Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's On the Menu at Cold Spring?

For years we could only speculate about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel.  Newspapers prior to 1881 give few particulars about the hotel table.  But after the second hotel building was constructed adjacent to the old hotel and other improvements made, many news articles attest to the Cold Spring Hotel’s fine reputation for its cuisine.  Correspondents who dined at the hotel noted:  “excellent cuisine” (1881); “the bill of fare included everything palatable and healthful, and the beauty of it is that the supper was but a specimen of the every-day cuisine of the hotel” (1884); “the table [is] abundantly supplied with a variety of well cooked and well served viands” (1888); “the table is all that any person might wish for” (1888); “the table is bountifully supplied with appetizingly cooked food” (1891); “the cuisine cannot be excelled” (1891); and more.  High praises - but what particular foods and dishes did the patrons actually eat?

According to an 1888 Harrisburg Telegraph article:  "The table will be abundantly supplied with fresh meats and vegetables, daily, from Harrisburg markets, also from the farm connected with the park, which also furnishes fresh milk, cream, butter, eggs, etc."  Circulars from the 1890's advertising the Cold Spring Resort similarly state:  "The Table is supplied with the best of everything in season.  Our own farm, connected with the Park, furnishes fresh milk, cream, eggs, poultry, etc.  The best creamery butter will be constantly supplied for table use."  In the 1880's and 1890's the farm at Cold Spring included a stable, a chicken house, a pig sty, apple and peach orchards, a vineyard, grain fields and vegetable gardens, all of which would have supplied food for the hotel table.  Other food supplies, such as flour and cornmeal from the mill at Lickdale, were reportedly brought by wagon over Second Mountain.  This information reveals some of the staple foodstuffs the hotel cooks had to work with - but what specific dishes did they prepare for visitors and guests? 

We pondered over possible menu items based on the aforementioned information and culinary dishes suggested by menus from the 1880’s and 1890’s from similarly classed hotels in Harrisburg, Lebanon and Reading, some of which were owned and operated at times by the various owners and managers of the Cold Spring Hotel.  Then we came across the following 1892 ad:

Ad stating "Chickens and Waffles will be served"
Reading Times - May 9, 1892

Also we found a Reading Times article describing the annual Fall outing of the Reading Press Club in 1897, a train excursion to various points of interest, including a stop at Cold Spring where the newspapermen and their families enjoyed a dinner of “chickens and waffles and all the desirable concomitants prepared with a lavish hand.”  By its numerous mentions in social news of the time, chickens and waffles was a popular dish served at banquets and large gatherings.  And it was served more than once at the Cold Spring Hotel.

After years of contemplating about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel, imagine our excitement when recently we came across a news story describing the Schuylkill County Bar Association’s annual dinner excursion, to Cold Spring, in July 1888.  Included was the following detailed menu for the “elegant dinner” they enjoyed:

Cold Spring Hotel Dinner Excursion Menu
as printed in the
Harrisburg Telegraph - July 20, 1888

If anyone has additional information on foods served at the Cold Spring Hotel, or a hotel menu, or knows the names of persons who worked in the hotel kitchens or dining rooms (or was employed in any other job at Cold Spring), we'd appreciate hearing from you.  Post a comment or contact us at email.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall 2014 Upcoming Events and E-Newsletter

It's time for the e-newsletter again!  Content in this quarter's newsletter is a little shorter than the previous newsletter due primarily to the amount of upcoming events we have scheduled.  With it filling a whole page, the Fall season will be extra busy for everyone at with viewing the "Stony Valley: Step Into History" 3-D model, numerous presentations, and even the annual Stony Valley Spook Hike. 

We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.  Brandy M. Watts Martin, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Historian and Seth A. Martin, Stony Valley Daily Life Researcher, had a wonderful time at the Stony Creek Valley Coalition's Annual Picnic this past weekend at the Kittatinny Rod and Gun Club, where they showed the 3-D model and were on hand to answer questions.  If you missed the 3-D model this past weekend, don't worry.  What is usually Drive Thru weekend in October (Drive Thru is unfortunately cancelled this year) will see the 3-D model at Comics and Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra.  Check out the second page of the newsletter for ALL the upcoming events we have scheduled.  Fall is the season for presentations and events for!

This issue and back issues of the e-newsletter can be found at, and if you want to make sure you don't miss any updates on the blog or an issue of the e-newsletter, please sign up for our e-mail list! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Waltonians Feed Wild Ducks

