Category Archives: Around The Hill

South Knob Hallstead Hill


The road leading out of Elkdale follows the Tunkhannock creek along the valley floor before beginning its climb on Lyon Street toward Elk Mountain.

As it is not part of any convenient route from from the outside world to The Hill, this side of the neighborhood, one of the most picturesque, is often unseen by visitors to the area. 

Growing up near Clifford, this was the path brother and his friends drove to go skiing. Most times, even if reluctantly, I’d be allowed to go up on the mountain with the ‘big kids’.

At that time, countless blissful days were spent skiing in blue jeans that, if new enough, would scuff out a patch of blue dye on the snow when gravity got the best of you.

Even though young, our legs would ache after a full day of adventure and exploration skiing with friends on the mountain’s cold, snowy slopes.

Near dark, we’d careen home along this ‘back way’ to the mountain. With “Mountain” rock and roll blaring too loud, from the back seat I’d watch through tired eyes as brother’s little convertible nearly skimmed off the deep walls of snow cut by the snowplow through impossibly deep snowpacks.

To home, home at last.

We’d peel off our soggy blue jeans, and be allowed to wear our long johns to the dinner table.  

The warmth and comfort of a big steaming bowl of pasta served up by Mother would conspire with the fatigue of our growing bodies, causing our eyelids to droop as we barely made it from the table to under the covers, tired, joyful, contented.



Snow Making

Elk Mountain Ski Resort Web Cam Image
Elk Mountain Ski Resort Web Cam Image

A strong wind recently changed the weather for the better. Arctic cold is now creeping into the neighborhood. Lake effect squalls have dusted the neighborhood with a festive coating of snow.

Temperatures might get above freezing on Monday. Otherwise, 20’s and teens will rule for the next few days.

The distant roar of the snow guns have kept us company day and night for the past days. Long johns, new gloves and goggles have been waiting in the ski bag since last Spring.

There are murmerings in the neighborhood, echoing the hope, and the likelihood, that we’ll be downhill skiing sometime this week…

Check for details.




Soon after dawn, these girls, along with about a half dozen of their friends sidled along the far side of the stone fence.

At first, it was uncertain if they meant to bed down along the wall hoping to somehow pass the day safe and unnoticed, or were making themselves inconspicuous on their way to someplace else.

Several minutes, and several doe passed, turned, and  branching off of the cross-country ski trail, headed into thicker cover.

Before the last one disappeared, their young buck, seeing all was safe, emerged from the mist at the edge of the clearing.

His spikes at first, shown white and raw only recently having had the velvet scraped off, then faded, almost ghostly, as he disappeared back into the grey of morning.

Dog Snow


Last week’s weather left several inches of snow in the neighborhood. For the first time since the winter before last, finally, Dog Snow.

Dog Snow is characterized by being plenty enough so cross-country skis don’t scrape rocks on the trails, yet not deep enough to hinder raucous joy of four legged companions along for a ski.

Just around belly height of a Labrador retriever seems to be just about right. 

Forest City Installs New Heritage Attraction Sign

Tourist and visitors to Forest City now have a map to encourage them to shop local and guide them to attractions in the greater Forest City area and Susquehanna County.

The unveiling took place in a ceremony at 11 AM on Tuesday, Nov. 1st, which was preceded by a reception in the Forest City Borough Council chambers.

The Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign is a double-sided structure, with a map of Forest City on one side and Susquehanna County attractions on the other side. The Endless Mountains Heritage Region received a $3,000 Susquehanna County Room Tax Grant to erect the County Attractions Sign. Because costs for research, coordination, design and installation of a high quality structure, exceed the $3,000 Room Tax grant, EMHR supplemented the Room Tax grant with an estimated $1,000 Heritage Region grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Greater Forest City Business Alliance was brought on board to fill the back side of the structure and paid an estimated $445 to Panier Graphics, Gibsonia, PA, to produce the enlarged Forest City map and GFCBA member business directory. The panel is a reproduction of the organizations Visitors Brochure, made possible by the Susquehanna County Room Tax grant.

It was installed in the parking lot of Zazzera’s Market on Main Street by Brian Zembryzcki Excavating with the assistance of the Forest City street department.


The sign facing Main Street highlights historic and recreational destinations throughout Susquehanna County. The sign facing the parking lot uses the map and directory which was developed by GFCBA in its recent Visitor’s Brochure to show the locations of its 93 member businesses within the greater Forest City area. In the past year, the GFCBA and the Rail-Trail Council of NEPA collaborated to install a similar directory at the Forest City trail-head to entice its trail-users to shop and eat locally.
Forest City serves as a gateway to Susquehanna County from Lackawanna and Wayne Counties and is also a major trail head for the D & H Rail Trail. The 38-mile hiking and bike trail stretches from Simpson to the New York border, above Lanesboro in Susquehanna County.

Forest City is also in the process of trying to become the first “Trail Town” along the D & H Rail Trail. If successful, trail users will be encouraged to access Forest City’s downtown and retail businesses and produce what is termed “asset based economic development.”

