Posted in Thanksgiving

Words for Wednesday: Happy Thanksgiving!

As we here in the United States prepare for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I’d like to encourage you to ponder a few thoughts about gratitude and thankfulness from people much wiser than I am.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~ Edward Sandford Martin, American journalist/editor

“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” ~ George Washington, first US President

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~ William Arthur Ward, American writer

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ~ Harry Ironside, theologian/pastor

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips and shows itself in deeds.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President

“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.” ~ E.P. Powell, American author/journalist

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” ~ Cicero, Roman philosopher

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~ Cynthia Ozick, American author

“I think that is a better thing than thanksgiving: thanks-living. How is this to be done? By a general cheerfulness of manner, by an obedience to the command of Him by whose mercy we live, by a perpetual, constant delighting of ourselves in the Lord, and by a submission of our desires to His will.” ~ Charles Spurgeon, English preacher

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie, American author

May you count your blessings and give thanks for them. Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends, and blog readers!

“By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” ~Hebrews 13:15, Holy Bible

© 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: thankful travels

It’s Thanksgiving week and it will be a busy one here at Mama’s Empty Nest because our nest won’t be empty.

Our home will be filled with conversations, laughter, plenty of fun activities, and yummy food because all our grown offspring and young grandchildren are coming for a Thanksgiving celebration. For four and a half days in a row!

So, while some of them will be traveling from other states to get “home for the holiday” tonight, Papa and I are preparing for their arrival – keeping the home fires burning, the pantry and refrigerator stocked, and fun family activities planned.

Obviously, we will not be traveling. However, on this Tuesday Tour, my heart is thankful for the journeys we were blessed to take this past year. So, I’m highlighting some of the photos from those trips that I didn’t showcase before.

Buckle up your seat belts, friends, and come along for the ride on my thankful tour today as I remember with gratitude the places Papa and I visited so far this year.

Winterscape on Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania

Presque Isle Lighthouse in winter – Erie, Pennsylvania

Lighthouse on a cold, blustery day – Presque Isle, Erie Pennsylvania

Kidds Mill Covered Bridge (sadly defaced inside), Mercer County, Pennsylvania

Unusual sky view somewhere on the road in Pennsylvania

Springtime at Drake Well Museum and Park, Titusville, Pennsylvania

Our hearts were as full as this nest found at our daughter and son-in-law’s home when our family all gathered for a birthday celebration in Kentucky.

City scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as we traveled home after a weekend out of state.

Sight and Sound Theater, Strasburg, Pennsylvania

Just a smidgen of the treasures seen at American Treasure Tour Museum, Oaks, Pennsylvania

More amazing displays at American Treasure Tour Museum

One of the many beautiful monuments at Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Cape May, New Jersey

Sea Girt, New Jersey

Stopped for a commuter train somewhere in northern New Jersey

A peek at the New York City skyline from Mount Mitchill, New Jersey

Along the short hike to Dingman Falls, Pike County, Pennsylvania

Where we were mesmerized by a huge field of boulders…nothing but rocks. Hickory Run State Park in Carbon County, Pennsylvania

Aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

A second visit to Marblehead Lighthouse along Lake Erie, Ohio, where we finally got to view this beauty (on our previous visit it was closed for renovation and the outside was covered).

Lake Erie view from Marblehead, Ohio

A spot to relax beside the pool in Ohio while visiting family

A late summer day trip to covered bridges – Indiana County, Pennsylvania

Looking up inside one of the covered bridges in Indiana County, Pennsylvania

Fort Roberdeau in Blair County, Pennsylvania

Traveling east on Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway

Crossing Pennsylvania’s beautiful mountains on our way to a family reunion at Caledonia State Park – Franklin County

Fall festival pumpkin patch visit to a farm that’s been owned by the same family for over 150 years in the hills of western Pennsylvania – Armstrong County

But no matter how far away we roam, we’re always thankful to arrive back home safe and sound.

