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 Planning a Swatara Outing? Tips:

bullet Updated Map  
bullet Swatara Water Trail map and guide 7MB 10.12.2017.pdf
bullet Public     access points about every 7 miles.

For comparison, when the Harpers gauge at our launch @ 1929 Blacks Bridge Road, Annville reads the following heights:

5.5, the Road to site #1 is almost covered, not             accessible and partly flooded;  


7 our ramp is covered to the top gravel border; 


9 the swell puts water onto sites 1-4 & site 8; and


10.56', only sites 26-35 do not flood. 

Depth  USGS Guages  National Weather Service provides forecasts for Harper's and Hershey gauges. Check the gauge nearest your start point.  Beginners should reschedule at 2.2' deep.  Reschedule if experienced, but water is rising between 3.5' & 4', or below .4'.  Kayaks may float a bit lower.  Memorial Lake is an option when the Swatara is too high or too low. 

bulletUse caution at dams:  With groups, avoid low-head dam in Jonestown.  Uneven portage on left bank, which disappears  into tree line in high water.  Hershey dam portage is also on the left.  Long, but flat, mowed route.  Take out at feeder stream on left before warning sign.
bulletU-Tow Canoes Available

Canoe Use agreement: CANOE USE CONTRACT.pdf


Seasonal Primitive Camping Camp/2019 Campsite Agreement.pdf  Fishing, hiking, picnicking 


Visit the Bordner Cabin in Swatara State Park:  Bordner Cabin Drive thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct.


Most recent Newsletter: 

2017 Swatara News .pub.pdf


newsletters/Swatara News 2018 final.pdf



Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the Swatara EELS, the Book in pdf file


Mills and Bank Barns Mills and Bank Barns Book.pdf\


 Minutes/Statement of Importance of the Swatara Creek.pdf

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Image2.gif (12185 bytes)               BANK BARNS

12/30/99 Interview with Lois Stouffer, by Jo Ellen Litz (copyright 1999)

1)  Barns have common features, but each is customized for a particular farmer’s use. Bank Barns are a form of "folk art"—built without architectural plans. This barn was on Oak St just west of the Country Club. Then, the barn was taken down and reassembled 1 miles SW of its former location. Pa Dutch Bank barns typically have ground level entrances on two sides, most often built on a hillside to take advantage of the landscape. Otherwise, a dirt "bank" is manmade to an entrance on the second floor. The overhang above the first floor entrance is a forebay providing a dry area for the farmer to work outside the barn or to hitch up animals out of the weather. The main feature of the second floor is the threshing floor—for wheat or other grain products. Typically built in the late 1700-s through 1920, the second floor often had windows to provide light. In addition, the barns often had names and pictures to identify the owner or type of farm.

A follow-up interview with Jack Stouffer, Lois' brother,  revealed these pictures were taken in the early 1980's for Paul, another brother.  At the time, Paul was taking a college class out-of-state and got credit for the family project.   At any rate, Jack shared the thoughts of one farmer about the second floor.   To paraphrase the farmer, "You should be able to think about and be close to God when you go to your barn."  To this end, the farmer compared the second floor to the Trinity.  Divided into three sections, the floor reminded him of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with the main floor being the sanctuary and the side floors representing class rooms.

2)  Red barn on old 22, just west of the Jonestown intersection. This is unusual in that it has hex signs built into the windows. Doors were used to throw hay out of the second story. In most cases, the barns are built symmetrically with windows over doors. The siding is also unusual in that it is reverse board and batten.—often seen today used as an accent. Because threshing floors are no longer needed, a heavy beam no longer runs the length of the second floor. Besides, try to find a beam like that these days. In short, these barns aren't’t built too often anymore.

3)  West on Oak St., turn past South Church Rd. Second floor view with a manmade bank. Note the extended roof for additional room for the granary. This barn was made of limestone or fieldstone. The narrow vertical 3" slits are for ventilation, v-shaped to a wider 1- foot on the inside.

