Category Archives: Local History and Lore

Wildflowers in Dundaff


Just south of Dundaff corners, this array of wildflowers brightens the right side of the road. The South Knob of Elk Mountain stands sentinel.

In “The History of Dundaff”, the author,  Margaret Strom notes: “Why, there was a Dundaff before there was a Carbondale or Scranton…. The first white man to make Dundaff his home… was Benjamin Bucklin. Another source indicates that one Melaina Mills, was the first white child born in Dundaff. She was born November 19, 1798. Bucklin began to clear land in 1799, but it was not until the summer of 1803 that he brought his family. He became the first permanent resident, and apparently build the first dwelling, a log house.”

A portion of an advertisement pamphlet included in “The History of Dundaff” lists Fern Hall as opening to the public on June 1, 1900, with the following description:

“FERN HALL is a new hotel of comparatively moderate size, capable of accomodating about 100 people, and no great number will be received at any time. It is situated in the Southeastern corner of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 2000 feet above the sea level, on a spur of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain, and is about 200 yards from the shore of Crystal Lake.”



Samuel L. “Roxy” Rothafel


The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, together with Forest City Borough, and the Forest City Area Historical Society invite you to attend the dedication of an official State Marker commemorating the accomplishments of Samuel L. “Roxy” Rothafel on Thursday, July 30th at 6 PM.

The marker will be unveiled at 600 Main Street, Forest City, the location of the Family Theater, opened in 1908 by Roxy, who went on to open many Roxy Theaters, create the Rockettes, and open Radio City Music Hall in 1932.

The Honorary Exhibit, ‘From Forest City to Radio City, a Tribute to Roxy Rothafel’ will be on display all day Thursday and Friday at the Historical Society. There will be a showing of the 1987 Forest City ‘Follies’ and old time movies throughout the day.

A reception at the Historical Society will follow the dedication. For more information on the Old Home Dayz activities, visit our website: .


Honeysuckle reports:

Honeysuckle is a plant that is sometimes called “woodbine.” The flower, seed, and leaves are used for medicine. Be careful not to confuse honeysuckle with other plants that are also known as woodbine, such as American ivy, gelsemium, and Clematis virginiana.

Honeysuckle is used for digestive disorders including pain and swelling (inflammation) of the small intestine (enteritis) and dysentery; upper respiratory tract infections including colds, influenza, swine flu, and pneumonia; other viral andbacterial infections; swelling of the brain (encephalitis); fever; boils; and sores. Honeysuckle is also used for urinary disorders, headache, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Some people use it to promote sweating, as a laxative, to counteract poisoning, and for birth control.

Honeysuckle is sometimes applied to the skin for inflammation and itching, and to kill germs.

South Knob


Just ninety feet lower than the North Knob, the South Knob of Elk Mountain witnesses the change in seasons quietly. Entirely on private land, the folks who own the South Knob insist that it be left unvisited, remaining a refuge for game.

Logging is accomplished with proper management techniques. After only a couple of years, the forest near the South Knob summit is already renewing, yet still shows patches of snow where trees had been judiciously harvested.

In the days of horse and carriages, folks would trek nearly to the top of the South Knob to picnic at “The Ledges”. Many, many years ago when the forests on both the North and South Knobs were clear-cut to the summit, it is said that one could see the Delaware wind gap.

Now, obscured by trees, these views are no longer available even if one knew where to go. Erosion has obscured the rocks that make up the spot that was once visited by picnickers, lovers, and as local folklore has it Ulysses S. Grant.

Flashier, larger, and more urbane then the South Knob, the North Knob attracts skiers, hikers and nature lovers with wide trails and easy access to magnificent summit views.

The South Knob, the more demure sister, maintains her private life, keeps her secrets, offers an homage to times past.



This fellow picked his way through the mud of the driveway yesterday – who knows why. Doesn’t seem like there would be any worms poking up through the frosty ground quite yet. Geese have been flying low headed north for the past week, but today, with squalls, gusty winds and temps in the low 20’s it feels more like mid-winter than the cusp of spring.

Twenty years ago, it was a fairly dry, snowless winter until the 13-14 of March. A storm was forecast – “The storm of the century” they said. Having heard of similar predictions earlier in the winter that resulted in a mere coating of snow, we didn’t pay much heed.

The wind shifted and began raising it’s voice to a howl – snow began to fall with intent. Billy and I were skiing together as the storm gathered strength. By the time the storm really wound up, the drift at the top of the Tunkhannock trail would deepen by half a foot each time we rode the lift to the top – visibility was down to a few feet.

