The PA Route 6 and PA Wilds Façade Program

The PA Route 6 Alliance and the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) are launching a regional façade grant program for communities along Route 6 in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Commercial property owners interested in the program are invited to attend one of the public meetings being held throughout the four-county area.

The PA Route 6 and PA Wilds Regional Façade Program is intended enhance the attractiveness of the small towns within the PA Wilds and along the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor by helping commercial property owners and business owners in Warren, McKean, Potter and Tioga County improve the look of their buildings.

“We’ve seen a lot of nature and heritage tourism investment in the Pennsylvania Wilds in recent years, and it is creating real opportunities for communities to draw visitors in to fuel business and job growth and improve quality of life,” said PA Wilds Center Executive Director, Ta Enos. “To attract visitors – and most other kinds of investment — communities need to appear welcoming. This program helps communities achieve that.”

The PA Route 6 and PA Wilds Façade Program will provide funding to commercial building owners and business owners (with property owner approval) as well as non-profits, with the restoration of building facades within the targeted area. Eligible types of restoration activities include design assistance, a fresh coat of paint, new signage, and repairing or replacing an awning. Façade improvements do not need to be costly and will greatly improve the façade of the building, making a lasting effect on the community.

According to Terri Dennison of the PA Route 6 Alliance, the Façade program will fund about 32 façade projects at a maximum of $5000 each with a required 1:1 match. It will also make smaller matching signage grants available to 50 retail and host site establishments involved in The Wilds Cooperative, a visitor experience the PA Wilds Center is working to curate and grow.

Public meetings to explain the guidelines and grant procedures will be held at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, September 12 at 1pm, Warren Public Library, 205 Market St, Warren
  • Wednesday, September 20 at 10am,Gunzburger Building, Conference Room 1 Main Street, Coudersport
  • Wednesday, September 20 at 1pm, Wellsboro Borough Office, 14 Crafton Street, Wellsboro
  • Wednesday, September 27 at 1:30pm, McKean County 911 Center Conference Room, 17175 Route 6, Smethport

The program is made possible thanks to an $183,000 Keystone Communities grant from the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and project support funding from the PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR).

For more information about the PA Route 6 and PA Wilds Regional Façade Program or to register for the public meetings, contact the PA Route 6 Alliance at 814-435-7706.

Free Public Open Houses at Historic Properties During August

Both the Coal Oil Johnny House and the Tarbell House will host free public Open House events during August this year in the Oil Region National Heritage Area.  Reservations are not needed; all age groups are welcome to attend.

As part of the annual Oil Festival in Titusville, the 1870 Tarbell House located at 324 East Main Street in Titusville welcomes residents and travelers to visit and tour this Italianate home from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 12.  One of America’s foremost investigative journalists, Ida Tarbell resided here from 1870 through 1876 in this three-story house constructed by her father, and she always considered it as her family home and Titusville as her personality-shaping community.

Since being acquired by the nonprofit Oil Region Alliance in 2007, the Tarbell House has been rehabilitated to its outdoor and indoor appearance corresponding to the period from 1870 through 1918 when the Tarbell family lived here.  Guests during the Open House will be greeted with live music on the front lawn performed by “Venango Brigade,” featuring instrumental Civil War era songs.  Inside, guests will tour the first floor, second floor reading nook, and the new replica cupola on the third floor.

On Wednesday, August 16, the McClintock-Washington-Steele House (more commonly known as the Coal Oil Johnny House in light of the nickname of its most famous occupant) will be open for escorted tours from 1 until 4 p.m.  This circa 1850 two-story peg-n-post frame farmhouse was initially constructed on the west bank of Oil Creek by Johnny’s adopted father, Culbertson McClintock along what is today called Waitz Road; it was disassembled, transported, and reassembled with additional hidden reinforcements in 2001 by the Oil Region Alliance.  Today it sits on the east bank of Oil Creek slightly upstream, where it shares a parking lot with the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad’s Rynd Farm Station at the south tip of Oil Creek State Park, just east of Route 8 on Old Waitz Road.

Tour guides and light refreshments will be provided at both of these historic properties during the Open Houses; book sales are available.  For more information or to schedule group tours on other dates, please contact Mrs. Marilyn Black, Vice President for Heritage Development, Oil Region Alliance, (814) 677-3152, Extension 105, mblack@oilregion.org.

