Greenwood Furnace

My husband and I are playing a new game this summer. While we often swim a lot in summertime, this year we are trying to swim at as many different locations as possible. We've been keeping a list, and I told him there was at least one more I wanted to add before this summer's end: Greenwood Furnace, where we swam just once last summer and saw a cormorant.

We had a string of sunny, warm summer days in a row, and Friday was to be quite nice. So I did the impromptu "seize the day" vacation day thing, and we went to Greenwood Furnace, after a really lovely lunch at Couch's restaurant in McAlevy's Fort, about 10 minutes from the park. I had the hot roast beef sandwich (you can see a picture of just such a sandwich in the "extra photos" area of a prior blip), and it was just delightful. And there we bought a half-dozen ears of local sweet corn for a buck. Can't beat that!

The park was gearing up for a special heritage event over the weekend: "Old Home Days." And so things were buzzing, with park staff getting everything ready. We did not see a cormorant in the swimming area this time, though we did last year. But it was a very nice and refreshing swim, and not overly crowded. There is a concession stand for snacks that is open daily, and there are comfortable, bright, airy changing rooms and warm showers.

I myself rate swims on how cool the water was, as I love a good chilly swim. And the top three chilly swims of summer, starting with the coldest, have been R.B. Winter State Park, Greenwood Furnace, and Whipple Dam (with Whipple Dam possibly winning for the cleanest, softest water). There might be one place I know of where the water is colder than all these places, but technically, I didn't actually swim there; we just waded because the water was so high . . .

Before I left the park, I grabbed a little brochure about the park's history. The park's website provides a lot of the same information, some of which I'm placing here for convenience:

"Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Huntingdon County, historic Greenwood Furnace State Park offers a unique recreational experience. The park is on the western edge of an area of Central Pennsylvania known as the Seven Mountains. It is an area of rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, breathtaking vistas and peaceful solitude.

A walk through historic Greenwood Furnace evokes images of the community that flourished here from 1834 to 1904. Greenwood Furnace was a busy industrial complex, with all the noise and dirt of a 19th century ironmaking community. The village throbbed with life: the roaring of furnace stacks, the shouts of the workmen, the hissing of the steam engine, the creaking of wagons loaded with charcoal, and the cast house whistle signaling another pour of molten iron.

The furnaces were hot (3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and cast clouds of smoke and cinders into the air, which rained down on grass, people, livestock and buildings, rendering everything sooty and gray. At night, the fire’s red glow lit the sky, probably allowing residents to walk about without lanterns. Greenwood Furnace was a village built around an inferno.

The park covers 423 acres, including a six-acre lake, and is surrounded by an 80,000-acre block of Rothrock State Forest."

The image that stuck in my mind was the red fire at night. I'll bet that was really something to see, though I don't think I'd have enjoyed all of that soot and pollution and noise from the furnace. And so the song I picked is about the blast furnace and the fire in the night. It's a country tune this time; here's Alabama with (There's a) Fire in the Night. (You may recognize this song from the Roadhouse movie soundtrack.)

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