Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Eight Wonders Of Pennsylvania, in an 1857 guidebook

In a little guide book to Pennsylvania published in 1857, there  are listed the 'eight wonders' of the Keystone State, according to an Altoona Times newspaper in 1937. Today, Five of these sites are recognized as historically significant, with designations including: A National Historic Landmark , A National Historic Site, A National Historical Park, A National Park, and a State Park that includes a National Natural Landmark.  Of the three remaining sites, two are open to the public, with only one no longer allowing any access at all.

  I've not yet been able to locate the 1857 guidebook, but I will keep looking. 
 In the meantime, here are the Eight Wonders Of The Keystone State, in 1857
(Scroll on down to read more about each wonder)

The Eight Wonders Of The Keystone State -

1. Philadelphia Waterworks designed by Colonel Frederick Graff
2. Delaware Water Gap
3. Ohiopyle Falls
4. Natural Warm Springs Of Perry County
5. Old Portage Railroad
6. Endless Or New Paris Caverns of Bedford County
7. Independence Hall
8. Englers Falls

The Philadelphia Waterworks
Also known as The Fairmont WaterWorks
I've driven by this numerous times without knowing what it was - and now I want to take a tour!  It's right beside the Art Museum.

There are some great old photos on Wikipedia.
"The Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was Philadelphia's second municipal waterworks. Designed in 1812 by Frederick Graff and built between 1812 and 1872, it operated until 1909, winning praise for its design and becoming a popular tourist attraction. It now houses a restaurant and an interpretive center that explains the waterworks' purpose and local watershed history. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its architecture and its engineering innovations. It was the nation's first water supply to use paddle wheels to move water"

The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

2. The Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is the area between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the Delaware River cuts through the Appalachian Mountains.  The area includes 9 waterfalls, nearly 200 lakes, numerous hiking trails, and a river that is popular not only for swimming and kayaking, but also for white water rafting.  
Fred Astaire, and his sister Estelle, 
on Lenape Lake, Delware Water Gap
As early as 1820, The Delaware Water Gap had become a destination for people traveling through the area to enjoy the scenery. The first hotel was built in 1829 by Antoine Dutot.  In 1870, Luke Boradhead published a 288 page book about the area.  (You can download it for free here). The area was reportedly the second largest inland resort town (after Saratoga Springs in NY) after the civil war. Many upper class families from Philadelphia and New York spent their summers there, including Teddy Roosevelt, and Fred Astaire.  The area became a National Park in 1967.
Read more of the history of the Delware Water Gap here - 
and more here:
3. Ohiopyle Falls

On the Western side of the state, Ohiopyle is a natural area on the Youghiogheny river, with four waterfalls, a man made lake, and numerous hiking trails.  At Meadowrun waterslide, the water and spinning rocks has carved out the sandstone and formed natural waterslides.  

A round trip ride from Pittsburgh to Ohiopyle was $1 by train, and tourists flocked to the area to see the falls and stay at the resorts.  The area became a state park in 1965.

4. Natural Warm Springs Of Perry County
Located on Sherman Creek, roughly between current day Carlisle and Duncannon, The Landisburg Warm Springs were one of many mineral springs where a resort was built.  In the 1850s, it was believed that the warm mineral springs held healing properties, and the areas around them became popular summer destinations.   The springs in Perry County are up to 21 degrees warmer than the 48-to-52-degree water surrounding them. Remnants of steel baths still can be seen.

I found these instructions, and description, in a self guided driving tour of Perry County - 
"Turn left on Warm Springs Road (2nd road on left) go 1.2 miles, and travel along Shermans Creek 1.6 miles until you come to Warm Springs Lodge.  The original lodge was built in 1832.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900s Warm Springs Lodge was “The Place to Be” for high society from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, to bathe in the warm mineral springs for medicinal purposes.  In the meadow between the lodge and the creek is the location where the only recorded dual was fought in Perry County.  It was between two men from the Baltimore, MD area over the favors of a woman from the same area.  Swords were the selected weapons.  The dual was of short duration with only one man walking away, but the survivor ended up being killed himself three weeks later by a falling brick in Baltimore."
Warm Springs Lodge is located at 601 Warm Springs Road, Landisburg, PA 17040
Founded in 1830, it is still operating today

5. Old Portage Railroad

"The Allegheny Portage Railroad was the first railroad constructed through the Allegheny Mountains in central Pennsylvania, United States; it operated from 1834 to 1854 as the first transportation infrastructure through the gaps of the Allegheny that connected the midwest to the eastern seaboard across the barrier range of the Allegheny Front. Approximately 36 miles (58 km) long overall, both ends connected to the Pennsylvania Canal, and the system was primarily used as a portage railway, hauling river boats and barges over the divide between the Ohio and the Susquehanna Rivers."

In 1964, The Alleghany Portage Railroad became part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, including Horseshoe Curve, which was completed in 1854.  The park is located just off U.S. Route 22 approximately 12 miles west of Altoona and 10 miles east of Ebensburg. Take the Gallitzin Exit and turn right, following the signs.

6. Endless Or New Paris Caverns of Bedford County
Everett Press, May 7 1937

It's difficult to be certain, with so many caverns in PA, but I believe that Wonderland Caverns, Endless Caverns, & New Paris Caverns were all names for what is today known as Coral Caverns.

Coral Caverns can be visited Mid May Through September, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30-3:30.

"Coral Caverns & Show cave is the only fossilized coral reef cavern known to be in existence is located just 7 miles west of historic Bedford Pennsylvania. The famed Coral Caverns of Bedford County has amazed thousands for over 80 plus years with the diversity and beauty of its natural cave formations. One of our most distinctive features is the coral reef, a towering fossil wall, containing the fossil remains of coral and other sea-creatures buried over 400 million years ago when Pennsylvania was partially covered by ''The Great Inland Sea.'' 

There is a detailed, 80 page, scientific article on A PLEISTOCENE CAVE DEPOSIT IN BEDFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA - - - - - John E. Guilday, Paul S. Martin, Allen D. McCrady  you can download here:

7. Independence Hall
The building was completed in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State H
ouse, and served as the capitol for the Province and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania until the state capital moved to Lancaster in 1799. It became the principal meeting place of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783 and was the site of the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787.
There's an excellent book written by David Stewart, The Summer of 1787, that will make your visit even better if you read it before you go.
Independence National Historical Park was formed on July 4 1956.  Find information on visiting here:

8. Englers Falls
Of the 8 places on this list, Englers Falls, known as the Falls To Nowhere, is the only site no longer open to the public. 

Located at the bottom of Nygart Gap just south of Collomsville. It is the only such waterfall in the valley with water dropping 20 feet or so into a sink & disappearing underground again.

Read more about Englers Falls here :

The Article Listing The Eight Wonders Of Pennsylvania

The Altoona Tribune
January 10 1935


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