ny road you choose will lead you on a trail of history and beauty that can only be described by your camera. Natural beauty combined with exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities truly makes Potter County an outdoor enthusiast’s haven. Unlike other areas, nearly 50 percent of the land in the county is state forest or game lands, providing unfettered access to the hundreds of miles of recreational trails during all four seasons.
Potter County is home to eight state parks. Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best places in the eastern United States for stargazing. Over the past several years, improvements to the park have made it ideal for stargazing and astronomy, winning the prestigious Gold Level Dark Sky Park award from the International Dark Sky Association. Other state parks include Lyman Run State Park, which features a 45-acre lake perfect for fishing, swimming and small boats; Ski Denton which features a 22 slope downhill ski area, which in the summertime transforms into a mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts; Sinnemahoning State Park which features a 142-acre reservoir created by the 1900 ft long George B. Stevenson Dam. In addition to the many water activities, Sinnemahoning is also a popular stop on the Elk Scenic Drive and home to a pair of nesting bald eagles which are often spotted soaring above the lake.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Potter County is one of the oddest natural wonders in Pennsylvania: The Coudersport Ice Mine. The mine is located on a hillside, shielded from the sun and wind. Ice begins to form in April and continues to build up as the weather warms. Then, starting in September, the ice begins to melt, with only a residual amount remaining during the winter months. No one knows exactly what causes the ice to form in this narrow area. Many theories have been proposed over the years, but the most widely accepted is that cold air from the mountain flows out through the crevices around the ice mine as the air warms. This creates a very cold spot where ice can form during the summer months.
A truly unique wonder sits atop a mountain in “God’s Country.” Known as the Triple Continental Divide, water released from this point flows in three different directions. To the south and west, it meets the Allegheny River, eventually making its way to the Mississippi watershed. To the north, it stems the Genesse River, to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. To the east, it enters the Susquehanna River and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the natural features, Potter County has a rich, authentic history that can still be experienced today.
The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, located on Rt. 6, preserves and interprets the colorful heritage of the prosperous lumber era when white pine and hemlock were the wealth of the nation. Another jewel that has stood the test of time is the ruins of the Austin Dam. The Austin Dam is the site of Potter County’s largest disaster, when the 585 ft wide concrete dam failed in 1911 killing over 80 people. Today a 78-acre park has been created to serve as a reminder of the delicate balance of the progress of man and the forces of Mother Nature.
More information is available from the Potter County Visitors Association www.visitpottercounty.com, the Coudersport Area Chamber of Commerce www.coudersport.org or the Galeton Area Chamber of Commerce www.visitgaleton.com.