Monthly Archives: July 2014

Where will you find your Raystown Moment?

By L. Kerry Miller & Suzanne House

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.

_MG_0276_croppedIt’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.

Personal watercraft on Raystown Lake, photo by Kevin Mills.

Personal watercraft on Raystown Lake, photo by Kevin Mills.

 

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Never A Dull Moment!

By Julie Price

Most people familiar with the Raystown Lake Region could tell you about the picturesque landscapes and recreational opportunities in the area.  But, not everyone knows about the unique events that pack the RLR’s calendar all year long.  Here’s a sample of what you could experience on your next visit:

-Stroll through downtown Huntingdon during Mayfest, which takes place during the last weekend of April, and see six different historical time periods come to life.  You could witness a joust, join in a hula hoop contest, or take an old-fashioned covered wagon ride around town.

Dirt Rag DirtFest at Raystown Lake photo by Ed Stoddard

Dirt Rag Dirt Fest comes to Susquehannock campground every May.

-Pedal with mountain bikers from all over the east coast on the Allegrippis Trails overlooking Raystown Lake as part of Dirt Fest, sponsored by Dirt Rag Magazine and the Raystown Mountain Bike Association.  The Allegrippis Trails were named one of the Top 4 best bike trails in North America by Mens Journal in 2009. Dirt Fest takes place the weekend before Memorial Day every year.

-Chase the thrill of the Wild West, while the big boys try to go 8 seconds on an ornery bull at the Central PA Rodeo held at the Huntingdon County Fairgrounds the second weekend in June.  Hear the sound of pounding hooves, and watch the dirt fly in this high-intensity performance.

-Listen to championship-caliber musicians from all parts of the country perform at the Central Pennsylvania Ragtime Festival in Rockhill Furnace during the third weekend in June.  The 2011 festival featured Adam Swanson, the three-time junior champion of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, and Frederick Hodges, hailed by the press as one of the best jazz and ragtime pianists in the world.

-Sing, dance, and worship at Creation – one of the largest Christian music festivals in the United States – on the Agape Farm in Mount Union.  This four-day festival in late June features Christian bands, speakers, and authors.  Some estimates say as many as 100,000 people attend the show each year.

-Stare in awe at one-of-a-kind vehicles, as well as “Herbie the Love Bug,” and a Delorean DMC-12, just like the one in “Back to the Future,” at the Swigart Automobile Museum Meet in Huntingdon.  The meet is co-hosted by the Allegheny Mountain Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, and takes place in early August.

-Learn from artists who hand-craft their wares right before your eyes at Hartslog Day in Alexandria during the second weekend of October.  The 2014 festival will be the 39th year for this event, and includes activities for all ages, live music, and food vendors.

-Feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up as you brave haunted houses, haunted Ghost and Goblins cave tour (and haunted hayride and haunted trail) at Lincoln Caverns, and walking tours by lantern light in Hauntingdon.  The “Coolest Small Town in PA,” as voted in 2009 by readers of BudgetTravel.com, turns into the “Ghoulest Small Town” during the month of October, and features a variety of scary and not-so-scary activities for adults and families.

-Get transported to a magical place filled with sparkling lights and animated displays during the Rockhill Trolley Museum’s Polar Bear Express in Rockhill Furnace during late November/early Decemeber.  Ride aboard an authentic electric trolley car to Blacklog Narrows.  An open-air trolley is available for the more adventurous folks.  Warm up in the cafeteria with some hot chocolate and snacks after your trip.

 There’s never a dull moment in the Raystown Lake Region!

Enjoying the Rockhill Trolley Museum in the fall.

Enjoying the Rockhill Trolley Museum in the fall.

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

4 and More Cultural District Walking Tours: A Look Inside the Gage Mansion

On Wednesday mornings throughout the summer, the Huntingdon 4 and More Cultural District hosts walking tours of the town, highlighting everything from stained glass and historic sights to trees and yoga. This past Wednesday, the sight-to-see was the historic Gage Mansion, which is currently being renovated by new owners John and Angie Thompson of Thompson Candle Co. and innkeeper Marci Chamberlain. The plan is to open the Mansion as a Bed and Breakfast in Spring 2015.

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Marci showed us some architectural features on the outside of the mansion, and then we headed indoors into the living room, where she explained the history of the building before moving on to the other rooms of the house, pointing out particularly interesting features and sharing tidbits of information along the way. I heard several of the tour participants remarking on all the changes made since the last time they had been in the mansion, which has been a fixture in Huntingdon since its completion in 1896. For me, however, it was my first time inside, and I was repeatedly struck by its beauty and elegance.

The first floor of the Gage Mansion is currently open for reservations as an event venue, and they have also begun to host some events of their own, such as the Mothers Day Tea. You can contact them at (814) 506-8411, gagemansion@comcast.net, or visit their Facebook page.

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The 4 and More Cultural District is a partnership between four non-profit organizations in downtown Huntingdon, the Huntingdon County Historical Society, Huntingdon County Library, Huntingdon County Arts Council, and Huntingdon Health & Wellness Association. They will continue to host walking tours throughout the summer. All tours begin at Merchant Park, on the corner of Penn and 6th St, at 10am, and last approximately one hour.

