Columbia-Montour Quarterly Vol. 11: January-March 2024

Enjoy a quarterly snapshot of our region with the latest edition of our quarterly digital magazine!



Volume 11 January - March

Your All-Access Guide to Columbia & Montour Counties!






It’s Not Just About Coffee: Community, Faith & Giving Back 4

8 12

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side: The Story of Reptiland


Events Calendar


All Grown Up: The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum Turns 40

A Sweet Little Story: Brennan’s Big Chill in Bloomsburg 23 Finding the Stories Behind the Signs (Part III): Christopher Sholes 26

Member Spotlight 31



Your WINTER Adventure Begins in COLUMBIA & MONTOUR Counties



It’s Not Just About Coffee

by Linda Sones & Brad Bason C ommunity, F aith & G iving Back B ason Coffee Roasting started in the early Spring of 2011 in the garage of Brad and JoAnne Bason in Danville, PA when a hobby that Brad enjoyed started to take off. Brad became a home coffee roaster at the suggestion of a pastor friend who was also a home coffee roaster. As his newfound hob- by took off, Brad enjoyed sharing his freshly roasted coffee with friends and business associates. One day when work- ing in Hazleton, Brad was talking with the owner of a small coffee shop and shared some of his coffee with the owner. The owner then suggested that Brad should look at this on a larger scale. A seed was planted, and the idea for Bason Coffee Roasting started to grow. On June 1, 2011, the Basons purchased a new 10-kilogram coffee roaster and had it in- stalled in the shop area of his garage. After a blessing from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, they officially started roasting and selling their coffee. Brad, JoAnn, their daugh- ter, Elizabeth, and their son, Matt, worked very hard to get the company off the ground. With their faith in Christ as their compass, the opportunity to serve others within the crazy world of coffee quickly took off.

The idea of offering 100% Outstanding Freshly Roasted Cof- fee caught on: their online sales, wholesale, and fundraising grew like wildfire, and a customer base was established. In the fall of 2014, it was necessary to move the company to a larger operating area. Bason’s moved to E. Mahoning St. in Danville and used it as their production and retail store. Helping and

Bason Coffee Roasting uses only 100% Arabica coffee beans and has a wide selection of options for all types of coffee lovers.


giving back to the community was important to Bason Coffee at the start of the company which helped to fuel the area of fundrais- ing. This new space would help that mission grow. Over the years, Bason Coffee has helped hundreds of organizations from all over the country raise funds totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. During the 2020 pandemic, Bason Coffee saw the need for a drive-thru coffee shop. A place for people to get their daily cof- fee while maintaining social distancing. The Happy Mug Drive Thru was soon born in the old FNB Bank building near Weis Markets in Danville. Happy Mug continues today offering coffee, tea, espres- so-based drinks, refreshers, and some food for those needing a quick pick-me-up while on their travels. cont. on next page...

ABOVE: Brad & JoAnne show off signage for their new Drive Thru with the help of a few employees.

LEFT: The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Bason family’s new endeavor, Happy Mug Drive Thru.


JoAnne Bason, center, with some of the shop’s employees.

Two years later in October of 2022, another great change came to pass. The Basons acquired the old bank on Mill Street and turned it into a coffee shop. The old Montour County Trust (and prior location of the Danville Police Department) was renovated to become the new retail location for Bason Coffee. Prior to that, the retail store was located at the current production facility on E. Mahoning St. The need for more production space, the need for a coffee shop downtown, and the ability to offer more options for their customers led to the start of their new retail location. With this new location, Bason Coffee was able to offer seating, food, more drink options, and a place for folks to meet over their favorite coffees. The one unique area at the new retail store is the old vault. The Montour County Trust Co. had installed a wonder- ful vault that the police had used as their evidence locker. Now it is a favorite place for folks to sit and chat. It is also where Santa comes every December to meet all of the kids and listen to what they want for Christmas.

Watch a recent segment of WNEP’s Home & Backyard from Bason Coffee Roasting! VIDEO CORNER


Bason’s also has plenty of goodies to go with a cup of coffee!

“Bason Coffee is very thankful to all of the amazing customers we have turned into friends over the years,” stated Brad Bason. “Serving our customers is why we are here. Bason Coffee is very thankful to our amazing employees who make our customers happy. We have a dedicated group of employees who continue to find fun and creative ways to please our customers.” What does the future hold? According to Brad, it’s a great question. “We are here to serve and make people happy. What else this will lead to is yet to be seen.” So, if you are working in, living in, or just passing through Danville and need a little pick-me-up, stop by Bason Coffee Roasting. It will definitely brighten your day! You can find Bason Coffee Roasting on the web at and on Facebook at .