Elk finally closed mid-afternoon, but the roads didn’t really look that bad – at least from the Wintergarden bar. We had a beer, and even though conditions did not seem foreboding, figured it was time to head home and hunker down.

I drove through more than half a foot of snow, and beached my little VW Fox as far up the driveway as I could. Billy and Ben pulled their vehicles close in behind. We would see the snow hood deep before all was said and done.

Before leaving the mountain, we took radios so we could keep in touch. A few of us stayed here at Hill View, a few at Endless Mountain Resort condos, more folks in the Village of the Four Seasons, some stranded right at Elk.

We could walk between Hill View and the condos at Endless Mountain Resort – the snow was consistently waist deep; drifts came past our chests. We took food to the condos, and shared with friends and strangers alike. Calls to Pendot were met with the message that it would be three to four days before the roads would be passable.

After the second day, the voices crackling through the radios faded; some due to diminished battery power, some due to increased alcohol consumption. Our cupboards held enough for two people for a few days. We were, however, sharing the cache among several people – lack of food would become an issue soon.

It was agreed that two of us would set out on cross-country skis toward the Village, and the lodge at Elk if necessary, to supplement our dwindling food supplies. Though a pleasant jaunt in agreeable conditions, with snow so deep, it was uncertain which route to take: along the roads buried in two to three feet of snow, or the shorter, steeper course down to the old Stone Bridge, where the snow may be bottomless, and up past Vauter’s farm.

Knowing that the trip would be strenuous either way, we decided to leave just before noon. We’d have the most heat from the sun, but plenty of daylight as the trip back with the weight of the food would certainly be longer.

And then, over the sound of the diminishing wind, we heard the unmistakable voice of a big diesel approaching. A huge yellow front-loader/grader was making it’s way down Lyon street. We made our way out to the road, and waved to the driver. He motioned to us and our vehicles, now buried nearly up to their windshields, then nodded. He backed up a few feet, and with two or three passes with his machine, unburied our vehicles saving us several hours of hand shoveling.

We were freed from the grips of the blizzard – we could drive out for more food!

Throughout the storm, we never lost power, or cable TV for that matter. The cupboards, however, did get pretty bare. We joked that as long as we had beer and vodka, we would be OK, even though we all knew that one of us was a diabetic who was down to their last day of medicine by the time the diesel machine freed us – days before Pendot said we would be able to get out.

Bonds were formed amongst those of us who weathered the storm together here on The Hill – certainly there were hundreds of similar stories.

Statistics say that over 300 people along the East Coast lost their lives in the “Blizzard of ’93”.

Usually well insulated from such extraordinary forces of nature, our daily lives obscure the fact that our comfort and safety are the result of selfless behaviour of others: those among us willing to face the uncertainty of a perilous trek for the well being of the group, folks who grow, harvest and process the food we eat, equipment operators who keep our roads maintained and passable, physicians whose practice and care maintain our health and well being.

Even when the weather is calm and agreeable, it’s good to keep in mind how much we rely on each other every day of our lives.


photo by Russ Klapatch
photo by Russ Klapatch

Before there were roads, towns or villages, this part of the county was originally settled by Yankees. Folks would walk here from Massachusetts and other parts of New England each Spring, clear land, make shelter, then walk back in the Autumn. They would do this for years, until they established enough infrastructure here to finally winter over in these hills.

Today, it’s remarkable how many of us who are generally considered locals here on The Hill, spent a considerable amount of their lives in New England. Some of us in the hills of Vermont, a port in New Hampshire, along the technology corridor around Boston and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, or along the rocky coast of Maine.

Come to Fern Hall Inn now until January 6th, and view this enchanting mix of New England and Mid-Atlantic as Russ Klapatch sees it. Through his black and white photography, Mr. Klapatch has succeeded in capturing the characteristic textures and interplay of light and dark of images from here on The Hill, as well as coastal Maine, and beyond.

At December First Friday Scranton, see more art from the neighborhood at The Northern Light Expresso bar. South Gibsonites Judy and Eli Marsh’s photographs and assemblages are delightfully unigue. Guaranteed, you’ll not see anything like this work – it’s wonderful!

Consider Russ’s, Judy and Eli’s work with an eye for a unique one of a kind gift for friends and loved ones!

View more of Mr. Klapatch’s work at Print orders: 570.448.7877 – e-mail – PO Box 105, Union Dale, PA 18470-0105