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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Pike marks its first 200 years

  • Two centuries is a lot of time to recount, to reflect upon its significance. Yet Pike County, Pennsylvania, at 200, has opportunity to do just that and consider how its roots has brought this place to 2014 and where this heritage will take us in years ahead. Such was the attempt, condensed in one dinner program Wednesday nigh...
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  •  Two centuries is a lot of time to recount, to reflect upon its significance. Yet Pike County, Pennsylvania, at 200, has opportunity to do just that and consider how its roots has brought this place to 2014 and where this heritage will take us in years ahead. Such was the attempt, condensed in one dinner program Wednesday night at Woodloch Pines Resort.
       Two hundred and one people attended the bicentennial dinner, held March 26. This is the actual date in 1814 when the State Legislature authorized creation of Pike County from the much larger expanse of Wayne County.
       Cold winds blew outside as Spring struggled to take hold this week. George Roberts, senior news anchorman for Blue Ridge Cable TV13, who served as emcee, remarked that likely it was no less cold 200 years ago. As various speakers conveyed that evening, Pike started as a wilderness with few people, but a people of determination, courage and vision. From its humble start, Pike has made itself a name not to be forgotten, a part of the map to be noticed. Those cold winds would soon be warm with excitement.
         County Commissioner Matthew Osterberg read a letter of congratulations was read from Governor Tom Corbett.
        Rep. Mike Peifer and Rep. Rosemary Brown read a joint proclamation honoring Pike County's 200th year. Senator Lisa Baker was scheduled to speak at the conclusion, but time did not permit her to offer her planned remarks. These will be presented in The News Eagle in the April 2nd edition.
       Peifer extended appreciation to Lori Strelecki, Executive Director of the Pike County Historical Society and the Society's Board of Directors, for coordinating the celebration dinner. He also took note of the efforts to preserve history by local historical groups and individuals across the county.
       Terri Dixin offered song, accompanied by Sandy Bookey on drums and Jane Manigini on keyboard. During one interlude, Dixin sand "Honor to Thy Troops," a patriotic number that was to be sung for President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, April 14, 1865.
        The song would have been sung by actress Jeanne Gourlay. Instead, Lincoln was shot; an American flag was used to cushion his head; Gourlay's father kept the flag and gave to Jeanne. She would later retire to Milford with the flag stained with Lincoln's blood. In 1954, her son would donate the flag to the Pike County Historical Society.
          James Levell spoke with his signature humor about the legacy of Dan Beard, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, and his role in Pike County history. Very close by the banquet facility at Woodloch stood Dan Beard's Outdoor Camp for Boys, founded in 1916. Boy Scouts of America in recent years disassembled Beard's cabin and plan to erect it at the Scouts' Goose Pond Reservation in nearby Wayne County, as funds allow.
    Page 2 of 2 -     Sandy Long offered a presentation on the natural beauty in Pike County, an integral part of its legacy.
        The keynote speaker was George J. Fluhr of Shohola, Pike County Historian, who has authored several books of Pike's history.
       Fluhr discussed some of the dramatic changes in 200 years, and some of the significant ways Pike County has contributed to national history.
        In 1814, Pike County had less than 2,500 people. In 1970 the population was still less than 7,000. Now Pike County has over 50,000. In 50 years, Pike County gained around 40,000 people. If you count the number of visitors and part-time residents, Fluhr noted, "we gained millions."
       In 1814, children walked to what few schools existed; in 1892 there were 67 schools and they still walked to class. In 1814, the Battle of Minisink, a battle of the Revolutionary War, was only 35 years distant, and the bones of the fallen soldiers still laid on the ground. Pike's citizens of 1814 still recalled the conflict between colonial Connecticut and Pennsylvania's claims on the land, as well as the New Jersey War.
        There was no electricity, no Internet. Cooking was done by fire. "There were no decent roads in 1814 - I'm not going to go there," Fluhr added with a pause, sparking a round of laughter.
        A tablet in front of the courthouse placed in 1981 for Pennsylvania's 300th anniversary, explains Pike's vital contribution to America, Fluhr noted. This included lumbering and blue stone quarrying.
       Pike's virgin forest contained trees four feet wide and 100 feet tall. Lumbermen were attracted here, who sent loose logs and then log rafts down the Delaware to market. The land was stripped of its forests, but they have rebounded. Today, a third of Pike is state or federal forest land.
       Blue stone cut from Pike County's hills went into sidewalks, buildings and monuments throughout eastern United States.
        Pike County also grew thanks to its transportation, from the rivers to the canal shipping coal and other cargo, to the railroad. Interstate 84, laid out in the late 1960's, brought tremendous growth to Pike County.
       Through each of this nation's wars, Pike County has contributed its sons or daughters, and at many times endured their Supreme Sacrifice. Pike County, named for General Zebulon Pike who died in the War of 1812, also had sons in that conflict.
       Rep. Brown has also offered a similar sentiment of the comment by Fluhr, which follows.
       Fluhr asked the assembly of Pike citizens and friends, "Will what we do today be remembered and appreciated in 2214, in 200 years?"

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