Digital quarterly 23 ad_Layout 1 9/5/23 1:52 PM Page 1

Every cup of Bason’s Coffee is made with love!

Set up at the annual Danville Spring Fling on Mill Street.

If a delicious meal is in your plans, then you’ll definitely want to visit us here at Old Forge Brewing Company. Our chef has created a menu that is outstanding and truly unique. Enjoy Our Great Food & Amazing Beer. Stop in today, we know you’ll be pleased! JUST RIGHT!

We offer up to 16 of our very own beers on tap with 2 additional Cask Conditioned beers rotating on the hand pumps. We also feature a selection of wines and a cocktail menu. Lunch, Dinner, Appetizers & Daily Food Features Interested in Take-Out? Call to order! We Have Beer To Go: in Cans, Growlers, or Crowlers.

7 532 Mill Street • Danville, PA 17821 • 570.275.8151 OLDFORGEBREWINGCOMPANY.COM



Clyde Peeling has been educating about the public about scalier side of the animal kingdom since 1964 when he opened a one of kind experience in Allenwood, PA. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Clyde and his son Elliot about the history and future of the zoo. My first question was “Why reptiles?” Clyde laughed and said it was a combination of a few things, including a boyhood interest and understanding that if he was going to start a zoo in Allenwood, it needed to specialize. “I knew we were never going to be the Bronx Zoo,” said Clyde. From scaly to feathery, the zoo provides a little bit of something for everyone. Over the years, Reptiland has expanded and changed immensely. While it began as basically a roadside zoo, Reptiland got an A.Z.A. (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accreditation in 1986 and has kept it ever since. Clyde says the A.Z.A. inspects all accredited zoos every five years to confirm that best practices are being followed, including animal welfare, conservation efforts, education outreach and more. These intense inspections can last for multiple days. His dedication to teaching is not limited to the guests that walk through the door. He’s appeared on numerous television shows including The Tonight Show and Regis and Kathy Lee. When asked about these experiences, he

explained they might get a phone call on Monday or Tuesday to be in California by Friday as there was a spot open. This left a lot of last-minute arrangements to be made, but he always did his best to accommodate.

Clyde appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.


An iconic shot of Clyde and the Reptiland crew from 1965 in front of the zoo. Notice the pose is also shown on the top of the zoo building in the form of wooden cutouts that were visible from the road.

Clyde appears on CBS’s “The Early Show” in the 1990’s.

My first experience with Reptiland was in 1986 for my 6th grade field trip. One thing that I clearly remember was the entertaining and educational show presented by the zookeepers. We were able to touch a snake and learn that they are not slimy! Although it’s long since lost, I did have a photo of my entire class lined up holding an enormous constrictor. Since then, I’ve been back many times over the years, as there is always something new to experience. So many folks feel apprehensive about reptiles and the other species that are housed here. This zoo is a great way to see them safely and learn more about these important

The snake-holding shot from some of the earliest days of Reptiland that was the inspiration for the wooden cutouts seen in the photo above.

Clyde also wrote a book about his life titled “Reptiland: How a Boyhood Dream became a Modern Zoo.” And he’s still going strong, remaining actively involved in the day- to-day operations at Reptiland.


animals. They all play a vital role in the natural environment. Amphibians are an excellent indicator of the health of a natural habitat. From apex predator to prey, they all have a reason for existing in the circle of life. The loss of any of these species is a loss to all of us. Clyde Peeling and his team are dedicated to conservation and have been for many years. Along with Komodo dragon conservation, they are also involved in the Turtle Survival Alliance and Crocodile Advisory Group. The next plans for the zoo include expanding building a bigger pond for the aquatic turtles and possibly adding an eagle exhibit. Clyde’s son Elliot is very involved with Peeling Productions, an organization dedicated to providing other institutions with a way for their guests to see animals they might not have a chance to otherwise. The traveling exhibits are carefully designed and monitored with animal comfort and safety in mind. Currently, the exhibition “Spiders Alive” with be at the Philadelphia Zoo for the next two years. Every visit that I’ve had to Reptiland was a new experience. The zoo is open year-round, so start making your memories today! Here’s a look at the current exhibits, all included in with general admission: Dinosaurs Come to Life! Take a walk back in time and meet the life sized animatronic dinos that roar, spit and more. If you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you’ll easily recognize a Velociraptor and Dilophosaurus! When we took our son a few years ago, he had a blast. Don’t miss the Dino Dig and the nearby emus. Why emus? Because birds ARE living dinosaurs. (This is an outdoor exhibit and may not be open year-round.)

