The Susquehanna County Historical Society Museum in Montrose (top) is just one of more than two-dozen heritage destinations in Susquehanna County featured on a new map and sign (above) to be erected in Forest City later this month.
The public is invited to the unveiling of two new signs in downtown Forest City on Tuesday, Nov. 1. One depicts a map and directory to businesses in the borough, and the other highlights historic and recreational destinations throughout Susquehanna County. The project is the result of months of planning by several entities with related missions.
“These signs put Forest City and Susquehanna County’s heritage and outdoor recreation attractions ‘on the map’ for both residents and visitors,” said Annette Schultz, executive director of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR).
The Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign is the third of its kind produced by the EMHR, with plans to expand the effort into other Heritage Region historic downtowns. It features a map and legend with details about more than two dozen museums, parks, scenic byways and trails, and parks spread across 832 square miles.
“The signs directly convey the Heritage Region’s mission to protect, improve and promote the unique heritage of the Endless Mountains, our cultural landscape of agriculture, historic towns, natural landscapes, and the stories of the people who have lived here for generations,” Schultz remarked. “The quality and character of our communities is important to attract business and industry to our area.”
EMHR often works in partnership with local and regional organizations to develop projects that strengthen communities, Schultz noted, and the project in Forest City evolved into a solid collaboration between more parties than usual that exceeded initial expectations.
EMHR has placed similar signs in Bradford and Wyoming counties in Towanda and Tunkhannock, respectively. In each case, there was already a sign and map in place highlighting the borough’s history and resources.
Forest City serves as a gateway to Susquehanna County from Lackawanna and Wayne counties and is also a major trail head for the D&H Rail Trail, a 38-mile hiking and biking trail that stretches from Simpson in Lackawanna County to the New York border above Lanesboro in Susquehanna County.
The Greater Forest City Business Alliance (GFCBA) previously had a map of the business district installed in a kiosk at the D&H Trail Head parking lot on Commerce Drive, via a Room Tax Grant acquired by the Rail-Trail Council of NEPA.
“The Rail-Trail Council is working with Forest City Borough and the GFCBA to explore the opportunity for Forest City to become the first ‘Trail Town’ on the D&H Rail Trail, an economic development initiative used on other long-distance trail systems,” Rail-Trail Council executive director Lynn Conrad explained.
When EMHR proposed erecting a Susquehanna County sign in Forest City, GFCBA board members saw an opportunity to update their sign and have it paired with the EMHR sign. In the meantime, Rail Trail staff members were working with EMHR on the development of the map and content. Forest City officials hosted a meeting of the project partners on July 21 and proposed two potential sites for the sign.
It was decided that the signs would be erected back-to-back in a quaint corner park at the intersection of Main and Center streets, just across Center Street from the Forest City Borough Building and across Main Street from Zazzerra’s Supermarket. The GFCBA map and sign faces the parking lot, and the Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign faces Main Street. The unveiling event will begin at 11 am.
“Business Alliance members are thrilled to have this new signage within our Main Street business district,” said Joy Zazzerra, GFCBA board member. “It will be a great benefit towards increased foot traffic into our member businesses both along Main Street and throughout the greater Forest City area.”
“The new Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign will be a wonderful addition to our new Main Street Streetscape project,” Forest City Borough Council President William Orison remarked, referencing months of infrastructure projects, including new sidewalks and paving. “The sign will allow visitors to our downtown and locals alike to explore the rest of the county, visiting sites they may not have known about otherwise.”
Additional support for the Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign came from the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Susquehanna County Room Tax Fund and PA DCNR. It is hoped that replicas of the Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions sign will be erected in additional sites. EMHR also has smaller vinyl versions of the sign that can be used as backdrops at special events.