HERITAGEPA TRAVEL FEATURE: Exploring PA’s History in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

By Jim Cheney, UncoveringPA

Throughout the history of the commonwealth, Pennsylvania has been the focal point for numerous industries that have helped to power the nation. In the eastern portion of the state, there were two dominant industries: anthracite coal, and iron.

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor follows the historic transportation path where anthracite traveled from mine to market in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. The D&L seeks to preserve this history and offers many great opportunities for visitors to this five-county heritage corridor to re-connect and learn about the region’s industrial past. Since being created by Congress in 1988, this corridor has provided visitors with a chance to explore the region’s industrial past and enjoy its great outdoor activities found along the path that helped fuel America’s 19th century industrial revolution.

The first stop of any visit to the heritage corridor should be the National Canal Museum in Easton. The museum is located next to a fully-restored 2.5 mile section of the Lehigh Canal, which once ran along the Lehigh River from Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe) to Easton.

From there, the anthracite coal and iron produced along the shores of the Lehigh River could continue by canal north to New York City or south to Philadelphia. This system of canals allowed these eastern Pennsylvania goods to reach markets not only in large U.S. cities, but also to reach countries around the world.

The National Canal Museum offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of anthracite canal transportation in the United States and take a 45-minute ride on the Josiah White II, a 48 ton reproduction canal boat pulled by mules. Costumed guides tell the story of the corridor and steer the Josiah White II that takes visitors to the end of the restored section, where the fully-restored Locktender’s House serves as a convenient end of the line.

The canal towpath forms a portion of the D&L Trail, a 165-mile multi-use path that stretches from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol. While the trail has a few gaps, it is hoped that those will be completed in the coming years. In the meantime, bicyclists and walkers can still take to the trail and explore the fascinating history, beautiful scenery, and charming communities along the trail.

Another popular site in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is the National Museum of Industrial History. Opened to the public in August 2016, this museum is located near the Lehigh River on the grounds of the former Bethlehem Steel site in Bethlehem.

This museum chronicles the history of industry throughout the United States, but with a focus on the industries that thrived in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. Visitors to the museum can learn about the history of industries such as steel, textiles, and propane.

The National Museum of Industrial History is also home to a fantastic collection of antique engines that are owned by the Smithsonian Institute. This museum, along with the National Canal Museum and the heritage corridor as a whole, are Smithsonian Affiliates. This gives them the ability to showcase items owned by this prestigious institution and provides them with resources to take their exhibitions into the community.

Of course, there’s a lot more to see in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. Visitors can explore an old coal mine at the Number 9 Coal Mine and Museum, see where Washington famously crossed the Delaware at Washington Crossing Historic Park, or even explore Eckley Miners Village, a coal town that’s frozen in time.

If you’re looking to learn about Pennsylvania’s industrial past, but also want to enjoy some of the state’s best natural scenery and most charming small towns, a visit to the five-county Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor shouldn’t be missed.

For more information on the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, visit their website at DelawareAndLehigh.org.

About the writer: Jim Cheney is the writer behind UncoveringPA, Pennsylvania’s most read travel blog. He has traveled to every county in Pennsylvania and to many countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. He lives in Harrisburg, PA.

Tarbell House Open to Public on Both June 17 and August 12 in Titusville

Two free public Open Houses at the Tarbell House will be held on Saturdays, June 17 and August 17 this year at 324 East Main Street, Titusville, PA.  This was the family home for Franklin Tarbell, his wife Esther, and their three children, including Ida Minerva Tarbell, the eldest child.  Ida Tarbell became one of America’s foremost investigative journalists and was a historian focusing on Standard Oil Company, Abraham Lincoln, several French leaders from the 19th century, and other topics until her death in 1944.

In addition to visiting this historic property, guests will be able to enjoy the special display of a privately-held collection of more than 35 teapots ranging from the 17th century to the present, courtesy of Mrs. Lois McElwee of Oil City.  The teapots and descriptive labels are shown in the parlor, dining room, and side room on the first floor of the Tarbell House.