The Pre-Reptiland Days: Clyde in 1956 with his “backyard zoo” in Clarkstown, PA.

Clyde giving a presentation in the 1980’s.

Island Giants Two extremes of giants are in this building. The first are the Komodo Dragons. The largest lizards in the world, this species lives on only a few islands near Indonesia. Capable of taking down a full-grown water buffalo, these magnificent carnivores are a must see. Reptiland is part of a conservation program to increase captive reproduction of this endangered species. On the other end of spectrum are the Aldabra tortoises. The largest of the group is named Al and he resides with his smaller friends. They are amazingly friendly and gentle. You can even arrange a meet and feed with them! (See for pricing and availability.)

LEFT: A pair of orange-eyed tree frogs relaxing at Reptiland. RIGHT: Zookeeper Rebecca with Gwanji the Cuban Rock Iguana.


Clyde giving a presentation to kids at a Williamsport First Friday event.

Live Shows and Encounters Included with General Admission, these shows occur throughout the day, every day at the zoo. Each show is 30 minutes long and includes topics such as Desert Dwellers, Reptile Diversity, Lizards and Snakes Alive and more. The staff make the shows both educational and entertaining, sometimes with even a chance for visitors to touch an animal. The last time our family visited we saw the Venom show and learned all about cobras and other species. It was fascinating! Alligators! When my son was very young, probably around three or so, his grammy took him to Reptiland where they saw Rocky and Adrian, the two resident American Alligators. They were there during a feeding where the keeper had “croc chow” and asked “Rocky, open” to be able to toss them into the 11- ft gators mouth. When my son came home, he couldn’t stop

saying “Rocky, open!” I asked what did the alligator eat and he told me “Rocks!” My mom explained that croc chow vaguely resembled rocks and nothing could convince the kid otherwise. He’s now well aware that they are nutritionally perfect food for captive alligators, but it didn’t stop us from laughing about it for years. Meet this pair and a very rare albino alligator during your visit. They also offer special events throughout the year, including Croctoberfest, Birds of Prey Day, Winos & Dinos, Flashlight Safari, Komodo Dragon feedings & more.

IF YOU GO: • The zoo is open year round, rain or shine. Depending on the season, some of the outdoor exhibits may not be open. • Dress for the weather as regardless of the season you will need to walk outside to get from building to building. • Feel free to bring your own lunch or snacks! There are few picnic tables available. • Group rates are available. Contact Reptiland directly to learn more. • Ready to plan your visit? Get started at:

My son Ryan at Reptiland; Photo credit - Kay Broyles



brewski ’ s bluegrass brunch January 28, February 25 & March 31 Brewski’s Coffee & Bar 570-317-2865


craft pizza night Every Monday The Links at Hemlock Creek 570-336-2725 • preschool storytime Every Wednesday Bloomsburg Public Library 570-784-0883 • play traditional mahjong Every Thursday Bloomsburg Public Library 570-784-0883 • i am safe First and Third Tuesdays of the Month Trinity House in Bloomsburg 570-237-0456 •


north mountain art league members show January 11 - February 18; Reception January 13 Artspace Gallery 570-784-0737 •

michael houston and sunbury slim January 12

The Music Hall at Phillips Emporium 570-387-8027 •

sanctuary city January 18 – February 4 Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble - Alvina Krause Theatre 570-784-5530 •

bloom yarnies Second and Fourth Saturdays of the Month Bloomsburg Public Library 570-784-0883 • creature feature : lemurs , sloths & kangaroos January 13, February 10 & March 9 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 •

the lobrau band January 19 Music Hall at Phillips Emporium 570-387-8027 •

heat wave weekend January 20-21 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 • 35 th annual early bird sports expo January 25 – 28 Bloomsburg Fairgrounds 570-437-2460 •

komodo dragon feeding January 27, February 24 & March 30 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 •


All performances at 7:30 p.m. More events at WeisCenter CLASSICAL National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine Friday, Feb. 23


