Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Charcoal Hearths

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Yesterday I hiked on the Charcoal Hearth Trail at Caledonia State Park. Five of the old hearth sites are marked along the trail that goes around the hill.

The hearths were part of the charcoal production necessary for the iron industry in the 1800's. All that's left of the hearths now are the flattened areas, usually about twenty or so feet in diameter. There is also a network of trails that were necessary to haul out the finished charcoal.

Here is another one of the hearths:

This is a picture from Penn State Mont Alto showing a hearth. The caption says it was the last hearth in 1905. But this was at least fifteen years after the iron industry ended. Maybe it was a forestry student project?

The trail starts at the entrance to the park along Rte. 30 in Fayetteville, PA. It is also the site of the Caledonia Furnace that was owned by the abolitionist Senator, Thaddeus Stevens. The original was destroyed by the Confederate Army on the way to Gettysburg.

Follow this link to the rest of the pictures.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunset at the Park

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

We decided to take the dog for a last walk before evening and were rewarded by this fabulous sunset. The white line in the bottom photo is a backlit jet contrail.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Misty Morning

Even though it's winter and there is still ice in the stream, we have been having a bout of really warm weather.

Norlo Park in Guilford Township, PA
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Sunday, December 07, 2008


I heard a story on NPR today about the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice. It commemorates the story of Abraham who was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac to show his faith. At the last minute an angel appears to stop Abraham just as he is about to plunge the knife and commend him for his faith. Instead a ram appears.

In the NPR story the Kabul, Afghanistan bureau chief, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson,
was at the cattle market to buy a calf for her staff. She was discussing how the high price of cattle caused by the war and recent drought has reduced the number of buyers. Most of the cattle sellers will lose their investment on their animals imported from Pakistan.

In West Africa the festival is called Tabaski. It was always a big deal when we lived in Burkina Faso and Senegal. Even the Christians got involved, because in Africa one person's holiday is a good reason to celebrate. I especially remember how an entire family would get new clothes to go to prayers. In many families the mother would be several pagnes (1 meter of cloth) of the same material, so all the children would be dressed the same.

This picture comes from the livestock market in Thies, Senegal. Most of these animals were imported from Mali. Often they would cost as much as a month's salary! Many people joined savings clubs, a lot like the Christmas savings clubs that banks used to offer.

Tabaski is celebrated with the same festive spirit as Christmas. And mouton stuffed with couscous can't be beat.