Danville Heritage Festival

July 14, 15, and 16

2017

Danville PA

Our Past is A Treasure, Our Present is Vibrant, and our future is Bright.

 

An Open Letter to the Community by Van Wagner

About Danville

 

Friday (July 15)

Heritage Parade East Market and Mill Streets. Begins 7pm. Contact Jane Vonblon if interested in participating. (jvonb@ptd.net)

Block party Coles Hardware parking lot. 8-10pm. Live music, games, food, fun!

 

 

Saturday July 16

Historical Speaker Schedule (download printable schedule here)

Living History Demonstrations and Artsists (download printable schedule here)

Live Music Schedule (download printable schedule here)

Garden Tours 10am-4pm

Class Reunions and Other Events In Danville July 16

Montgomery House Museum Open House July 16 11am-4pm, July 17 2pm-4pm

Quoit Tournament (8am start time) Hess Field

5K Walk and Run (download application here) Race starts 8:30am, July 16

Danville Heritage Festival Tennis Tournament (download application here) July 16

 

 

Cook-Out

During this year’s Danville Heritage event, be sure to head over to the Hess Field Pavilion between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. for a picnic lunch served by your local elected officials! Members of the Danville Borough Council will be cooking up some hotdogs and hamburgers for your enjoyment and be on hand to discuss any borough issues or concerns you may have. It’s a great chance to grab some food, meet your ward’s representatives, and chat about our wonderful community!

 

 

GARDEN TOURS!Danville is home to some of the most stunning gardens in the area. This years Danville Heritage Festival is happy to host two public gardens and two private gardens.
TBA

GUN EXHIBIT The 1940's Gunshop and Antique Equipment Exhibit will again
be open on Saturday, July 16 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This free
exhibit for the public is located on the 2nd floor at 279 1/2 Mill
street via the rear entrance off Rooney Avenue - through the dark red
door under the red and white striped awning.

CAST IRON EXHIBIT. The exhibit is at 279 Mill St. (Wee Home Shoppe) from 9 AM to
4 PM on Saturday, July 16. Dozens of cast iron catches, latches,
locks, hinges, etc., for doors dating back to pre-Civil War times will
make up the exhibit's display. There will be a brief talk and
question and answer session at 3:15 PM using the exhibit's items.
Door Locks from Danville's Beaver Mansion and the former Reading
Railroad Station in Danville are currently on display in the front
window of the Wee Home Shoppe and will remain there until the Festival
ends.

 

FIREWORKS AT THE FESTIVAL! Over the Susquehanna River. 9pm

 

 

Sunday July 17

Hymn sing by the River. Montgomery Park (Water Street) July 17. 6:30pm.

 

Essays on Local History

Videos about Local History

Locations of the Festivities

Volunteer and Contact info

 

 

Announcing the Danville Heritage Festival to be held in and around Danville July 16th, 2016.  This will be a unique celebration of our regions heritage.  The event will be centered around the Hess Field complex in Danville and will feature living history demonstrations, speakers, and live music throughout the day.  All events will be free and open to all ages. 

In addition to the events taking place at the Hess Field complex will be speakers hosted by the Thomas Beaver Library as well as other locations.     

To see events that are already confirmed, please visit the website:
www.DanvilleHeritage.com  

A Stimulus for Celebration.
This festival is not meant to take the place of the Danville Iron Heritage Festival.  Rather, I am organizing volunteers hoping to preserve the celebration of Danville heritage that has become a July tradition for the town.  It is my hope that the festival will serve as a focal point of other community celebrations, open houses, class reunions, block parties on July 68th. 

A Grass Roots Effort.
Whether you were a part of Iron Heritage Festivals or not, I welcome your participation.  If you would like to offer presentations, music, etc please reach out to me via the website.  If we reach a point were the Hess Field schedule gets filled to capacity, please consider exploring other local venues.  Perhaps local churches and social organizations that have the facilities could consider opening their doors to help host heritage activities on July 18th.  If you do plan an event and would like it added to the listings on the website, just send the details to me via contact info on the website.

