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Susquehanna Life

Underground Railroad Heritage Sites, Bicycle Recycle, PRIME & More: Life Around The River Summer 2018

Four Underground Railroad Heritage sites in City of Lancaster recognized by National Park Service with grant for markers 

Beginning in May, 2018 the African American walking tours highlighting sites associated with African American heritage in the City of Lancaster will feature four new historical markers installed in public areas describing the sites’ association with the Underground Railroad. and the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania, in partnership with five other local groups and individuals, will receive a $4,675 grant from the U.S Department of the Interior to be matched by the local partners.
The total funding of $9500 will cover the costs of the research, design, fabrication and installation of two outdoor markers and two interior graphic display panels that will tell the story of the association with the Underground Railroad at those four sites.
“We found your project to be very exciting and feel that it will advance the goals of preserving the history of the Underground Railroad and informing the public. We commend your creativity in developing the proposal and your dedication to this important part of our heritage,” said Diane Miller, National Program Manager of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a program of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service. She added in her award letter: “This round of grants was extremely competitive, with 41 applications representing $550,586 in requests, of which we were only able to fund 16 projects.”

The sites in the City of Lancaster are:

The Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site, part of the Lancaster County Convention Center facility. is responsible for this historical marker, which will be installed inside the storefront windows of the Kleiss Tavern, corner of South Queen and East Vine Streets, a part of the Stevens & Smith Historic Site. These panels will explain the events that occurred in 1848 that documented the property as a safe house for the Underground Railroad during the time Stevens and Smith lived there.
Former site of the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad Station, located within the entrance to the parking garage at the corner of North Queen and East Chestnut Streets. Some privately owned freight cars that ran on this train line and stopped at this station were outfitted with false walls and used to secretly transport formerly enslaved people to Philadelphia as part of the Underground Railroad movement. The South Central Transit Authority owns and manages this garage and is one of the local partners and funders of this project. The other funder is Frederick Waller of Waller Tax & Financial Services of Lancaster, through the African American Historical Society.
Thaddeus Stevens Grave at Shreiner-Concord Cemetery, North Mulberry and West Chestnut Streets. A marker here is being supported by the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery, State Representative Mike Sturla, the African American Historical Society and This marker will explain why abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens chose to be buried at this public cemetery since it did not restrict burials based on race or religion. It will also share information about Stevens’s role in the work of the Underground Railroad.
Fulton Opera House, which is the site of Old Lancaster County Jail. A sidewalk-mounted marker is under consideration opposite the Fulton Theatre at the corner of Prince and West King Streets. This marker is being funded by the Junior League of Lancaster and will tell the story of Sheriff David “Dare Devil Dave” Miller, who, in 1835 secretly released two African American women from the jail whom he knew personally, and who were being temporarily imprisoned as bounty hunters made plans to return them to slavery in the South. Miller’s courageous actions were kept secret for more than 50 years. The jail was demolished in 1852 and Fulton Hall was built on its foundations, with a portion of the original wall still visible along Water Street.
These outdoor markers and interior display panels will be the first of a larger effort to install up to as many as 25 similar displays throughout the City of Lancaster. Sites, and the historical people and events associated with them, have been tentatively identified. Future installations will depend on forming partnerships with property owners and securing funding from donations, community sponsors, and other sources, such as the current federal grant program.
“We are proud to be part of this initiative to help to launch this important program first envisioned by the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania. This effort, supported by several community organizations, individuals, and business partners, is a model for our community and will lead the way to the installation of additional markers and displays throughout the historic City of Lancaster over the next few years. Additional community collaboration and future partnerships will be key,” said Dr. Thomas R. Ryan, President and CEO of
Dr. Leroy T. Hopkins, Jr., President of the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania, stated: “From the outset it has been the goal of the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania to identify and interpret locations and individuals associated with the local African American experience. That history has been too long forgotten or ignored. We welcome the partnership with and other civic minded organizations and individuals who support this effort, an effort which is vitally important for all, but especially to the youth of Lancaster County.”
Dave Kilmer of SCTA/RRTA added: “SCTA/RRTA are honored to participate in recognizing the historic role the former railroad site played in the Underground Railroad and are proud to have a display in our garage informing the public of these efforts.”
Deborah Aichele Keys, President, of the Sustainer Board of the Junior League of Lancaster, Inc. said: “The Junior League of Lancaster, PA, Inc. is pleased to support interpretive markers which tell the story of important people and events at African American Heritage sites in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This project will give a more complete picture of our history; its educational value is priceless.”

Bicycle Recycle


For Louisa and David Stone, riding bicycles is a way of life. The couple is active on local bike/pedestrian safety committees. They bring bicycles along on weekend ventures and longer vacations, ride around town on errands and do quick rides on local trails.

It’s not surprise, then, that in traveling around the country, the couple has met interesting people in the community bike shops they frequent, and saw an opportunity. “We felt there was a need for a community bike shop in Williamsport,” said Louisa.

Such is the backdrop on which Bicycle Recycle, a non-profit community bike shop, was started in 2011. Open Monday and Wednesday evenings, from 6 to 9 p.m., the organization employs three contract workers; most workers volunteer their time. The self-help concept is very much front and center.  

“If a person has a problem with a bike, they bring it in,” Louisa explains. “Then they participate in the repair, and learn something in the process.” The charge for the repair/lesson is $10.

