Put a Little Gravel in Your Travel
We are so fortunate to have this unique piece of history since it is the longest remaining covered bridge in PA at 271’6” long. Its design is the unique double span Burr Truss, which makes for amazing interior shots. It was built in 1902 and is listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. The bridge is meticulously maintained by the Juniata County Historical Society and was lovingly restored in 2009 at a cost of $1.8 million. I have taken many out-of-town visitors there and they, invariably, marvel at its beauty as it so graciously spans the Tuscarora Creek. There are also other covered bridges in Juniata County to explore, some more challenging to find than others.
Just a short distance away is the Tuscarora Academy Museum. You will find it open for visitors between June and August on Sundays from 1:30-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, July 23rd, or Saturday, August 13th. The museum contains exhibits with items representing Juniata County’s past from businesses, industries, and everyday life. There are also two rooms depicting Academy boarding rooms. This too is owned and maintained by the Juniata County Historical Society. This building was constructed as a church, but later was expanded, then shared, by the Tuscarora Academy. The Academy gradually became one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the nation and continued educating students for 80 years.
One very famous student who attended there was Dr. Joseph Rothrock, the McVeytown resident who became known as the “Father of Forestry.” As a young man in the 1840s, he would walk to school by climbing up the mountains, and through the valleys between his home in McVeytown and the Academy (you want to talk about walking to school uphill both ways!)
While in the area, another important historic stop is the Book Indian Mound. There is a marker designating the spot where the mound once stood. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a very sacred site where burial remnants and relics have been uncovered by archaeologists, predating the arrival of Columbus (AD700-1300!) The individuals buried there were known as the Clemson Island culture. According to what I read on the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website; these types of burial mounds have been found in the Susquehanna Valley as well as here in the Juniata River Valley. Who knew?
If you are not into history, that is alright, how about shopping and food stops? There are farm stands, ice cream stands, greenhouses, secondhand stores, a winery, a distillery, multiple restaurants, various retail shops, and a café. If fishing, boating, and kayaking are more your thing, you are covered there too with numerous creeks and the Juniata River.
In addition, we haven’t discussed the most widely attended attraction in our ENTIRE Juniata River Valley, the Port Royal Speedway, which attracts visitors from across the United States as well as international race fans. That is a story for another day.
I hope this has been enough to whet your appetite for local travel. With gas prices soaring, why not think local for your next adventure. I think Charlotte Eriksson said it best, “There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.” So, take that back road and put a little gravel in your travel!
For more information on local things to see and do, visit jrvvisitors.com/things-to-do/ and juniatacountyhistoricalsociety.org/historic-site-preservation.
Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce