Tourists flood to the northeast during the end of September through November to see the beauty of the autumn leaves. The hills and Alleghenies are decorated with dark reds, yellows and orange leaves. The fall air is crisp with the bluest of skies as a backdrop against brilliant colors. A road trip through Bedford Pennsylvania is worth the journey. Historical buildings such as President Washington’s headquarters in 1794 exist. The Anderson House remains and was built in 1814. Don’t miss the old Bedford Village off route 220. There are covered bridges such as the Claycomb and one room school houses.
If you head to Everett you will pass freshly painted barns and farm houses in maroon and white set back in the middle of green fields resembling fields in Ireland. Route 26 headed toward Hopewell you will find the Juniata River continues to wind along the mountain ridge. On the other side of this ridge is Groundhog Valley where my grandfather grew up. A one lane road of red clay leads to Long Bend Beach where I spent my childhood exploring nature and the life along the river. I waded up and down for miles and knew where the biggest fish lay spawning among the willows that grow and shade the river’s edge. I would wade up the river several miles and fly fish my way back down. My parents never knew where I was but didn’t worry for I knew the river well. One thing for sure when the sky grew dark and the wind came up I headed home. The storms came from up river quickly in a matter of an hour. The river would begin to change to a milky brown, sporadic debris of small floating branches, weeds, and the current became swift. All of a sudden, you are aware of wading in water up to your waste–it was time to go ashore. The river would rise in proportion of how severe and long the storm remained. One nice thing we always knew when the rain was coming for it started like a wave up river and we could see it approaching. I remember a couple of times when the river reached our picnic table. Dad built the table at the top of an embankment over twenty feet high and we used to sit there and watch the river float by. Dad built our cottage at the rear end of our property away from this high embankment for that very reason. He remembered the Johnstown flood in 1936 which flooded out the cottages below us. A piece of debri remained in a tree higher than our cottage roof. He left it there to show and remind everyone just how high the river raised.
Within the last ten years I believe there was only one flood that reached the magnitude of 1936. According to some friends our cottage, which was sold in 1965, remained. I remember Dad bragging, “This cottage will stand if ever engulfed by the river.” I poured large post holes with long heavy iron rods very deep into the soil. I found out later the cottage was full of mud that had to be shoveled out, the furniture was soaked and everything ruined inside. But, Dad was right the structure remained as some cottages at Long Bend Beach floated away. Read more about adventures along the river in, A Marked Woman.