Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week 8, July 25 and 26, Powdermill and Ohiopyle Camping Trip

On Thursday, July 25, we arrived early in the morning to pack our vans and leave the museum behind for CMNH's sister site, Powdermill nature reserve, and some other sites of interest on the way.

Our first stop was Valley School of Ligonier, PA. The school features a water wheel built on a creek near the school, which at one point in time was used to generate power for the nearby buildings. The creek was partially dammed, and the water directed so that its movement would cause the water wheel to rotate under its flow. At one point, the wheel was removed. Today, it is restored to its original place, but is purely for decoration on Valley School's grounds.

Next, we took a road trip over to Rolling Rock farms of Rector, PA. A Califonia iron furnace built in the mid-1800s still sits in the woods by Rolling Rock. Its location in the woods might seem a strange place to build an iron furnace, but there are very specific reasons as to why it was. The furnace itself is build close to a hill that is about level with the furnace's top. To its left, there sits a creek that had been redirected in the past to flow to a water wheel. The rotation of the wheel then caused a stoker to move up and down, inflating and deflating the bellows, which continuously supplied air to the burning fuel within the furnace, causing the temperature to rise. The fuel used in the iron furnace was wood, of which there was a great supply in the immediate area. Here, we stopped to do some water sample testing and eat lunch. RESULTS TO COME.

From there, we headed to Powdermill Nature Reserve's visitor's center, where we toured the Marsh Machine. Below, there is a video that explains how it collects waste water from the facility's bathrooms, and cleans it using no chemicals, just natural processes.

Next, we took a trip over to some acid mine drainage remediation ponds near the vistor's center. We tested the first pond and the last pond only, to see just how well these ponds clean the water that flows through them. RESULTS TO COME.

Our last stop of the day was to our cabin, Raven's Roost, at Powdermill Nature Reserve. There was a campfire, games, and of course, s'mores.

The next morning, only a few braved Powdermill's bird banding tour while the rest still slept. There, we learned how "mist nets" are used to capture birds early in the morning and they fitted with bands that each have a unique ID number, before being released. The bird banding program at Powdermill is focused on bird migration, and birds banded at Powdermill have been recaptured as far south as Peru and other parts of South America!

Later that day came the moment everyone was waiting for - Whitewater Rafting! The Energy-Net team braved 7.2 miles of the (mid-) Youghiogheny River in the Ohiopyle State Park to experience first-hand just how powerful water can be.

All photos from our trip can be viewed here

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