A Health and Wellness Focus
After speaking with local historian Sis Hause, I’ve decided to really embrace health and wellness as much as possible along with our heritage celebration.  Considering this is Geisinger Hospitals’ 100th anniversary, I couldn’t imagine a more fitting theme.  The bicycle path around Hess Field is the oldest rail-trail in the United States!   I encourage people to consider walking or biking to Hess Field for the festival.  There are plans to organize a skateboarding and scootering event,, a 5K, tennis, quoits, and more as part of the festival.  Let’s embrace this chance to promote health and wellness while celebrating our heritage. 

An Amazing Heritage.  An Amazing Town
The Danville area has an amazing history. The knowledge and talent of local historians, performers, and musicians is unparalleled.  The community has shown that we want to celebrate this heritage.  Please mark your calendar and be a part of this exciting new chapter in celebrating our amazing story.    On July 16th, Danville is where you belong!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


An Informal History of the Danville Area
by
Van Wagner

People have lived in the Danville area for thousands of years. The area has been known by many names. The Susquehannock, and later the Delaware, Indians lived here for centuries. Unfortunately, we know very little about the people who lived here before that era (about 1,100 AD). By the late 1700's people of European and African American backgrounds began settling here. Some native people stayed and assimilated into the new culture, however many moved west along with thousands of other native people. Many of us living in the region today can trace our ancestry back to these original native inhabitants. 


In the late 1700’s, almost the entire economy of the region revolved around agriculture.  The idea of owning land was something most immigrants had only dreamed of in their homelands.  In America, this dream of owning and farming their own land became reality.  These farmers not only raised crops and animals for trade and sale, they also had to be expert woodsmen, stone masons, and countless other skilled trades.  In many cases, they built their own homes, barns, and churches.  In that era, the Susquehanna River was the main means of travel and export. 


There were four kinds of river rafts. The first was a "spar raft" which was made by lashing tall straight White Pine tree trunks together. Other raft types included: a "timber raft" which was made of squared White Pine logs, a "lumber raft" which consisted of logs that had already been sawed into lumber, and lastly "arks" which had a flat bottom and was constructed in a manner to allow for carrying cargo such as coal, grain, or other goods from the interior. ("The Long Crooked River")
By 1796, rafts from both the North and West branches of the Susquehanna were making the trip downstream, some traveling as far as Norfolk, VA. (S. Stranahan) The industry quickly escalated over the next decades until the river became a super-highway of rafts. Between the 18th and 23rd of May in 1833, 2,688 arks and 3,480 rafts floated past Danville. That averages out to over 1000 rafts and arks per day or between 1 and 2 rafts every minute of the day. Their cargo was mostly grain and lumber. (Intelligencer 6/14/1833)

(photo of Montour log raft 2004 by Cory Poticher)


The name  “Danville” was given by William Montgomery, a revolutionary war veteran and leader in colonial Pennsylvania, in honor of his son Daniel.  For a few years before this, local people referred to the community as Montgomery’s Landing.   
By the late 1820’s and early 30’s a budding iron industry was developing in Danville.  Furnaces were constructed to smelt the local iron ores into cast iron products and pig iron for export.  The earliest furnaces used charcoal.  By the late 1830’s several local furnaces were using anthracite coal.  They were among the 1st furnaces in the country to do this.  At about the same era the Pennsylvania Canal came through the town making the export of local agricultural and industrial goods more efficient.  The canal was also the way anthracite coal was transported to Danville’s iron furnaces from the Wyoming Valley.  A major development came in the 1840’s with the addition of iron rolling mills.  The rolling mills involved heating pig iron into moldable balls that could be fed through a series of squeezes making a product known as wrought iron.  Among the most notable details from this era was the rolling of the 1st T-rail in America on October 8th, 1845 by the Montour Iron Company.  The T-rail revolutionized transportation because it was the 1st rail design able to hold the extreme weight of locomotives in a cost efficient manner.  Danville’s T-rails have been confirmed as being used to build at least some of the transcontinental railroad. 
The iron industry had its ups and downs for decades until it finally declined by the 1930’s.   A combination of a worldwide transition to steel and the onset of the great depression brought to and end the era when iron was king in Danville.  Some metal manufacturing still thrives in the area today, but nothing on the scale of the era when thousands of men and boys labored in the coal fueled furnaces of Danville.