The Saturday, June 17 Open House is timed to coincide with the arrival of bicyclists to Titusville participating in the inaugural Oil Region Cycling Classic throughout the region on Father’s Day weekend.  The Tarbell House welcomes not only these bicyclists, but others to step inside this three-story Italianate home which was constructed in 1870; doors will be open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.; light refreshments will be available.

The Saturday, August 12 Open House is held during Titusville’s Oil Festival, immediately after the Oil Festival parade goes along Main Street in front of the Tarbell House.  Doors will be open from noon until 4 p.m.; light refreshments will be provided, along with live musical entertainment.

Today, the Tarbell House is owned by the nonprofit Oil Region Alliance, which has completed the multiple-phase rehabilitation to restore it to the appearance and configuration in the period of 1870 to 1918 when the Tarbell family was in residence.  Last year’s construction of a replica cupola was the culminating task, replacing one lost in a fire almost a century ago.

The Tarbell House is currently operated as a house museum open by appointment, and is the venue for public teas and other private gatherings in its Victorian setting.  While typically reservations are needed for all events there, everyone is welcome to attend either of the Open House dates without making advance arrangements.  For more information about this event or the Tarbell House, please contact ORA’s Vice President for Heritage Development, Mrs. Marilyn Black, at 677-3152, Ext. 105, mblack@oilregion.org.

D&L National Heritage Corridor Receives Smithsonian Affiliate Status

EASTON, PA – The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) is America’s first National Heritage Area to be accepted into the Smithsonian Affiliate network.  Following the merger of the D&L and the National Canal Museum in April 2017, Smithsonian Affiliations acknowledged the move by designating the D&L’s entire five county region (Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon and Luzerne counties). This development allows the D&L to combine the nationally significant legacy of its historic transportation story with the breadth and scope of the Smithsonian at the National Canal Museum.

The D&L National Heritage Corridor preserves the historic pathway that carried anthracite and iron from Wilkes-Barre to Philadelphia. Today, the Corridor and 165-mile D&L Trail are a vital connection to nature, recreation, our nation’s industrial heritage, and more than $250 million in annual economic impact.

“We are delighted to continue our Affiliate partnership in northeast Pennsylvania with the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor,” said Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “Since 2002, the Smithsonian has collaborated with one of the corridor’s distinctive assets, the National Canal Museum. With this merger of two great organizations, the Smithsonian looks forward to expanding the realms of potential collaboration with the Corridor to include science as well as history.

Smithsonian’s forward-thinking designation firmly blends the D&L’s commitment to celebrating the region’s industrial heritage with the Museum’s educational programming and research opportunities throughout the five county Corridor.

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that preserves historic pathway that carried coal and iron from Wilkes-Barre to Philadelphia. Today, the D&L Trail connects people to nature, culture, communities, recreation and our industrial heritage.

HERITAGEPA TRAVEL FEATURE: Journey through the Susquehanna Heritage Area

By Jim Cheney, UncoveringPA

The Susquehanna River is one of the most beautiful waterways in Pennsylvania. At over 464 miles in length, it’s the longest river on the east coast and the longest river in the U.S. with no commercial boat traffic. However, it’s not just a beautiful river with great opportunities for recreation, it’s also incredibly historic and played a key role in the development of the United States. Because of this, the river’s scenic route through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster and York Counties is home to the Susquehanna Heritage Area and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Heritage Trail.

No visit to the Susquehanna Riverlands is complete without a visit to the Susquehanna Heritage Area’s two visitor education centers. They both serve as gateways to the area, offering not only recommendations for things to do and places to visit, but exhibits and programs that will enhance any trip to the area.

The Zimmerman Center for Heritage is located a few miles south of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. This mid-18th century home has been restored and features Native American exhibits, information about the river, and the Visions of the Susquehanna River Art Collection, along with a dock and paddlecraft landing. The center is also a trailhead for exploring the adjacent Native Lands County Park.

The Zimmerman Center also serves as Pennsylvania’s Official Visitor Contact and Passport Station for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. This 3000-mile-long water trail focuses on telling the story of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well as the Native Americans that once lived along their shores. Visitors can participate in scheduled programs or take a few minutes to talk to a heritage guide about the National Historic Trail’s history and learn about Captain Smith’s interactions with the Susquehannocks that once lived in the region.