Upcoming walking tours:

July 16 – Stained Glass, downtown.

July 23 – Stained Glass, churches

July 30 – Portstown Park River Walk

August 6 – Transportation History (Canal/Railroad/Trolley)

August 13 – Yoga in the Park

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Categories: Events, History, 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?”

Princess_DSC_6022cp (800x538)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 10,000 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?

Princess Lake Cruiser on Raystown Lake by Kevin Mills, picturesbykevin.com

Princess Lake Cruiser on Raystown Lake by Kevin Mills, picturesbykevin.com

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: , , , | Leave a comment

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.

SONY DSCSome 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.

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes, aelandesphotography.com

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes, aelandesphotography.com

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

Bald eagles at home on Raystown Lake.

By Ranger Tara Whitsel

Freedom. Strength. Resilience. The Bald Eagle represents a multitude of things. Since the mid 1970’s Bald Eagles have been making a slow and steady comeback from the effects of habitat loss and DDT pesticide use. Fortunately, Raystown Lake has played witness to that success with populations steadily increasing around the lake.

2014 Eagle Map

The staff at Raystown Lake observed and began monitoring the first known eagle nest on the lake in 1999 near the Raystown Dam. To date, five nests have been located around the lake in addition to a steady migratory population. Each year the Natural Resource Staff at Raystown Lake implements a monitoring program to support the Pennsylvania Game Commission in their efforts to monitor and track bald eagle nesting within the Commonwealth. Although the bald eagle was removed from the Federal Endangered Species List, it remains federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. In addition, the bald eagle remains on the threatened species list in Pennsylvania and therefore protected under the Game and Wildlife Code.

Monitoring efforts begin in January when the Corps joined the PA Game Commission on a state-wide mid winter bald eagle survey. The purpose of this survey is to count the number of eagles across the state during a very specific period of time. The first survey was conducted on Raystown in 1990 with only 2 eagles being observed and while that number fluctuates each year due to a variety of lake and surveying conditions we have observed as many as 19 eagles during a single event, which includes both adults and juveniles. The Raystown Staff continues monitoring efforts over the course of the next 6 months to determine which nests will be utilized by a pair during the breeding season and the number of successful fledglings produced in each nest.

Since nesting was first observed at Raystown Lake, 2013 marked the fledging of the 70th at Raystown. Across the state, eagles typically begin nesting activities which includes cleaning and enlarging their nest during January and February. A female typically lays between one to three eggs that hatch sometime in late March or early April, which is approximately 35 days after incubation has begun. Both adults will tend to and feed the young until they leave the nest, or fledge, which at Raystown occurs on or around the fourth of July. The juveniles will remain near the nest throughout the fall observing other eagles and practicing their hunting skills.

To spot the eagles look skyward or toward shoreline trees with open branches. Generally, adult eagles are quite easy to spot with their signature white head and tail. Juvenile eagles have proven to be a slightly greater challenge to properly identify. While juvenile eagles are still significantly large birds; they retain brown feathers over the entire body until they are approximately four years of age and typically demonstrate the full white head and tail by age five.

If you are looking for the nests, the easiest nest to view is located across the lake from the public access area of the Raystown Dam. Many are surprised however, to find that the nest they are currently observing is not the original nest discovered in 1999. While we strongly believe it to be the same pair of eagles, the nest has actually been replaced three times, as each prior nest has lasted only a few years before either the tree in which the nest was located fell during winter or spring storms or the nest has fallen out of the tree due to its increase in size each year. After each loss of nest, the pair has usually rebuilt within a 100 yards of the previous nest site and generally within a few weeks if the start of breading season was near. The remaining four nests require a boat or a very dedicated and strenuous hike for observation.

We encourage you to take the challenge and visit Raystown for the opportunity to observe these powerful yet graceful birds of prey as they hunt and tend to their young. We do ask that you observe posted restrictions and not encroach upon the nests as we take each precaution to encourage successful nesting and development of Raystown’s bald eagles.

About the author: Ranger Tara Whitsel has been a Park Ranger/Natural Resource Specialist for the Raystown Lake Project since 2003 where she is responsible for ensuring the protection of the projects natural resources. Prior to joining the Raystown team, Tara began her career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a seasonal Park Ranger at Blue Marsh Lake, Philadelphia District in 2000. Tara is a 2003 graduate of Kutztown University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. Tara currently resides in Southern Huntingdon County with her family. Together they enjoy all types of outdoor activities.

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Photo by Megan Photography  http://www.meganphotography.net

 

Eagle Update: This year, there have been no confirmed juveniles in the Raystown nests. By this time of year, they can usually be seen in the limbs surrounding the nest, exercising and getting their wings ready to fly, but none of that behavior has been observed. We speculate that this is because of the extended winter and ice cover on the lake. However, adult eagles are still in the area. 

This is the first year that the Shy Beaver nesting pair has not been successful.  Monitoring will continue, and hopefully next spring will be once again fruitful for the eagles of Raystown. 

 

 

 

Categories: 2014 Visitors Guide, History, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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