“Home is where the heart is, but I’m thankful for the chance to discover new places.” ~ unknown

© 2022

Posted in gratitude, Life

Words for Wednesday: empty pages

(Life has been a little busy here at Mama’s Empty Nest lately, and I’ve found myself without words to write. The words are there…somewhere milling around in this cluttered brain of mine, but they just aren’t surfacing for the moment. So, excuse me while I repost something I wrote way back in November 2010, the first year of my Mama’s Empty Nest blog.)

Often friends encourage me without them even knowing they’ve done so, and sometimes they humble me as well.

Today a friend told me she keeps a gratitude list. She’s been keeping it for four years.

I started a gratitude journal way back in 1998. Want to guess how many pages I wrote in it?  Nine and a half. 

What’s odd is that I enjoy writing tremendously, so why couldn’t I fill all the pages of that journal full of words of thanksgiving and gratefulness and start another one? Actually, I should have an entire bookshelf of gratitude journals by now. But I don’t.

So I’m feeling humbled by this friend who has so much more faithfulness than me at being grateful and documenting her thankful thoughts. It’s obviously something I need to improve or at least attempt.

I rummaged through my desk drawer and dug out my lovely 1998 gratitude journal, a gift from a good friend. On the first page, she wrote this:  “Take a moment each day and write down five things you are grateful for.  It could be a moment, event, or just something that brought a smile to you today.  Let me start by sharing how much I appreciate your support and friendship.  You are truly ‘a very best friend’!”

This friend and I became acquainted through our children’s elementary school when we both served as PTA officers. I laughingly told her when we met that we would become “best friends” as we would work so closely together on school functions. 

We joked about that a lot, but we really did become close friends and even now, so many years later, we still sign our Christmas cards “from your very best friend!”

I noted that her entry in my journal was dated April 5, 1998. I wrote this three days later:  “I am so thankful for friends like K [she gave me the journal] who brighten my day; friends like KL who can give me godly and wise advice; that Mom is experiencing God’s power and peace while she’s dealing with her cancer diagnosis; that our gracious and loving Lord not only hears our prayers but answers them; for my children’s, husband’s, and my good health.”

I continued to write a paragraph or two from April through June. And then the writing stopped. Is it mere coincidence that I discontinued writing the day after my family and I moved back to the homeland? I don’t know. 

Life was extremely unsettled then and my mother was dying of cancer. I spent a lot of time in prayer during that time, but maybe my feelings and emotions were just too raw to put into ink on paper.

Over the years, I’ve picked up this small bound book with the floral design on the front, read what I previously wrote, and closed the book again without writing one paragraph. 

I could excuse myself by saying I was too busy planning my new home, raising my children, running to sports events, getting involved in church and school volunteering, but I know I was thankful for many, many occurrences, large and small, in my life.  So why didn’t I take a moment to chronicle them?  It’s a puzzle to me.

Perhaps it is a lack of discipline on my part. I failed to note over 10 years (now 24 years!) of thankfulness in written form, but looking back over those years, I can recall much for which my heart is grateful. 

But the day-to-day items, the usual but not insignificant blessings I’ve experienced, those are tucked away in my mind’s memory bank like old, faded mementos buried in a dusty trunk in the attic and forgotten.

Still, there’s so much to be thankful for, even if I don’t write those moments down on an empty page. ©2010

“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.” ~ unknown

© 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: Washington slept here

Although we should be thankful for our blessings each and every day, month, or year that we have life, we especially think of gratefulness here in the USA during the month of November, Thanksgiving month.

While pondering what to write for this Tuesday Tour blog post, I contemplated awhile because lately, Papa and I haven’t traveled too far away from our little town. But as I considered aspects of life for which I am very thankful, some thoughts eventually led me to this post.

Having just voted in my country’s mid-term elections and celebrated Veteran’s Day, I once again realized how thankful I am to live in America.

Oh, it’s not to say there aren’t major problems in my country that have been brewing for years, but when it comes right down to it, I still live in freedom.

Free to vote anyway I choose, free to honor and respect veterans who are family, friends, and strangers, free to worship my God, among many other freedoms.

And then it dawned on me. One reason I’m free to do all those things is because of my country’s history and the courageousness and leadership of one man who led our young fledgling group of colonies in the fight to win freedom and escape tyranny.

