By Rick Hiduk
(As published in the March 7 edition of the Susquehanna County Independent)
Susquehanna County is undergoing a heritage renaissance, with a growing number of organizations and individuals bringing to fruition initiatives that have survived as mere dreams and wish-list items for years. The Endless Mountains Heritage Region will celebrate the installation this year of two new Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions interpret panels at Montrose and Susquehanna Depot. The map and sign is similar to one installed in 2016 in Forest City but now also includes the Dennis Farm, the interpretive plan for which EMHR helped to fund.
The six-foot high Susquehanna County Heritage Attractions interpretive panels were primarily funded by DCNR and the Susquehanna County Room Tax Fund administered by the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau. The second of three will be installed and unveiled in front of the newly-renovated Susquehanna County Historical Society on Monument Square in Montrose in May. The third has been delivered to Susquehanna, but the precise location of its installation and the date of its planned dedication has yet to be determined by borough officials.
EMHR executive director Annette Schultz has acknowledged the tangible increase in interest among Susquehanna County residents to preserve and further develop their heritage resources, including the new Reynolds Riverfront Park at Susquehanna.
“This is exactly the kind of big-picture thinking that supports the region’s heritage and natural assets to make Susquehanna County welcoming to visitors,” Schultz remarked. “There’s a lot of potential because of the nexus of regionally-based features there. They have a bundle of attractions and should be concentrating on that as some part of an economic development plan.”
EMHR represents and serves Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties and solicits applications annually for the distribution of funds made available by DCNR. In the coming year, EMHR will help provide funding for two projects in Clifford Township and one at Montrose Area High School. Those in Clifford Township will provide improvements to an existing trail and a popular educational venue for children. The latter will help the high school get a new historic preservation club off the ground.
Clifford Township has been the recipient of numerous EMHR-leveraged grants in recent years in large part to an impressive groundswell of community support for heritage based projects like the Clifford Township Museum, the restoration of the one-room school house and Yarns Cider Mill, construction and enhancements to the Clifford Children’s Garden and, most recently, the establishment of a walking path that covers much of the land acquired around the Clifford Township Building.
The Clifford Township Supervisors were awarded a $6,000 grant for the installation along the path of interpretive signs that highlight Clifford’s rich history of farming, logging and stone quarries. The Clifford Township Historical Society will receive $4,000 in new funding to add a paved 425-foot pathway that will meander through the garden. It will serve as a walkway and make the park ADA compliant.
Montrose High School social studies teacher Hillori Schenker successfully applied for $750 to start up the school’s Historic Preservation Club. A professionally qualified historian and historic preservationist will advise the club and teach the students the principles and best practices of historic preservation, cultural resource management and environmental management within the context of the Endless Mountains of Susquehanna County.
Additional funding announced as part of EMHR’s Round 23 Partnership Grants include, in Bradford County, a renovation and adaptive reuse plan of the former Wyalusing Lodge Hall for the Wyalusing Valley Museum, improvements to the 1896 Victorian Hotel in LeRoy to be used as a museum; in Sullivan County, interpret signage at Jamison City and Forksville, and expansion and improvements at the Endless Mountains War Museum at Sonestown; and, in Wyoming County, the design and application of a mural on the western exterior of the Wyoming County Cultural Center and Dietrich Theater depicting the varied history of Tunkhannock and the county. Work on all of the aforementioned projects will begin in 2018.