Scranton, Pennsylvania is the geographic and cultural center of the largest of the former anthracite coal mining communities in Pennsylvania. Scranton was incorporated on February 14, 1856, as a borough and as a city on April 23, 1866. The borough and city were named for the family of George Whitfield Scranton, born May 11, 1811, one of the leaders of coal mining in this area.
We visited the Anthracite Coal Museum, located over a coal mine in Scranton. What is the difference between anthracite coal and bituminous coal you ask? Anthracite is a harder coal and therefore burns hotter, longer, and cleaner. This fuel powered the railroad locomotives, steam engines and iron furnaces that started the America’s industrial revolution. 98% of anthracite coal found in the United States is located here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In the gift shop was a piece of coal, about the size of your fist, that was selling for $35.00. I think my father paid that amount for a ton of coal delivered to our house, which was heated by coal, in east Baltimore during the 50’s.
We are continuing our travels. I am glad so many of you were able to come visit with us and tour The Sphinx.
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I know I am confusing people with my day numbering at the beginning of each day’s blog. Day 1 was February 23, 2016, the first night we spent in The Sphinx on the road (although we began living in the Sphinx on January 21, 2016). Each day on the road thereafter is consecutive. When we return to our home in Maryland we do not count the days there, even though we still live in the Sphinx.
Therefore, Day 374 was when we left Virginia, today is 375, even though we spent 3 weeks in Maryland. Got it?
We do not intend to return to Maryland for 6 months, probably middle or end of December. Then, only as long as my wife forces me to (she is sentimental about family and the holiday. Me, that is why we have Skype, FaceTime, and Find a Friend).
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These are the State we have been during the previous 375 days:
Technical Stuff: Fallston, Maryland to Scranton, Pa: 204.2 miles
4 hours 30 minutes
Day 89 Mars, Pennsylvania, was established in 1873 when the martians came here to escape religious persecution. As we walked through town we felt as if we were being watched.
Harmony, Pennsylvania, was established in 1804 by a German weaver, turned Profit, who came here with a small following to set up a religious community. He established the Harmony Society in which his followers gave up their worldly possessions. In return, the Society provided the necessities of life as well as religious and educational instruction. His Utopia lasted about 10 years with a following of 1,000 members. At that time, the War of 1812 was in progress and Harmony became the center of troop movement going north and south, interfering with the Society’s desire to be separatists. They sold their land to the Mennonites and moved to Indiana.
The diesel dilemma:
Since this trip would be over 250 miles, we knew we would have to stop for fuel. About the half way mark we stopped at one of the rest areas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since truckers would stop there for fuel we figured the fuel islands would be big enough to get the truck and Sphinx in.
Sure enough, the island were plenty wide for our combination. I pulled up to a pump, but it had no place to insert my credit card or pay at the pump. Barbara pointed out that the pump said “bio-diesel”, which my truck is not equipped to take. We maneuvered to the next island, which did have pay at the pump, but it would not accept my credit card. Went inside and spoke with the fuel cashier who informed me only fleet credit cards are accepted at that pump, but she could take my card inside. Pre paid for fuel and went back to the island. The pump nozzle had a flange at the end, which is not the normal diesel nozzle. Barbara pointed to a sign over head that said “high speed diesel”. Never heard of high speed diesel. Back inside to talk to the cashier. High speed diesel is for tractor trailers only.
She directed me to the pumps were autos were fueling up. I could use my credit card at the pump. Fortunately, there was a diesel pump on the end island that I could maneuver my truck pulling the Sphinx to get my tank adjacent to the pump. Trouble was, after fueling, I was facing the wrong direction to the exit. However, there was enough room to make a “U” turn so I could exit back to the turnpike.
Gettysburg, Pa. to Harmony, Pa. 263.3 miles
5 hours 24 minutes
Diesel $2.70 gallon
Left Gettysburgs, after a chat with Abe.
Visited the farm of General Dwight David Eisenhower. He purchased this farm, located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, when he retired from the Army. He had trained at Gettysburg (before it was a National Historical site and was used as an Army Base) after he graduated from West Point.
It was a tranquil day.
We took the Way-Back-Machine to July 2, 1863 and witnessed the battle of Gettysburg. We sat in on a meeting of the Generals who discussed strategy for today’s battle.
We met with General Robert E. Lee for almost an hour. He told us the reason he made certain decisions, and why he did not take the advise of one of his Generals that might have changed the out come of the battle. He also told us about his family. He told us that his son, Robert E. Lee, Jr., joined an artillery unit as a private, without his knowledge. The General happen to visit that unit, where he saw his son and learned of his enlistment.
Our first stop was the “bivouac of the dead”. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. After the 3 day battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, there remain over 50,000 dead, wounded, and missing soldiers, plus hundreds of dead horses. Eventually the stench was overwhelming. Those that could afford to have their dead relative shipped back home, did so, mostly officers. The remaining dead were left on the battlefield, or put in shallow graves, which were washed open by the heavy rain on July 4, 1863.
The decision was made to bury the 3,000+ union soldiers in a cemetery to be created in Gettysburg. President Lincoln was invited at it’s dedication on November 19, 1863 to say a few words. (His Gettysburg address while there was 8 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, Pa.)
Two interesting facts: 1) no confederate soldiers were to be buried in the cemetery, and 2) the only civilian casualty of the battle was Jennie Wade who was a resident of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was killed instantly by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863 while tending wounded soldiers.
About 12 confederate soldiers did mistakenly get buried here.
Our one granddaughter graduated college, got a job and is moving into her own place. Our other granddaughter got a new job with better pay and has joined the fire department to be with her dad. I concluded my responsibilities with the fire department at the Ocean City, Maryland, Convention. Our work here is done.
We are now back on the road. I had hoped to spend some of the time between my granddaughter’s graduation and the fire convention by going to Western Maryland. However (don’t you hate that word, it always foretells gloom), while the Sphinx (our RV) was at the dealers for routine maintenance, one of their employees ran into it with a fork lift. While the damage was minor, we did have to take it to a repair facility, wait for parts, etc.
Now we are back in the Sphinx. We have packed it with supplies and clothes. The refrigerator and pantry are full. We are headed, at a very leisurely pace, in a westerly direction toward Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Our first stop, Gettysburg, Pa. As you might remember from High School, the battle was fought July 1–3, 1863. We thought it would be cool to be here for the anniversary. We plan on staying in Gettysburg for a week so as not drive during the holiday weekend.
Baldwin, Md. to Gettysburg Pa. 70.6 miles
2 hours 45 minutes