That man was George Washington, not only General of the Continental Army (US Revolutionary War troops) but also the first President of the United States. I’m thankful for him.

And aha! A travel-based post sprang to my mind. I hope you enjoy it today.

In our travels over the years, Papa and I have visited several historic sites that could claim the “George Washington slept here” motto. 

We’ve both been to Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, but alas, we were young’uns at the time and neither one of us has any photos from there. Of course, one of these days we’d like to visit that historic home again. And that time, I will capture pictures.

In the last few years though, we have purposely stopped at places George Washington called a temporary home, and we also stumbled upon one we didn’t realize even existed.

Living in Pennsylvania, one of the original 13 colonies, I know that Washington tromped through my state in many spots, but perhaps the most well-known is Valley Forge National Historical Park, where he and his Continental Army troops hunkered down during the hard, cold winter of 1777-1778.

Papa, an avid history buff, and I traveled to Valley Forge this past summer where I snapped the photo (at this post’s beginning) of the George Washington replica located in the Visitor’s Center.  As we toured the vast park, we spotted Washington’s headquarters, known as the Isaac Potts House, at the bottom of a hill.

This stone house, constructed by the Potts family probably sometime in the late 1760’s-early 1770’s and rented out to Washington, was where he and his staff lived and worked between December 1777 and June 1778.  The building, restored and furnished with 18th century period pieces and other artifacts related to Washington, is open to the public.  

In 2014, while seeing family in New Jersey, we visited a lovely Georgian-styled mansion in Morristown that was Washington’s headquarters for six months during the Revolutionary War, specifically from December 1779 to June 1780.

The Ford mansion, built in the early 1770’s, was home for Jacob Ford, a Morris County militia colonel during the Revolutionary War, and his family. Ford died in January 1777 when several Delaware soldiers already were quartered in his home.

Other troops were camped nearby and in December 1779, the widow Ford allowed Washington, his wife Martha, five aides-de camp, and 18 servants to use her home as the general’s headquarters, while she and her children inhabited a couple of rooms. 

Many years later in the 1870’s, influential men, who wanted the house preserved and open for public display, bought the home at an auction and created the Washington Association of New Jersey, making this home one of the first house museums in the country.  In 1933, the Washington Association donated the museum to the United States National Park Service, which it remains a part of today.

Furnished similar to what it may have appeared during the time Washington utilized the home as his headquarters, the home and another museum on the grounds can be toured by the public.

Located in the Morristown National Historic Park at 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ, admission is free to either building. Except for holidays, this well-maintained and landscaped site is open every day from 8 am until sunset all year.    

The last Washington Revolutionary War headquarters featured today is one we stumbled across last summer after visiting New Jersey lighthouses and journeying through that state enroute back to Pennsylvania.

While we weren’t able to tour it as it wasn’t open to the public at that time, we stopped so I could snap a photo. This house, known as Rockingham and once the home of the John Berrien family, was Washington’s final headquarters during the Revolutionary War.

Located in Somerset County, NJ, the oldest part of the structure was a two-story saltbox-style probably built in 1710 but expanded with extra rooms later. Washington stayed in this place from August 23rd to November 10th in 1783. Three aides-de-camp, servants, and several guards also lived there during that time. Martha Washington stayed with her husband until October of that year.

The importance of this site is that while at Rockingham, Washington waited for news that the Treaty of Paris officially ending the Revolutionary War was signed.  The general, who eventually became our nation’s first president, wrote his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States at this place. That document dismissed troops and announced Washington’s retirement from the Continental Army.

Because of its significance in both country and military history, Rockingham was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Sometimes I wonder what George Washington would think of this country now, these hundreds of years later. I imagine he might be shaking his head at the way we fight against one another.

But I think he might remind us all that we are privileged to be Americans and perhaps that’s something we – from both sides of the divided fence right now – should remember.

“Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of ‘American’ which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” ~ George Washington © 2022

Posted in Life, thankfulness

The 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month

Here in my country today is Veterans Day. It’s not just a federal holiday when banks and government offices are closed. It’s not just a day off work for many or a day with no school in session for some. It’s a day for gratitude.

