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Visit Small Town America in Coudersport and Wellsboro
Called a gem of Pennsylvania’s wilderness, Coudersport offers vistas of natural and man-made beauty worthy of any history lover or outdoor adventurer. The town depicts a vivid cross-section of the economics and politics of the Victorian era, gaining much of its historical significance from its role in the lumber industry and the abolitionist movement. Designated a boomtown, Coudersport’s striking brick Victorian architecture of the 1880s is still completely intact, frozen in the style of its heyday. In addition to its picturesque, preserved Historic District, travelers with a hankering for history can find much to occupy them at the Potter County Historical Society Museum, a 10-room museum depicting the lives of historic families in the county, as well as the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, where one can get an interactive, inside look at the “courageous yet reckless spirit of Pennsylvania’s lumbering past” through a replica logging camp and other hands-on activities. (Opening spring 2021). For those wanting to embrace the natural wonders of the region, Cherry Springs State Park provides exceptional conditions for viewing the skies above, displaying more than 10,000 stars on some nights (over three times what is visible from other darker sky communities). Several other state parks offer more diurnal diversions in the Great Outdoors: Ole Bull State Park, Sinnemahoning State Park, and Sizerville State Park all provide ample opportunities for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming.
The town of Wellsboro is considered the gateway to the Pennsylvania Wilds, a sparsely populated 12 county region containing abundant wildlife and rich natural resources. While the expansion of the Quaker-founded town was similarly tied to the fate of the logging and coal industries, it now draws people because of its proximity to natural wonders rather than job prospects. Downtown Wellsboro allows travelers to shop “small” from local businesses within a quintessential small-town atmosphere. A favorite destination is Highland Chocolates, a nonprofit chocolate factory—if you go, be sure to sample its Cherry Springs Dark Skies Bark, a dark chocolate and cherry bark embellished with edible glittering stars and stardust. However, outside the town the “crown jewel” of the area is the magnificent Pine Creek Gorge, which is perhaps more fittingly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. At 47 miles long and 1,000 feet deep, “grand” only begins to describe a phenomenon that is better seen for oneself. When it comes to seeing it in person, one can view the gorge from a variety of vantage points. The canyon is straddled by two state parks (Colton Point and Leonard Harrison), offering observation points on the east and west sides of the gorge. The Pine Creek Rail Trail, voted by USA Today as one of the “10 Great Places to Take a Bike Tour,” is suitable for hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers to see the sights from within the gorge. For close up viewing with a historical twist, Ole Covered Wagon Tours offers tours of the canyon from a horse-drawn covered wagon.
Visit the Potter-Tioga website to learn more about the region.