A few miles upstream, in historic Columbia on the Lancaster County side of the river, is the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center. Just completed in the last few years, the center offers educational opportunities and rotating exhibits that focus on the river and its impact on the environment of the region. The center is also a trailhead for the Northwest River Trail and the site of a popular boat launch for those wanting to get out onto the water.

Ultimately, these two centers are a fantastic jumping off point for exploring the region. While many visitors are familiar with the river’s beauty and the activities along it, the area’s history and adventure opportunities are often overlooked.

All along the shores of York and Lancaster counties are great overlooks (Pinnacle, Chickies Rock, Highpoint Scenic Vista), beautiful waterfalls (Kelly’s Run, Mill Creek Falls), and fantastic hiking trails like the Mason-Dixon Trail. In addition to natural beauty, signage around the region points out the area’s great history. You can even see remnants of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal that used to run from Wrightsville to Harve de Grace, Maryland, at Lock 12 near Holtwood Dam and at the Wrightsville Riverfront Park.

The Susquehanna Heritage Area and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail offer visitors a chance to explore one of the most beautiful regions of Pennsylvania and to learn about the region’s history and effect on the entire nation. Take some time to explore this beautiful and historic region of Pennsylvania on your next visit to the Susquehanna Riverlands.

For more information on the Susquehanna Heritage Area, visit their website at SusquehannaHeritage.org.

About the writer: Jim Cheney is the writer behind UncoveringPA, Pennsylvania’s most read travel blog. He has traveled to every county in Pennsylvania and to many countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. He lives in Harrisburg, PA. 

Now and Beyond on Route 6

PA ROUTE 6 ARTISAN TRAIL MONTH

As spring blooms along the US Route 6 Corridor in Pennsylvania, it is time to celebrate the artisan and artisan groups that make the northern tier of Pennsylvania a beautiful place to live.

The PA Route 6 Alliance has declared April as Artisan Month along the 427 mile long Heritage Corridor and honors those creative geniuses that spark something in each of us and inspire us to new heights.

To highlight the diversity of art and culture along PA Route 6, the following is a list of six long-time members of the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail and true supporters of the arts:

1.) Wendy Neckers/Painted Finch Gallery, Corry, PA

Honored as the 2016 PA Route 6 Artisan of the Year, Corry-based artist Wendy Neckers has created the collectible poster for this year’s Artisan Month. Since opening her gallery in June 2012, Neckers has steadily grown her presence in the Corry area. The Painted Finch Gallery includes works by Neckers as well as other artisans with pieces in oil, acrylic, and watercolor to hand carved sculptures and handcrafted jewelry. Beginning in a small space along Rt 6, Neckers moved to a larger space in the middle of Corry a few years ago and this year has expanded again to the storefront next door. The new space houses more fine art and gift products and a huge selection of craft sodas. Neckers has a background in set design which has been skillfully put to use in the lovely space and displays including paintings, drawings, photography, ceramics, woodcarving, and jewelry in a well-ordered setting.

2.) Dan & Jan Niebauer/Ralph Miller Jewelers & Gallery, Erie, PA

Their slogan, “Where Erie Gets Engaged – Since 1898”, testifies to just a small portion of their artistic talent as jewelry makers. Ralph Miller Jewelers is “Erie’s oldest, largest and only nationally awarded manufacturing jeweler.” The store owners and artists, Dan and Jan Niebauer, have created a wonderful setting that features original fine gold, platinum, and silver “Jewelry Art,” by five master goldsmiths. Located in downtown Erie the shop is a fascinating place to spend some time viewing the eclectic mix of custom work, estate jewelry, sculptures, rare gems and fossils, and artwork by other artists. The Niebauers are both master jewelers who not only produce their own designs, they also teach and mentor others who are well on their way to becoming masters.

3.) Art in the Wilds, Kane, PA

One of the premier art events along the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor, The Art in the Wilds Outdoor fine arts show happens annually on the fourth weekend in June. Organized and managed by a dedicated group of art lovers, artists, and patrons, the show has been lauded as one of the best in the region. The site for this juried event is under the shade of magnificent old trees in Evergreen Park, in the middle of the town of Kane, PA and the event features 35-40 artists and artisans, student art exhibit, music, demonstrations and food vendors.

