Monthly Archives: January 2012

Raystown Natural Resources – the foundation of your Raystown Region Experience

by Jeff Krause

Common sights at Raystown Lake include fishermen trolling for stripers, bikers on the Allegrippis trails, sun bathers on the beach and campers sitting by the fire ring.  These recreational activities are shared among the 1.5 million visitors each year who travel to Raystown to escape their busy lives.  Although not often mentioned, there is one common bond between all these recreational activities – the beauty and diverse natural resources that make the Raystown Region special.   After all, would visitors still come if the green forest mountains and clear, fish filled waters were replaced with paved parking lots and unclean, unfishable waters.  We must remember that our natural resources are the foundation for the outdoor recreational experiences we enjoy so much.

Some of the unique offerings at Raystown include a world class two story fishery that provides common warm water fish such as black bass and walleye while also offering trophy size striped bass and lake trout.   Hundreds of annual fishing tournaments and the PA state record striped bass are testaments to the great fishery created by clean water.

The availability of fish have also made Bald eagles common place at Raystown and may be considered the favorite for wildlife viewing.  Numerous nesting locations have produced almost 60 young nestlings in the past 13 years and hot spots below the dam and near the Entriken bridges are good viewing locations from December through March.

The rock outcrops common at Raystown contain important shale barren habitat and great natural beauty.  These barrens which can exceed 100 degrees in early April provide a rare environment that host both plant and animals that only inhabit the extreme conditions.  Observing the evening primrose’s yellow bloom close to the water’s edge is one offering of this unique habitat.

The most dominant natural feature of Raystown is the nearly 18,000 acres of forest land surrounding the lake providing a landscape of mountains, valleys and ridges that surrounds the lake.  The plant and wildlife resources utilizing the adjacent forest and habitat include over 20 species of concern such as the bald eagle, osprey, several species of bats, golden -winged warblers and cerulean warblers.     Visitors may also see a river otter sliding down a bank, a fisher searching for food, a fence lizard scurry down a tree or one of the American chesntut seedlings attempting to re-establish itself from a century of blight.

When you pause to allow your adrenaline levels to drop after that adventure on the Allegrippis,  catching air under your personal watercraft or a ride on the zip lines, take a look around and take note of the supporting natural beauty of the Raystown Region that adds that breathtaking landscape to your experience.

About the Author
Jeff Krause is a Wildlife Biologist in his 19th year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has spent the past 15 at Raystown Lake.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Boating on Raystown Lake and The Perfect Storm?

By Captain Stephen Prosser
There are days on the water at Raystown Lake that I recall a scene in the movie, “The Perfect Storm”.  Captain Billy Tyne is talking to another boat captain, Christine.  It goes like this.
“The fog’s just lifting. Throw off your bow line; throw off your stern. You head out to South channel, past Rocky Neck, Ten Pound Island. Past Niles Pond where I skated as a kid. Blow your air-horn and throw a wave to the lighthouse keeper’s kid on Thatcher Island. Then the birds show up: black backs, herring gulls, big dump ducks. The sun hits ya – head North. Open up to 12 – steamin’ now. The guys are busy; you’re in charge. Ya know what? You’re a swordboat captain! Is there anything better in the world?”
Some of you know what I am talking about as Raystown Lake has 118 miles of shoreline and is 28 miles long.  Maybe you put in at the southern end where the lake is more like a lazy river winding through the mountains or James Creek where you can go back to the Brumbaugh Homestead and party cove.  We all have our favorite spots like Pee Wee Island or a cove that you and the family always seems to end up at on your weekend adventures.  I have mine but would never tell you about them, you have to find your own.
Raystown has about 8,300 acres of water and there is room for you to discover what we all know about this special place, located only one day’s drive from one third of the entire population of the United States.  Your vacation or get-a-way is waiting to happen with support from Seven Points Marina, voted as the best marina in the country on the northern end and Lake Raystown Resort on the southern end.  The Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake manages seven (7) boat launches along the length of the 28-mile lake. They are, from the northernmost end to the southernmost end:Snyder’s RunSeven PointsAitchJames Creek,Tatman RunShy Beaver and Weaver Falls.  Check out the Corps of Engineers web site to learn more and to get directions.
Everybody seems to write about their vacation spot as being special, I suppose, and claim it only rains at night and everyone is always happy and the food explodes in your mouth with flavor.  Ok, I get it, everyone wants you to visit.
All I know is that there are times when I throw out the bow and the stern line and head out past the wave break.  Then comes the public beach and I blast the air horn at the kids playing in the water.  We head north toward the dam, push it up to 22 and we’re throwing a wake now.  The sun hits the water and it seems to come alive, dancing in front of us to the sound of the radio playing softly in the background.  We pass jet ski’s and cruisers, and everyone seems to be enjoying the day.  Water people always seem to be at their best when they are on the water again.  Way back in the no wake zones people either tie up together with friends or stay by themselves.  There is plenty of room for everyone.
I ask the mate for another beverage and our guests are busy enjoying their first glimpse of the Lake aboard the tour boat, The Princess.  Ya know what?  I’m a tour boat captain on Raystown Lake.  Is there anything better in the world?
About the author:
For the past five years Steve has been the Captain of the tour boat, The Princess that docks at Seven Points Marina.  He is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain, 100 tons.  Although he has a BA in religious studies, along with a masters degree in Education and another masters degree in Business, water is his first love.
Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Triple Sorrow

