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  1. #1
    RittenhouseGirl is offline Senior Member
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    Thumbs up Seeing the Rest of Pennsylvania

    Many Philadelphians don't think about PA beyond the borders of Philly and the burbs, including me. City-dwellers really live in an all-inclusive enclave where thinking outside the borders isn't deemed necessary.

    When I started traveling to see relatives in Ohio by car (a nine-hour ride), I realized that Philly is really just a tiny portion of PA. Western PA especially seems to be full of farmland, mountains, forest, and small towns. It kind of seems like the mid-west. As for my own excursions in PA, I was in Harrisburg once, and was amazed by the beauty of the capitol building, have gone to Lancaster, and Hershey.

    Does anyone have any experience with living or traveling in the state beyond the burbs and those above-mentioned areas?

    Just because a spot isn't touristy, doesn't mean it isn't worth the trip. I'd like to hear of your experiences.

  2. #2
    Marc is offline bier dimpfe
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    If you like history, Valley Forge has some interesting Revolutionary War stuff and Gettysburg has a ton of Civil War history.

    Camping in French Creek and the Poconos (as well as skiing [not the best but close]).

    Apparently lots of hunting around Scranton

  3. #3
    OldMama is offline Senior Member
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    I've driven across the country a couple times as far as Utah and those trips made me realize what a beautiful state Pennsylvania is. Our farms are particularly beautiful though much smaller in scale than the farms in the midwest. The whole area around Lancaster, towns like Lititz, Ephrata, Bird in Hand, are quite nice. I've been to Altoona to see the Horseshoe Curve (hub was a train nut) but there is not much else to see there. I did like Johnstown which has a funicular and nice old buildings in a river setting. Jim Thorpe is beautiful. The Delaware Water Gap is worth a summer trip. And Steamtown, a national historic site (trains again) in Scranton is fun.

    I went to Penn State before the trip to State College was all highway and we would pass through some cute little towns on old PA 322 like Juniata. I don't know how those places are even accessed anymore.

  4. #4
    MarketStEl's Avatar
    MarketStEl is offline Will Work for Food, But Prefers Cash
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    My first cross-Pennsylvania trip took place many years before I moved here. When I was 14, my mom decided we'd drive to a medical conference she was attending in Atlantic City, and so we set out headed east on Interstate 70. We spent the night in Pittsburgh and left the next morning on US 30, the Lincoln Highway, because Mom thought it would be more interesting than the Turnpike.

    She was right. We saw the Ship Hotel - an old riverboat-turned-hotel "moored" on the side of a mountain by the highway. I got to tour old railroad cars and a great little model railroad shop in York. (Yeah, I was a traingeek back then too.) I saw my first runaway truck ramp, near the bottom of a long downgrade on US 30; the ramp went straight up the hill and ended in a pile of rocks. We ate at a huge Pennsylvania Dutch diner outside Lancaster, where I had shoo fly pie for the first (and to date only) time. And I got to see the Main Line up close and personal on the way into Philadelphia.

    I finally got to see Pittsburgh by daylight two years ago when I helped a friend move there. The city is full of interesting vistas thanks to all the hills, but it seemed pretty empty on the Saturday morning I spent wandering around its downtown.

    I spent one late summer weekend in the Poconos at a popular LGBT resort, with a side trip to Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe - which I hear may regain its original name of Mauch Chunk once the athlete's remains return to his native Oklahoma - is a charming little town, nestled in a valley ringed by mountain ridges and frozen in the 19th century.

    Speaking of frozen in time, that was also the impression I had of downtown Scranton when I took a trip to visit the Steamtown National Historic Site. Only here, the year was 1948. The hotel in the former Lackawanna Railroad station was very attractive and elegant, but the rest of the downtown seemed to have not been touched since then. (This was well before "The Office" put the place in the popular zeitgeist.)

    I've also been to Harrisburg three times now - twice for lobbying and once as the jumping-off point for a weekend spent chasing trains along the Main Line from there to Altoona. The city looks bigger than it is, a trait it shares with Wilmington, Del., and its downtown does die at 5, again like Wilmington's. But the Susquehanna riverfront is lovely and the state Capitol an impressive piece of work, with all that marble, gold leaf and Mercer tiles.

    That trainspotting journey across Pennsylvania was a load of fun - and we passed through Juniata, by the way. You get there on US 322 just as before, only you take an offramp to get to the town proper. The further west we went, the colder and wetter it got, until we were soaking in 35-degree temps at Cresson Summit, near the Gallitzin Tunnels. (Both of these are places railfans congregate.) We returned to Harrisburg via State College - first trip there too. But by the time we got to State College, it was dusk, so we didn't bother seeing the PSU campus.

