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Juniata College Historical Programs Highlight Heritage Festival

(Posted April 22, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Juniata College history professor will lead an interpretive Indian path hike and other experts will provide storytelling, Civil War-era music and a tour of the Thousand Steps, a historic industrial site near Mount Union as part of the Westsylvania Outdoor Heritage Festival held May 2-4 at the Huntingdon County fairgrounds.

All events at the festival are free and open to the public.

Juniata College decided to sponsor and develop several events for the festival as part of the college's collaborative historical and cultural project Currents of the Juniata Valley. The festival is sponsored by Westsylvania Heritage Corp.

Currents of the Juniata Valley is a long-term regional program that will combine educational outreach, scholarly research and community participation to create yearly slates of educational tours, lectures and events centering on topics relating to historical and cultural events in the seven Pennsylvania counties comprising the Juniata River valley (Bedford, Blair, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin and Perry counties).

The college has developed two historical tours for Saturday, May 4.
--Interpretive Indian Path Hike: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., reservations are required (Prior to May 2 call 814-641-3105 or emailed to currents@juniata.edu. During the festival, sign up at the college booth.) Vans will carry visitors to the site.
David Hsiung, professor of history at Juniata, will lead an interpretive lecture along parts of Standing Stone Path, which roughly follows Pa. Route 26 from Huntingdon to Milesburg. The hike will last about 90 minutes and Hsiung recommends wearing sturdy shoes and carrying a bottle of water, sunscreen and bug repellent.

"Along the trail I will talk about how Indians and incoming settlers used these trails and the surrounding woods, as well as what the landscape and environment looked like in that era," Hsiung explains.

--Thousand Steps Interpretive Trek: 9 a.m., reservations are required (Prior to May 2 call 814-641-3105 or emailed to currents@juniata.edu. During the festival, sign up at the college booth.) A touring bus will take visitors to the site.
Steve Stroman, a Democratic legislative analyst at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, will lead a tour of the Thousand Steps, a local historic industrial site between Mount Union and Mapleton where workers for the Harbison and Walker Refractories Co. climbed a series of 1,050 steps to Ledge Quarry. The company quarried silica there to make silica bricks for use in high-temperature applications such as steel mill smokestacks, coke ovens and locomotive boilers.

Also Saturday, May 4, storyteller Jan Kinney will conduct a storytelling session about "Pennsylvania's Mainline Canal" at noon and 2 p.m. at the Hemlock Tent.
In addition, the college will sponsor several other events throughout the festival.

--Thursday, May 2.

There will be a GIS Industrial Heritage Site Demonstration at the Juniata College booth at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

Visitors can see a Geographic Information System (GIS) map of more than 100 historical industrial sites in Huntingdon County, featuring photographs and easily accessible computerized historical information about each site.
A GIS system uses digital maps arranged in layers that can be viewed singly or as part of an interrelated system. Each "layer" of a GIS system is devoted to one element of an area's landscape, such as rivers and streams, groundwater, soil composition, forested areas, land development zones and other geographic information.

--Friday, May 3

There will be GIS demonstrations at the Juniata College booth at 10 a.m., noon and 2 and 4 p.m.

The musical group Acoustic Shadows of the Blue and Gray will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the fairgrounds grandstand. The band performs music and songs from the Civil War era while outfitted in full historical military uniforms. The band also will perform "Along the Blue Juniata," a period song written about the Juniata Valley.

--Saturday, May 4

There will be GIS map demonstrations at the Juniata College exhibit booth at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

9 a.m.: Interpretive Indian Path hike and Thousand Steps trek

Noon: Storytelling by Jan Kinney

1 p.m.: Interpretive Indian Path hike

2 p.m. Storytelling by Jan Kinney

The Currents of the Juniata Valley program will present yearly slates of educational tours, lectures and events centering on topics relating to historical and cultural events in the seven counties comprising the Juniata Valley. Every year, individuals with an interest in history will research and create tours or presentations relating to current and historical aspects of the Juniata Valley that can be developed into tourism sites.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.