General Non-Fiction posted June 30, 2019

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A visit to PA's 3rd largest state park

Where Ducks Walk on the Fish

by Earl Corp

Pymatuning State Park is the Texas of Pennsylvania. Everything about it is big, it’s so big it overflows into Ohio. At 16,892 acres, it’s the third largest of the state parks in the state. The 17,088-acre Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in the state. Approximately 500,000 annual visitors make Pymatuning one of the most visited state parks in Pennsylvania.

The jewel in Pymatuning State Park’s crown has to be the Spillway. Tucked away off the beaten path on the Hartstown/Linesville Road, 500,000 people make the pilgrimage annually to see Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish. The only Pennsylvania tourist attraction that draws more visitors is the Liberty Bell.

In 1934 the builders couldn’t have envisioned the phenomenon  the concrete spillway bowl would become. It was originally built as a channel through which flood water can flow.

The constant flow of water over the bowl brings a never ending supply of natural food into the area including  plant material, insect larvae, crayfish and other invertebrates, which draws a large number of fish, mostly carp. Visitors supplement this diet by throwing bread to the thousands of oversized carp gathering at the edge of the spillway. Hours of free entertainment can be experienced watching the ducks trying to snatch thrown bread from the carp.

The park began 85 years ago in 1934 following a three year $3 million construction project. The lake was hand dug by 7,000 Works Progress Administration workers. The WPA was the largest New Deal agency during the Great Depression, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out civic construction projects such as public buildings and roads. Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school compliments of WPA.

Pymatuning’s story began when a dam on the Shenango River was first considered in1911. A 1913 flood caused $3 million in damage and killed several people. The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved a budget of $1.2 million to build a dam across the Shenango, the governor at the time slashed the budget to just $100,000.

The Legislature revisited the idea of a dam again in 1917. Before approving a $400,000 budget it was a condition that the needed land in Ohio be purchased by the private sector. The Pymatuning Land Company formed to purchase the Ohio properties. The land was finally acquired by 1931.

Most of the land on the Pennsylvania side was part of the great Pymatuning Swamp. Other lands acquired were onion farms. Prior to 1931, the Linesville area was the onion capital of the world, 25 percent of the onions grown in the U.S came from there.

The park can be considered a “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Every outdoor recreational activity imaginable can be found at the park. Whether you’re camping, catching a mess of crappie, or swimming  there is always something to do. If living in a tent isn’t your thing, there are cabins and cottages to rent.
There is nothing more relaxing than watching caveman TV, a bonfire, in an Adirondack chair after a hard day of fun.
Winter doesn’t bring a halt to the fun at the park. There are plenty of pursuits that snow, ice, and cold doesn’t deter people
from doing. The frozen lake brings people out to ice fish, ice skate, and to ice boat.
Those not into ice sports can pursue other cold weather sports such as sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

The park’s forests are teeming with wildlife. On any given day visitors may see possums, rabbits, woodchucks or groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, red fox, raccoons, skunks, black bear, and white-tailed deer.

The park is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. The park office is open specific hours. The beaches, overnight areas, and other areas are open specific seasons and hours. Contact the park office for facility seasons and hours.

A visit to Pymatuning State Park is well worth the trip. With all there is to see and do you shouldn’t be bored whether you’re watching Bald Eagles, kayaking, or throwing bread to the carp at the Spillway you will be thoroughly entertained. Pymatuning State Park may not be the Happiest Place on Earth- But it comes pretty close.


Tourist Site contest entry



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