    This state's topography and history mean there are plenty of interesting vistas, places to see and things to do. Philadelphians really should get out more.
    Sandy Smith, Wanderer in Germantown, Philadelphia
    Editor-in-Chief, Philly Living Blog - but all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
    ""Jazz and blogging are both intimate, improvisational, and individual -- but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both." --Andrew Sullivan, "Why I Blog," The Atlantic, November 2008

  5. #5
    FKD19124 is offline Banned
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    I have travelled across the state many times going to Ohio and beyond. There is a stark contrast between Philadelphia and the rest of the state in terms of landscape. Seeing the many farms and towns does make you think you are in another state like someplace in the midstates. You start to get this feel when you drive down the turn pike past West Chester. Only driven through Harrisbug and it doesn't seem like a "city" when you have lived in Philadelphia most of your life. Upstate PA is really nice too. Wilkes-Barre has a "big town" feel to it probably because of the buildings it has that kind of resemble Philadelphia before the first tall sky scapers were built in the 80s.

    I've stayed in state college a couple of times right on the campus and I like its small town feel there.

    I think many city dwellers, especially the so called "educated" and "cultured" ones would consider these areas more "hick" and not their style.


    Quote Originally Posted by RittenhouseGirl View Post
    Many Philadelphians don't think about PA beyond the borders of Philly and the burbs, including me. City-dwellers really live in an all-inclusive enclave where thinking outside the borders isn't deemed necessary.

    When I started traveling to see relatives in Ohio by car (a nine-hour ride), I realized that Philly is really just a tiny portion of PA. Western PA especially seems to be full of farmland, mountains, forest, and small towns. It kind of seems like the mid-west. As for my own excursions in PA, I was in Harrisburg once, and was amazed by the beauty of the capitol building, have gone to Lancaster, and Hershey.

    Does anyone have any experience with living or traveling in the state beyond the burbs and those above-mentioned areas?

    Just because a spot isn't touristy, doesn't mean it isn't worth the trip. I'd like to hear of your experiences.

  6. #6
    MarketStEl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldMama View Post
    I've driven across the country a couple times as far as Utah and those trips made me realize what a beautiful state Pennsylvania is. Our farms are particularly beautiful though much smaller in scale than the farms in the midwest. The whole area around Lancaster, towns like Lititz, Ephrata, Bird in Hand, are quite nice. I've been to Altoona to see the Horseshoe Curve (hub was a train nut) but there is not much else to see there. I did like Johnstown which has a funicular and nice old buildings in a river setting. Jim Thorpe is beautiful. The Delaware Water Gap is worth a summer trip. And Steamtown, a national historic site (trains again) in Scranton is fun.

    I went to Penn State before the trip to State College was all highway and we would pass through some cute little towns on old PA 322 like Juniata. I don't know how those places are even accessed anymore.
    The landscape along PA 283, which connects Harrisburg with Lancaster, reminds me an awful lot of northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri. Yes, even the low rolling hills; contrary to popular misunderstanding, neither my hometown nor the area around it is flat - that's Chicago. Flat begins again once west of Junction City, Kan.

    Seconded on the Delaware Water Gap too. Funny, seems we've been to a lot of the same places. But have you done the Strasburg Rail Road and the State Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania next door? (I was told that the folks in Altoona were steamed when they lost out to Strasburg as the site for the museum.)

    Edited to add: I've also been to Bushkill Falls. Lots of natural beauty wrapped in tourist-trap packaging. Wonder how this didn't become part of Pennsylvania's state park system?
    Last edited by MarketStEl; 12-30-2012 at 12:53 PM.
    Sandy Smith, Wanderer in Germantown, Philadelphia
    Editor-in-Chief, Philly Living Blog - but all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
    ""Jazz and blogging are both intimate, improvisational, and individual -- but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both." --Andrew Sullivan, "Why I Blog," The Atlantic, November 2008

  7. #7
    MarketStEl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FKD19124 View Post

    I think many city dwellers, especially the so called "educated" and "cultured" ones would consider these areas more "hick" and not their style.
    "Between Paoli and Squirrel Hill it's all Alabama minus black people." -James Carville, Cajun-born-and-bred

    Rural areas and urban ones ARE different, true. Each have their place, though.

    OTOH, for a big city, Philly is a very small town. I'm reminded of that anew every day.
    Sandy Smith, Wanderer in Germantown, Philadelphia
    Editor-in-Chief, Philly Living Blog - but all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
    ""Jazz and blogging are both intimate, improvisational, and individual -- but also inherently collective. And the audience talks over both." --Andrew Sullivan, "Why I Blog," The Atlantic, November 2008

  8. #8
    OldMama is offline Senior Member
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    Sandy, my hub was a train geek. I have the spiel on the Strasburg RR memorized. I could be a guide at the ChooChoo Barn and Toy Train Museum. Slept in at least 6 of the cabooses at the Red Caboose Motel.

