The highlands and byways of the Alleghenies are known far and wide for their scenic beauty. The Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania contains over 517,000 acres of woodlands that in the fall will burst into the shades of the season - rusty reds, brilliant oranges and flame yellow. Plan your getaway trip now to view the stunning fall foliage of northern Pennsylvania. Prime “leaf peeping” is usually the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.
MOTOR THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS
Begin your journey by traveling south from Ellicottville on Rt. 219, turn onto I-86 East to Olean, then onto Rt. 16 South, drive approximately 5-½ miles to Rock City Park, 505 Route 16, Olean, NY. Enjoy the mighty sweep of the mountaintop view of a thousand square miles from Signal Rock, once a long range signaling point for Native Americans. The park is open daily from 9am-6pm until Oct. 31. Tickets are $4.50 per person, $2.50 for children ages 6-12 years. www.rockcitypark.com
Leaving Rock City Park, travel south on Rt. 16, then 646 into east Bradford, PA for lunch at your choice of nearby restaurants. The Lighthouse Family Restaurant, 26 Bolivar Drive, offers a wide variety of family favorites, served in a relaxed style with great pricing. Phone 814-368-5111. Chu Lee Garden Chinese Restaurant, 405 East Main Street, offers a great selection of authentic Chinese dishes for either take-out or in-restaurant dining. Phone 814-362-4700. Both restaurants are open seven days a week.
After lunch, hop back into the car to continue your fall adventure on PA 346 East. This mountain road winds through the hills and valleys of rural Pennsylvania as you drive east towards Eldred. Just before entering Eldred, turn left onto Barnum Road, then left to travel to the Olde Schoolhouse Village Shoppes at 109 Indian Creek Road, Eldred, PA for a shopping stop! Over 100 vendors offer antiques, primitives, handmade decorative items and repurposed and reinvented furniture - all at very reasonable prices. Decorate your condo, cabin in the woods, or lake house with items you personally select from the charming collection of handmade, handcrafted, vintage and one-of-a-kind tables, shelves, chests, and chairs. The wide variety of beautiful and useful items for sale will surprise and delight you. Downstairs you’ll find Schoolhouse Village Health Foods where you can grab a snack and stock up on staples for your pantry from locally grown food, cheeses, meats and organic products. Call ahead to check inventory or to order bulk foods. Phone-814-225-2255, www.oldeschoolhousevillageshoppes.com
Return to PA Rt. 346, at the bridge turn right to visit the Eldred WWII Museum, 201 Main Street, Eldred, PA. This is history you can see, touch and feel. This world-class museum honors the history of the Canadian-American munitions factory that was hidden in these mountains, employing over 1,800 women during the war effort. Exhibits include the gallery of valor, personal WWII stories, a working submarine telescope, and a wide-ranging display of artifacts and interactive exhibits. Upstairs is an extensive research library. The Eldred WWII Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm, and Sunday 1-4pm. Phone 814-225-2220, www.eldredwwiimuseum.net
For dinner, travel Rt. 446 to Rt. 155 heading towards Port Allegany to The Two Mile Inn, 3434 Route 155, Port Allegany, PA. Popular menu choices include a 12-oz. Angus strip steak fire grilled, or the sea station platter featuring bay scallops, shrimp and haddock with a honey Dijon sauce. If you are a beer connoisseur you will love the over 50 choices of bottled craft beers. Dining hours are Thursday-Saturday 4-10pm, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 4-9pm. Reservations can be made ahead by calling 814-642-2588.
FALL ROAD TRIP ON SCENIC ROUTE 6
One of the most beautiful fall drives in America is Pennsylvania Route 6. The section between Port Allegany and Ludlow takes you through forest, farmlands, charming small villages, historic attractions and the Allegheny National Forest. Lynn Hall, Barnhaven and Smethport are just a few of the suggested “must-sees” as you travel through McKean County, Pennsylvania. www.paroute6.com
TOUR THE RESTORATION OF LYNN HALL
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Lynn Hall, 21656 Route 6, Port Allegany, PA, built in the early 1930’s is undergoing restoration. All of the design elements that make Fallingwater one of the most unique homes ever built were integrated into Lynn Hall first by builder Mr. Walter Hall. The in-floor radiant heat, skylights, heat circulating fireplaces and organic style make this building unique to its time. Mr. Hall was an early innovator gifted with creativity and construction ability. The stone work of Lynn Hall is vast and of a unique style. The heavy slate floors throughout were cutting edge at the time of construction.
Gary DeVore grew up the son of a stone mason and lifelong Frank Lloyd Wright fan. His wife Sue wanted to return to the area, and it was sheer luck that they drove past the property on their way back to Minnesota.
They took one look at the property, saw the original organic style made popular by Wright, and knew they wanted it.
“Through my childhood work with my father I learned a variety of construction skills. Through over 30 years directing and managing resident summer camps, my wife and I developed a growing level of additional skills like electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and rehab design. Many of those camp buildings were 75 to 200 years old so we learned a lot about how they were built and how to restore them to a useable condition. After we retired in 2006 we began rehab and restoration as a full time hobby,” explained Gary DeVore. “First we rehabbed a big old Italianate in my hometown. Next we did a gut restoration of an early Mississppi River farmhouse. We really stretched our skills when we purchased a 40-year-old Mississippi sternwheeler.”