It has been said that death comes in threes.  That has certainly been the case in the past week in the tourism community of the Raystown Lake Region.  In the seven days from January 20, 2012 to January 26, 2012, we said goodbye to three remarkable men, who each made our tourism product offerings better even if that wasn’t their primary goal, or even within their thoughts.

Larry Way at Miller's Diner, photo by Abram Eric Landes

Larry Way at Miller's Diner, photo by Abram Eric Landes - aelandesphotography.com

On Friday, January 20th, Larry Way, owner of Miller’s Diner 3 miles east of Huntingdon, succumbed to a heart attack.  Larry was an ardent supporter and promoter of Raystown Lake.  He would engage anyone who would listen in conversation about the lake, its tremendous impact on the local economy, and its potential to increase that impact.  Larry had an infectious smile, and was not shy about speaking his mind on any topic.  His restaurant has a hometown air about it, and it is very common, and oddly welcoming for conversations to be taking place between booths, tables, and even the counter seating, engaging every patron there at the time.

On my first day as Executive Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, my staff arranged to have lunch delivered by Miller’s Diner to the Visitors Center.  This isn’t a normal service that the Diner provides, but Larry was eager to meet me and help to shape my vision of the area and its tourism industry, so he brought the meal out himself.  We wound up sitting at our conference table engaged in conversation for more than two hours.  I was already enthusiastic about my new job, but Larry’s viewpoint helped me to put into perspective the tremendous opportunities that exist here for residents and visitors alike.

Much local and national publicity has surrounded the second death that affects Huntingdon County’s tourism industry, that of Joe Paterno on Sunday, January 22nd.  While not directly involved in HCVB, there is no denying the overwhelmingly positive impact he has had on our tourism industry.  Six weekends per year, more than 100,000 people flock to Beaver Stadium in State College to experience a game day at the best show in college athletics.  Joe Paterno is singly responsible for that volume of visitors to Central Pennsylvania.  The lodging establishments of Huntingdon County have no trouble selling their rooms on those weekends.  It is entirely likely that  JoePa never considered his impact on the rural county to his south, but it certainly exists.

I am not an alumnus of Penn State, nor have I ever shaken hands with the man, although I have been in the audience while he addressed an assembly of high school student government participants more than two decades ago.  However, I am and always have been a Penn State Nittany Lion fan.  And I for one, will always remember the beloved coach, philanthropist, educator and family man fondly.

On Thursday, January 26th we lost a man whose dedication to his job rivaled that of coach Paterno in its loyalty and longevity.  Stanley Hall started with the East Broad Top Railroad in 1959 as a painter, fresh out of high school.  He was charged with preparing the narrow-gauge railway’s cars and engines that had been dormant since it ceased operations in 1956, for an excursion to celebrate the Orbisonia/Rockhill bicentennial.  From that moment he dedicated his life to the EBT, doing every job involved in running a steam railroad, including serving more than two decades as its general manager.  The monumental task of maintaining 32 miles of railroad right-of-way, century-old machinery, acres of wooden and steel structures, and running weekend excursions with all of it for 50 years, boggles the mind, yet that’s what Stanley did.

