The project is cancelled. It’s hard to believe, but I don’t know what else to do. The township and county held a “pre-app” meeting and told us we had to expand the driveway to handle two-way traffic, which required moving a hill, which then triggered “stormwater detention” requirements, erosion control, and wetlands impact analysis. All told, it would add well over $100,000 to the cost of the project, before we even started the house! Even Dave Christian, who had thought he had given me the worst case scenario, was shocked. It’s a 5-room B&B, for goodness sakes, not a Walmart!

I called everyone – the township, the county, the contractor, architect, web designer, even the PHMC – and let them know we weren’t going to pursue this. The only person I didn’t tell was Dawn. I’m not sure how to break the news to her. It’s a very sad day.


Diehm & Sons

Since our contractor wasn’t doing anything, Dawn called Deihm & Sons about the septic planning module.

The “planning module” consists of locating an appropriate site for the septic system – sounds simple, right? Well, after you determine the size of the septic (in gallons per day) then you have to do a hydrogeologic study to determine the soil conditions, which dictate your nitrate plume so you can locate the leach field, which then needs to be “perced” (post holes filled with water had to drain within a certain amount of time) and “probed” (holes dug with a back-hoe had to be inspected), and finally the whole module has to get approval from the township sewage enforcement office, the planning commission, the board of supervisors, the county, and the state Dept of Environmental Protection. Since all of these approvals have to happen in order, and since we can not get our building permit until they are all complete, I think we can expect to start in 2007. Why didn’t our contractor tell us this a year ago??

This is very, very bad.



The mansion roof is shot. A good slate roof can last forever, but apparently this was not a good slate roof. The slate was spalling, the nails had rusted, and the people patching it over the years had done more harm than good. So the good news, I guess, is that a good slate roof can last forever, and we get the opportunity to do a good slate roof. I just hope it holds until October, when we’re scheduled to replace it.


Water, Water Everywhere

I spoke with Jeff Bailey, the township water engineer. As the result of a drought a few years ago, they passed an ordinance that said you couldn’t increase “impervious” on your property. In other words, if you put in pavement (which prevented water from being absorbed into the ground) then also you had to put in a “dry well” to capture that run-off. I assured him we weren’t adding any buildings or pavement, so we wouldn’t be affected.


The Forges of Lancaster County

Before there were Amish, there was iron. Peter Grubb found iron ore in the Cornwall Mountains, the richest vein ever found in Pennsylvania. In addition, the hills were covered with hardwood trees, perfect for making charcoal to smelt the ore (a forge could go through an acre a day) and there were fast-running streams to power the trip hammers to beat out the impurities.

Furnaces produced “pig iron,” which was then sent to forges to be made into “bar iron” that could be distributed to blacksmiths. In addition, most forges made stoves and other iron goods. During the Revolution and Civil War, of course, they made munitions.

The process was virtually unchanged until the 1850s, when anthracite coal was mined and blast furnaces were used, and iron production moved west to places like Pittsburgh.

Because of its distance from town, a forge had to be self-sustaining, employing farmers, lumbejacks, blacksmiths, horses, livestock, etc. Thus the iron master oversaw not just a forge, but a community.

Today, most of the forges are gone, with the exception of Cornwall Furnace, which is a pretty cool tour.