On a pleasant Sunday afternoon I slipped off of Interstate 80 at exit 81 east of Brookville heading north on route 28 to Ridgway in Elk County (Established April 18, 1843). A sign outside of town as the road drops down the mountain on route 219 claims Ridgway is “The Lily-of-the-Valley”.
Back in the early 1800’s some guy named Jacob Ridgway (thus the name of the town) bought some 40,000 acres of land with a little spare change he had. This property is what we know today as Elk County (which is not named after Jacob). The forests of the county are home to a lot of Eastern Elk who outnumbered the humans when the vote was taken to name the county and they all voted in a block to name the place Elk County. There were even some claims by the humans that the local Elk imported some Westeren Elk to help stuff the ballot boxes. This claim was never proven. Ridgway had some great years, economically speaking, when Pennsylvania was being De-forested to harvest the lumber. The area did so well in lumber that Ridgway claimed to have the most millionaires per capita of any community in the United States at the turn of the 20th century.
If this Sunday is any indication Ridgway is now a quiet little town nestled in the mountains of western Pennsylvania inhabited by the descendants of those millionaires. My Jane was not with me on this trip because she had already shopped at one of Ridgway’s antique shops on a trip through town several years ago. Nah! You know that isn’t true. My Jane would be very happy to overlook the merchandise again in any antique place:-) My Jane was being the caregiver for her Mother who had been struck by a car while she was crossing the street.
Today I stopped at the courthouse and wandered down the street looking for a hot dog. About a block from the courthouse on the other side of the street was Jordan’s Bar and Grill. Stepping inside I found myself in a rustic pleasant eating and drinking establishment. Best of all, I met the very pleasant bartender, Paul. I asked him if he was also the bouncer! (I asked because he is a pretty good sized guy who I later learned played football at Slippery Rock University in Butler County) He chuckled and replied, “No. We don’t need a bouncer because we are all nice.” If Paul is representative of the folks in town he is absolutely correct.
I wimped out on the Half Pound Footlong Hot Dog choosing instead the Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Hot Dog and a side of Curley Fries. There was food all over me and you know what that means! Yes-er-ey, it was a fabulous eating experience.
On this day I didn’t go looking for Elk but I suspect I might be revisiting Elk County when we are in Cameron County. There is an “Elk Auto Tour” that is somewhere in or near both counties which I want to investigate when I am not in a time crunch.
See you next time.