And gratitude of the deepest kind. Every year, Veterans Day is commemorated in America on November 11. There’s a reason for that, a very important historical reason. November 11 was the day when an armistice was signed between Allied nations and Germany ending World War I.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, that peacemaking document went into effect. The next year Armistice Day (as it was known then) was celebrated for the first time. In many places, people reflected during minutes of silence at 11 o’clock on November 11th.

Then President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that day in 1919 would be a day “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

At some point in time, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a day to honor all veterans of military service to our country. Sometimes it seems our veterans are forgotten heroes and don’t receive the respect they deserve. Many of them suffer from long-lasting effects of their service during war times.

That’s why it makes my heart happy to see businesses and individuals giving honor and recognition to our country’s vets.

The least we can do for them is thank them sincerely for serving not just our country but us – its citizens who live in freedom because of our vets’ sacrifices.

So, thank a veteran on this special day. But even better than that, thank them every time you see or meet a veteran. And then go one step further, give your support to organizations who help our courageous warriors and their families.

“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” ~ Jeff Miller, U.S. Representative

© 2022

Posted in Home, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: my little town

The opening lines of a song, written by Paul Simon of the famous duo Simon and Garfunkel, run through my mind: “In my little town I grew up believing God keeps His eye on us all…”  

That part is true, even though I didn’t grow up within town limits but instead a few miles outside it. But unlike the rest of those song lyrics describing a forlorn town where there’s “nothing but the dead and dying,” my thoughts about my own little town are much more pleasant.

During November when we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, I endeavor to focus on aspects of my life that I’m grateful for. And believe it or not, my hometown, my own little town, is one of those.  

Even with its issues (like those befallen on many other small towns), I’m grateful to have been born and raised in this locale and even more thankful that I was given the chance to move back here after so many years residing elsewhere across the country.

Because living here once again and even enjoying travel as Papa and I do, in the words of The Wizard of Oz‘s Dorothy, “there’s no place like home.”  So today on this Tuesday Tour, welcome to my little town, my hometown.

“For any American who had the great and priceless privilege of being raised in a small town there always remains with him nostalgic memories.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Located in western Pennsylvania not far from Pittsburgh, my hometown sits along the banks of the scenic Allegheny River. With a name derived from Native American language, my hometown’s moniker, according to some research, means “on the main river.” As a school student sitting in history class though, I learned back then that our town name simply meant “place by the water.”

Either way, this beautiful river runs beside my little town on its way southward to Pittsburgh where it meets the Monongahela River to form the mighty Ohio River. The Allegheny provides ample entertainment for locals and tourists alike from fishing to boating, water skiing, and zooming aboard jet skis right here in my little town.

Along the river, a lovely waterfront park gives residents and visitors a relaxing place to enjoy a leisurely walk as well as a locale where several festivals and other gatherings take place every year. And the park’s amphitheater is a spot where many concerts and events are held.

Waterfront park on the south side of the bridge where the amphitheater sits pictured above. The north side of the park is shown below. Both areas have gazebos and plenty of park benches.

Way back when our Pennsylvania county was established in 1800, my hometown was designated as the county seat. Hence, a historical and quite beautiful courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is situated at one end of the borough’s main street. The courthouse, a three-story neo-classical style building, that still stands today was constructed between 1858 and 1860.

A picturesque bridge, the second such structure to exist there, spans the river and connects the area west of the Allegheny to my hometown on the east side.

The bridge’s unique style earned it a major focus in a Hollywood produced movie a few years back. As you can imagine, a film production crew as well as the appearance of actor Richard Gere caused a lot of excitement in town at that time.

In addition, for some reason my little town has attracted other entertainment companies to film movies and television programs here and in the vicinity, including some episodes for a couple Netflix series.

But my little town is significant for more than that; it possesses a rich history. A county historical museum and genealogical society is housed in a lovely old home built in 1842, where visitors can learn my little town’s history and view historical displays and artifacts.

In addition the genealogical society established a research library located in an adjacent building which once was the home’s carriage house, which is also open for public’s utilization.

