There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Black Moshannon

On our way home from our weekend backpacking trip, we made a brief stop at Black Moshannon. Sunday was sunny and warm out, in fact, at 60 degrees F (16 degrees C), quite a bit warmer than Saturday's high of 37 F (3 degrees C).

The place gets its name from the water. You can't tell in this picture, where the water is reflecting the blue of sky, but they call it "Black" because the water has a dark tint to it that is caused by tannins in the nearby bog area. (The bog area has a really lovely wooden walkway, and on a summer day is filled with dragonflies and all kinds of birds - I'll blip that part of the park another day.)

The "Moshannon" part of the name is a derivative of the Lenape (Delaware) Indian name for this place: "Moss-hanne," meaning "Moose Stream" or "Elk Stream."

Pennsylvania was originally a huge woods. Many of the trees were harvested when settlers arrived. In the mid-1800s, the area around Black Moshannon was lumbered; the Beaver Mill Lumber Company set up shop at various locations, including Antes, a town which existed near the spot where this picture was taken.

The land for the park was purchased by the Commonwealth, and in the 1930s, many of the rustic park structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC.

Those who are interested can read more about the history of the park in the Wikipedia entry or in the official State Park Web site.

I first visited Black Moshannon in a summer in the very early 1980s with my best friend from high school. She and her family had a camper, and planned to travel with extended family (my friend's sister and either one or two small children) to camp out for a week at various parks in central and northern Pennsylvania.

On that trip we visited Black Moshannon, Lyman Run, and then one of the pair of parks near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon - I am pretty sure it was Leonard Harrison because, young and full of excess energy, we hiked up and down the canyon several times via the Turkey Path Trail.

I had never camped out in a camper before, and it was quite an adventure. Both "roughing it" and "civilized" all at the same time. We took showers in the campground shower areas (I lost a favorite blue butterfly earring in the community bath house that is just out of sight to the right edge of this picture), drank hot mugs of Lipton "black rum" tea (a flavor that they do not make anymore, sadly), and sat and talked for hours and hours by the campfire.

We hiked, we went swimming (or sort-of swimming, as I was just learning to swim at that point), we shopped at odd markets in little towns, and I had the best and coldest can of Welch's grape soda of my life (with ice crystals in it! 30 years later, I still remember that soda fondly!) out of a vending machine in some little town in rural northern Pennsylvania whose name I can't remember.

During our trip, my friend's brother-in-law had a conference at the Nittany Lion Inn (State College and Penn State are about a half-hour by car from Black Moshannon) and we met him there at some point. I am not sure I knew yet that my destiny and Penn State would be entwined, but I remember thinking that it was a beautiful place and that I would like to come back someday. :-)

And so I have. Sometimes we are blessed enough that the enchanted places we visit when we are young become our haunts later in life; I have been so blessed.

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