4.) Curt Weinhold, Coudersport, PA

A photograph can stir emotions and no one does it better than Coudersport’s Curt Weinhold with his images of nature at its glory. Weinhold is a well-known photographer in the PA Wilds region with a portfolio that focuses on the beauty of both the man-made and natural worlds. Weinhold displays scenic views of the PA Grand Canyon, Austin Dam, local communities, wildlife and stunning nightscapes of the Dark Skies.

5.) Connie Sickler/Settlement House, Sylvania, PA

The Settlement House Gallery appears to be set in an old house built along the highway but actually, it is a relatively new structure, (2001) so carefully crafted that it has the feel of an old, well-loved farmhouse. Inside, the gallery is filled with vibrant colors and textures curated by the owner and artist Connie Sickler, who has skillfully combined the work of potters, painters, glass and fabric artists, into a charming collection of artwork. You will see a careful attention to details, a little bit of humor, and a touch of whimsy.

Sickler is a painter, designer, and illustrator and her own work is well represented in the gallery. A recent watercolor “The Tree of Hope” is available as a print in several sizes

6.) Dietrich Theater/Wyoming Cultural Center, Tunkhannock, PA

Originally built in 1936 by George Dietrich, the theater has operated for almost 50 years. The building includes four movie theaters showing blockbuster, foreign, independent, and classic films. It is also the staging ground for a wide range of cultural activities including film festivals, live theater, concerts, workshops, and classes. Local artwork is exhibited in the William Norris Earnshaw and the Doris W. & Walter A. Sherwood Galleries and classes are taught in the Dorothy G. Sheldon Art Studio and the Peg Fassett Performance Studio.

The theater is a strong presence in downtown Tunkhannock. Last year, it was host for the self-guided walking tours of the historic town.

This is just a sample of the great artisans, organizations, galleries and retail shops along the PA Route 6 Artisan Trail. For a complete list, see the website at www.paroute6.com/artisan_trail.

The PA Route 6 Artisan Trail was started in 2005 as a year-long trail, designed to establish Route 6 as a driving destination for exploring the heritage and folk- life of northern Pennsylvania through products produced in that area, specifically the arts and crafts. The PA Route 6 Artisan Trail covers the 427 miles from the New York border to the Ohio border.

The trail also serves as a network for artisans to share ideas and experiences. It is managed by the PA Route 6 Alliance and funded through the Heritage Area Program of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural resource.

Meanwhile…

PennDOT outlines biking improvements for 150 miles along Route 6

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has created a report that provides an outline for biking enhancements of 150 miles along Route 6 extending from the Ohio boarder to the McKean/Potter County line and Route 6N in Erie County.

The “Ride A Bike” section of PennDOT’s “Travel in PA” report, available at penndot.gov, provides details on “improvement strategies as well as specific enhancement suggestions, such as proposed wayfinding signage locations.”

PennDOT estimates the cost for the Route 6N section at $5.9 million, and $70.1 million for the Route 6 section, with most of the latter being for bridge replacements.

“With the many scenic and historic opportunities along this route, we’re excited to outline strategies to help enhance safety and sustainable transportation,” says PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Communities should see transportation networks as assets, and this report has some concrete recommendations to improve conditions for all travel modes in the area.”

“This helps advance our efforts to enhance outdoor recreation and bring new visitors to our communities,” says Terri Dennison, executive direct of the PA Route Alliance, one of the key partners on the initiative. “We are looking forward to assisting in the implementation of the recommendations, including wayfinding signage into our communities and hospitality training geared towards bike-friendly towns.”

PennDOT says two more reports are in the works that will layout strategies and recommendations for the rest of Route 6 through the state.

Neilltown Church Building Rehabilitation Part of Week of Giving

Pleasantville, PA  – More than 70 area non-profit organizations have joined with Bridge Builders Community Foundation for the inaugural “Week of Giving” from Monday, March 20 through midnight on Friday, March 24.

For that five-day period, monetary contributions made via www.bbcfgives.org will be relayed to the participating charitable organizations, along with matching funds which have been assembled by the Bridge Builders Community Foundation.