CONTEMPORARY DANCE Ballet Hispanico Tuesday, Feb. 6 ROOTS/ROCK/FOLK Kyshona Thursday, Feb. 8

FOLK/BLUES/GOSPEL Martha Redbone Roots Project Tuesday, March 5

IRISH MUSIC Dervish Friday, March 22

BLUES Jontavious Willis Wednesday, Feb. 14



kyshona ( roots / rock / r & b / folk ) February 8 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 • valentine ’ s wine , shine & chocolate trail February 9-18 Various Wineries & Distilleries in Columbia & Montour Counties valentine ’ s / easter mini craft show February 10 Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center 570-925-0163 • jontavious willis and jayy hop ( blues ) February 14 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 •

mike lundy January 26 Music Hall at Phillips Emporium 570-387-8027 • hamid rahmanian ’ s song of the north January 30 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 •

FEBRUARY sister 2 sister “ all things new ” February 2-3 Stillwater Christian Church 570-592-2269 •

reading with reptiles February 3 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 • ballet hispanico ( contemporary dance ) February 6 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 •

sofia philharmonic orchestra February 16 Arts in Bloom | Bloomsburg University’s Mitrani Hall 570-389-4409 •

heat wave weekend February 17-18 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 •

winter book sale February 7-10 Bloomsburg Public Library 570-784-0883 •

national symphony orchestra of ukraine February 23 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 • montour preserve maple sugaring open house February 24 Montour Preserve 570-336-2060 •



international guitar night March 1 Arts in Bloom | Bloomsburg University’s K.S. Gross Auditorium 570-389-4409 • ten T hing ( brass ensemble ) March 1 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 • reading with reptiles March 2 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 • martha redbone roots project ( folk / blues / gospel ) March 5 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 • murder mystery dinner with craft catering and stone state entertainment March 9 The Links at Hemlock Creek 570-594-8134 •

bte improv March 15 Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble - Alvina Kraus Theatre 570-784-5530 • heat wave weekend March 16-17 Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland 570-538-1869 • dervish ( irish music ) March 22 Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University 570-577-1000 • rubberband : trenzado March 23 Arts in Bloom | Bloomsburg University’s Mitrani Hall 570-389-4409 • ms . holmes and ms . watson March 28 - April 14 Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble - Alvina Kraus Theatre 570-784-5530 •


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Did this on 5-23 (for Map ad)





All groWn uP

bloomsburg’s beloved Children’s museum turns 40 years old in 2024

by Linda Sones & Children’s Museum Staff

One afternoon in 1983, Liz Strauss and Elaine Everett by chance both stopped at the same local grocery store. Their connection is one of chance meetings and shared dreams, demonstrating how two individuals, brought together by fate, can make an indelible mark on the world of education and play. Forty years later, the result of their collaboration is a celebrated children’s museum that continues to thrive in captivating and educating generations of young minds. On that afternoon of their unexpected meeting, Liz and Elaine envisioned a future where every local child could access a fun and educational program. Their ambitions took shape when they enlisted the expertise of John McLaughlin, a Bloomsburg University Professor, to join their cause.


Pooling together individuals from Bloomsburg University, local schools, and daycare facilities, the group convened to turn their collective vision into reality. The result was the planning of the museum’s first mobile exhibit, “Optical Illusions and Puzzles,” designed to be transported to schools and centers. The collaborative spirit extended beyond the planning table, as Molly and Toby Scarpino dedicated nine months to building the room-size exhibit in their own home. This marked the inaugural step in the journey of the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, a venture that would go on to captivate and inspire generations of young minds. The Children’s Museum’s momentum continued to build in the year following its inception. Recognizing the need for a more permanent and expansive space, the decision was made to incorporate the museum. A dedicated board and officers were selected to guide its growth. During this period, the museum reached out to 60 schools, extending its reach and impact on local communities. The commitment to providing engaging educational experiences was further underscored as the team worked on developing five additional traveling exhibits. As the vision expanded, so did the ambition to create a museum fixed in one place, providing a consistent and immersive space in which children could explore and learn. In a significant development, the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum secured an agreement in 1995 with the Caldwell Consistory, which offered a generous 6,000 square feet of space. This marked a pivotal moment as the museum transitioned from mobile exhibits to a more permanent home. The realization of a fixed museum not only symbolized growth but also showcased the dedication and support of the community and its partners. The new space, open for eight weeks over the summer months, became a hub of creativity and learning, laying the groundwork for the continued success and expansion of the Museum. The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum continued its impressive journey of expansion and community impact into the early 2000s. By this time, the museum had extended its reach, servicing a remarkable 10 counties through its Outreach Programs. The growing visitation numbers reflected the increasing

Elizabeth Strauss featured in a 1996 Press Enterprise article for her efforts to keep the Museum going strong.