The other day I was looking through a stack of old bulletins of the Lebanon County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America when I dumb-lucked across an interesting historical tidbit having to do with Cold Spring.  The Izaak Walton League is a conservation organization composed of hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts whose motto (from the bulletins) is "Defender of Woods, Water and Wild Life."  In the June 1946 bulletin, Marlan J. Heller, Chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Committee, reported:
"The order recently placed with Terrell’s Aquatic Nurseries for wild duck food was received on Friday, April 26th.  Since the wild celery winter buds and the white water lilies are perishable, they were prepared and planted as soon as possible.  Half of the wild celery winter buds and the water lilies were planted at Camp Strauss in Monroe Valley on Saturday, April 27th, and the balance at Cold Spring’s on Sunday, April 28th.  Since this Aquatic food program is a paid project, we urge all Sportsmen and the general public to refrain from picking or destroying these plants, thus helping to keep these places suitable for Wild Life propagation."
This information about the planting of duck food doubly interested us - because we study Cold Spring and because we live on Lake Strause.  Actually, it triply interested us since some of my husband Jim’s relatives were actively involved with the Izaak Walton League at the time.  (His grandfather, William T. Logan, was the first president of the Lebanon County Chapter when it was formed in February 1939).  In the aforementioned bulletin, under "worthy activities" of the Izaak Walton League is listed:  "Plant Duck Food - Wild Celery, Lilies, etc., in Strauss Dam and Cold Spring Dam."  Unfortunately, we could locate no local newspaper mentions of this project.

Terrell’s Aquatic Nurseries, located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, were operated by Clyde B. Terrell, a nationally recognized authority on waterfowl and their feeding habits and habitats.  Wild celery is an underwater grass eaten by many species of diving ducks. Wood ducks and ring-necked ducks eat the seeds of water lilies.  Submerged portions of aquatic plants also provide habitats for many invertebrates that are eaten by ducks and other wildlife.  On his aquatic farm in Wisconsin, Clyde Terrell grew and gathered wild rice, wild celery, and other foods to be distributed for planting in suitable localities to attract ducks and other migratory waterfowl.  Plants and seeds were shipped throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Some of them ended up being planted at the Cold Spring Dam, possibly by Jim's grandfather and great grandfather.  

1932 Advertisement for Terrell's Aquatic Nurseries

Does anyone remember ever seeing white water lilies on the lake at Cold Spring before the dam was washed away in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes?  None of the old photographs we have show water lilies.  Has anyone encountered wild ducks on the lake or Stony Creek?  If anyone knows of other wildlife projects the Izaak Walton League participated in at Cold Spring, such as stocking fish, which they did in Lake Strause and many other dams and streams in Lebanon County, we'd like to hear from you.  Post a comment or contact us at email.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Historically Weedy

I apologize for not writing an update regarding the Historic Garden sooner, but it has been a crazy past few months, and it’s hard to think that summer is already half over! We’ve had to compete with technology issues over the past view months including having to purchase a new computer along with internet issues.  Life is just a little more complicated now than it was in Rausch Gap in this regard. Back in Rausch Gap, I could have just informed you of our progress in the garden when we passed each other in the village, walking to work, or at the Company Store that would have most likely served as the place to hear the news and happenings in town.  Unfortunately this Historic Garden does come with some modern inconveniences.

As you may have guessed from the title, the Historic Garden is a bit weedy.  Sorry, that’s actually a bit of an understatement: it’s VERY weedy! As you saw from my previous post we transformed a very overgrown area into what we hoped to be our Historic Garden. Well one thing we didn't account for in this experiment is the reoccurrence of all the weeds (not the original weeds mind you).  Many of our former weeds had already dropped their seeds all over the ground last fall, and a lot of those seeds became weed seedlings, and have now turned into big weeds, just like their parents!
This picture of the Historic Garden from late-May really makes us cringe with the amount of weeds all over the place, but that’s one thing that separates us from those living in Rausch Gap: we are not depending on the harvest from this garden for survival, but rather THIS garden…

Ah, better!  A view of approximately half of our main “modern” garden at the end of June, which takes up the majority of our time, and like those living in Rausch Gap, we depend upon the harvest of this garden to help sustain us through the winter.  The main differences between us and those living in Rausch Gap with this particular “modern” garden, other than modern varieties of vegetables, and nearly unlimited garden space in the yard, is the modern convenience of rot-o-tillers, weed whackers, metal plant stakes, sprinkler systems, and modern pest control measures. 

(other than weeds)

Potatoes Garnet Chile – As you saw from our earlier post we planted two pounds of potatoes in three rows. They grew to about three foot tall and were mounded up with dirt only once. We did have some Colorado Potato Beetles on them at one point, but we removed all of them the old-fashioned way (picking them off by hand).   Please Note: Those in in Rausch Gap would NOT have had the misfortune of dealing with the potato beetle due to the beetles not migrating eastward from Colorado until 1859.  The residents of Rausch Gap would have been more worried about another potato famine, than the beetle.  Therefore we have no true basis on how they got rid of them, other than likely hand-picking them off and dropping them into a container of kerosene as children did around the time of the Civil War. We now believe there is a blight attacking our potatoes (in all of our gardens). Not fun!
About our Potato Variety:

There are several potatoes that date to the time period but the challenge was actually finding the real potato, and not just the variety listed somewhere on the internet. “Reverend Chauncy E. Goodrich of Utica, New York, introduced this variety [Garnet Chili Potato] in 1853. In response to the blight of 1846, he obtained seed stock from Chile, and from those plants he selected this small, round, pink potato that became the granddaddy of most nineteenth-century varieties we know today.”
With the majority of the population coming from Western Europe, specifically the British Isles, potatoes were a staple of their diet. Garnet Chiles are used as “excellent boiling potato, perfect for salads, and makes an attractive garnishing potato for restaurant cookery.” Potatoes would take up a good portion of a Stony Valley garden and they would also be one of the most challenging plants to grow. Potatoes need to be planted 6”-8” in the ground and once plants start growing they must be mounded up with soil several times. Dealing with rocky terrain would make this one of the more challenging plants to grow, but potatoes were part of the resident’s heritage and daily diet in both the old country and new.

