Well we were only there briefly in September 2011 so don't know a lot about the town except that it has a visitor center, an Applebees, a hospital, and an "Autumn Leaf Festival", presumably in the autumn. Oh yes, they have the Clarion County Fair in late July and they also have a college.
Located immediately behind the courthouse in Clarion is the county prison. This structure was began in 1873 and construction was completed in 1875 at a cost of over $120,000. The front half of the jail was built of red brick and it features an imposing 97 foot tall square tower. The back half of the prison is made of a light brown sandstone that is two feet thick. The prison was built with 20 cells. In 1911 the prison was the location of the county's only execution.
As children we once got to tour the prison when it was still in use. I don't remember much except for the small size fo the cells, and the tiny little toilets they had to use.
Clarion County now has a new jail the was built in the 1990s in Shippenville just a few miles from Clarion.
Pennsylvania is filled with forests of deciduous hardwood trees and cool, crisp fall weather, perfect for spectacular leaves in the autumn. Cool places in the state to check out the leaves are focused on "Pennsylvania's Great Outdoors" -- Clarion, Jefferson, Elk, Forest, and Cameron Counties.
Clarion, which hosts a fun-filled annual Autumn Leaf Festival, bills itself as the "autumn leaf capital of the world." Their annual festival is filled with activities and events such as carnival rides, a 5k run, and is finalized by a great parade which brings an estimated 500,000 visitors to this small town for the week-long festival each year. Clarion's first Autumn Leaf Festival in 1953.
Clarion County Veterans Memorial Park is just across the street from Clarion's most obvious landmark: the courthouse. The park includes a large gazebo plus the Clarion County Veterans Monument, the Civil War Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the POW/MIA Marker.
Clarion County was created in 1839 from parts of neighboring Venango and Armstrong Counties, and Clarion borough is the seat of Clarion County. The first courthouse in Clarion was completed in 1843 but burned in 1859. The second courthouse was constructed in 1863, and this structure burned in 1882.
The present Clarion Courthouse was completed in 1885, and it houses the county offices, including the county commissioners who are the chief executives of the county. Its most distinctive feature is the 9 foot diameter clock face, but the bell is also impressive at 1,313 pounds. From the ground to lady Justice on the top of the tower is 213 feet, easily the tallest structure in town.
The original statue of Justice was about 10 feet tall, weighed 125 pounds, and was made of zinc. It was refurbished in 1981 with the zinc now coated in fiberglass and the weight up to 250 pounds. Interestingly, during removal and restoration, it is said that she had some 25 bullet holes in her!
Immediately behind the courthouse is the historic 1875 brick and stone prison, which was the site of Clarion County's only execution in 1911.
The plaque in front of the courthouse reads:
Formed March 11, 1839 out of Armstrong and Venango counties. Named for the Clarion River. Early center of iron industry. Noted also for its coal resources and lumbering. The county seat, Clarion, was incorporated as a borough on April 6, 1841.
I grew up in Lucinda, a very small farming community of about 300 people and 300 dairy cows. It is dominated by St. Joseph's Church on Route 66. Surrounded by woods and fields, it is a great place for children. It seems like I spent all of my waking hours in the woods or playing football, baseball, and basketball when I was a child.
Visit on the 4th of July weekend to see the big St Joseph's Church festival, and in the fall you can check out Griebel's corn maze, which becomes haunted for Halloween. Other things in Lucinda? Shop at Jerry's Grocery or Lander's Hardware store, or grab a drink at BK's Bar, the Wayside Inn, or the Dew Drop Inn. There are also a few historical sites such as Lucinda and Helen Iron Furnaces and the old Lucinda train station. Otherwise, do what the locals do and hunt.
Growing up in Lucinda, this was always one of my favorite pastimes. My dad always had a bunch of beagles and the woods around our house was full of rabbits. In the fall, I'd often get home from school, grab a gun and a dog, then head into the woods until dark. Those were the days!
In a big rural county with lots of open space and a bunch of small, spread out towns and villages, where would you put a county park? How about in the middle of nowhere, so no one has easy access?!
The Clarion County Park has a wide variety of recreational and educational opportunities available free to the public. It has several baseball fields, a basketball court, tennis court, horse arena, an archery range, a nature trail and pavilions.
The Clarion Fire & Hose Company serves the small town of Clarion, including the Clarion University of Pennsylvania. They typically have 40-50 active firemen who respond to all fires and car accidents in the area. Every year during Clarion's Autumn Leaf Festival, the Clarion Fire Department gives fire truck rides, departing from Fire Hall, 525 Wood Street, from 5 p.m. to dusk.
Recently in nearby Lucinda the Clarion Fire Department assisted in the tranquilizing and removal of a bear cub from a tree. The ladder truck was needed to the game warden could get high enough to tranquilize the cub.
Other Clarion County fire departments include: Callensburg - Licking Twp. Volunteer Fire Department, Foxburg Volunteer Fire and Relief Association, Hawthorn Area Fire Department, Knox Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., Limestone Volunteer Fire Company, Milcreek Twp Volunteer Fire Department, New Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Department, Sligo Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., St Petersburg Fire Co, Strattanville Volunteer Fire Company, and Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department.
The Clarion River offers many recreational opportunities for Clarion residents. Boating, swimming, canoing, fishing, and water skiing are all common activities throughout the summer. In the fall the Clarion River Valley lights up with impressive oranges, reds, and browns as the leaves of the hardwood trees change color--leading to Clarion's famous annual Autumn Leaf Festival!
Just 110 miles long, the Clarion flows into the Allegheny River. Known to local native people as Tuppeek-hanne, European settlers to the area shortened the name to Toby Creek. In 1817 surveyor Daniel Stanard said the river sounded like a distant clarion, and the new name stuck. By the early 1900s the Clarion River was known as Pennsylvania's most polluted river, but has been much improved in recent decades. Almost half of the river, some 52 miles, were named by congress in 1996 as a national Wild and Scenic River.
Main Street is the heart of Clarion in terms of history, shopping, restaurants, nightlife, education, and more. From the courthouse and the borough park across Main to the University and its stadium anchoring either end of town, life in Clarion revolves around Main Street. This street has many of the towns better restaurants from fine dining at the Capt Loomis Inn to quick meals like Vinny's, Bob's Sub, the County Seat, and the Pizza Pub. Main Street Clarion also has some of the town's favorite bars such as the Tavern and the University Inn.
Just seeing the hmes around town gives you an idea about what the town is like. Here are a few snapshots.