4)  322 just east of Campbelltown. Notice the extensions on both sides of the entrance. Since it was built on level ground, a concrete reinforced ramp is built to the second floor. Silos, used for storing corn and other silage, are often made of ceramic tile. Older versions are wood. Then came concrete. Modern silos are usually a blue metal.  

5)  Royer’s barn. Just west of Myerstown with a beautiful Victorian stone house. Roof has dormer windows, representative of a more Victorian style. Notice the end-caps are made of limestone and brownstone. Even the windows are gothic style. The roof is not typical. This is a gambrel style.  On the back side of the barn, note the small entrance doors within each larger equipment door. 

PA Dutch don’t give up. The history of this barn says it was built 1879 by Samuel & Mary Phillips. Burned 1905. Rebuilt by Samuel & Mary Phillips. Burned 1936. Rebuilt by Robert & Sue Royer 1936.

6)  Mt. Pleasant just past Thousand Trails Campground entrance. Base is in sandstone. A small barn with common features.

7)  Off 422 West End of Myerstown. The end-cap is brick with "sheath of wheat" ventilation holes. The ramp to the second floor is reinforced with stone. A small milking shed along side has a fancy, scalloped roofline.

8)  East End of County near 78—Hamlin area. Note the paint and wood trim effect to emulate a stained-glass window. Also, the scalloped border edges the top of the siding.

9)  In Palmyra, near Philadelphia Mixers. Brownstone and limestone mixed for corner accents.

Pictures of barns 1-9

10)  Heilman farm off Hill Church Road. Unusual for forebay to be on the end rather than the side. Has a fancy glass and wood cupola on roof for ventilation and lighting. Because water could enter and rot the wood, some farmers removed cupolas.

11)  No longer there, but was in Campbelltown on Main St. A large barn with multiple ornate cupolas on top—lightening rods built in. Some farmers planted a locust tree by the barn to serve as a lightening rod. (Editor's note:  My grandpa had a mulberry tree planted next to the ramp at his barn.  In summers I could stand on the bank and pick a shirt-full of mulberries.  Then, I'd lay on the bank in the sun and feast.)  Anyhow, when wonderful treasures burned, it was usually electrical, lightening strikes, spontaneous combustion, or arson. In this case, the farmer’s nephew set the fire, one of two that fatal night. Sometimes barns are removed for development.  Such is the case at Ingram Micro in Lickdale.  wpe1.gif (201544 bytes)Anyhow, motorists often had to wait for cattle to cross the road.




Photo by Jo Ellen Litz









12)  On 322, west of Quentin. Most of the barns had a date stone near the point of the roof gable.

13)  Aftermath of a barn fire on 322, east of 241. Notice construction--2 foot thick walls, one foot square holes mid-wall where beams rested, and the inside of the ventilation slit. Using part of the original foundation, rebuilt as a pole-barn. Possible manufacture of peach crates.

14)  Off 934, near 322. Notable is the wooden, fan-shaped ventilation window used in many barns in the area.

15)  Was in Greble. While in disrepair, built solid with a brick and stone base. Plaque said "Build 1844."

16)  Across the street. All brick with sheath of wheat ventilation. Black bumper cars indicate a plain family owns this barn. However, most barns built by plain folks, normally didn’t have large overhangs like this barn. Flower garden by ramp eliminates mowing.

17)  934, s of Annville. Burned from a lightening strike. Mr. Heagy knew of a Lancaster barn with similar dimensions and purchased it for rebuilding on his farm. The original end-caps remain, but about two feet of wood insert were added.

18)  Off 934 s of Annville. This barn was moved from another location, possibly the first barn.

Pictures of barns 10-18

19)  Barn beams are irreplaceable. These beams are ready for transport.

20)  Montieth studio on Hill Church Road, north of Annville. Keeping with the thought that barns are built for specific needs, air conditioning, picture window, and garage doors were added.