Originally as early as 1727, my hometown was a Native American village and at one time, an ancestor of mine was believed to have been the first white settler here. He and his family were chased away by the native tribes living here, but in 1756 during a French and Indian War battle, the native village was destroyed by Col. John Armstrong and his men. Historians commemorated the 250th anniversary of that battle by staging an enactment in 2006.  

Following the French and Indian War, my little town became settled by European Americans sometime after the Revolutionary War. Later during the Civil War, a regiment of Pennsylvania Infantry volunteers organized in the town during the months of September 1861 through February 1862.

Like many small towns, it thrived with a period of growth during the early part of the 20th century because of plentiful jobs, but the Depression and World War II took its toll with job losses and population decreases.

And similar to other small towns, my little town has experienced issues due to difficult times in the past and on-going ones presently. In my childhood and teenage years, my hometown was more vibrant and a great place to shop. Now due to malls and other retail centers nearby, downtown isn’t quite the same.

But there is an active group of citizens and merchants who spend time and effort beautifying the downtown area and every year prior to welcome the Christmas season, fun and entertaining holiday events are hosted by downtown businesses and organizations.

Activities for children, a Christmas parade, and live Nativity scenes as well as open retailers for shopping are a big draw for the town’s special night when Christmas lights decorating town are lit up. And this year, a festival of decorated Christmas trees is planned for our waterfront park.

It’s true that some areas of town aren’t very attractive any longer like they once were and haven’t been well-maintained, yet some streets boast lovely, older and charming homes that have been kept up wonderfully or restored.

Some gorgeous stone churches add to the beauty of our town and still have active congregations. A couple areas of town even sport new construction, a welcome sight.

A relatively new junior-senior high school built outside of town has also been a welcome addition to the area and this year, we have a winning football team that is currently engaged in championship play-off games. We’re also fortunate to have great elementary schools with dedicated teachers and administrators

For sports and recreation purposes, a newer and well-equipped YMCA complex offers a myriad of programs for youth and adults alike. Located across the river on the west side, a complex with both an ice-skating arena (ice hockey is big here) and a huge community swimming pool sees plenty of community action. In addition, community baseball, softball, and soccer fields in the area are busy with sports enthusiasts.

Local eateries providing tasty dinners and treats can be found in town, including a bakery/restaurant with delicious pastries/food as well as welcoming small coffee shops, even a mobile one occupied in an airstream camper trailer located in a retail area parking lot just outside of town limits.

A recently established upscale restaurant occupies a Victorian “mansion” where a well-to-do family lived in town in the early 1900’s.  The building was used for many years as our local YMCA until a long-time resident/wife of a business owner purchased and beautifully restored the historic place. Since its opening, it has been enhanced with a lovely outdoor seating area and plans to become a wedding venue this spring.   

I’ve highlighted only a few nice aspects of my little town, but many more are not mentioned here.

But perhaps one great advantage of my hometown is the fact that if you thrive on finding city excitement and amenities, Pittsburgh is a short drive away. Yet by residing in or near my little town, you’re surrounded by a rural locale. Just a couple miles outside of town, one can find countryside, farmland, wooded areas, and peaceful surroundings.

That’s my idea of an awesome place to live. I’m sure some detractors don’t think my hometown is outstanding or even worth a drive through, but for Papa and me, who’ve had enough time spent in cities and suburbs, we like our little town.

“Give me a Sunday morning, that’s full of grace. A simple life and I’ll be okay, here in small town U.S.A.”~ Justin Moore.


Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: outstanding October

Swiftly dancing by like brilliant leaves plucked off our trees and swirling on a gust of wind, the month of October has passed by once again. And I am sorry to see it go.

October is one of my most favorite months. First of all, it harbors the season of autumn. Secondly, it’s the anniversary month for Papa and me as we marked another marital milestone – 45 years together for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, through thick and thin.  

And usually, our far away fledglings (our grown children) come home to roost for a family weekend sometime in October.

So much goodness packed into one month of 31 days. As the calendar page turns over to November, when I pause to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon us in the year beginning its descent to the end, I like to reminisce over October’s gifts.

And I’m sharing some of those with you today.

Reminder from a beautiful October day 45 years ago.

Our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with our nearby grandchild, daughter, and her special guy at a local farm’s autumn festival.