“We are spending the summer pressure washing, scraping and painting the exterior based on early photos of the building,” Sue DeVore said of Lynn Hall. “At the same time we are enlarging old photos to give folks touring the place an understanding of what it once looked like. We give impromptu tours almost daily, two or three times a day on weekends. There are days we welcome the excuse to stop work. We have also learned that we meet architects, family members and complete strangers who are amazed at our undertaking. We ask that groups call in advance or email us. We do not charge for our tours but encourage folks to give a “restoration donation” of their choice.”
Restoration is more than just rebuilding a structure. It is about the people who existed in the space and the experiences they had here. Gary expounds, “We are asking that anyone with stories and pictures of Lynn Hall over the decades share them with us. Already we have notes of a young man who cut stone for Mr. Hall, a boy who spent his early teen years at Lynn Hall during the war, and we got to talk with a woman who worked as a waitress in the restaurant in the late ‘40s. The history of their lives will remain a part of the history of Lynn Hall.”
CONNECT WITH NATURE AT BARNHAVEN
Barnhaven, 96 Red Mill Road, Clermont, PA, is a special place to connect with nature and timelessness, or with your family and friends. A fall travel destination for relaxation and rejuvenation, Barnhaven is located just south of scenic Route 6. This is a place where you can cocoon and never leave the premises, indoors or out - there are books, board games, binoculars for viewing the wildlife in the backyard, an open kitchen fully stocked with appliances, a deck and lower patio with a fire pit, a horseshoe pit, and a wooden swing under the hemlocks. Barnhaven is decorated with old farm implements that were found on the premises and refurbished. The night sky is as dark as any you will find … perfect for star gazing.
The property and barn have been in the family of Neil Anderson since the late 1800s; Neil began fixing up the barn as a creative outlet. He lived there for many years by himself, and now the property is ready for sharing and is available to rent for overnight accommodations.
“My partner Sharon and I love the unplugged experience,” explains Neil, “and so far everyone else who has visited does too. Sharon is an artist/illustrator with a background in fashion, and I am a wood craftsman. We both love assemblage art out of relics from another time. Her work can be found at www.sharonwattscreative.com
. Mine is here in Barnhaven, but I do take orders for custom assemblages - your junk or mine.”
Barnhaven sleeps six comfortably, with a lawn perfect for pitching a pup tent. There is great hiking, biking, fishing and bicycling. Horse trails are available just down the road at Potato Creek. Fall Foliage packages start at $300 per couple for a two-night stay. For additional details or reservations please call 845-831-8168 or 814-778-5852.
SMETHPORT’S MANSION DISTRICT WALKING TOUR
Dressed in the colors of fall, the tree-lined streets of Smethport harken back to the age of the 1800s when Lumber Barons and Oil Barons of the new industrial age settled into Smethport, the county seat of McKean County, Pennsylvania. These pioneers of the industrial age built majestic homes constructed of brick and timber.
Located along scenic Route 6, the Smethport Mansion District Walking Tour features a self-guided walking tour of 32 properties. Walking tour brochures may be picked up at the outdoor kiosk located in front of the McKean County Courthouse. Highlights of the walking tour include the “wedding houses” built by the wealthy banker Henry Hamlin as gifts for his children, and the State Senator Redfield Mansion, a grand 1900 Victorian Queen Anne. The McCandless Mansion, 905 W. Main Street, is now operated as the Mansion District Inn and welcomes overnight guests. Nearby Hamlin Lake offers a scenic walking trail near the lake, which is perfect for strolling on a fall day.
Smethport’s historic gold watch cycling race, “The Wheel Around the Hub,” will be held Saturday, Sept 13 starting at 500 W. Main Street in Smethport. The starting gun fires at 12-noon in front of the McKean County Courthouse on Main Street. The event includes two cycling circuits: a 53-mile circuit race and a 15-mile fun race. This year’s event will also feature a junior mountain bike class for cyclists aged 12-13, 14-15, and 16-17, who will participate in a one-lap race. Parents are encouraged to ride along with younger cyclists. The public is invited to watch, and following the race, there will be a BBQ dinner and awards celebration at the Smethport Fire Hall with live entertainment by John Mead. Participants can register online at bikereg.com, keyword: Smethport. Funds raised benefit the Smethport Volunteer Fire Department. www.smethporthistory.org/wheelrace
To find out more about the first pioneers and industrial heritage of the region, plan a visit to The Old Jail Museum, 502 W. King Street, Smethport, PA. Here history is incarcerated in the county’s most fascinating jail. You can learn about General Kane and the Bucktails - a famous sharpshooting regiment from the American Civil War, local railroads, wildlife of the region, and the colorful history of McKean County. During September and October, the museum is open from 1-4 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. www.mchsmuseum.org
PLAN YOUR VISIT
To order a free Allegheny National Forest Region Scenic Drive Brochure featuring seven detailed driving tours with a color-coded map, please call 800-473-9370. For information on lodging, attractions and events go to www.visitANF.com