We purchased our potatoes from in Colorado, which has a number of great heirloom varieties.

Cabbage Early Jersey Wakefield - The Cabbage is not doing so hot. We had almost thirty plants spring up but our local wildlife, along with the weeds, had something else in mind. We weeded throughout the spring around each cabbage and put up some fencing, about two feet high, around the cabbage after they had been eaten, and they started growing fairly well again, but the fence did nothing to deter the wildlife (particularly the deer, which we believe to be the culprit).  In the Rausch Gap they would have used several different methods to deal with wildlife including fencing (if they had the money or time to spend on this extra as likely it would have been woven twig fencing), with a gun (most of these families would have been new immigrants and most wouldn’t have the means to purchase a hunting gun as it would cost a half-a-year to a year’s wages to purchase), or a trap (would be dictated by cost and if a family had the extra income to spend). So, even with our fence, we now have no cabbage.
About our Cabbage Variety:

The Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage was first grown in America by Francis Brill of Jersey City, New Jersey in 1840. This variety is a variation of the Early Wakefield variety of cabbage from England. The variety is hardy and great for the northern climate of the United States, particularly Pennsylvania.  This variety can last in the ground well into the fall after the first frost, and produces heads typically 2 to 3 pounds in size. Plants like relatively cool temperatures when starting indoors or in a cold frame, and they need good rich soil with an abundant of moisture to produce solid and crisp heads. Good rich soil may have been hard to come by in Rausch Gap, but it’s the perfect option for sauerkraut making and winter storage in the region.
We purchased ours from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Beets – Early Blood Turnip- We planted beets in rows along with parsnips, marked carefully with twigs, and have found a few of these root vegetables growing among the weeds.

About our Beet Variety:

Beets are great for storing over winter. As the theme is with the majority of our plants, they must be able to be stored for several months as to provide the much need nutrition during the long winter months. The Early Blood Turnip dates back to early part of the 19th century. “Its name is due to the fact that when cooked, the beet exudes a thick juice, similar in consistency to blood. This rich texture was particularly well liked by colonial cooks, especially the Pennsylvania Dutch. (”

Beets were a common vegetable in the British Isles and would have been another staple of the resident’s diets and thus in their gardens. Beets would have been used for baking, in stews or pickled for long term storage.

We purchased our variety from
Parsnips – Hollow Crown - We didn't hold too many high hoops for the sole reason that they require sand/loose soil to grow in. We have anything but that. The townspeople in Rausch Gap would have faced the same issue with rocks to contend with.  Currently, we cannot find a single parsnip. 

About our Parsnip Variety:
Parsnips are a close relative to the carrot. It was a common staple of the poorest diet. “This variety became popular in England in the 1820s. George Lindley listed it among the varieties recommended for kitchen gardens, and it appeared on many American seed lists during the nineteenth century.(” Parsnips are the best of all the veggies planted in the garden for storage over the winter months.  They can actually be kept in the ground over winter and dug up when needed.

Parsnips desire sandy soil as the roots can grow up to 24 inches long. We do not know how much success they would have had back in Stony Valley with the rocky soil and for that matter how well we are going to be able to grow it with our garden’s soil not thoroughly worked.  Obviously, since we cannot find any, they probably didn’t do too well.
We actually found this variety at a local garden center from Lake Valley Seed Company.

Onions – Yellow Flat Dutch – So we started our onions inside a little late. Since we wanted a variety that was of the time period the only available way to purchase them was as seeds compared to seed sets (which are just really small onions), which is the common method to plant onions now. We planted them in wooden containers in our wood shed. Well the mice decided they looked tasted after a long winter once they started sprouting up like spring onions. So, no onions this season.

About our Onion Variety:
Great tasting and good for storage over a long winter makes onions a must in our garden. When you think of getting onions to plant you think of buying onion sets at the store, onions that are already growing and look more like spring onions when you plant them. The only variety we could find that was from the time period came as seeds. The Yellow Flat Dutch, “An onion by this name was offered in 1888 by RH Allen seed company, who wrote: "A good variety; mild flavored; large, and keeps well." This is a long day type that is fine for kitchen use. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company)”

We purchased ours from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

One of the other things that is now attacking our garden are Japanese Beetles which are eating our berries, leaves of the weeds, and now other plants in the garden. Once again like the Colorado Potato Beetles, the people of Rausch Gap would not have had to deal with these beetles as they didn’t come to America until shortly before World War I, so we don’t have any clear idea how they would have dealt with them, other than perhaps just picking them off by hand like the potato beetles. 

