Wildwood Park, Harrisburg, PA (1.5 mile loop). The boardwalk is beautiful, full of flowers and lush greenery and the acres of Swamp Rose Mallow flow are spectacular. Near the visitor’s/nature center are some nature based sculptures. It’s sadly spoiled some by being sandwiched between the overwhelming loud Interstate 81, which runs along the length of the park, and another major and very loud road.
Eckley Miners’ Village, Weatherly, PA. Perched atop a mountain ridge at the center of the planet’s largest concentration of anthracite coal, Eckley Miners’ Village preserves the heritage of Pennsylvania’s anthracite Coal Region, a 484-square-mile tract of ridges and valleys that fueled America’s Industrial Revolution. Founded in 1854 and continuously occupied for more than 150 years, Eckley is North America’s most complete nineteenth-century company town and the only historical site and museum dedicated to the daily lives of immigrant miners, their families, and their descendants. Coal operations declined by the 1950s, but the site was restored for the 1970 film The Molly Maguires and then converted to a state historic site.
Eckley is one among hundreds of company-owned mining towns or “patch towns” that cropped up across Northeastern Pennsylvania’s coal fields throughout the nineteenth century. Built cheaply and designed to enforce strict industrial discipline, company towns like Eckley speak to the almost unchecked power of the coal companies. But they also reflect the ways that working families challenged company control and carved out small areas of independence and opportunity in an otherwise unrelenting environment.
Construction on laborers’ dwellings began in 1854. By 1860, the town included 130 houses. Families of common laborers lived in double homes and frequently took on boarders. Up to 30 people lived in each double home. Built on the cheap, the homes offered little more than shelter from the rain and lacked insulation, electricity, running water, and plumbing.
During the filming of The Molly Maguires, the social club served as the set for the Emerald House and can be seen in the movie’s bar scenes. The members-only club is still active today, and many residents (it seems that a few of the houses are still occupied) of Eckley and nearby communities still participate in its events.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Danbury, CT. for dinner. Chris grew up eating New Haven style coal fired pizza from Pepe’s, a family run Connecticut tradition since 1925. It’s one of our favorite styles of pizza. The Margherita was exactly what we needed after such a long drive.
Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop, Oxford, CT. This is another of our Connecticut family’s favorite spots, which is why we chose to meet up with them there. Even on Wednesday evening the lines were long. All of the ice cream is made daily on the dairy farm, slow churned in small batches.