 One of the benefactors of the iron, and coal, boom was George F. Geisinger.  As a major player in the iron and coal trade, he was financially very successful.   After his death, his wife Abigail funded the construction of the Geisinger Hospital, which opened in 1915.  The hospital was and still is among the leading health care facilities in the nation.  2015 marks the 100th anniversary of this amazing hospital and the thousands of people who have worked there for a common good. 

(Founder Abigail Geisinger (center with shovel) leads the official groundbreaking for the George F. Geisinger Memorial Hospital on May 1, 1913.)

 

I prefer not to view our local history as a series of “starts and stops” but rather a continuum of the human story.  Danville did not begin with a “founding” in the 1790’s.  Rather, it has been home to fellow humans for thousands of years and will likely be so for thousands more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Speakers July 16:

TBA

 

 

 

 

 

Van Wagner

Gene Shipe. The Franklin Iron Furnace and Cider Press. 11am July 16th.

Canals! Slide show and talk by Cappy Tibbs McWilliams.

William Willaims Passenger Pigeon History

 

PASSENGER PIGEON PROGRAM 
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            Pennsylvania Game Commission Northeast Region Information and Education Supervisor William Williams will present an educational program on the life history and extinction of the passenger pigeon.
            The passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America and several major roosting colonies were found here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Their flocks contained millions of individual birds and could darken the sky for hours as they passed by. The forces of habitat loss and unregulated hunting resulted in their numbers going from billions to none in a matter of decades. The last passenger pigeon in captivity, named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in September 1914, marking the end of a species. 
            This program will include passenger pigeon biology and behavior, techniques used by hunters and trappers, and factors that led to their eventual extinction.  A PowerPoint presentation, activity, and handouts will be part of this program.

 

 

 

 

 

Living History Demonstrations at Hess Field (Cancelled if heavy rain):

TBA

 

 

 

 

Artists from the Danville Arts Council

Iron Heritage BIKE hike with Van Wagne rbring your bike and meet at trail head in Beaver place 10am

Blacksmithing by Doug Firestone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Music at Hess Field Complex July 15 (Cancelled if heavy rain):

 

 

 

 

Van Wagner

Suzanne Walzer / Zing Productions

Students from The Music Box

 

 

 

 

Danville Heritage Day’s Garden Tour
Saturday July 15th, 2016
10 am-4pm

details TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class Reunions and Other Events:

 

Cook-Out

During this year’s Danville Heritage event, be sure to head over to the Hess Field Pavilion between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. for a picnic lunch served by your local elected officials! Members of the Danville Borough Council will be cooking up some hotdogs and hamburgers for your enjoyment and be on hand to discuss any borough issues or concerns you may have. It’s a great chance to grab some food, meet your ward’s representatives, and chat about our wonderful community!

 

Class Reunions

TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locations:

Thomas Beaver Free Library

Hess Field Complex

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Coal Navy. Coal Dredging on the Susquehanna


"Fire In The Hole" Black Powder Making in Danville


Liberty Iron Furnace


What Once Was


Interview with Cy Kelly


The Jerseytown Coal Mine


The Story of The Montour Log Raft


The Ore of Montour


Danville Charcoal Making


Buffalo in Pennsylvania by Watershed


Danville Brick-making  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos about Local History:

Iron Industry

Logging Heritage

Charcoal Making

River Coal

Anthracite Coal Heritage

Wildlife and Forest Ecology

Brick Making

Ice Houses

Native American Cairn

Bat Biology filmed in local iron ore mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Info:

Contact Van Wagner for information on how you can help make this festival a success.