Stanley Hall being inducted into the Keystone Society for Tourism.  Photo by Ed Stoddard

Stanley Hall (center) receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Keystone Society for Tourism in 2010, presented by Deputy Secretary J. Mickey Rowley (left) and Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (right). Photo by Ed Stoddard

I had the great fortune to nominate and witness Stanley Hall’s induction into the Keystone Society for Tourism, Pennsylvania’s tourism honor society.  He had amazing stories to tell about the railroad over the years, and quite literally dedicated blood, sweat, and tears to its operation.  As I sat in the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg with the Hall family, and listened to all of Stanley’s accomplishments read as the award was presented, and saw the pride in their eyes, and the sense of satisfaction in his for recognition of a life of dedicated service, I was nearly brought to tears.

I consider it a true blessing to be promoting an area that has been so greatly influenced by these three great men.  My heart, and those of the entire tourism industry in Huntingdon County is saddened by their passing.  To their families, please know that their impact on the area they loved so much, is sure to be felt for generations to come, and will not be forgotten.

Sincerely,
Matt Price
Executive Director
Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

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From This Moment: Is a destination wedding in the Raystown Region right for you?

by Susan Penning
Destination weddings, which are essentially getaways that combine both the wedding and honeymoon, are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional weddings.
There are many reasons why more and more couples are choosing destination weddings.
  • They have family all across the country (or world) and most guests will need to travel regardless of where the wedding is located.
  • They yearn for a more intimate gathering. The guest list of a destination wedding is typically smaller, which allows a couple to indulge in extra luxuries for closest friends and family.
  • They are looking for something unique as this is a second marriage – or they are renewing their wedding vows.
  • They want to save themselves the money (and stress) associated with planning a large wedding and they would prefer to elope somewhere picturesque and relaxing.
 For couples desiring a spectacular and memorable destination wedding experience, the Raystown Region may be the perfect spot. The area offers dozens of locations for both indoor and outdoor weddings and receptions as well as countless choices for romantic honeymoon accommodations.
For example, weddings are a specialty at the elegant Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge and Conference Center, which overlooks beautiful Raystown Lake – known as the crown jewel of Pennsylvania. With multiple indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception sites and a variety of lodging options for the wedding party and guests, the resort is a popular place where marriages begin, or are rekindled.
The C. Barton McCann School of Art, situated on 250 pristine acres between Huntingdon and State College, is a unique event venue that boasts one of central Pennsylvania’s most spectacular backdrops. The soon-to-be bride and groom may choose from five indoor or outdoor facilities with several different configurations to suit their needs.
Other popular wedding sites in the Raystown Region include Hawn’s Overlook at the Raystown Lake Recreation Area, the Huntingdon Country Club, Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, Seven Points Marina and the Stone Valley Recreation Area.
For more information on these destinations and more, visit http://raystown.org/weddings.html.  
About the Author:
Susan Penning is Director of Member Services for Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, and resides with her husband in Hesston.
Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Weddings | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Retirement in Huntingdon

by Tom Kepple

Over the last couple of years, as Pat and I have contemplated our upcoming retirement we began making a list of things to consider about where to retire. Frankly, the list started out very broad as in “anywhere we wanted.” Pat’s family is in Tennessee and I had spent 22 years there so that was certainly a possibility. And, of course, there were the customary destinations such as Florida and Arizona to consider. But as we continued to add and subtract locations, the one constant was Huntingdon. In truth, it did drift down the list in the winter but in the summer and fall it shot back to the top. And as we refined the list, college towns also remained a constant. We have had first-hand experience living in several college towns and so we are well aware of the wealth of opportunities that colleges bring to area residents. In the end, after much investigation and contemplation, Huntingdon won. Here are a few great reasons why Huntingdon reigns at the top of the list.
Juniata College’s extraordinary offerings are wide-ranging from the performing arts, to terrific NCAA varsity athletics, to free lectures, to inexpensive courses for those who audit them, to library access, and, of course, sports and fitness facilities. Juniata also provides the services of the Sill Incubator for those who might be interested in starting a business or being a mentor to student entrepreneurs. And the College provides the possibility of part-time teaching or continuing research. Pat and I want to keep our minds active and Juniata provides the tools we need to do just that.

