The Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau (CMVB) recently unveiled a brand new summer initiative in partnership with thirteen area historical assets and heritage organizations. The first ever Summer Heritage Passport will take participants on a journey through the history, culture, and stories of Columbia & Montour Counties and beyond.
The Summer Heritage Passport will begin on Friday, May 4th and last through Sunday, October 7th. At each of the thirteen stops, passport holders will receive a sticker to place in their passport indicating their attendance at that location. Once 10 of the 13 locations have been visited, and stickers received, individuals may mail their completed passport to the CMVB Welcome Center to be entered in a prize drawing. The Grand Prize will feature $400 in gift cards to area restaurants. Four additional runner-up prizes will also be awarded, and will include more area gift cards, historical regional book collections, and items from several of the passport stops. The total value of all prizes is estimated at $1,000.
The Barton House at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds
The Passport trail kicks off with the “History Comes Alive” event at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, which will take place May 4th – 6th, 9am – 4pm daily. Attendees will learn about the Civil War from living historians, period demonstrators, and re-enactors. Topics include Civil War-era medicine, wood turning, broom making, chair caning, printing presses, spinning and weaving, blacksmithing, spies, and more. The Barton House and historic School House will be open for tours all weekend. The first sticker can be collected at this event from the Barton Historical Association or at the Visitors Bureau’s display table.
Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland
Each of the thirteen participating locations holds a unique experience for visitors, from Bill’s Old Bike Barn to the Knoebels Carousel Museum. The majority of the stops on the summer passport can be found in either Columbia or Montour Counties, but Ashland’s Pioneer Tunnel in Schuylkill County and the three Eagles Mere museums in Sullivan County are also included. Other participants include the Boyd House, Catawissa Quaker Meeting House, Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society, the International Harvester Collectors Museum, the Montgomery House, and the Mooresburg School.
There is no cost to participate in the event, but admission fees may apply at several of the locations. To get started, travelers may pick up a free passport from any of the participating locations or at the Columbia Montour Welcome Center (121 Papermill Road, Bloomsburg). All locations will be open during their normal posted hours. Please call or visit individual websites for complete hours of operation. For more information about the Summer Heritage Passport trail, please call 800-847-4810.
620 West 3rd Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815 bloomsburgfair.com • 570-784-4949
The Barton House historic area represents the original acreage of the Bloomsburg Fair in 1855 and preserves an important element of the Fair and its history.
7145 Route 11, Bloomsburg, PA 17815 billsbikebarn.com • 570-759-7030
Antique toys and pedal cars, motorcycles, advertising signage, gas pumps, fishing gear, and so much more! Whatever your interests are, you are bound to find nostalgia to warm your heart and cheer your soul. One visit is never enough.
19 Bloom Street, PO Box 8, Danville PA 17821 montourcountyhistoricalsociety.org • 570-271-0831
The Boyd House features a large Military Room with artifacts from every American conflict and War as well as a beautiful Victorian Parlor. Coming soon: Mining and Manufacturing Room.
South Street, Catawissa, PA 17820 catawissa.us • 570-356-7978
The Catawissa Quaker Meeting House was the location for Quakers to meet in and around Columbia County. The meeting house was the second building to be erected in Catawissa and was built between 1787 and 1789 and is now more than 200 years old. The building is Catawissa’s oldest standing building and possibly even the oldest building in Columbia County.
225 Market Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815 colchohistgensoc.org • columbiacountyhistory.org 570-784-1600
Formed in 1914 to preserve items and materials about Columbia County, the Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society features rotating museum displays, over 14,000 photographs, scrapbooks, county histories, genealogy files, and more. Staff are volunteers who love to help others find their “roots”.
11 Bloom Street, PO Box 8, Danville PA 17821 montourcountyhistoricalsociety.org • 570-271-0830
The Montour County Historical Society preserves our past for the future. The Montgomery House shows how our ancestors lived, worked and played.
685 Liberty Valley Road, Danville, PA 17821 montourcountyhistoricalsociety.org • 570-271-0831
One of the few one-room schoolhouses still set up to be “ready for students”. Sit at student desks, look through schoolbooks, and view local photos. It also houses a Beaver Stove furnace.
19th and Oak Street, Ashland, PA 17921 pioneertunnel.com • 570-875-3850
At the Pioneer Tunnel, you can take a tour inside a real underground anthracite coal mine & enjoy a train ride on an old fashioned narrow gauge steam engine. Tours are great for all ages!
Heritage & History
The rich history of Columbia & Montour counties is filled with stories that span generations. From the first settlers and local Native American tribes to the golden days of industry and the onward march of community progress, the memories contained within our counties have helped shape the region into the cultural gem that it is today.
The river towns of Danville, Bloomsburg, and Berwick all contain Historical Societies that exist to preserve the area’s important past for future generations. History lovers will delight in spending a day browsing the extensive and educational collections of historical documents, records, and files. Other visitors will seek to trace genealogies, read up on archived newspaper articles, or study old photos. Several area museums and historical homes provide insight into early life in the counties, and make for a great rainy day activity. Intrepid visitors in search of a history lesson might spend a day or weekend traversing the back roads in hopes of discovering some of the county’s historical treasures for themselves.
At 444 miles, the mighty Susquehanna is one of the longest rivers on the east coast. It derives its name from one of the area’s early Native American inhabitants – the warlike Susquehannock tribe. The Susquehanna River is also one of the oldest rivers in the world. Its origins trace back over 300 million years to the Paleozoic Era – pre-dating even the Appalachian Mountain range. The North Branch of the river flows directly through both Columbia & Montour counties. The Susquehanna River plays an important role in the past, present, and future of our counties, and provides countless recreation opportunities for visitors.
photo courtesy of the Berwick Historical Society
Danville’s heritage includes a documented role in the westward expansion of America and indelible ties to the growth of the railroad industry. For more than a century, the town of Bloomsburg has held the distinction of being the only incorporated town in Pennsylvania. In the heart of the Fishing Creek Valley, Benton’s past is deeply rooted in rural successes. One of the first settlers in the area built up an iconic whiskey brand, and lumber and tanning industries drove community growth during the mid-1800s. Berwick’s story centers around its reputation in industry, most notably the production of over 15,000 tanks at the American Car and Foundry for the World War II effort.
We are excited to be able to share our counties’ stories, and look forward to helping you explore our local history! Stop at our Welcome Center to get your journey started. Be sure to pick up our historical town walking tour brochures and our classic covered bridge driving tour.