Invasion of the beetles (in the berry patch)!  The Historic Garden was only under seige from the Colorado Potato Beetles and the Japanese Beetles.  Due to the varieties of crops that were choosen they were spared from the Striped Cucumber Beetles, Mexican Bean Beetles and Tomato Hornworms that have all made their homes nearby; however, the Grasshoppers have now arrived in the area as well, and we have yet to see what amount of havoc they might wreak.

For the fall crop we plan on planting kale, cabbage and carrots. Cabbage will be started indoors to allow it a better shot at surviving, and we are work on methods to take care of our wildlife issue.  If you have any ideas on how to “fix” the wildlife issues using historic methods, we’d be happy to hear them!
As I mentioned in my first post, the townspeople in Rausch Gap would also be looking to the woods and fields to provide food for the table.  A variety of different greens that are edible and found in abundance in the spring and early summertime were the first to arrive.  Fortunately for me, I did not have to eat any dandelion salads, but my wife did attempt some dandelion jelly from the flowers of the plants.  Otherwise our dandelions stayed far from the table underneath the lawnmower’s blades.  Black raspberries and mulberries have already arrived, and are about to leave, and would have provided some fresh fruit for their table, like ours.  These we gathered from our personal berry patch at the edge of the Historic Garden and from the other areas of the property.  Blackberries, wineberries, huckleberries and elderberries would be the next crops to come in, with the first of the blackberries appearing just a few days ago. 

Of the varieties of berries that are available to us, near the Historic Garden, are (clockwise) Elderberries, Black Raspberries, Blackberries and Mulberries.  These could have been used immediately by the residents of Rausch Gap or preserved for winter use.

Gardening is hard work; something we already knew as we have a rather large personal garden as well.  (Fun Fact: The Historic Garden is approximately 550 square feet of the over 4,600 square feet of garden space we maintain which includes herb gardens, berry patches, a mint bed, the Historic Garden, and the main “modern” garden.  Being only about 12% of the garden space we maintain, it often falls through the cracks as we live off the produce harvested from our other gardens).   But, the challenge of taking untamed land that has never been worked, or hasn’t been worked for a very long time like the land we are dealing with, is more than hard work and a challenge to keep up with, especially without the aid of modern machinery. 

In Rausch Gap, the gardens would have been maintained mainly by the women and children of the household.  Men in the family would have 10-to-12 hour work days, usually six days a week, and been unable to keep up with the amount of work a garden contained.  From planting to weeding, watering to harvesting, often the littlest hands in the household were put to work.  Lydia M. Child in The American Frugal Housewife in 1832 even suggested that “a child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others,” and that children “can weed the garden, and pick cranberries from the meadow, to be carried to market.”  Everyone, young and old, would have helped in a Rausch Gap garden. 

Looking from the Black Raspberry and Blackberry bushes by the compost bin, towards the fenced-in Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, and behind them the Garnet Chili Potato patch of the Historic Garden on July 13th.
If a family’s garden in Rausch Gap didn’t produce much in 1855, they would have had to rely more on scavenging for food in the woods and fields, hunting and fishing when the appropriate season, or purchasing more from the company store.  One thing we have learn about the families of Stony Valley is that it was a daily battle to keep food on the table and a roof over ones head without owing one’s life to the company store.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer 2014 E-Newsletter Now Available

Our newest E-Newsletter is now available, with more information than ever before!  Check out our upcoming events, learn about the newest ruins of the Gold Mine Settlement that were discovered on an Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club hike, and read about Franklin Putt, trackman for the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Branch in the Summer 2014 issue

Remember to Mark Your Calendars for our next two upcoming events!  On Thursday, July 17, Brandy M. Watts Martin will be presenting Stony Valley: A Haunting History for the West Hanover Township Historical Society near Harrisburg, and on Saturday, July 19, at Comics & Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra, PA, the Stony Valley 3-D Model will be on display, where you can "Step Into History" no matter what the weather may be! More details of both events are in the newsletter.

Old E-Newsletters can found in the E-Newsletter Archives.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rough Road Leads To Mishaps

Brandy’s Facebook post about David Espenshade’s roadster mishap on the S & S rails brought to mind some vehicle mishaps due to the poor condition of the Cold Spring Road.  Many can attest to the rough going on the rocky and rutted dirt road over Second Mountain to Cold Spring.  Even with a four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle, it can sometimes be tricky to negotiate the up jutting rocks and washed out ditches that have long characterized the Cold Spring Road.  Not to mention the poor traction often encountered with the mud, ice and snow on the shady north side of the mountain.  Vehicles that go down the steep north-facing slope don’t always come back up as easily – some even requiring pushing and/or pulling assistance.
"When I was a youngster of 14, in about 1946, my friends and I would go exploring as far back in the mountains as we could... we conned one of the mothers into driving us over the mountain to Cold Springs: no easy task, because the only access over the mountain was a primitive dirt road at its roughest.  Cars were not too plentiful yet after the big war, and no 4-wheel drives were available.  So we went in one of Henry Ford's 60 H.P. models which, on one occasion, had to be helped up the hill by five or six of us kids."  -- James D. Theurer, Harrisburg, PA      
Cold Spring Road
(Photo courtesy of Jim M. Logan)

The following stories gleaned from various local newspapers illustrate how in the past visitors to Cold Spring found it even more challenging than today to navigate the Cold Spring Road.