LEFT: Elaine’s husband Jim helps to install a tree display at the museum.

RIGHT: Working on the DaVinci exhibit.


demand for the museum’s engaging and educational offerings. As the need for more space became evident, the museum embarked on an ambitious initiative. Through a successful capital campaign, the team secured the acquisition of the former Friendship Fire Company building on 7th Street. This marked a significant milestone as the museum transitioned from rented spaces to having its very own building, providing a stable and dedicated venue for its programs and exhibits. The journey toward making the new space a vibrant hub of learning involved a series of essential steps. The roof was replaced, renovations were completed, and new exhibits were meticulously crafted to ensure a dynamic and enriching experience for visitors. Finally, in the summer of 2002, the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum proudly opened its doors to the public in its new, permanent home. The response to the museum’s new location was nothing short of phenomenal. After just one month of operation, recognizing the overwhelming interest and demand from the community, a decision was made to extend the museum’s opening beyond the initial summer plan. The doors remained open throughout the entire summer, and Sundays were included in the fall into early winter, providing year- round access to the enriching experiences offered by the museum.

museum that year, and an impressive 1,600 students enrolled in school groups, underlining the educational value the museum brought to the community. The success of the museum’s programs and exhibits, combined with its growing popularity, led to a clear realization by the end of 2004: the Children’s Museum needed to be a year-round destination. Over the next fifteen-plus years, the museum experienced

The numbers spoke volumes about the museum’s impact. More than 6,000 individuals attended the

Putting the signage up for the 2002 Grand Opening.


Some of the earlier Museum exhibits from the 1990’s.

remarkable growth. Programs flourished, exhibits expanded, and the service area reached an impressive 13 counties, reflecting the museum’s far-reaching influence. Now, 20 years later, as the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum celebrates its 40th anniversary, it’s clear that they are not only looking back on their incredible achievements but also forward to an even brighter future. The plans for the Discovery Center at Mulberry Mills and the recognition of the need for a larger space demonstrate their commitment to providing an enriching environment for generations to come. To everyone reading this, consider joining the celebration and supporting the Museum’s “$40 for 40 Years” fundraising campaign. Your contribution will play a crucial role in ensuring the museum can continue providing immersive and engaging experiences, and foster the intellectual and emotional growth of young minds. Together, let’s contribute to the next chapter of wonder and learning for the Museum. Donate today and be a part of their ongoing legacy of igniting curiosity and sparking imagination for years to come.

One of the Museum’s popular annual events: May the Force Be With You Day

To learn more about Museum programming or to donate, please go to: .

Docents at the Children’s Museum in 2014.


Help us celebrate 40 years of playing, learning, & discovering!


Visit us at 2 West 7th Street Bloomsburg PA, 17815 Farms-Winter24-HalfPg._Layout 1 12/11/23 5:42 PM Page 1

570-799-5888 Hours: Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun: 9am-5pm Closed January

Restaurant & Farm Market Banquet Hall with available Catering Christmas Tree Farm Check Website for Special Events!

Located 1 Mile Off Rt. 42 In Numidia 270 White Church Rd, Elysburg, PA



Our story begins 22 years ago while living among the hustle and bustle of the New York metro area.

My wife, Debbie & I first found the area while were looking for a seasonal getaway and were intrigued by the abundance of waterfalls located in Ricketts Glen State Park. Over the years, we frequented this oasis a number of times and remained curious about Bloomsburg. It was south of our exit after getting off of Interstate 80, though would always just head north toward the State Park. One weekend after leaving Ricketts, we decided to venture into downtown Bloomsburg and were drawn in by its vibrancy and charm. When we got home that evening, we decided to make the move and after much brainstorming we came up with the idea to open up an ice cream shop. While we knew nothing about ice cream (except that we enjoyed it!), we put together a plan that would get our idea off the ground. We settled on the most important criteria, which was to make our own ice cream and own the building where we would sell it. We found a real estate agent and told them what we were looking for. Then, we signed up at Ice Cream University in New York and polished up on our business law and marketing at the nearby college. Upon securing the real estate location, we had the existing building torn down. Next, we drew up the layout, equipment and color schemes. Our shop was to resemble a barn

Construction on the ice cream barn.


and wouldn’t be complete without a dairy cow we would call “Rosie” - she would become our open sign.