  • Huntingdon and Pennsylvania enjoys a relatively low cost of living, compared to many areas throughout the country. An added advantage is that Pennsylvania does not tax retirement income.
  • With J. C. Blair Hospital in town and many nationally recognized regional health centers within easy driving distance, it would be hard to live in a better place for healthcare.
  • Raystown Lake provides a host of recreational activities from boating to fishing to water skiing to mountain biking; and our local golf courses are terrific and inexpensive. There are many walking opportunities at Raystown Lake, in the Borough of Huntingdon, in nearby state parks, and our favorite various rails to trails locations.
  • For those who like to get an occasional city fix, all you have to do is board an Amtrak train and you are hassle free to New York, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. To venture farther you can drive to four international airports (Pittsburgh, Washington Dulles, Baltimore, Harrisburg) within three hours or less and The ever improving State College airport is just 40 minutes away.
  • There is relatively little serious crime in Huntingdon. After all, with two prisons located here, who wants to get caught burglarizing a prison employee’s home!
  • Huntingdon is large enough to provide the normal professional services retirees require but small enough that those providing the service know your name. There are ample choices for doctors, dentists, banks, insurance companies, investment advisors, lawyers and real estate agents. Shopping is limited but ample for daily needs like grocery stores and pharmacies with a few specialty stores mixed in.
  • Westminster Woods is a nationally ranked full service retirement community and Greystone Manor offers a retirement apartment option.
  • Maybe best of all, volunteer opportunities abound from Habitat for Humanity, to J. C. Blair Hospital, to the historical society, to the local library, to serving as a friendship family for international students at Juniata, just to name a few.

In the end all of these attributes, plus a great group of friends and professional associates, made Huntingdon the right retirement location for us.

About the author: Tom Kepple is the President of Juniata College, and resides in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where he intends to join his wife, Pat, in retirement soon.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Lifestyle, Retirement | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Seize the Moment . . . to Shop

Dunkle's Antique and Craft Mall, Huntingdon PA by Ed Stoddard

Dunkle's Antiques and Crafts, MAT Plaza, Huntingdon, PA by Ed Stoddard

by Pat Kepple

You came to Raystown Lake to get wet, splash around in the lake, feel the spray on your face as your boat glides across the glassy water. But wait, that spray is not coming from the boat’s wake, it is dropping from the sky!

Yes, it does rain at Raystown Lake, just as it does everywhere there is a lake. But don’t despair. Seize the moment . . . and the shopping bag . . . and head to Huntingdon.

Let’s start our shopping with Sweet Annie’s Herbs, Huntingdon’s original herb apothecary. Sweet Annie’s is a small shop with a large selection of herbal and other natural supplements, many formulated by Annie Wishard herself, as well as fresh spices, dried flowers, bohemian skirts and blouses, and, well, let’s just say it’s a shop you don’t want to miss.

For a totally fun experience, check out Whisper Rocks Souvenirs and Gifts at Lincoln Caverns, the largest gift shop in the Raystown Lake Region A distinctive feature of Whisper Rocks is, well, its rocks. There is a vast array of very reasonably priced rocks, fossils, and gemstones for the rock enthusiast. And for the bat lover, Whisper Rocks has all the information you need.

Next, drop by Dunkle’s Antique & Craft Mall where you will discover locally made products, primitives, home decor, Americana, jewelry, candles, potpourri, a huge selection of soy candles, lotions, bath soaps, body sprays, and many seasonal items. They sell the prettiest bird houses on the block, and the cutest whimsical metal cows and cats you’ve ever seen.

Originally known as Grove’s Office Supplies, this is a store that knows how to add and subtract. The store has added a JC Penney Catalogue Center; a new line of American made handbags known as Cinda b to complement its large collection of Vera Bradley bags; and Kameleon jewelry, also made in the USA, to accompany the Chamilia charms and beads already in-house. Groves recently expanded its online presence with a new website that offers office supplies, scrapbooking needs, rubber stamping products, art supplies, and vintage antique and collectible items, in addition to tutorials for crafting. What did Groves Office Supplies subtract? The words “office supplies” is gone because the store has evolved into so much more.

