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Lebanon County town celebrates its national treasure - abc27 WHTM

Lebanon County town celebrates its national treasure

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  • Historic Ferry Boat Operation Still Draws Riders

    Historic Ferry Boat Operation Still Draws Riders

    Historic Ferry Boat Operation Still Draws Riders

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:16 AM EDT2014-08-26 13:16:25 GMT
    It's only a one mile journey in distance, but it covers nearly two centuries in time."People come to enjoy the river," said Don Lebo, as he guided another load of vehicles onto the Roaring Bull V. "They come to enjoy the scenery and to enjoy the wildlife."Lebo should know. He's been at the helm of the Roaring Bull V and the Falcon III ferry boats for 25 years.The 20 minute trip across the Susquehanna River dates back to the early 1800's when the Millersburg Ferry system first became official....More >>
    It's only a one mile journey in distance, but it covers nearly two centuries in time."People come to enjoy the river," said Don Lebo, as he guided another load of vehicles onto the Roaring Bull V. "They come to enjoy the scenery and to enjoy the wildlife."Lebo should know. He's been at the helm of the Roaring Bull V and the Falcon III ferry boats for 25 years.The 20 minute trip across the Susquehanna River dates back to the early 1800's when the Millersburg Ferry system first became official....More >>
  • Book Trilogy Traces Elizabethville Woman's West Virginia Roots.

    Book Trilogy Traces Elizabethville Woman's West Virginia Roots.

    Book Trilogy Traces Elizabethville Woman's West Virginia Roots.

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:59 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:59:44 GMT
    For many of her 87 years, Anna Jean Bennett Ditty was told, "You ought to write a book!" So, ten years ago, she did. In fact, she needed three books to cover her life, starting with "The House on the Hill," about growing up with three siblings in a small West Virginia town during the depression, with a hard-working mom and an absentee father.Browsing through her first book, Ditty paused to point out a childhood picture of her baby brother Dickie."He's my baby brother," she said. "My momma alw...More >>
    For many of her 87 years, Anna Jean Bennett Ditty was told, "You ought to write a book!" So, ten years ago, she did. In fact, she needed three books to cover her life, starting with "The House on the Hill," about growing up with three siblings in a small West Virginia town during the depression, with a hard-working mom and an absentee father.Browsing through her first book, Ditty paused to point out a childhood picture of her baby brother Dickie."He's my baby brother," she said. "My momma alw...More >>
  • Perry County Church Given New Life

    Perry County Church Given New Life

    Perry County Church Given New Life

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:02 AM EDT2014-08-19 15:02:59 GMT
    A big reason why Darlene Barrick fought to save the Mahanoy Union Church from bulldozers lies in the small cemetery next to it."This is Ulysses Grant Baker. My grandfather Baker," said Barrick, pointing to one of several headstones in the church cemetery with direct family ties. "He helped build the church."At another stone she added, "This is my Uncle Albert who fought in World War One."Since closing in the early 1960's, the church suffered heavily from neglect and vandalism. But stepping in...More >>
    A big reason why Darlene Barrick fought to save the Mahanoy Union Church from bulldozers lies in the small cemetery next to it."This is Ulysses Grant Baker. My grandfather Baker," said Barrick, pointing to one of several headstones in the church cemetery with direct family ties. "He helped build the church."At another stone she added, "This is my Uncle Albert who fought in World War One."Since closing in the early 1960's, the church suffered heavily from neglect and vandalism. But stepping in...More >>

For the new hotel in the town he was developing, Alexander Schaffer needed fresh water for his guests and their horses. His solution? He built a water delivery system that still works the same way more than 250 years later.

From a spring-fed reservoir more than a quarter mile from his hotel, called the Franklin House today, Schaeffer had underground wooden pipes installed to supply two water troughs, located uphill on either side of the town square. The water, using gravity to move the water down hill from the reservoir and then water pressure to carry the water up the incline to the square area. It is a hydro-engineering system believed to be the oldest in the country.

The reviver and pipes are maintained by volunteers comprising the Schaefferstown Water Company. The company also is responsible for the 3 1/2 acres around the reservoir, used today as a community park. "The water itself, and the reservoir, and the flow of it going up hill, is still the same as it was centuries ago," explained primary caretaker, Cork Meyer. "It don't have no pumps. It just flows up there on its own, you know. The history is still there."

Schaeffer deeded the water delivery system and the reservoir acreage to a handful of residents of Market Street in 1763. They were to keep the system in working order. Today, a working replica of one of the original wooden water troughs is located in Fountain Park, with a stone water fountain half way up the Market Street incline and a stone Lion's Head fountain near the Franklin House still producing a steady flow of water. The original wooden pipes long ago gave way to steel. Then steel was replaced by PVC for most of the piping artery. But the basic principal behind the water delivery system remains intact. Meyer believes the town's founding father would feel right at home, if he were to see it today.

"It's still here, what he did," Meyer said. "He (Schaeffer) could come here today and say, 'Oh, man! That's how I remember it, you know."

Meyer enjoys his work as head caretaker of the park and water system, but says additional help would always be welcomed going forward.

"Somebody took care of it before us and somebody after me is going to take care of it as well," he said.

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