On The Road: Sunhearth Trails
"But in looking back at the places I've been The changes that I've left behind I look at myself to find I've learned the hard way every time." ~Jim Croce~
On a recent road trip, we came upon a slice of central Pennsylvania we’d never before had opportunity to visit. We were just passing through this time, but were impressed enough to know that we’ll soon return for a deeper exploration of the area.
Morrison Cove—also known as Morrisons Cove, Morrison’s Cove, or the ever-easy, The Cove—is a fertile valley checkered by farm fields and populated by four main communities: Roaring Spring, Martinsburg, Williamsburg, and Woodbury.
There is a quaint feeling of timelessness and security in The Cove. It’s encompassed by the rugged and rolling Allegheny Mountains, which are a section of the vast Appalachian Range. Morrison Cove eases across Blair and Bedford counties—from Evitts Mountain near New Enterprise, north to the Frankstown Branch Juniata River.
The Cove is eight to fifteen miles wide and thirty-nine miles long, but for those who appreciate sunrises and sunsets, its self-contained beauty extends far beyond its geographic boundaries.
Somewhat isolated, the valley is almost enclosed by Tussey Mountain on the east to the chain of Dunning, Loop and Lock Mountains on the west. The only ways in or out of The Cove are at Loysburg Gap in the south, McKee Gap in the west, and at Williamsburg to the north.
The place whispers tranquility—it was soul-soothing to be there. We found ourselves thinking nostalgically as we longed for times past when life wasn’t a fast-paced, headlong rush to one deadline or another.
Perhaps that’s just escapist drivel or a desire for childhood which cannot ever be truly recaptured—even so, sweet memories are always nice to consider.
Roaring Spring is a principle borough of The Cove. It came into existence and was established as a community around a dependable spring of clean, fresh water.
The Big Spring from which the town gets its name is a natural limestone spring that churns out eight million gallons a day. At first it was used to power a grist-mill, but since 1866 when the initial paper-mill began operating, pulp and paper products have been manufactured.
Sunhearth Trails Bed & Breakfast is located one mile south of Roaring Spring off Route 867 S. It faces Halter Creek on a little over five acres of woods and natural landscape.
The property has a storied history. A home was built in the 1930s by the Martin family, and it got named Sunhearth.
In 1971, after a high school teaching career along with adventures of building and driving race cars, Walter Martin founded Sunhearth Folk Instruments. Walter had no particular musical prowess—however, he enjoyed good music and when introduced to its unique sound, he rapidly developed an abiding passion for the Appalachian dulcimer.
Walter was an artisan with a keen attention to detail. He researched the instrument with a thoroughness that resulted in a design that became world famous in folk-music circles.
Sunhearth Folk Instruments was an almost legendary gathering place for those practitioners of traditional mountain music. The grapevine was an efficient form of communication. News about who’d be at Sunhearth and when kept it a hotbed of musical happenings.
Impromptu jam sessions would often develop into special times of deep connections. If it was a chilly evening the fireplace would be crackling and spreading its warmth. Songs filled the air until the wee-hours of the morning, with pickers and singers circled around the large living room.
Walter nurtured and encouraged these connections and relationships. He valued the pure sound and artistry of Appalachian music.
Before reaching retirement at the age of eighty, he had made a thousand dulcimers. Amongst those who play, a Walter Martin crafted instrument is highly prized and much respected.
Stuff happens in life. Time forges ahead and changes all it touches. After Walter Martin passed away, the homestead was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair.
It sat empty for three years. Nature took its toll, creeping up to overrun the building. Then two visionary business partners came along, and caught a glimpse of what could be—Tina Burman and Paula Sato Maior immediately saw the potential in the fixer-upper.
There was much to do. With significant investment of finances, the help of contractors, along with many long hours, tasks on the to-do list were slowly but surely accomplished. Cleaning up the interior woodwork alone required heavy doses of faithfully applied elbow grease.
The transformation from gone-to-wild disarray into the beauteous place it is nowadays is chronicled in a photograph album. The pictures bear testimony to the fact that there had to be moments of discouragement in the process, but they persevered and stuck with it.
It took a full year and a half to restore and refurbish the home. The result is Sunhearth Trails Bed & Breakfast, a jewel of comfort and hospitality. Every room is large and spacious, decorated with crafts and antiques. It is well-appointed and classic in its feel, but Tina insists that restoration remains a work in progress.
- Sunhearth Trails Bed and Breakfast
Sunhearth Trails Bed and Breakfast in Roaring Spring Pennsylvania is a pet friendly place perfectly situated for outdoor enthusiasts and their families. Facilities for fishing, hunting, skiing, and water sports are all within a half hour's drive.
It was early evening of a perfect summer day as we sat on the south deck overlooking the woods. Birds were singing a blend of various notes that shaped one of those soft, easy feeling songs.
Visiting with Tina over a cup of tea—which by the way, if one happens to be a tea snob, be assured that tea is brewed properly at Sunhearth Trails—we learned a bit of the story. It is evident that she appreciates the past. With reverence in her voice she spoke about the unfolding discovery of bits and pieces of the history embodied on the site.
Her decision to get off the business-world merry-go-round means that she’s tapped into a heritage of music. Reconnecting with the old network of pickers and singers is beginning to happen. She’s being intentional as she pursues leads, and is hopeful that soon Sunhearth Trails will once again be the destination for foot-tapping musicians.
Sunhearth Trails provides a homey atmosphere and relaxation in the midst of the majesty of creation. It is highly recommended—a definite Five-Star rating. Wireless Internet connection is available, and in an almost unheard of policy, Sunhearth Trails is pet friendly.
Just a word about what to do upon arrival at Sunhearth Trails—do not simply knock. Make sure to ring the entrance bell. And then be prepared to be warmly welcomed to a place of peace.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
- Sitting In The Shade
Once upon a time, there was a caretaker for a cemetery who always took time out of his day to tend a maple tree. It grew on the far backside, and even though there was always plenty to keep him busy, he never forgot to care for his tree. . .
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