Family weekend when all our family arrived so the girls (little and big) could attend the musical “Frozen” at our nearby city’s beautiful theater while all the guys enjoyed a “meat fest” at Texas de Brazil.

Spending time with our faraway grandchildren on a Nana and Papa’s day out with the littles. (And spoiling them…just a bit.)

Fun time at McDonald’s for lunch. Then an afternoon at one of the nicest playgrounds around.

Reuniting with dear friends we haven’t seen for 30 years when they visited us for a weekend in our home.

Witnessing gorgeous sunrises and amazing sunsets right from our own two acres.

Watching our maple trees change colors.

And taking a walk among the fallen leaves on a temperate sunny day like the photo at the beginning of this post.

Farewell, October, until we meet again.

“In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October.” ~ Alexander Smith

© 2022

Posted in History, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: history uncovered

Just call us the road trippers.  My husband and I relish driving down the highways and byways, especially journeying on day trips to areas in our home state we’ve never visited before.

One August day this past summer while caring for our oldest grandchild, we packed a picnic lunch, and the three of us headed east in search of some adventure.

We visited a spot that I actually never knew existed (but I’m not the history buff in our family) – Fort Roberdeau, a reconstructed Revolutionary War fort located in Tyrone Township, outside of Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania.

When we arrived on that hot summer day, we found a nice picnic table under the shade of a tree and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the quiet surroundings. Only a handful of people were there to tour the fort at the time.

After lunch, we entered Fort Roberdeau visitors center, a restored barn originally built in 1859, where visitors purchase tour tickets, shop in the gift store, and view an interesting section with museum quality displays and information about life during the Revolutionary War on the Pennsylvania frontier.   

We watched a short video and then one of the volunteer guides gave us a brief talk about Fort Roberdeau and its purpose. And our grandchild got a kick out of signing the visitors guest book with a feather quill pen.

We then were free to enter the reconstructed fort and tour the grounds, consisting of officer’s quarters, a storehouse, barracks, blacksmith shop, lead miner’s cabin, powder magazine, and a lead smelter, at our own pace.

In addition, a restored 1860 farmhouse and a log cabin (built in 2012) which was constructed to show what an original frontier home would have looked like during the Revolutionary War era are on the grounds.

After touring the fort, we walked down a nature trail through the woods to view a sinkhole, one of several in the area called Sinking Valley, part of the 230-acre park where Fort Roberdeau is situated.

Fort Roberdeau, which was also called the Lead Mine Fort, was originally built in 1778 by General Daniel Roberdeau and was occupied by Continental Army troops until 1780.

The purpose of the fort was to protect lead mines in the area from Torries and also Native Americans who were loyal to the British. Lead mines were extremely important for the colonies’ Continental Army since the mines provided the raw materials needed for ammunition during the war.  

General Roberdeau, a member of the Continental Congress and also a signer of the Articles of Confederation, constructed the fort with his own money. History tells us that no attacks were ever made on the fort.

After 1780, settlers in the surrounding area could have used the fort for protection, but sometime afterwards, Fort Roberdeau was deconstructed, and the area became farmers’ fields for crops.

By the 20th century in the years 1939-1941, there was an effort to reconstruct the fort, but those plans didn’t come to fruition until America’s bicentennial year 1976 when the stockade was rebuilt.  

Since that time, more information about the fort has been learned and plans implemented to make the fort more authentic. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original fort was erected with horizontal logs and a bastion at each corner, and the reconstructed fort was built the same way. Because this area’s soil was rocky, holes dug deep enough to insert vertical logs could not be attained. So instead, Fort Roberdeau’s walls were built with horizontal logs.

Guided tours of Fort Roberdeau, often by costumed volunteers, give visitors the history of the fort, why it was originally constructed, and what life was like living there during those years.  

Log buildings inside the fort housed the soldiers stationed there and each one of those buildings displays different classes of soldiers depending on rank.

Our grandchild found the buildings fascinating as she learned how very different life was like back then as opposed to now. In that respect, she reminded me so much of her mommy, who as a young child, loved all things historical and still does.