    One beautiful fall day in 2006, during chemo and radiation but while he still had strength, hub and I and our daughter (then 9) made what turned out to be our last trip to Strasburg together. Did the train, the ChooChooBarn, ate on the train car at the Red Caboose Motel. Too tired to do the State Railroad Museum (again). A happy memory.

    Really that whole area is a great place for a little family vacation. My son loved Dutch Wonderland, now my daughter loves the outlets.

    Remember Zinn's Diner?

  9. #9
    OldMama is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
    "Between Paoli and Squirrel Hill it's all Alabama minus black people." -James Carville, Cajun-born-and-bred

    Rural areas and urban ones ARE different, true. Each have their place, though.

    OTOH, for a big city, Philly is a very small town. I'm reminded of that anew every day.

    OMG, I just love James Carville.

  10. #10
    RittenhouseGirl is offline Senior Member
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    It is so nice to read all of your experiences and know of all the things you've seen.

    The main difference I saw between Ohio and Western PA was that the latter is very hilly, mountainous, and Ohio doesn't seem to have any of that. Heck, you have to through three tunnels embedded within mountains just to get to W. VA.

    Western PA does make you feel like you are in another state for sure. As a matter of fact, the more I travel the more I realize that probably 70% of America is small towns, wide open areas, little single houses, farms, blue collar areas. It seems that the Northeast corridor area is a stark contrast to most of the rest of the country, in terms of wealth, population density, culture, and even architecture. Of course there is wealth in other states (esp. Texas, California, Arizona,).

    There is a place on a (I think) PA highway coming back from Ohio where you see a sign on the side of the road for a Biker's Bible Church. That was unexpected for sure.

    My husband's relatives live in a small town in Ohio. And it was a little culture shock for me to see a number of differences. Many people in Ohio have a southern accent. I was told it's because of its proximity to Kentucky.

    There is a high concentration of inter-racial couples. Much more than I've ever seen in the Northeast.

    I also never saw anyone with one of those Ford trucks wearing giant tractor wheels until I got to Ohio.

    But I love Columbus, Ohio, for sure. That is a nice city.

  11. #11
    RittenhouseGirl is offline Senior Member
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    Does anyone happen to know what the biggest industries are in PA outside of the Philly metro area?

    I don't know much on this topic. Is it coal and steel? And what do those farms produce?

    In Ohio, corn and soybeans are big business and you see silos everywhere for the corn.

  12. #12
    Moonraker is offline Rocket Scientist
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    Default Altoona, Harrisburg & Scranton

    Whether your are or are not a rail-fan, Altoona and Steamtown-Scranton have universal appeal; signage and display designed for all. Steamtown National Historic Site - Steamtown National Historic Site http://www.railroadcity.com/

    I see that Amtrak is hawking going to the Farm Show, via train in January. Like any State Fair, you will be entertained, educated and wanting to return. Pennsylvania Farm Show: Home

    Heck consider an overnight.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RittenhouseGirl View Post
    Does anyone happen to know what the biggest industries are in PA outside of the Philly metro area?

    I don't know much on this topic. Is it coal and steel? And what do those farms produce?.
    Agriculture

    Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production, but 1st in mushrooms, 2nd in apples, 3rd in Christmas trees and layer chickens, 4th in nursery and sod, milk, corn for silage, grapes grown (including juice grapes), and horses production. It also ranks 8th in the nation in Winemaking.

    Economy

    Bethlehem Steel's closed manufacturing facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This site later became a new multi-million dollar Sands Casino Resort in 2009 and became the site of the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks, Levitt Pavilion Steelstacks, and PBS 39 in 2011.

    Pennsylvania's 2010 total gross state product (GSP) of $570 billion ranks the state 6th in the nation. If Pennsylvania were an independent country, its economy would rank as the 18th largest in the world. On a per-capita basis, Pennsylvania's per-capita GSP of $39,830 ranks 29th among the 50 states.

    Philadelphia in the southeast corner, Pittsburgh in the southwest corner, Erie in the northwest corner, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the northeast corner, and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the east central region are urban manufacturing centers. Much of the Commonwealth is rural; this dichotomy affects state politics as well as the state economy.

    Philadelphia is home to six Fortune 500 companies, with more located in suburbs like King of Prussia; it's a leader in the financial and insurance industry.

    Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, including U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, and H.J. Heinz. In all, Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies. Erie is also home to GE Transportation Systems, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States.

    As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Wal-Mart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania.

    Wikipedia is the best...

