-all the bridge offered a satisfactory start to my hunt through Huntingdon. It merited a brief stop for photos.


Rockhill Trolley Museum


Rockhill Trolley Museum
Rockhill Trolley Museum

It look all of ten minutes to drive up to Rockhill Furnace borough once we left the bridge (map). I wanted to see the Rockhill Trolley Museum. I wondered why a museum dedicated to preserving trolleys existed in such an out-of-the-way place. Trolleys provided urban and sometime suburban transportation in the days before buses overtook them. The concept never would have worked in a town of 400 in the middle of rolling Pennsylvania farmland. Nonetheless, the trolley museum found a home there, with plenty of space to restore old cars plus a couple of miles of suitable track and overhead electrical wires to run them.

By chance, our visit coincided with the museum’s annual Fall Spectacular weekend. That meant they let some of their rare equipment that usually sat in storage see some daylight and run the rails briefly again. People could ride them, too. A ticket lasted for the entire day and visitors could take as many trips on the old trolleys as they could stand. One ride seemed just fine for us though. We took a 1931 Brill Bullet Tram once operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in the Philadelphia area. Then we explored the rail yard for awhile.

Many other visitors qualified as true railfans (or trainspotters to the UK audience). They flocked to the museum on this special weekend both to ride the trolleys and to photograph them in action. People with cameras and video equipment lined the track anytime a trolley started rolling. I didn’t share that level of passion although I certainly understood it. After all, I have similar enthusiasm for other things not necessarily considered mainstream, like this whole County Counting obsession that led me to Huntingdon in the first place.


Lincoln Caverns


Lincoln Caverns
Lincoln Caverns Ready for Halloween

The boys liked visiting caves and I found one along our direct path (map). We arrived at Lincoln Caverns about a half-hour after we left the trolleys. It featured something special for the season too, a spooky Halloween theme called Ghosts & Goblins. We didn’t know this ahead of time. Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind it although I do find contrived hauntings a bit silly. My one son, however, didn’t like spooky stuff at all. He simply wanted to see the cave. Fortunately the good folks at Lincoln Caverns gladly offered a regular tour without the frights and scares, and gory creatures jumping from behind stalagmites with bloody butchers’ knives and such. It did feel a bit odd to have someone in a werewolf costume describe cave features although it seemed an appropriate compromise and we all enjoyed and appreciated it.

Lincoln Caverns also included a second smaller cave called Whisper Rocks in the same admission. This one, just uphill a few hundred feet, didn’t share the Halloween theme. It was a completely normal tour led by someone without a costume. Afterwards, our guide walked us down a wooded path to an open field nearby. There we climbed onto a wagon pulled by a tractor for an old-fashioned hayride. I totally didn’t expected that. It was part of the same seasonal package: a spooky cave; a normal cave and a little hayride. What a nice way to end an enjoyable afternoon during my first ever visit to Huntingdon County. Thank you, Huntingdon. It was a pleasure.

Onward to Blair County!

On October 12, 2017 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Autumn in Huntingdon”

  1. Alex says:

    Huntingdon County is actually visited by many people for only about a mile or two, as the PA Turnpike goes through it for a tiny bit.

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