Now, many years later, we are ready to start our next season, which will be our 20th anniversary. We have enjoyed seeing little children become part of our staff, staff members grow up and have their own children, and visiting grownups show off their inner child when eating their ice cream. Starting up every season brings a nervous excitement, but we are grateful for the continued support we receive from our customers that come to Brennan’s Big Chill. We hope you’ll come visit us in 2024, starting on February 10th!

Inn Winter 24-Half_Layout 1 12/11/23 6:06 PM Page 1

Six Luxury rooms for today’s distinguished travelers who are looking for a comfortable home away from home! Wandell Inn 240 Main Street Benton, PA 17814 570-394-7033

A Picturesque Inn Nestled in the charming Village of Benton Pennsylvania... just a short drive from both Ricketts Glen State Park and Bloomsburg University. Each one of our six guest rooms is uniquely designed and features works by local artists. Our complimentary coffee bar awaits your visit.


by Laura Klotz, MarkerQuest Blog edited to fit magazine by CMVB Staff

Finding the Stories Behind the Signs

Part III

One woman’s quest to photograph and research all of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's historical markers recently brought her back to Columbia & Montour Counties. NOTE: Part I & II of Laura’s explorations were documented in previous magazine editions, which you can read by clicking here.

ally used when he was alive. Christopher Latham Sholes, for whatever reason, genuinely preferred his middle name and was more apt to identify himself using that. There is no re- cord of him ever calling himself Christopher. I normally like to write about my subjects using their first names, because it makes them feel more like real people; but in light of his personal preferences, I’ll compromise here and call him C. L., which was one of the names he himself used.

I’ve lived in eastern Pennsylvania for over forty years, which is the closest I’m going to get to telling you how old I am. My maternal grandfather’s family has lived in Lehigh and Northampton Counties since before the American Revolu- tion, and the various branches of my family tree are tied to the commonwealth’s history in a lot of different ways. I’ve been fascinated with these blue and gold markers since I was a kid, but when you’re driving past them, you don’t often really have the chance to read what they say. I always thought that was unfortunate since they seemed interesting, and as an adult, I’ve occasionally wondered if most people pay attention to them at all. I decided that this project would be a fun way to make sure that at least a few more people get to know about them and the information they contain. So, with the blessing of the Pennsylvania Historical and Mu- seum Commission (the people who have been putting the signs up for over a hundred years), I launched this blog. Be- cause I’m a very well-rounded sort of nerd, I decided to treat it like one of the collection quests in my video games, and this is my quest log. Today’s quest is a double whammy in Montour County. Quite literally, the work I’m doing as I write this post would not be possible without the subject of today’s post, and he’s so important that he has two markers. Christopher Sholes; Montour County It’s perhaps a little ironic that the markers I visited for this article identify the subject by a name he himself never actu-

Our story begins with C. L.’s birth in Mooresburg on February 14, 1819. He was the second of three children of Orrin and

The Danville marker stands at the intersection of Northumberland Street (US 11) and Montour Street.


