Posts Tagged ‘Eagles Mere PA’

Eagles Mere, PA-A Place of Restoration and Renewal

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Our Day in Eagles Mere, PA – A Place Where Everything Old Is Refreshingly New Again

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photography by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2014
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy… C.S. Lewis

Climbing the Mountain

Eagles Mere is a beautiful little town. It sits majestically in the Allegheny Mountains. It was once a retreat for the wealthy. TodayeMsignIMG_2970 it gives respite to anyone looking for many of the values associated with America at its best: community, confraternity, mindfulness, respect, service, thoughtfulness, preservation and a peaceful and quiet sense of belonging.

At a time in our history when “me,” “now” and “noise” dominate our lives, Eagles Mere gives new meaning to the poetic words of Joaquin Miller:


God’s poet is silence!  His song is unspoken
And yet so profound, and so loud, and so far,
That it thrills you and fills you in measures unbroken—
The unceasing song of the first morning star….

On a beautiful July morning, Kitch and I visited this national treasure in search of peace, and quiet in a setting that encourages human connections and thoughtful solitude.

Mindful of Kitch’s impending total knee replacement surgery and determined to escape the drumbeat of the horrifying news of the day, we decided to celebrate Kitch’s birthday in this place of inspiring natural beauty where traditional values celebrate the past in order to make the present and the future more joyful.

A Lake of Water Lilies

Shortly after we arrived, we discovered a large body of water adjacent to the entrance to the Laurel Path, a popular destination for hikers. The Laurel Path is connected by a wooden footbridge toKitch lLIMG_2982 three other popular attractions for hikers: "Fat Man’s Squeeze," "Lovers Leap," and "Gypsy’s Landing."

We parked our car, and we walked to the edge of what is commonly known as the Outlet Pond.

The Outlet Pond is surrounded by lush trees. Water lilies cover the pond making it a fertile breeding ground for fish that eventually migrate to Eagles Mere Lake, a kidney-shaped, natural spring-fed lake three-quarters of a mile long.

For several minutes, we stood in silence while our eyes and ears recorded the sights and sounds of this natural sanctuary.

The expression on Kitch’s face defined the moment.

This beautiful setting gave truth to John Muir’s words:

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.

Living History

Eagles Mere was founded in 1898. Almost a century later, in 1996, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Eagles Mere Historic District contains 339 resources.

Kitch ClockIMG_3005

After we parked the car in front of the Sweet Shop, we stood in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue admiring the huge clock that dominates the landscape in front of the restored General Store building. This structure houses several businesses including the Crestmont Bakery, the Museum & Gift Shop, Lakeside Traders shop and the Eagles Mere bookstore.

Our destination was the Museum & Gift Shop. There we had the good fortune to meet Linda Roman and Joan Werner.

Linda is a registered nurse. She and her husband decided to take aLinda- year off to stop and think about the direction and purpose of the next stage of their life. Linda works at the Museum Shop. Her husband works at Eagles Mere Lake. After a brief conversation about the culture of Eagles Mere in contrast with daily life in a big city, we were taken by Linda’s insight and her gentle and welcoming way.

We had an instant connection with Linda on many levels.

Joan Werner is the mayor of Eagles Mere. Originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Joan made her way to Eagles Mere, and the rest as they say is history. She is a personable woman who is willing to go out of her way to introduce visitors to the many qualities of her community. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She loves to tell the Eagles Mere story.

Kitch Carol MuseumIMG_3030

While I explained the purpose of our visit to Linda, Joan took Kitch on a tour of the impressive museum that has the look and feel of exhibits we visited at Little Rock, Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Mt. Rushmore and Gettysburg. Obviously the scope of the museum in Eagles Mere is much smaller, but the quality is equal to any museum we visited during our Face of America journey.

We left the museum with a better understanding of the who, what, when, why and "so what" of the glassworks era and George Lewis who acquired the land in 1794 from the heirs of William Penn to the digital era which attracts people who yearn for the peace, quiet and fresh air of this mountain retreat.

Father & Son

While Kitch made her way to the bookstore located on the lower lever of the General Store, I stayed on the porch to talk with NeilFayher & SonIMG_3081 Englehart and his 13-year-old son Nathan.

Neil is the chairman of the Political Science department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. His credentials are impressive; Ph.D. in Political Science, University of California, San Diego, M.A. in Political Science, University of California, San Diego, B.A. in History and East Asian Studies, Oberlin College.