21)  Across from Leed’s corner, Campbelltown. Note the horizontal siding—more common in Schuylkill County. Most Lebanon County barns have vertical siding. Even the upstairs windows are louvered.

22)  Near Messerschmidt’s—Millbach. Green color is unusual. Red or white was common in Lebanon. Because, of lead in the paint, white wash was safer for dairy farms.  Notice corn crib.

23)  North of Palmyra. Customized with fancy trim around windows; skylights in roof; vinyl sided sliding doors; and milk parlor on side. Snowbirds on roof keep snow from falling in sheets. Also a good place to place a two-by-four and ladder to mend the roof.

24)  North of Annville. Forebay section filled in with windows. Often done when selling milk to Mr. Hershey who believed cows needed daylight. If too ugly outside, cows could still get light, and Mr. Hershey could make the best chocolate.

25)  White trim extended to doors below.

26)  East of Avon on King St.. Faded red paint. Exterior staircase to second floor under forebay, and storage shed under stairs. Hex signs.

27)  By fairgrounds/Lebanon Expo. Built in 1797. Again, an outside stairway. Barn doors are Dutch door style—can open top or bottom half. Top half has bars so animal can get ventilation but not put his head out.

Pictures of barn 19-27

28)  On 322 west of Quentin. Double row of snow hooks on roof. Open door has triangular reinforcement. Little doors open inside big doors. Slate roof. Concrete silo.

29)  South of 22, Fredericksburg area. Peaked gable in middle of side roof.

30)  Mt. Zion Rd, Kimmerlings, east of Seyfert’s Orchard. Cut versus fieldstone. Second floor main beam visible.

31)  East of Greble-Pleasant Hill farm. Oldest barns had slate or wooden shingles. More recent farms use asphalt shingle or standing seam tin roof. This barn has wooden shingles, while the milk parlor has slate, and another small building has asphalt shingles.

32)  Ono area. Corn-crib attached to barn. Drive-through great to keep vehicles out of weather. Human scent also kept some rodents from corn.

33)  Road parallel to 22 near where old lady lived in tree house. Wooden shake roof. Forebay enclosed with concrete block. Hex signs.

34)  Mt Zion. Large hex signs out of proportion, but owner is a painter. Windows are part of the original design. Slate roof.

35)  Route 22—Former Senator Manbeck’s barn. A fat wife and a big barn, never did any man harm. We don’t know about his wife, but his barn was big—approximately 2.5 times the size of a normal barn, and the longest in Lebanon County.

36)  Near VFW—between Campbelltown and Palmyra. Double gables.

Pictures of barns 28-36

37)  Next farm over in Campbelltown area. Typical, but pale yellow.   This barn has a  "T" shaped stone rear.

38)  North of Annville. Original barn is in the middle. Chicken coupe and various other additions suit the needs of the farmer

39)  Mt Zion. Downspout crosses end of barn. Spouts often brought together to fill a cistern under the bank ramp.

40)  322—Fontana. Dutch-broken roof line. Vertical facing could allow more windows for light and ventilation. Light’s Fort only other building with same roofline. Currently Chevy repairs. Roofline changed. Vinyl siding added.

41)  South of Annville. Tobacco barn. Ends flip out or turn sideways for additional ventilation after tobacco harvest.

42)  Across from Lebanon Expo fairgrounds. Corn-crib recently converted to a garage.

43)  Prescott area. Washhouse with water pump.

44)  Kleinfeltersville. Typical farm.

45)  Mt. Zion. Jim Morrissey’s farm.

In closing, these barns are a part of our heritage and culture.  By documenting barns and making people aware of their significance, it is hoped they will not follow the path of covered bridges to extinction in Lebanon County.

Pictures of barns 37-45

Here are some other owners who graciously invited us to document their barns:

Bob Ladd's Bank Barn

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