The Neilltown Church Building is a simple 1842 two-room former church building located at 2638 Neilltown Road, Pleasantville, PA in Harmony Township in northwestern Forest County. Since 2004, it has been owned by the non-profit Oil Region Alliance which has been gradually rehabilitating this historic structure while also hosting summertime Sunday afternoon live musical performances.

Contributions received for the Neilltown Church Building rehabilitation through the Week of Giving are being earmarked to add an electric baseboard heating system, interior storm windows, and attic insulation. For more information about this project, please contact Mrs. Marilyn Black at (814) 677-3152, Ext. 105, mblack@oilregion.org.

Façade Grant Awarded to the PA Route 6 Alliance and PA Wilds

Kane, PA – PA Route 6 Alliance and the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) are excited to announce they will be launching a regional façade grant program for communities along Route 6 in the Pennsylvania Wilds.

The program is made possible thanks to an $183,000 Keystone Communities grant from the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DCED), and project support funding from the PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR).

State partners and the two regional nonprofits announced the program Thursday at The Laughing Owl Press Company, a growing small business in downtown Kane that partners said is a good example of the types of applicants they are looking for.

“We are thrilled that our state partners have decided to invest in this project with us,” said PA Route 6 Alliance Executive Director Terri Dennison, whose organization will implement the bulk of the award. “It is going to create a lot of opportunities for communities and businesses in the region. We are still working out the details of the program, but anticipate it will be a matching grant program that will fund about 32 façade projects at $5000 each, as well as make smaller matching signage grants available to 50 retail and host site establishments involved in The Wilds Cooperative of PA, a visitor experience the PA Wilds Center is working to curate and grow.”

The regional façade grant program concept was developed by the PA Wilds Planning Team, a group of regional stakeholders that are part of the PA Wilds Center. It builds on many previous investments at the local, state and federal level in nature and heritage tourism in the region and helps advance principles laid out in the PA Wilds Design Guide for Community Character Stewardship, an award-winning voluntary planning document that launches its 2nd Edition next month.

Partners decided to focus the pilot along Route 6 as doing so would leverage recent and upcoming DCNR and DCED state investments in the area as well as a bicycle and pedestrian plan being undertaken by PennDOT for Route 6, also designated as state bicycle route Y.
“Initiatives that encourage revitalization and business development, like the project led by the PA Route 6 Alliance, contribute greatly to the strength and vitality of Pennsylvania’s communities,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “The Keystone Communities funding that the Alliance received will benefit efforts all along Route 6 in McKean, Potter, Tioga, and Warren counties – restoring façades and improving signage – to help bolster the economic well-being of the region’s businesses, communities, and residents.”

“DCNR is delighted to participate in this shared investment strategy by the state agencies as it truly exemplifies Governor Wolf’s “government that works” philosophy,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adam Dunn.
Some best-known tourism assets are shared by the Pennsylvania Wilds and the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor – the National Wild & Scenic Allegheny River, Kinzua Skywalk and State Park visitor center, PA Lumber Museum, the Dark Skies at Cherry Springs State Park, and PA Grand Canyon. PA Route 6 itself is a popular driving destination with its many charming downtowns. Also critical, many communities along Route 6 have continued to work with the Alliance on their individual Heritage Community Plans and were in a state of readiness for the regional façade grant program.

The hope is that if the pilot goes well, the program can be offered in future years in different areas around the region and along the Heritage Corridor.

“A lot of our region’s downtowns don’t have the capacity to run a full blown Main Street program or similar program where façade grants might be made available,” said Clearfield County Planning Director Jodi Brennan, who spearheaded development of the regional program as Chair of the PA Wilds Planning Team’s Design Guide Committee. “Taking a regional approach can help bridge that gap.”

“We’ve seen a lot of nature and heritage tourism investment in the Pennsylvania Wilds in recent years, and it is creating real opportunities for communities to draw visitors in to fuel business and job growth and improve quality of life,” said PA Wilds Center Executive Director Ta Enos. “To attract visitors – and most other kinds of investment — communities need to appear welcoming. This program helps communities achieve that.”

As part of the application, the county governments of Tioga, Potter, McKean and Warren signed a cooperative agreement to assist with in-kind support such as meeting space and assistance by their county planners.