Catherine (Cook) Sholes, with an older brother named Charles and a younger sister named Harriet. Their mother died the same year that Harriett was born, which suggests that she either died in childbirth or not long afterward. She’s buried in Danville’s Old Presbyterian Church Cem- etery. This had to have been particularly hard on Orrin, whose first wife Cynthia had also died in childbirth after only a year of marriage, and the baby had also died. As a young man, C. L. moved to Danville, where he ap- prenticed to a printer; there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot written about his youth beyond this fact. Following his apprenticeship, the entire family moved to Wisconsin, first to Milwaukee and later to what became the com- munity of Kenosha. Older brother Charles served in the Wisconsin legislature for a time and eventually became the mayor of Kenosha. Younger sister Harriett remained at home with their father, until she died in her twenties of unrecorded causes. C. L., meanwhile, got married in 1841 to Mary Jane McKinney of Green Bay, with whom he had ten children. C. L. founded his own newspaper, the Kenosha Telegraph, and also became an active politician - with multiple par- ties! He was a Wisconsin state senator as a Democrat, then served in the state assembly as a Free Soiler (a short- lived party which opposed slavery and eventually merged with the Republicans), and then again as a state senator, this time as a Republican. One of the most noteworthy points of his time in office was that, during his Republican term, the state senate was rocked by a railroad corruption scheme, and C. L. was one of the very few legislators who refused to accept a bribe. However, his political career was not as memorable to us as his printing career. Now, despite what the markers claim, he was technically not the inventor of the type- writer; various forms of the typewriter were created as early as 1714. No, C. L.’s contribution was a little bit dif- ferent, and in fact, he didn’t originally set out to create a typewriter at all. Rather, with a fellow printer by the name of Samuel Soule, he set out to create a machine that would handle the onerous task of printing numbers on things like tickets, and their numbering machine was patented in 1866. They shared their creation with a fellow amateur inventor, Car- los Glidden, who wondered if it couldn’t also be made to print letters and therefore words. This was probably in C. L.’s mind when he read a piece in the magazine Scientif- ic American, which detailed John Pratt’s invention called the “Pterotype.” He read the article and decided that this design was too complicated for the average user, so he set out to make a better one. Partnering with his friends Samuel and Carlos (the latter most- ly providing financial support), C. L. crafted a keyboard pat- terned after a piano, with black and white keys laid out in two rows. The keys were fashioned from ebony and ivory, set in a wooden frame, and the design was patented in 1868. By this time, inked ribbons had been invented by someone else, which made the machine practical for use. Because there was a lot

TOP: C.L. Sholes in his later years, shown with a typewriter, of course! BOTTOM: A letter of recommendation from Sholes to E.M. Joslin in support of Joslin’s application to become a Congressional Librarian. Note he signs it as “C.L. Sholes”


of competition for making similar devices, they embarked on a letter-writing campaign (writing the letters on their type- writer, of course) and succeeded in garnering the interest of James Densmore, a fellow inventor in Meadville, Pennsylva- nia. James offered to buy an equal share of the patent, sight unseen, in return for covering all their expenses to date, which the trio eagerly accepted. When he did finally get to see the thing, however, he didn’t like it and wanted the makers to im- prove it. Samuel and Carlos decided to bail at that point, so C. L. and James went in on it together. The partners enlisted the help of stenographer James Cle- phane in Washington, D.C., who subjected the typewriter to such rigorous testing that he literally destroyed every model they sent him. Using his unwhitewashed recommendations, they set to work improving their design, and in 1873 they brought it to the Remington corporation in New York. Rem- ington bought the patent from them and became the first commercial manufacturer of typewriters. As an aside, my own first typewriter, a Christmas gift from my grandfather when I was nine years old, was a Remington. It was blue and I frequently caught my fingers between the keys, but I loved it all the same. So C. L. did not invent the typewriter, but he’s remembered as “the father of the typewriter” because of his work on it. Also, while he didn’t invent the machine itself, he did invent the name - typewriter being a short form of ‘type writing ma- chine’ - so when people call him “inventor of the typewriter,” they’re factually correct... from a certain point of view. Furthermore, his story doesn’t end here. He went back to Wis- consin and continued tinkering with his design. In particular, he and James had been concerned about keystroke recov- ery; because the keys were returned to their resting position by weights rather than springs, the keys sometimes got stuck when common letter combinations were typed. The idea was to split up the most frequently used combos in order to pre- vent this. If you’re a frequent typist, you can probably guess where I’m going with this. That’s right - our friend C. L. is the one respon- sible for the insane-looking keyboard layout still in use today, generally known as the QWERTY keyboard. It’s all his fault. QWERTY actually does make sense, as it was explained to me when I was taught how to type properly in the sixth grade (after two years of hunting and pecking with two fingers); the most frequently used letters are the most easily accessible to the dominant fingers. Like many fledgling typists, I went from thinking I would never get the hang of this nonsensical layout to wondering how I ever managed without it, and as someone who types literally every day of her life, I can’t begin to guess how much time this has saved me. This blog would not be possible without such a method of typing quickly. So yes, it’s all his fault, but it’s also all to his credit. He’s also the one who came up with the idea of the shift key, to enable the use of both uppercase and lowercase letters. In newspaper printing, the letter blocks were stored in cases,

This slightly different marker to Christopher Sholes stands in Mooresburg at the intersection of Liberty Valley Road (PA 642) and Mooresburg Road, at the Mooresburg One-Room Schoolhouse Museum.