An earn-a-bike program allows clients to choose a donated bike, and work with someone in the shop to learn to fix it. Then they pay it forward by donating their time to help others do small repairs. Most bikes are donated by people cleaning out their garages; unclaimed bikes also are contributed by Penn College and local police departments.

“We sponsor three-hour introductory bike repair classes taught by our shop mechanics; Joe Tavani and other trained bike mechanics and cyclists handle classes on more involved repairs and building bikes,” said Louisa.  

Proceeds from bike sales—$20 to $100 for a recycled bike—go toward rent, insurance and shop maintenance. The site, located in the Pajama Factory, also dispenses local maps and information on local rides.

The couple has seen sales steadily grow over the years Bicycle Recycle has been in existence. Most find out about it through word of mouth, First Friday events and Facebook (

“Many people in town use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, as well as recreation,” said Louisa. “There are no other nonprofit community shops in the area. As word gets out, we have more and more interested in what we do.”

Goals for the future including opening up on Saturdays, and sponsoring local bike rides that emphasize safety. “Being in our shop is fun,” said Louisa. “People of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds are talking and working together.”

Is Your Produce Contaminated?

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. In fact, eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent compared to eating less than one portion, according to a new University College of London. And the USDA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

But the pesticides used to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents may be undermining the health of the plant-based foods we eat.

Every year since 2004, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Working Group environmental organization has ranked pesticide contamination in 47 of the most popular fruits and vegetables for its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Among its findings: Strawberries top the list of the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables. Spinach is second, followed by—in order of contamination—nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers. Each tested positive for pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

The tests indicated that nearly 70 percent of conventionally grown, non-organic produce samples were contaminated. The best way to rid produce of contamination, according to a recent University of Massachusetts study, is to soak it in a mixture of baking soda and water.

The EWG also culls data for the Clean 15 list—produce containing the least amount of pesticides. Avocados lead 2018’s clean fruits and veggies list, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.

Globally Imperiled Wildflower Find


While rappelling the nearby 350-foot Shikellamy Bluffs hunting for an endangered plant last summer, Bucknell University biology professor Chris Martine and his student-researchers unexpectedly helped discover an even rarer plant—the globally imperiled Heuchera alba, a wild relative of the perennial garden Heuchera—and established the first state record of the imperiled species.

News of the discovery was published by Martine; Scott Schuette, inventory manager, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; Jason Cantley of San Francisco State University; and Ryan Folk of the Florida Museum of Natural History, in PhytoKeys, an academic botanical journal. The researchers made the discovery while recording a new episode of the YouTube video series, “Plants are Cool, Too!

During their expedition along the cliffs last summer, Martine and his team were initially looking for the Pennsylvania state-endangered golden corydalis.

“This [Heuchera] plant was previously thought to just grow in small populations in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia,” Martine said. “We weren’t aware of what we had found until we posted a photo of it on Twitter and some of the scientific experts correctly identified it as Heuchera alba, which is very rare and only known to thrive on cliff faces with a specific pH.”

After examining specimens they collected along the cliffs, the team turned to historical collections held at Bucknell’s Wayne E. Manning Herbarium to further validate their Twitter-fueled discovery. What they learned was that local botanists had been misidentifying this species for over a century. 

Armed with new data on habitat preferences, the researchers searched for and discovered seven more populations of the rare plant that represent a significant range expansion into Pennsylvania.

“If you look in the book Plants of Pennsylvania, it doesn’t include Heuchera alba because it was not supposed to be here,” Martine said. “But this will have to be updated in the next edition of that book!”



Visit to see the episode of the YouTube video series, “Plants are Cool, Too!” in which the plant discovery was made.

Enhanced Patient Care

Groundbreaking will take place this summer on a $72 million construction project, the largest in the history of Evangelical Community Hospital, to add 112,000-square feet as a four-story addition. 

Dubbed PRIME (Patient Room Improvement, Modernization and Enhancement), the project will turn all rooms into ones housing single patients, each with its own private bath, as well as adding space for expanded outpatient services.

“Evangelical is truly an irreplaceable community asset—its breadth of services far exceeds what is expected of a community hospital,” said Kendra Aucker, president and CEO. “Its tradition of personalized care is unparalleled; and its board of directors, executive leadership, physicians, staff and volunteers have nurtured a supportive, team environment that cannot be easily replicated. PRIME is our way of preserving that tradition of care and special work environment while positioning the hospital to continue meeting the health and wellness needs of this community.”     

The expansion is in keeping with healthcare industry’s focus, Aucker said, on improving the patient experience, in which private rooms and bathrooms have become the industry standard. Private rooms offer a number of benefits, including enhanced infection control, greater privacy and improved sleep—key to the healing process.

“While the healthcare landscape is in a constant state of change, what remains at the center of Evangelical’s focus is the ability to provide high quality care to those who have entrusted us with their health,” said Aucker. “PRIME will help us do that in a physical environment that matches the compassionate and quality care the community has come to expect from us.”

The addition of PRIME will not create more beds, but will create the space needed to make it possible for every room in the Hospital to be a private one. The expansion is expected to be completed in summer 2020, and the renovated space completed in May 2021.

“The community has historically supported the progress of the hospital and we know we are doing what is in the best interest of those who depend on us for access to modern healthcare,” said Aucker.

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