For several days in May 1926 flames rampantly swept the Blue Mountains between Indiantown and Manada Gaps, destroying valuable timber and other property, hundreds of volunteers fighting the fires.  Although the flames could be seen for miles, and the day before burning leaves and embers from the blazing fires had reached Salem Walmer’s Church at Indiantown Gap (and were contained), two Lancaster men, Harry R. Lippold and John Althouse, went on a day outing to the Lancaster YMCA’s boys’ camp at Cold Spring (the summer camp not yet in session).  The men left their brand new car parked on the south side of Second Mountain, “the remainder of the road being too rough to drive,” and hiked over the mountain to Camp Shand.  They spent an enjoyable afternoon in the outdoors – until they noticed “great clouds of wood smoke darkening the sky” over Second Mountain.  Their first thought was saving the car, so they raced to the top of the mountain.  Too late.  The car was already engulfed in flames, the fire sweeping up the south side of the mountain, forcing Lippold and Althouse to run to safety.  Fortunately, the fire was checked by the hundreds of volunteers and never reached Camp Shand.  The car, however, was totally ruined.  Its burnt frame was found in the center of the fire area.  If only Lippold and Althouse could’ve driven that brand new car over the rough and rocky mountain road to Cold Spring.  (This incident happened the day before Espenshade’s thwarted detour around another forest fire near Stony Valley.)

Another mishap occurred three years earlier, in July 1923, when a group of friends from Palmyra met at St. Joseph’s Spring, north of Indiantown Gap, to attend Sunday services at the campmeeting of the Union Evangelical Church.  Included in the party were:  Mr. and Mrs. John F. Batdorf, Sr.; John and Ella Batdorf, their children Bernice, Marie, Park and Kenneth; Martin Seltzer, his daughter Mary; David and Annie Horst, their children Naomi, Edna, Frank and Harry; Henry and Rebecca Groy, their children Stanley and Dorothy; David and Stella Wolf, and their children Dale and Grace.  In the afternoon the families decided to drive over the nearby mountain (Second Mountain) to visit Cold Spring.  David Wolf, leading the way up the steep and bumpy road, lost control of his car.  The occupants jumped out and then the car rolled backward down the mountain until it overturned and came to a stop.  The men managed to set the car upright and Mr. Wolf made another try for Cold Spring, reaching the top of the mountain but, finding the road descending into Stony Valley even more treacherous, turned around and went back to St. Joseph’s Spring, his passengers and car intact.  

Nowadays it may be difficult to imagine such troubles driving up the south side of Second Mountain when the Stony Valley portion usually proves more problematic.  Consider, however, this description of the Cold Spring Road from a Lebanon Daily News article published in the fall of 1926:  The one public road to Cold Spring “was seldom used until the Lancaster YMCA established a boys’ camp at Cold Spring station [in 1923].”  Officials of the Lancaster YMCA and several residents of Cold Spring Township and the adjoining Union Township “testified to the poor condition of the one road that leads to camp…travelers are subject to accidents because of the bad roads, and that many persons are compelled to desert automobiles or other vehicles, and to complete their journey on foot to get to certain points.”

A Lancaster Sunday News article dated July 31, 1932, described the "Alleged Road To Camp Shand" traveled by visitors to the boys at summer camp:  "Sometimes the way is long and torturous, like the alleged road to Camp Shand way up beyond Lebanon. There is frequently a road which has a bump, but never before have fond visitors to Camp Shand struck a road that consisted entirely of them.  It's an old tradition at Camp Shand that visitors landing in camp can't stop bounding up and down for ten minutes on arrival and this is so usual that the reception committee waits around quietly pretending not to notice anything until the things quiet down."

As previously stated, the Cold Spring Road saw little use before the Lancaster YMCA established their summer camp at Cold Spring.  According to an article that appeared in the Pottsville Daily Republican in June 1916, two men from Pottsville stopped in Pine Grove to ask about the road to Cold Spring.  An old-timer answered:  “[Go] down by Greenpoint and then six miles over the mountain.  Honest though, you don’t intend going in a machine.  I’d like to go over but I’d not go for $100 in a machine.”  Another responded:  “Roads [to Cold Spring?] There ain’t anything but a log road and I’ve only heard of one fellow going over there in good weather by machine.”  A final comment was “the fact that one machine had been there [to Cold Spring] in three years and then the occupants nearly died from fright when told they had to go back the same way they came in.”  The two Pottsville men took the train to Cold Spring.

