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Interesting Distractions

View from upstate NY roadside on Oct 17, 2009 

You have to get off the Interstates.   I made a few short detours on my way back from Syracuse.  I only wish the weather had been a bit better.   It is a lot more fun to drive if you can see better. You can see from the pictures when the weather was clearer that fall is coming to New York and Pennsylvania. Actually, it was more like winter in some places. I heard on the news that they got as much as six inches in some of the Pennsylvania hills.   Never before has snow come this early. It stopped traffic at one point, as you can see from my picture. Doesn't look like October, does it?

Snow on I-80 near Scanton PA on Oct 17, 2009 

In Scranton was the anthracite coal museum.   I didn’t have time to see the whole thing.  The have a whole mine tour with an outdoor museum including miners houses etc. It would be a day-long study. I went only to the indoor museum.  Anthracite is hard coal with few impurities, so it burns cleaner than other coals.  It used to be important for home heating, where cleaner burning was important, but it has since been supplanted by natural gas, which is cheaper, cleaner and more convenient. Anthracite is too expensive for extensive use in power plants.  Below is a small engine used in the mines. 

small engine used in mines 

Below is a typical miner bar.  It looks a lot like working bars everywhere.  Life sucked for the miners in the old days.  They were not well treated by the bosses and the work was inherently nasty and dangerous.  These guys were working class heroes and I can understand why they would want to hit the bars after a day in the mines.

coal miner bar replica 

About an hour down the road, I visited Pottsville and the Yuengling brewery.  They claim that it is the oldest continuously working brewery in the U.S.  It is still owned by the same family that founded in 1829.   The brewery building is below.

Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, PA  

I had my first bottle of Yuengling when I stopped Gettysburg back in 2004, on my way to pick up Mariza in VA to take her back to New Hampshire. At that time it was just a local brew, but now it is available in Northern Va.  I am glad that they seem to be prospering, but it is a danger to grow too big.   The firm that gets too big loses its personality and ultimately its independence.  I remember that happened with Point Brewery, Leinenkugel and with G Heileman, maker of Old Style and Special Export.  You can still buy those brands, but now they are just part of the bigger corporation.  I mourned their passing, although their beers are still about the same and Leinies has come out with a good wheat beer.   We can all get what we want in this era of mass customization, but I long for the authenticity of old brewers.  

Street scene in Pottsville PA 

Above and below are street scenes from Pottsville.  It is a cleans & cute town with lots of impressive old houses in a pretty natural setting.  The one below is the kind of house they could feature in a ghost movie, IMO. 

Old house in Pottsville PA 


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