Laney’s Feed Mill is another place you don’t want to pass up. You can buy Outback Chair Company hammocks and chairs, Carhart clothing, and Beaumont pottery. Grab a bag of Laney’s store-made specialty bird seed blends to go into one of their beautiful Audubon bird feeders. In 1998 the store changed hands and there have been a few modifications but one thing hasn’t changed—it is still a great place to shop.

Whether you are looking for cookbooks, cocktail napkins, or classy readers; Ginger Yaps or gift baskets; artsy clothing or aprons for the chef, you’ll be delighted at the variety in Reeves Gift Shop. And if shoes are your love, you’ll find everything from pictures of shoes to books about shoes to actual wearable shoes embellished with glitter and animal prints at this quaint little shop.

If none of the above floats your boat (ok, I just couldn’t resist that one), how about taking a journey along the heART of The Alleghenies Artisan Trail. Discover the Log Cabin Gallery Shop, a modest log structure filled with a variety of arts and crafts. Also on the trail is Vintage Art Glass with its remarkable inventory of beads, custom stained glass, and blown glass. Of particular note is the custom-made jewelry created by owner Leah Davis Dell. This is the place to go for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry from a one-of-a-kind artist. Raystown Reflections Gift Shoppe located at the lake’s visitor center offers a mix of local crafts and gift items as well as the usual t-shirts and coffee mugs with Raystown Lake branding, providing the shopper with a taste of the area.

Need to furnish your vacation home in the Raystown Lake Region? Check out Park Furniture and Appliances offering appliances (and appliance repair), audio and video equipment, furniture, bedding, flooring and home security systems. Park also is a Weber Grill dealer. And Sears Hometown Store offers all brands of appliances, big screen televisions, home and garden tools, and the best customer service you’ll find anywhere.

For the outdoor enthusiast, visit Rothrock Outfitters and Saxton Outdoor Supply. Both are filled with everything you need for your outdoor adventure, rain or shine. Don’t forget to pick up your Allegrippis Trails map for some very excellent biking; as well as Purple Lizard Raystown Lake and Purple Lizard Rothrock State Forest maps.

With this many shopping opportunities in Huntingdon, you might just start praying for more rain at the lake!

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Shopping, Things to Do | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Where will you find your Raystown Moment?

Photo by Kevin Mills, www.picturesbykevin.com

Water trampoline at Seven Points Beach, Raystown Lake

We’ve all heard about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. The fact is, we all see things through different lenses, and seeing the Raystown Lake Region is no exception. Whether it’s by land, by water, through the air, or in the images we share, each angle has its unique perspective.

Whether it’s for time off or a time out, Raystown is glad you’re here. We all see Raystown differently. We mark our calendars differently. For some, it is a week or two at the lake; for others, it’s an evening walk to Ridenour Overlook to remind us of how beautiful the region is.

It’s a matter of opinion and a matter of taste – lucky for us, Raystown is appealing to any agenda. If you only have a weekend to look out from behind a mug of coffee in to the mountains, then you can. If you have a week to be pulled behind a boat on a tube or water skis, seeing nothing but water and wake, then load up! An afternoon to look over your bicycle handlebars at some of the northeast’s finest single-track trails – welcome to a few hours of just what the doctor ordered!

Maybe you’re a new recruit and haven’t been here before. We invite you to just make sure you have your sunglasses and your camera; you’re in for a treat. The Raystown Lake Region welcomes nearly two million visitors per year to the lake and the public land surrounding it for world-class fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking and boating.

Take time away from the lake area and enjoy the arts, culture and heritage that thrive throughout Huntingdon County, PA. Huntingdon County is full of amazing attractions and roadside wonders, as well as some fantastic places to eat and shop.

We invite you to share your “point of view” with us! Do you see the Lake through swimming goggles; through a video camera lens; from an aerial tour? Is your favorite way to see Raystown by looking out under a mountain bike helmet? What about the way it looks from an innertube behind a speedboat; in a hot tub on a houseboat; from a campchair, a kayak, or a cabin window? For every beauty, there is an eye somewhere to see it and the Raystown Region has something of beauty for everyone to enjoy.

About the Authors:
Kerry Miller is a resident of Little Marsh, PA and an alumna of Juniata College. Susanne House is a resident of Huntingdon, PA and serves as the Secretary of the Board of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Leave a comment

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