Road Bridge over Stony Creek (below dam breast, looking west) 
Circa 1916
(Photo courtesy of Diane Racine)

Little is mentioned about the condition of the Cold Spring Road during the hotel era, the majority of visitors then arriving at the Cold Spring resort via the railroad.  Prior to the railroad, according to William Henry Egle (1883), Cold Spring was “difficult of access owing to the badness of the mountain roads.”  The only fatal mishap we found happened the year before the Cold Spring Hotel was destroyed by fire.  On July 25, 1889, while Peter Rupp and his wife, Sarah (Ney), were going over Second Mountain to Cold Spring, Peter was jolted from the seat of their spring wagon and thrown under the wheels, sustaining such severe injuries that he died a few hours later.  He was sixty years old and is buried in Moonshine Cemetery, near Indiantown Gap.  

Peter Rupp's Gravestone at Moonshine Cemetery
(Photo taken May 2014 by Jim C. Logan)
Inscription reads:
March 12, 1829
July 25, 1889
60 Years 4 Mo. 13

The purpose of Peter and Sarah Rupp’s trip to Cold Spring is unknown.  According to the brief newspaper accounts of the accident, the Rupps then lived at Lickdale in Union Township.  The 1870 and 1880 censuses list Peter Rupp as a farmer residing in East Hanover Township.  Perhaps Peter was a teamster who delivered supplies to Cold Spring.  Recollections of Ellie Miller, once a maid at the Cold Spring Hotel, as told to Joy Shenk Behney many years ago, included stories of teamsters hauling animal feed and other supplies, such as flour and cornmeal from the mill at Lickdale, on the often treacherous road over Second Mountain to Cold Spring.  Hearsay suggests that the Rupp family lived at Cold Spring for a number of years, and some of their children were even born at Cold Spring, although so far we found no evidence to substantiate either statement.  

If anyone knows more about these incidents, we’d like to hear from you.  Additional information is also sought on the Rupp family living at or near Cold Spring or working at Cold Spring.  Readers are invited to share personal and/or other recorded accounts of difficulties and mishaps on the Cold Spring Road.  Please add comments to this post or send information by email.

Friday, June 6, 2014

"The Last Days" Program

PLEASE NOTE: The Sunday Program "The Last Days" for the Capital Area Genealogical Society in Linglestown is cancelled. It will be rescheduled for later this year. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From Stones to Stumps

There’s been a lot of blood and sweat in the last few weeks transforming an old patch of weeds into garden space.  Last year at this time the space was full of weeds, branches, two decaying bushes pulled up from the yard, various pieces of rusted metal, pokeweed and berry brambles; otherwise known as a typical farm brush pile.  By last fall the poke weeds stood over six feet tall and the berry bushes were more than encroaching on the yard.

As in Rausch Gap, we too had to fight an untamed wilderness, for Rausch Gap would have still have held countless trees, rampant brush and piles of rock. We fought with stumps everywhere, usually at the strike of every shovel.  They fought with rocks everywhere. We hope the rewards of the garden are worth the blood and sweat we have turned into this soil.

OCTOBER 2013: Last fall we were faced with an overrun brush pile, and started cutting down pokeweeds and disposing of their berries to prevent more from growing.


EARLY APRIL 2014: One of our major challenges has been controlling the berry bushes (black raspberry and blackberry) lining three edges of the garden.  In order to assist in taming them, we are using 1x3 boards and twine. 

LAST WEEK: A lot of the work has been done by hand (except for the removal of some sizable stumps which was done with a backhoe.)

MONDAY, we were finally able to start planting. (Please Note: We are two or so weeks behind on getting a few crops in the ground due in part to this crazy weather we have been having and the amount of time it has taken to tame the wilderness).   We were able to plant our potatoes, cabbage, parsnips and beets yesterday. In my next blog post I will be discussing the different crops we will be plants, the varieties we have chosen and their uses.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wood Frog Watch

The sounds of spring arrived upon the warm breezes of this past week as the Spring Peepers’ chorus rose from the marshy recesses of the farm fields.  Toads and Spotted Salamanders carefully crossed the roads in between the tires of passing cars, and the North American Newt swam happily along the sunny banks of a nearby lake.  Whether you live in town or are just simply driving down a country road, I’m sure you noticed flowerbeds of blooming crocuses and daffodils, and maybe even the tulips and flags (irises) emerging from the ground.  Simply put, it sure sounds and feels like spring! 

In search of another sign of spring, my father and I ventured down Boxcar Road this morning, seeking the chorus of the Wood Frogs rising up from the strip mines and vernal ponds along the road.  We were greeted with a muddy, rutted road due to the present lumbering operations to the north of Boxcar Road, and the passing rain showers, but a little rain should not scare off the frogs.  Corner after corner we turned, hearing nothing but the silence of The Great Wilderness. 

The strip mines are still empty of frogs, but a few puddles in the road spoke a different story.  Below are photographs of some creature’s eggs, who may have been hoping the rain showers would continue.  Do you know whose eggs they are? 


Boxcar Road – Although stones have amended the drive into the parking lot, be prepared for some muddy ruts on Boxcar Road due to the current lumbering operations. 

