Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chapter 33- Watkins Glen to Harrisburg, PA

July 27th, Day 54: We have made the drive from Watkins Glen down to Harrisburg at least five times in the past and each time the drive is enjoyable because the scenery is so beautiful. Much of the drive is through the Allegheny Mountain range in Northern Pennsylvania. Then about 90 miles north of our destination we connected with the famous Susquehanna River which we loosely followed from the city of Williamsport all the way down to Harrisburg.
The Susquehanna River connects at it's southern end with the Chesapeake Bay and in the early years of our country, traveling up this river was a major means of transportation for the early settlers including some of my own ancestors. Other than a few steep and rather long hills we had to ascend, most of the drive today was easy as the traffic was fairly light and for the most part we traveled on 4-lane highways.

Surprisingly the campground that we selected was only around 30% occupied despite the fact that all of the spaces were full service, pull through sites, and most of them were covered by large shade trees. I suppose that Harrisburg, the Capital of the State of Pennsylvania, is not a location that is the focus of many RVers, plus of course, it is the middle of the week.

Our decision to stop near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was not because we wanted to visit the city. The decision was based on the fact that it was around a four hour drive from Watkins Glen plus it was on our ultimate path to drive near the Blue Ridge Mountain Range on our way back to Florida. Nevertheless, we decided once we were all set up at our campsite, to drive into the Harrisburg area to see what they have to offer us curious tourists. Our first stop was at a park known as the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park located on the Susquehanna River just north of Harrisburg. It was a pleasant surprise particularly the old mansion that was first built by an early settler back in 1786 although it was later modified 1814. While during the French and Indian War between 1754 and 1763 a fort occupied part of the park area, as far as we could determined nothing remains from this earlier period.
After leaving the park we drove into the City of Harrisburg. Our first stop was at an island out in the Susquehanna River known as the City Island. It was here that we hoped to have some really nice views of the city that we might photograph although once we parked we noted that the views were a bit disappointing.  We did however, take this nice photo of a tourist ferry known as the Pride of the Susquehanna.

Knowing that Harrisburg is the Capital of Pennsylvania we thought that it would be fun to have a look at their capital building. Typically these older buildings are often huge and unattractive architecturally, but in the case of Pennsylvania's capital, the building was very attractive. We took a number of photos from different angles but we liked this long range view the best.

Not unexpectedly, older towns like Harrisburg which was originally settled back in 1785 have a lot of beautiful old churches. Harrisburg was no exception. We drove by and photographed a number of these old churches in the downtown area but not unexpectedly the only one that we found open was a Catholic Church. Why only the Catholic churches are open to the public whereas churches of other faiths are usually locked, is unclear to us, but it is always great to be able to enter any church and photograph what is usually a beautiful sight. The interior of the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick was no exception in this regard. What we found really interesting in this case is that we found no one in the church nor was there a donation box anywhere that we could find. Very unusual in the year 2016.

It was around 3:30 pm when we arrived back at our campsite. Tomorrow we plan to drive down to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. We realize that we visited this general area earlier in our trip, but the area is beautiful plus Lancaster was the home of my maternal grandmother's ancestors  for many generations which makes it of special interest to this amateur genealogist.

July 28th, Day 55: My 8th great-grandmother, Marie Warenbuer Ferree, was born in France in 1653. She was a member of a French  Huguenot family or she and her family were French Protestants in a country controlled predominately by Catholics. When persecution of the Huguenots became so bad she left France with her husband and children and eventually following her husband's death, she ended up emigrating to America in 1708. By 1712 the family settled in the Pequea Valley in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My great grandmother died in 1716 but her family, or at least my Ferree ancestors, continued to live in this general area for the next seven generations right up to my great grandfather, Eugene H. Ferree (1866-1952) who left the area and moved with his mother after his father's death to the Village of Cayuga on Cayuga Lake, and then eventually to Lockport, New York. In the photograph above, I am standing over a Memorial to my 8th great grandmother, Marie Warenbuer Ferree, located in a graveyard in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This cemetery is said to be the oldest in Lancaster County. Her original grave marker is right behind the memorial honoring her death.
The graveyard is remarkable in the sense that it is just sitting out in the middle of beautiful farmlands surrounded by an old stone wall and many trees.  Unless one is looking for the cemetery it can easily be passed by unnoticed. My great grandmother was the first person to be buried in this cemetery and it is reported that the cemetery originally sat on land owned by her oldest son and my 7th great-grandfather, Daniel Ferree (1677-1762). Today of course, almost all of the farms surrounding this area are now owned and operated by Amish farmers and almost all of these huge farms are wonders to behold.

This farm in the photograph above was located across the street from the cemetery and once you get off the main roads that run through Lancaster County, this view is pretty typical - large farm houses and barns and silos and hundreds of acres of crops although predominately corn.

One thing that both Kathy and I loved was watching the horse and carriages (buggies) riding on almost all of the roads throughout this area of Pennsylvania.  It did not seem to matter whether it was a back road or the rather crowded main highways, they were everywhere. This is just one photograph of the many that we took as we meandered back and forth through the county.

There were also a sizable number of Amish individuals riding bikes along the highway. In this particular photo it is clear that the woman on the bike had recently been shopping and she was on her way home. Since the use of automobiles is not the standard practice by the Amish, riding a bike is often the best alternative option.

One sight that we also enjoyed was the large number of shops along the major highways. The shop in this photo which incidentally was run by a Amish family, specialized in selling flowers. Many of the other shops however specialized in all kinds of handmade goods from furniture to various arts and crafts.

One of our final stops before returning to our campsite which was around a 45-minute drive away, was to the Bird in Hand Farmers Market which was obviously located in the Village of Bird in Hand which incidentally, is only a few miles west of the Village of Intercourse. I sure hope that my ancestors had nothing to do with naming these local towns. Anyway, this photo of Kathy and Cabo was taken by an old Covered Wagon on display at the farmers market.

Naturally Kathy spent time inside the market while Cabo and I sat outside enjoying the passer-byers and walking around looking at some of the crafts on display at a store next to the Market. Frankly, I was quite surprised at the very reasonable prices that were being asked for some of these hand made crafts although I am not sure that I would pay any price for a wood birdhouse or a handmade wooden eagle.

We returned once again to our aluminum home by early afternoon content to just relax for the rest of the day. Tomorrow morning we are heading south to a very highly rated campground located not far from the entrance to the Skyline Drive. Once again we are expecting some terrific scenery.

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