This drawing depicts the original Sholes, Glidden & Soule machine that was patented on June 23, 1868. Note the piano-like keys.

To read more about the invention of the typewriter, check out Richard N. Current’s “The Original Typewriter Enterprise, 1867-1873” which is available digitally here:


LEFT: This public domain image shows one of the very first QWERTY typewriters, manufactured in 1873; this photograph was taken in 1912 at the Buffalo History Museum in Buffalo, New York.

with capital letters in the upper case and regular letters in the lower case, hence the names. Prior to the shift key’s addition in 1878, typewriters could only type in uppercase, so typewritten articles required newspaper printers to fig- ure out which letters were meant to be which. By creating the means to include both kinds of lettering on the type- writer, C. L. took away the guesswork and saved time. We don’t have the printing blocks anymore, but we still call them uppercase and lowercase letters anyway. C. L. spent his final years battling tuberculosis, to which he finally succumbed in 1890, just three days after his 71st birthday. He and Mary Jane, who had died two years earli- er, are buried in the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was survived by his ten children and many grandchildren, as well as by his incomparable contribution to technology.

A slightly more refined model of the Sholes and Glidden typewriter, manufactured by Remington & Sons.

Be sure to follow Laura’s journey & read her other fascinating stories behind the state’s recognizable historical blue markers!



A truly special museum filled with displays and artifacts which celebrate the manufacturing of the Stuart Tank by the American Car & Foundry in Berwick and honor the brave veterans of WWII. Stuart Tank Memorial Museum

FREE Admission

Tuesday 11-5 • Friday 2-8 • Saturday 11-5 Or By Appointment

in Mid July every year at the Berwick Riverfront Park Test Track (dates on website)

Look for our Annual WWII Weekend

rs Country Grill 22 - Half_Layout 1 6/9/22 10:40 AM Page 1

309 North Vine Street Berwick, PA 18603 570-350-9675

DineIn • TakeOut • Catering Westovers Country Grill creates delicious, good ole’ fashion home cooking in a nostalgic country setting. From comfort food like BBQ to delicious steaks and pasta, you’ll love every bite. We even make homemade desserts! Stop by anytime, especially if you’re on your way to nearby Ricketts Glen.

Dine inside or relax outside on our all weather outdoor deck/pavilion. It’s also the perfect place to have your next party, event, or business gathering.

4438 Red Rock Rd. Benton PA 17814 570-925-0330 Open at 11am Tuesday-Sunday

B.Y.O.B. Welcome!


Member Spotlight The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau is proud to welcome the following businesses as recent new members to the organization!

J and J rentals berwick , llc 17 East Front Street, Berwick, PA 18603 • 570.881.5138

Eagle’s Nest circa 1902, will let the whole group be comfortable in this spacious and unique space. Just a few blocks from downtown but setting is unobstructed from other buildings. Many things to do in the area including tours of the Jackson Mansion, Bill’s Bike Barn, Movie theater down the street, walking tours of historic homes, hiking near by Rickets Glen State Park, and Bloomsburg, PA is only 20 minutes away.

magic 5 wine and tasting room 1549 State Route 487, Orangeville, PA 17859 • 570.594.1578 Magic 5 Wine and Tasting Room is a family owned winery located at Forever Green Shops and 487 Rustics.

oak grove lutheran church 483 Oak Grove Road, Danville, PA 17821 • 570.394.0815 A beautiful country church nestled in Liberty Valley. We are open to the public to enjoy and worship.


Van ' S musical Corner Van Wagner | Born in Pennsylvania. Lives in Pennsylvania. Makes music. Mined coal. Logs trees. Teaches kids. Van Wagner is an educator. In the classroom, he teaches Environmental Science at Danville Area School District. He has been se- lected as Conservation Educator of the Year in 2005 from Schuylkill County and in 2007 and 2009 in Union County. In 2012 he was awarded the Sandy Cochran award for natural resource education from the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. In 2015 the Red Cross presented Van with the Robert N. Pursel Distinguished Service Award. Outside of the classroom he educates audiences with his mu- sic and programs on Pennsylvania History. He received an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2018 from the Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriting Contest. His music has been featured on the History Channel, WVIA TV, as well as Country Music Television (CMT). He has released 35 original albums and published a book entitled “Coal Dust Rust and Saw Dust.” His music and programs not only entertain but inspire audiences to become involved in learning about Central Pennsylvania and beyond.


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