Stone Tower Trail – The log-cable crossing over Clarks Creek near the Stone Tower Trailhead no longer has its cable.  Please be prepared to find another way to cross.  (Reported March 29, 2014; Reported April 6, 2014)

If you have any trail condition updates you'd like us to share, please email them. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring 2014 E-Newsletter Available

Our newest E-Newsletter is available now!  Check out upcoming events, discover Stony Valley Daily Life Researcher Seth A. Martin's newest project, and find out how Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Historian Brandy M. Watts Martin's family is connected to Stony Valley in the Spring 2014 issue. 

Remember to Mark Your Calendars for our next event on April 22, 2014 in Palmyra, PA where you can "Step Into History" no matter what the weather may be!  More details in the newsletter.  Old E-Newsletters can found in the E-Newsletter Archives. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Surviving Among The Stones

It’s 1854 in Rausch Gap, Lebanon County.  This coal mining town buried deep in the heart of Stony Valley was once isolated, but now has a new railroad going through town complete with the railroad headquarters, and coal mines located to the north of town.  The population is expanding with each passing day, and will total over 1,000 people by year’s end.

You have just stepped off the train after taking a long trip from Philadelphia, the port at which you arrived from your homeland on the British Isles to start a new life with your young family.  You have a job with the coal mines earning about $0.90 a day as a miner due to your experience in the mines in your homeland.  Now your concern is the three key things for your family's survival: food, shelter and water.  The latter you can get from one of the town's wells, which are found throughout the community.  Shelter is provided by your employer for $4.00 a month for a two-story half house with minimal furnishings like benches and table, a wooden bed frame and either a fireplace or coal stove.  Food is the challenging part.  The town has a company store with a wide variety of food available including flour, sugar, salt and spices, select canned goods, and produce and animal products shipped by train from local farms.  With little income remaining after paying rent, purchasing basic necessities, and supplies for your profession, among other things, you would need to find ways to supplement the store bought food.  Perhaps, on your voyage to the New World you brought some seeds from your homeland, or if you came with just the clothing on your backs like many immigrants, you’d be able to purchase some seeds at the company store.  You notice your neighbors have already found a solution, and like them, you would start to plan a garden to supply your family with food to survive. 

Since I have met my wife, Stony Valley has been a part of our lives.  I never knew about this wonderful wilderness only 20 minutes away from where I was studying history at Penn State Harrisburg.  So my wife, who had studied the area for over a decade, shared with me her passion for Stony Valley, Saint Anthony’s Wilderness, and the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad.  Hiking around Stony Valley, we explored the towns and found new ruins in the wilderness, and I started to wonder how did people really survive back there?  All you see when hiking is rocks, woods and more rocks!  But among those rocks is a story of how people sought to survive, to make a new life for their family in this New World.  The men would labor for eight, ten, or twelve hours a day for six to seven days a week to make enough money to provide food and shelter for their family, but sometimes that was not enough.  Families took in unmarried men as boarders to help supplement their income, or sent their children as young as five to work.  Still they had difficulties making ends meet with an average of ten people in each half house of Rausch Gap in 1855.  At that time, it became the job of the housewife to make their income enough to survive.  The wife and young children would scavenge for berries and edible plants, fish in the creek, and perhaps the men would hunt, and most importantly, the family would plant a garden in the small space around their half house.

Foundation of a House at Rausch Gap Built Prior to 1854
Here is where my interest lays, in the daily life and foodways of the people in Stony Valley. So for the last six months I have begun researching who these people were.  Where the people come from is an important aspect in determining what types of food people eat.  Culture plays a big role in defining how a new immigrant adapts to the New World.  When people think of the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania they usually think of Eastern Europeans like Slavs, Hungarians and Poles, but Stony Valley is different.  Stony Valley was before the population boom in the Pennsylvania Anthracite Region, and thus had a different immigrant make up.  During the mid-1800s, Stony Valley saw the immigration of Western Europeans mainly from the British Iles (English, Scottish, Welsh and the lowest of the classes, Irish), and the valley would see an influx of some 2,000 people in the 1850s in the five coal mining towns of Rattling Run, Yellow Spring, Rausch Gap, Gold Mine and Mount Eagle.

As part of my research I am creating a garden to mimic, to the best of our ability, one that would have been seen in Rausch Gap in the year 1854.  Why such a specific year you may ask. Well 1854 would be the year of prosperity for the town with the completion of the railroad from Rockville, Dauphin County to Auburn, Schuylkill County, and just months before the coal mines played out north of the town due to the coal’s poor quality.

Over the next seven months, I will be blogging about this garden as we try to mimic an 1854 Stony Valley garden.  We will be using seed varieties of the time period (will be discussed in a future blog post) and using tools and methods available during that time period.  Spring is now here and it’s time to grow some food!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Discover the Former Town of Rausch Gap

Rausch Gap
By Brandy M. Watts Martin
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Richland Community Library, Richland, PA

Join us at the Richland Community Library, 111 East Main St., Richland, PA, to discover Rausch Gap, once the largest community in Stony Valley with over 1,000 residents during its heyday.  The town included workers' housing, public buildings and businesses, along with the only white cemetery in Stony Valley.  This informative 30-minute presentation shows what the ruins of today once were in the bustling mid-nineteenth century Anthracite coal mining and railroading town. 