The sign will also provide trail users, as well as local visitors and tourist, with a listing and map of the Susquehanna County’s many heritage and outdoor recreation venues.

At the unveiling, EHMR Director Annette Schultz served as master of ceremonies. “We approached Forest City Borough because of its great potential as a “Trails Town”, where D & H trail users visiting downtown Forest City on foot could find out about other heritage and recreational attractions throughout the county. The location and content of the County Attractions Sign was vetted by many, from the County Commissioners and Forest City representatives to the non-profit managers of the County Attractions listed on the sign.”

EMHR Pres. Ed Zygmunt also expressed his satisfaction for the great cooperation by Susquehanna County, Forest City Borough Council, Rail-Trail Council of NEPA and the GFCBA.

Joy Zazzera, secretary of the GFCBA, added her thanks to all the parties who contributed to the success of the sign project. “The collaborative project required a quick turn-around time between design, production, shipping and site determination and installation. Being asked to share our map for this new attractions sign was an unexpected opportunity but by already having the digital files from our Visitors Brochure, we were able to meet production deadlines. We recognize conditions change over time. Our digital files and the relationship we have established with our designer Deborah Bailey of Bailey Graphics & Design in Honesdale, will allow the GFCBA to reproduce both the brochure and sign panel in the future with appropriate changes.”

Senator Lisa Baker also thanked EMHR and the local entities which joined together in their efforts to make Forest City and Susquehanna County more welcoming to new arrivals and to improve the tourist economy.

Soon-to-be State Representative Jonathan Fritz called Forest City a “Norman Rockwell small-town” and noted our area is sometimes paralyzed by the status quo but that beautiful things can happen with the work of partnerships.

Susquehanna County Commissioner Chairman Betsy Arnold cited the unity and harmony which is exhibited by the local project. She thanked the local groups for their passion and commitment in trying to better the town and the County.

Forest City Mayor Pauline Wilcox called the sign a beautiful addition to our town and that the new sign and the Main Street improvements now underway, are part of the local effort to be welcoming to visitors.
Rail-Trail Executive Director Lynn Conrad noted the project was accomplished in record time as it evolved from a Room Tax Grant approved July 20 of this year. She also affirmed that this fits well into the “Trail Town” initiative now underway and that another sign is located at the Forest City trail-head also listing Forest City’s assets.

Jean Ruhf, Director of the Endless Mountains Visitor’s Bureau, reminded the crowd that it is important that organizations like EMVB and EMHR help promote the heritage of this area by looking to the past for the strength of the future.
Director Shultz ended by thanking the PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources for its funding support. She noted that EMHR also has smaller vinyl versions of the sign that can be used as backdrops at special events.

For more information log onto and

Starrucca Viaduct Celebration



NEPA Rail-Trails is having a Starrucca Viaduct celebration & sign unveiling!

The Starrucca Viaduct is an awesome bridge of PA bluestone (not concrete). The Nicholson Bridge often gets all the attention.
It is on the national Registry of Historic Places and is one of 260 worldwide civil engineering landmarks.

“Recognized as one of the most daring feats of stone vault engineering ever attempted in this country”

The history is fascinating (and the sign covers much of its history). NEPA Rail-Trail trail goes underneath this ‘bridge of stone’ and to date there has only been a one-sentence historical sign.

We are also having a patio of bluestone installed (with donor pavers) working with Pa Bluestone Association.

Grifola frondosa

Grifola frondosa
Grifola frondosa

Recently a friend stopped by in my driveway and said “Hey, want a mushroom?”

“Sure!” I replied, knowing that in addition to being a renowned watercolorist and fisherman, he was an avid mushroom hunter.

He must have seen the look of uncertainty on my face when he revealed the hen-of-the-woods from the darkness of his auto trunk.

“Just rinse it as you would any other mushroom, and check the nooks and crannies for any critters that may have taken up residence. Slice, saute, and enjoy!”

The mushroom sat in the fridge for a day. I tried to think of neighbors knowledgeable of such things to whom I could pass on the mushroom. But realizing this as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone (I had never knowingly eaten a wild mushroom), I followed my friend’s instructions, and gently fried the mushrooms in olive oil, wine, and some lemon juice.

The result? Magnificent! The taste of the mushroom was somewhat like store-boughten mushroom, with a delightful hint of gaminess. The texture made one think they were eating meat – very satisfying.

I enjoyed some of the mushroom immediately after cooking it, added some to a fresh vegetable soup I was making, and put a bit in the freezer hoping that some early winter evening, I’ll bust out the rest of that mushroom from the freezer, and enjoy a taste of a sunny, early autumn day.

Excerpted From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as hen of the woods, hen-of-the-woods, ram’s head and sheep’s head. It is typically found in late summer to early autumn. In the United States’ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name maitake (舞茸, “dancing mushroom”). Throughout Italian American communities in the northeastern United States, it is commonly known as the signorina mushroom…

The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing, although the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.”