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Welcome to Quintessential Pennsylvania!  This is a shared project between myself (Adam Prince) and Doug Kerr.  After the decision to let Gribblenation go dark, Doug and I both decided to continue features that we had on the old site and new ones as well.  Quintessential Pennsylvania keeps Doug's old Pennsylvania site name but now under a blog format.

Here we will feature - road items such as covered bridges, keystone town markers, and historical bridges - but also expand into downtown walkabouts, state parks, mail pouch tobacco barns, and more!  One of my biggest influences in photography and writing was the work of the late Fred Yenerall.  His photos showcasing the quiet simplicity of Pennsylvania showed that you never know what you may just find down a back road.

We hope you enjoy Quintessential Pennsylvania.  There's still a lot of kinks to work out like design, layout, and other items.  If our past experience with Gribblenation taught us, you never know what ideas and oppo…

Archer No. 1 One Room Schoolhouse

The one room schoolhouse was a key part of rural life for much of Pennsylvania and America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Their are many in various shapes of repair throughout rural Pennsylvania.  One is the Archer No. 1 school house in Morris Township in Washington County.

The school house appears to have been built around 1900.  It currently sits within Morris Township Community Park in Prosperity. 

When I took these photos in July 2009, the building needed a little TLC.  Some more recent photos I have found online show that the schoolhouse has received a fresh coat of paint and additional upkeep.

A nice feature of the Archer schoolhouse is that the original bell and bell tower remain.  You can understand why it may be easy to confuse these with small rural churches from the same era.

Cox Farm (or Lippincott) Covered Bridge

Located just off of PA 221 in Greene County, the Cox Farm (or Lippincott) Covered Bridge is unique in two ways.  First, by covered bridge standards, it is a rather young bridge - as it was erected in 1940.  Second, it's very short - around 32 feet in length.  This bridge over Ruff Creek was built as a wooden covered bridge because of the shortage of steel in the years leading up to the Second World War.  After receiving a $650,000 federal grant in 2012, the bridge was rehabilitated the following year. (1) The rehabilitation replaced the deteriorating parts of the bridge including replacing the wooden stringers with steel I-beams.  The bridge has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

Bridge Specs:
Number: 38-30-25Built: 1940Design: Kingpost Through TrussLength: 32 feet Crosses: Ruff Creek All photos taken by post author - July 5, 2009.

Sources & Links:
(1) "Cox Covered Bridge receive $650k rehabilitation grant." Greene County Messenger. August 10, 2…

Searights Toll House

As you head west on US 40 from Uniontown, there is a second historical toll house that remains standing.  The Searights Tollhouse was one of six toll houses that once stood along the historic route.  Similar to the Petersburg Toll House in Addison, Searights was built in 1835 after the federal government transferred the maintenance of the National Road to the states.

Searights Toll House is named after the nearby village of Searights.  The village is named after William Searights who lived nearby.  In later years, a coal company town would be built just to the south of the toll house.  The toll house is a two story facility and is open for tours.  The toll house is currently owned by the Fayette County Historical Society.

After collection of tolls ceased in 1905, the toll house went into disrepair.  Today, it has been fully restored and has many artifacts that give a glimpse of life as a toll keeper during the 19th century.  The toll house was added to the National Registe…

Somerfield and the Great Crossings Bridge

West of Addison, US 40 crosses the Youghiogheny River at what once was the town of Somerfield.  When crossing the current modern two lane bridge, you many not realize that it is actually the third to cross the Yough at this site.  The first - a stone arch bridge - was known as the Great Crossings Bridge.  Built in 1818, this three arch bridge was part of the original National Road.  The name Great Crossings comes from the men who forded the Youghiogheny here - George Washington and George Braddock. (1)  If you cross the bridge at the right time, this historic bridge and what was once the town of Somerfield will appear out from underneath this massive man-made lake.

The Great Crossings Bridge was located in the town of Somerfield.  Somerfield, originally named Smythfield until 1827, would develop as a result of the National Road. (1)  Somerfield would go through various stages of growth and decline throughout the 19th century.  In the early 20th century, Somerfield would d…

Petersburg Toll House

The town of Addison is located along US 40 in Somerset County.  Most of the town sits along an old stretch of US 40/National Road that runs south of the current Route 40.  Within Addison sits the Petersburg Toll House, an original toll house built in the 1830s for toll collection along the National Road.

Built in 1835, the Petersburg Toll House was used to collect tolls from all travelers and their load along this historic highway.  That year the United State Congress transferred the maintenance of the National Road, whose original route was completed in 1818, from the federal government to the states.  The states in order to raise funds for the repair and upkeep of the road instituted tolls.  In Pennsylvania, six toll houses were built.  Of the six, Petersburg and the Searights Toll House (to the west of Uniontown) are the only two toll houses still standing.  A third, the LaValle Toll House, is located in Maryland. The toll keeper lived at the toll house rent free and was paid a…

Barronvale Covered Bridge

Sometimes you do in fact get lucky.  A recent 6 or 8" blanket of snow, a rare clear winter day with the temperature just around or below freezing, throw in a covered bridge and you have a nearly perfect winter scene.  Such was the case when I came across the Barronvale Covered Bridge on Christmas Eve in 2009.  The Barronvale Covered Bridge or Barron's Mill Bridge crosses Laurel Hill Creek in Western Somerset County.

The bridge's origin seems to be somewhat unknown as various sources report 1830, 1846 and 1902 as the bridge's construction date.   At 162 feet, the double span burr arch truss bridge is the longest of the ten remaining covered bridges in Somerset County. The bridge is only open to pedestrians and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

Bridge Specs:
Number: 38-56-03Built: 1902Design: Burr Arch TrussLength: 162 feetCrosses: Laurel Hill Creek

All photos taken by post author December 24, 2009.

Sonestown or Davidson Covered Bridge

The Sonestown or Davidson Bridge is one of three Burr Truss bridges within Sullivan County.  It is located just off of US 220 south of the village of Sonestown.  The bridge, which was built in 1850, has recently undergone some rehabilitation.  In the summer of 2005, the bridge's stone abutments were reinforced as they were threatened from erosion by the changing banks of Muncy Creek. (1)  Since then, damage from flooding in 2011 closed the bridge for major repairs, and it reopened to traffic in 2013. (2)  The bridge has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

All photos taken by post author - May 1, 2005

Bridge Specs:

Number: 38-57-03Built: 1850Design: Burr TrussLength: 110 FeetCrosses: Muncy Creek
Sources & Links:

(1) Loewenstein, James. "Sonestown Covered Bridge threatened by erosion." The Daily and Sunday Review.  July 5, 2005. (2) Pennsylvania Covered Bridges - Sullivan County