On this day, his most important title was dad. He and his son were riding bicycles along the quiet streets of Eagles Mere. Other members of his family were relaxing and doing enjoyable things.

When I asked Nathan what he liked most about his vacation in this small mountain town, his faced filed with a smile, and he replied without hesitation:

“Boating …It’s great.”

The image of a father and son having a wonderful time together touched my heart in a special way. It reminded me of a quote and two aphorisms I memorized when I was raising my children:

One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. George Herbert

Don’t wait to make your son a great man – make him a great boy.  

He who can be a good son will be a good father.

I have a feeling that the memories made in Eagles Mere by Neil and Nathan will strengthen the bond between father and son.

Books and Lunch

When I caught up with Kitch in the book store, she was about to purchase the revised and expanded version of This Good Food.


Kitch loves to read, and she enjoys cooking. She never entered a bookstore she did not like. She was particularly fond of this store and the woman who owns the store. Peggy Martin was friendly and very helpful. She personifies the spirit that makes Eagles Mere so special. No one is in a hurry, and everyone is willing to put their best foot forward so that visitors will have a pleasant experience.

That’s the way it was at the Sweet Shop. Located in one ofSweet shop_IMG_3124 the oldest buildings in the town, it is immaculate inside. Our waiter Austin Wenger, a native of Lancaster, was pleasant and very efficient. The food, especially the salad, was delicious and the meal was reasonably priced.

Austin Pastor chris_3138

After we finished lunch, we had a great conversation with Chris Little. He and his wife operate the Sweet Shop, but it is not his day job.

For several years Chris was an electrical engineer. In 1996, he became a pastor. With a smile on his face, he shared a secret with us:

“When God taps you on the shoulder, you pay attention.”

Visiting the Lake

It was Henry David Thoreau who said:

Lake_IMG_3158A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

This is certainly true in Eagles Mere.

As we were leaving the Sweet Shop, Linda Roman was taking her lunch break. When she saw us, she crossed the street, and we talkedKitch LindaIMG_3151 about our decision to visit the lake. Linda volunteered to arrange a boat trip around the lake.

The three of us got into our car. We drove a short distance along Pennsylvania Ave. Then we made right turn, and we cautiously made our way down a windy street which took us to the lake.

Upon our arrival, Linda made several unsuccessful attempts to contact her husband. He operates the "Hardly Able," a canvas covered motor launch, boat. The Hardly Able and a life guard boat are the only gas powered boats allowed on the lake. Her kind gesture was but another example of Eagles Mere at its best.


When Linda walked to the village green gazebo, Kitch and I were alone at the boat launch. Surrounded by the peaceful serenity of the lake, we were mesmerized by the magnificent vista and the soothing sound of the wind and the rippling water.

For several minutes, we listened to nature talking to us. The silence was broken when Kitch spoke these words:

“This is the best birthday I have ever had. It is just perfect.”

Our visit to Eagles Mere Lake was relaxing and rejuvenating.

An adaptation of William Wordsworth’s words applies:

We were coming forth into the light of things, because we let Nature be our teacher.

Three Stops

Consignment Shop

When we returned to the center of town, Kitch resumed her tour with stops at a gift shop and the Lily Pad, a woman’s boutique.

While Kitch was shopping, I remained outside snapping pictures of family scenes as they unfolded in this magical town.

Together we entered the Crestmont Bakery in search of aBakery_IMG_3189 hospitality gift.

There we met Logan Samuelsen and Sophie Eldridge. They helped us make the best decision.

We walked out of the bakery with a loaf of raisin & cinnamon bread, and positive memories of our conversation with two delightful young students.

Back to the Lake

Before we left Eagles Mere, we returned to lake. Knowing that our Lake skyIMG_3252road ahead would be filled with many challenges, we wanted to see it, feel it and be touched by its healing energy one more time.

There is an anesthetizing quality to the lake and its surroundings. It gives special meaning to William Blake’s words:

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.

It puts Rachel Carson’s words in perspective:

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.

We came to Eagles Mere to escape the harsh realities of our world, the “daily dyings” caused by unconscionable acts of terror, violence and warfare.

We left Eagles Mere refreshed, restored and thankful for the blessings of the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. The people we met and the places we visited form a mental wall of honor that will give us hope and compel us to frequently offer the words of e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

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