“Any time you ask the state for funding, one of their first questions is: is there local buy-in, local leadership?” Enos said. “They want to see it at a lot of levels – business, nonprofits, local government. We appreciate the commissioners in Tioga, Potter, McKean and Warren counties stepping up to help us put forth a competitive application. It is one of the beauties of the regional work we’re all involved in, that we have built this network of partners with shared goals who understand each other’s capabilities and how we can put that to work for the betterment of our communities.”

Joe Lanich, who owns Laughing Owl Press with his wife, Andrea, started their letterpress business in their garage in 2010 but quickly grew it into a storefront operation. Last year, they purchased a building in downtown Kane that needed a lot of work inside and out. They spent many months running the business by day and sanding floors and painting by night. Joe dug up pictures of the building’s historic storefront for inspiration, and is hoping to get to the exterior soon.

“These old buildings in rural PA are a lot for a small operator like us to take on,” he said. “We are really excited about the matching grant program as it would help make exterior improvements possible.” He said Laughing Owl Press hopes to apply if the program fits its timeline.

Dennison said the program is expected to leverage at minimum $183,000 in private-sector investment through match. An exact timeline and details of the program will be released in coming months.

“We are thrilled that PA Route 6 Alliance is able to bring organizational capacity, expertise and leadership to the table to help accomplish the shared vision for this pilot program,” Enos said. “The Alliance is a longtime partner around the Wilds table and is respected for the work they have done over many years to enhance and promote the Route 6 Heritage Area. We are excited to work with them.”

For more information about the PA Wilds Center or PA Route 6 Alliance visit www.pawildscenter.org and www.paroute6.com.

HERITAGEPA TRAVEL FEATURE: Touring the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor

By Jim Cheney, UncoveringPA

There’s nothing more American than a road trip. In 1913, the Lincoln Highway created the great American road trip when it became the first cross-country roadway in the country, passing through 13 states on its way from New York City to San Francisco. While other roadways have become better known over the years, the Lincoln Highway still offers travelers the chance to see the best of America and journey down one of the country’s most historic routes.

When it was created, the Lincoln Highway entered the state north of Philadelphia, and exited the state north of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. Today, a 200-mile stretch of the roadway between North Huntingdon in the west and Abbottstown in the east is being preserved as part of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor follows much of present-day Route 30 through six Pennsylvania counties: Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Franklin, and Adams. Along this roadway, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor is working to preserve the region’s history, promote tourist infrastructure, and create awareness of this classic American roadway.

Since its 1995 designation, the nonprofit heritage area created more than 65 historical exhibits, as well as murals, roadside oddities, and much more. These additions help add flavor to the roadway and offer the chance for travelers to learn more about the Lincoln Highway.

Of course, those wanting a fully immersive experience along the Lincoln Highway will want to save time to stop at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe. Near the western end of the corridor, the Lincoln Highway Experience tells the story of this over century-old highway, and the effect that it had on both Pennsylvania and the entire country.

Visits to the museum start with a 13-minute film titled, “Through the Windshield.” This award-winning film chronicles the history of the Lincoln Highway and its significance, both locally and nationally. After viewing the film, visitors can browse displays related to the highway’s history, send a postcard home to family and friends, and shop for souvenirs.

Coming in early 2018, the Lincoln Highway Experience will be doubling its exhibit space. These changes will provide an unparalleled visitor experience, and will greatly enhance a traveler’s ability to appreciate and learn about this important corridor. Additions to the museum will include the fully-restored Serro’s Diner from 1938, complete with pie and coffee for every visitor, an authentic 1938 filling station and tourist cabin, a 1937 Packard car, and much more.

Of course, no trip is complete without actually traveling the Lincoln Highway. Every visitor to the Lincoln Highway Experience receives a 60-page Lincoln Highway Driving Guide to the corridor’s 200 miles. This guide offers visitors information about what there is to see and do.

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor is truly the encapsulation of early 20th century Americana. The corridor passes two national parks, five state parks, and more history, culture, and beauty than you could enjoy in a lifetime.

So hop in the car and set off for a classic American road trip along the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in Pennsylvania.

For more information, visit the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor’s website.

 

About the writer: Jim Cheney is the writer behind UncoveringPA, Pennsylvania’s most read travel blog. He has traveled to every county in Pennsylvania and to many countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. He lives in Harrisburg, Pa.