    Pennsylvania - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  14. #14
    RittenhouseGirl is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixiboi View Post
    Agriculture

    Pennsylvania ranks 19th overall in agricultural production, but 1st in mushrooms, 2nd in apples, 3rd in Christmas trees and layer chickens, 4th in nursery and sod, milk, corn for silage, grapes grown (including juice grapes), and horses production. It also ranks 8th in the nation in Winemaking.

    Economy

    Erie is also home to GE Transportation Systems, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States.

    As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Wal-Mart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania.

    Wikipedia is the best...
    Thanks for importing that info for me. I am surprised by both the mushroom ag, and especially the grape ag.

    I always thought grapes were grown in hot climates, and especially California.

    Oh, the arms of GE. One of the most powerful, ingenious, and versatile companies out there.

    I will never understand how Penn could be such a big employer. I wouldn't understand how even Penn State would ever be, considering how large the student population is.

  15. #15
    mixiboi's Avatar
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    I'm surprised that we make Christmas trees...lol

    And UPenn is the entire University City....
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  16. #16
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    I've spent a lot of time in NEPA, central PA, N central PA, S central PA etc. I've seen just about every small mountain town there is (including Honesdale, lol). The contrast to Philly is pretty amazing.

    Everyone should visit Fallingwater at least once.
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  17. #17
    RittenhouseGirl is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixiboi View Post
    I'm surprised that we make Christmas trees...lol
    If I'm not mistaken, I think Indiana, PA is really big on XMas tree farming. But I am surprised on that fact too. They need to get Santa's house away from Alaska in that case.

  18. #18
    enyo is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malloy View Post
    I've spent a lot of time in NEPA, central PA, N central PA, S central PA etc. I've seen just about every small mountain town there is (including Honesdale, lol). The contrast to Philly is pretty amazing.

    Everyone should visit Fallingwater at least once.
    I second that. FLW did a second house not far from falling water that's also impressive, but much smaller (Kentuck Knob).

    I really liked the PA Grand Canyon area too. I've been out to the Kinzua bridge, which sadly has fallen down since. 2000 ft long and 300 ft high, plus you could walk across it with trains. There are some mountain look-outs scattered throughout the mountains that are fun to check out as well. Centralia is neat, but scary walking above a 60 year old mine fire still happening. The Johnstown Flood Museam is worth checking out.
    "Believing is seeing" - paraphrased from PH

  19. #19
    Moonraker is offline Rocket Scientist
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    Default More Pennsylvania trivia

    There is more to Penn State than their 3 levels of Ice Cream School, it has a major lab to help the mushroom farmers and other Ag products.

    The RR line out of Gettysburg serves 4 apple processing plants, including Red Cheek and Motts. When we noted the piles of apple pressing discarded into the nearby fields, along with the Yellow Jackets. A Dutch Farmer on the excursion train stated that the Germans would sell those to apple wineries.
    The Taylor family made NY wineries famous in Hammonsport NY, near Corning. My first PA winery experience was a boy was when my uncle moved to Kimberton, and took a job at Conestoga Vineyards, noting a competition with the Chadd's Ford winery, started by children of the NY Taylor family. Regarding the grape climate, even NJ has a decent wine industry as evident by the number of labels as a decent sized, non-PA wine store.

    Starting with Herrs, Snyders, and Charles Chips, I cannot tell you how many pretzel chip firms there are, many round Hanover PA, and that was a shoe center, which General Lee tried to capture. The PA Dutch farmers grow the potato unique to the chip industry.

    Take a look at the on-line city maps around 1895-1920 for the area around Spring Garden from Broad to the Schuylkill, and you will see how prevalent Baldwin and RR subcontractors were to the depressed RR line, extending from the Reading Terminal, through Noble Junction, past 2601 and onto today's Northeast RR Corridor. 2601 Pennsylvania Avenue was a roundhouse. Pennsylvania Avenue had RR tracks at grade. The Tunnel was dug in the 1895-1905 decade, and is documented in a photo book in the Map Section of the Logan Library.

    The Oliver Evans Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology meets at the Waterworks, on a random basis. The website Oliver Evans Chapter SIA URL is WorkshopOfTheWorld.com just to give you a hint of Philadelphia's Past.

    Also take a look at the books available at Arcadia Publishing - local history books sorting on Philadelphia. Many of those titles are at the Logan Library.

    Remember, the Centenial Exposition helped usher in the Industrial Age for the United States of America.

  20. #20
    NJbound is offline Guest
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    My career takes me all over the state and I have been in just about every town and area in the state. Leaving philly, you will see that the rest of the state is very different then the cities. In fact there are more people outside the cities then in the cities in Pa I believe..

 

 

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