Visiting Fort Roberdeau was a great learning experience for our grandchild; the Papa of this empty nest enjoyed learning the history of this site; and this Mama (Nana) had the opportunity to capture some nice photos.

Fort Roberdeau, under ownership and administration by Blair County, is open to the public Monday-Saturday 10 am – 4 pm; Sunday 1-4 pm from May 1 through October 31.  Cost of admission is $6 for adults; $3 for children.

“A generation which ignores history has no past – and no future.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein, American science fiction author

© 2022

Posted in Fall, photography

Words for Wednesday: for your amusement

Just for kicks and giggles today, I’m sharing a photo I captured at an awesome nearby farm that holds a pumpkin patch event every fall.

We visited there one beautiful warm autumn day this month, and while our grandchild was searching for the perfect pumpkin, our daughter found this one.

We had a good laugh at it (and left it there for others to enjoy). What does it look like to you??

“Let’s give them pumpkin to talk about.” ~ unknown

© 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: back to covered bridges

It certainly looks like autumn as I peer outside my windows, and I welcome this season as my favorite one of all. But on my Tuesday Tour posts, it’s still summer.

We were blessed to be able to take a summer road trip vacation this past June which I highlighted here in Mama’s Empty Nest for the last several weeks. But our wanderings down nearby highways didn’t end there.  

Today I’m sharing a relaxing day trip Papa and I enjoyed viewing more of our favorite sites to see – covered bridges.

We knew some of these old wooden structures must still exist within driving distance of our home, but until I researched online, we didn’t realize four covered bridges that were constructed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s stood in a Pennsylvania county not far away – Indiana County.

So one bright, warm summer day Papa and I hit the road on a driving tour, complete with map also found online, to visit each of these historic bridges located in beautiful countryside. The tour directions, provided by Indiana County Parks and Trails, were excellent and we found all four covered bridges easily.

We first viewed Kintersburg Bridge, erected in 1877 and named for local shopkeeper, Isaac Kinter. This 68-foot-long Howe truss bridge is one of only five such designs remaining in the state.

An interesting fact is that when it was constructed over Crooked Creek 145 years ago, it cost $893 to build. Closed to traffic, this covered bridge proved to be picturesque and well-maintained.

After a few miles on our driving tour, we successfully found Harmon Bridge with a town lattice style truss.  Named for Civil War veteran J.S. Harmon, this 45-foot-long bridge crosses the south branch of Plum Creek.

It was built for $525 in 1910 and now stands in a lovely farm setting. Harmon Covered Bridge also is closed to traffic, but proved to be a lovely sight.

We found a guest book inside this bridge and leafed through it to see all the notations made by visitors who’ve stopped by this scenic spot in the last couple of years. We thought it was a nice touch and signed it as well.

About a half mile away we discovered Harmon Bridge’s companion, Trusal Covered Bridge, which is also located on the south branch of Plum Creek and closed to traffic.

Another town lattice truss bridge that is 41 feet in length, it was constructed in 1870 but its builder is not known.  

Trusal Bridge, which also has been called Dice’s Bridge, is the oldest covered bridge in Indiana County and the shortest. It was named in honor of a nearby property owner Robert Trusal.  

The last bridge on this driving tour was Thomas Bridge and we were delighted to find it is a covered bridge still in use while we drove through it. This town lattice covered bridge crosses Crooked Creek and was originally constructed by Amos Thomas in 1879 for $545.

Before the bridge was erected, a fording stream crossing existed there, and the early bridge was known as The Thomas Ford Bridge. Another interesting fact is in the early 1900’s, a railroad was constructed in the area and the bridge was called Thomas Station Bridge then.

Apparently, the bridge needed rehabilitation especially because it was still used for traffic, so it was reconstructed in 1998 to the tune of a little more than $1 million. At 75 feet in length, Thomas Covered Bridge is the longest Indiana County Bridge.

All four of these scenic covered bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We enjoyed our day trip to view them, especially when our drive through Thomas Bridge led us to nearby Yarnick’s Farm Market where we found delicious produce and the best homemade lemon chip cookies we’ve ever eaten.

“Road trips aren’t measured by mile markers, but by moments.” ~ Unknown

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