Franklin, Pennsylvania – an Outdoors Treat for Mind and Heart

  • Trout Stream Fishing, a Spring Hatch, Fly Rod Fun 
  • Smallmouth Bass, Light Lines, Tube Jigs, Screeching Drags, Double-Headers…a Musical Concert!
  • Riverside Camping near Franklin, Pennsylvania – Campfires, Peace, Eagles, Blue Sky…Unforgettable

By Forrest Fisher

The morning fog rising off the Allegheny River as it flows through mountain valleys and near lands where footsteps have likely not yet travelled. Breathtaking to see in person.

Last week was a journey week for Fern and I. We hitched up the GMC-1500 and travelled to Pennsylvania for a visit with fellow outdoor writers to share ideas, toss a few fishing lines, compare shotguns, quip about each other’s hair loss and joke about how we might climb the tallest mountain to hunt turkey where no one else could possibly be.

Some of us are getting too silvery between the ear lobes to climb much of anything that some might call a mountain – like the stairs to the second floor of the hotel. Still, we kid about it, it’s fun. It helps to laugh, since according to Fox News, laughing helps us all keep younger, the ultimate quest.

As writers, we share our love of the outdoors in every aspect. We talked about fishing rods, reels, boats, 4-stroke engines, shoes, waders, braided lines and fly lines, firearms, new laws, arrows, bows, boots, deer ticks, health insurance and the cost of gas, not necessarily in that order.

My friends in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association are from an elite group of outdoor folks that love to share the one thing they want to help others find out about – the outdoors. The fun of hiking, fishing, camping, hunting and all the rest.

New terms in the last few years include kayaks, mountain bikes, mini-backpacks, ceramic forks and our dependency on space age communications…‘er, cellphones. We all agreed that the world seems to think we need these gizmos. We did not talk about Chinese exports and our own American need to overconsume everything, thank goodness, since the microbrews tasted so good.

Western Pennsylvania near Oil City and Franklin, offer a step back into American history, American values, culture and the outdoors, all quite refreshing in our modern day and age.

One evening as we walked down Main Street from our affordable and comfy Quality Inn hotel room in downtown Franklin, Pennsylvania, my wife said, “Isn’t it great to see families holding hands, talking and walking from one small shop to another, window shopping and just enjoying conversation?” Who could disagree?

Franklin is special in that regard, besides being right next to Oil City, where our life in the petroleum world started long ago. We are all lucky to live in America, but I was considering that we were really fortunate to find a place like this highly valued town. So to share more about this for friends and vacationers, if you’re looking for a clean, wholesome and healthy place to visit this summer, check out this National Heritage Oil Region in western Pennsylvania, where oil was discovered. I know, who of us knew?!

Home that were built hundreds of years ago and used during Revolutionary War periods still dot the landscape along the Allegheny River. 

We visited the DeBence Antique Music World as a touring stop and we heard the sound of beautiful birds outside trying to overcome the music inside, all coming from mechanized musical instruments that were on museum display and were played for us visitors. Some of these things were straight from the Wild West and the Matt Dillon timeframe – including church air organs. I felt like we were in a time machine. The mosaic of musical gear we observed, provided a symmetry of sound that was beautiful, unamplified, all natural, and was mostly using simple air, simple springs, and old-fashioned ingenuity. No hidden circuitry, if you know what I mean. No permission to share your name, pictures, location or personal information. I miss those days.

We walked a bit farther down the sidewalk, passing undisguised church steeples and wooden-front stores and shops, all still in use, many built in the late 1700’s.

Spring flowers were in bloom alongside the shop venues when we stopped with our writer friends to have dinner at Benjamin’s Roadhouse. Simple wooden tables, wooden floors, a 200 year-old bar and undisguised comfort. We enjoyed live music too, blues and rock, from a group called the Max Schang Trio – you gotta love base, drums and guitar simplicity, half of us were singing! It was that melancholy good.

As we drifted back to the hotel to refuel our energy for the next day and a fishing adventure on the Alleghany River, our conversation embraced the unfussy life of the old days and life in the outdoors, and how good we felt visiting this town.

Healthy smallmouth bass that weighed-in at more than 5 pounds were caught by our friends and I… fun? I could only say…WOW! Yes!  We landed more than 40 fish in just a few short hours. An unforgettable day on the river.

The next day, we each caught several dozen smallmouth bass casting trouble-free tube jigs. Simple fishing, albeit from a modern watercraft and using Gamma brand braided line – the good stuff, and made right in Oil City. Still it was simple, drag-screeching fun.

We observed campers in simple pop-up tents that had hiked down to the river bottom to overnight a stay and fish the shoreline of the river. Watching them cook breakfast took me back to my young family days and camping. Camping is much more than a place where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person! Many joke about that.

This adult bald eagle was having an argument with a red-tailed hawk that had decided it was better to find another meal and live another day. The bird-to-bird argument was audible from several hundred yards away – another unforgettable moment on the Allegheny River near Franklin, Pennsylvania.

Camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, even a simple lunchtime break, all allow us to observe nature and sort of “find ourselves.” Some say we all quest to find a deeper understanding for all things outdoors.  Maybe, but we will find fresh air, silence, the sound of the wind shifting through the trees, the music of water rushing over rocks in a creek, and other hidden things that to learn more about outside. All devoid of over-complexity. In the outdoors, with nature, we look to form a special bond with our own universe and the simple natural world. 

If we are lucky, we share such essential time with those special people that we share life with, our family and friends.

For more about this region, visit: www.oilregion.org.