Find out more about the Presentation.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Tavern House at Cold Spring over 200 Years Ago?

At the time Jim C. and Jim M. Logan wrote their book Cold Spring Hotel Site: Uncovering its Layers of History in 2005, the earliest known public establishment at Cold Spring was Jacob Wingert’s tavern, which they noted was described in the following 1822 newspaper article:  
“THE MINERAL COLD SPRING.  The undersigned continues to keep the tavern at Cold Spring, 18 miles from Jonestown in Lebanon County, which is now one of the best and improved stands.  The house is 50 feet in width, contains 12 rooms and 1 kitchen, 2 bathhouses, one springhouse and stables.  It has the best food, drink and beds, besides provisions of hay and oats.  Those who wish to spend the summer here are informed that they will be accommodated at the cheapest rate.  The region is healthful, and the water excels any in the State for many complaints, and has been proved beneficial by many people.  The diversity of games, dancing and fishing will give sufficient pleasure in this fresh valley and hills.  Men and women who like to seek this sort of refreshment can be confident of receiving complete satisfaction from this servant of the Public.  Jacob Wingert” -- Der Lebononer Morgenstern and Der Ware Democrat, August 3, 1822, translated from German by Christine Weaver
According to various newspaper articles and other sources, people had been going to Cold Spring to benefit from its waters since before the American Revolution, but little is known about if and what accommodations existed for visitors in those early years.  Fortunately, we recently came across a newspaper advertisement showing the existence of a public establishment that pre-dates Jacob Wingert’s tavern at Cold Spring by nearly twenty years:

The Oracle of Dauphin & Harrisburgh Advertiser – March 28, 1803

Which reads:


The public are respectfully informed, that owing to the misfortune of losing all my buildings by fire, on the night of the 27th February last, no accommodations can be had for those who may be disposed to visit the Cold Springs, in West Hanover township, Dauphin county, the ensuing summer, unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.

 Philip Culp.      
March 18th, 1803.

Note that in 1803, Cold Spring was located in Dauphin County, the county of Lebanon not being formed until 1813 (from parts of Dauphin and Lancaster Counties).  Lebanon County reached only as far north as the Blue Mountain until 1821 [see map], when the boundary was extended to the top of Fourth or Stony Mountain.  Cold Spring was then located in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County.  In 1842, when a portion of East Hanover Township was taken to form Union Township, the boundary line between the two townships lay just six feet from the then existing tavern at Cold Spring, meaning part of what we now call the Cold Spring site was in East Hanover Township and part in the newly erected Union Township.  The 80-acre Cold Spring site remained divided between these two townships until 1853, when Cold Spring Township was formed from parts of East Hanover and Union Townships.  A detailed description of these changing county and township boundaries can be found in Egle's 1883 History of Dauphin & Lebanon Counties.

Philip Culp’s newspaper notice doesn’t identify the number or type of structures at Cold Spring before the fire, although it clearly indicates Culp had a public establishment at Cold Spring.  The destruction of “all [his] buildings” compelled him to notify his former patrons that he would not be able to accommodate anyone wishing to visit the springs that summer.  A tavern house would seem likely in order to provide meals and drinks and overnight accommodations, a means by which to profit from visitors to the well-known Cold Spring.  Perhaps, like Jacob Wingert, a bathhouse, a springhouse and/or stables stood on the property. Having no railroad and a poor wagon road at best, most visitors would have gone over the mountain on horseback to visit the spring, certainly necessitating provisions and lodging for horses.    

In the advertisement, Culp also subtly asks for assistance in rebuilding his establishment: “…unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.”  It is not known what form of assistance – financial, material or labor – he sought, whether or not he received help, or if he ever rebuilt his establishment.

Our current research has yielded very little about Philip Culp.  A “Phillip Culp” appears in the 1810 census living in East Hanover, Dauphin County.  Unfortunately, the early censuses contained only minimal information on the people and households recorded.   All the 1810 census reveals is that Phillip Culp was head of a household which consisted of:  one male, 45 years or older; one male, 16-25; one female, 16-25; and one female, 10-15.  A “Philap Coulp” is listed on the Return of Taxables for the East End of Hanover for 1751.  And a “Philip Colp” is listed on the East End of Hanover Assessment for 1756, on which it is noted that he, among many others, had “fled” from the Indian attacks, his home abandoned at the time the assessment was made.  We cannot be sure if any of these are the individual who had the believed tavern house at Cold Spring.  If it was either person listed on the records from the 1750’s, he would have been around 70 years old (at least) in 1803 when the fire destroyed the buildings at Cold Spring.  Not impossible, but a more likely explanation may be that a son or grandson, also named Philip, entertained the public at Cold Spring in 1803.

Since Cold Spring was situated in Lancaster County prior to the county of Dauphin being formed in 1785, more research needs done in the early records and history of Lancaster County in the hope of finding more about Cold Spring in the mid-to-late 1700’s.  More research needs done on Philip Culp, too.

Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, share information and photos on the subject of Cold Spring.  Contact us at email.