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Oct 5, 201203:30 PMFood & Dining

Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought

Having a Soccer Ball, Pt II; Duncannon

Oct 5, 2012 - 03:30 PM
Having a Soccer Ball, Pt II; Duncannon

Photos by Jane Adams

(page 1 of 2)

Like many other parents, I spend a huge chunk of my weekends traveling to far off stadiums to watch my child play soccer. As a small reward for making the trip, I’ve decided to look for food destinations after the game. 

Last weekend’s game was at Susquenita, in Perry County. Before packing up the folding chairs, blankets and coffee, I checked the map and decided the best chance for an interesting post-game jaunt would be the small town of Duncannon.

Duncannon is a small town which lies at the point of land where the Juniata empties into the Susquehanna. 

The topography of the land and water form a natural crossroad, which has historically made Duncannon key in the rise of modern transportation.

In 1733, a tavern was built at the spot on the river where the Native Americans designated a river crossing. At that location, there were later several ferry operations, which were abandoned after the building of a bridge and then later reestablished after devastating floods which destroyed the bridge. The most famous ferry operator was John Clark, who in 1800 started operating a tavern at the location and ran a ferry leading to the first road from Huntingdon to Pittsburgh.

Duncannon is one of only a few towns through which the Appalachian Trail directly passes. It is the half-way point of the trail.  

As transportation became easier, industries such as a woolen mill and grist mill were attracted to the area. 

After 1900, Duncannon continued to be an important hub of transportation when the railroad line was re-routed to run along the river through Duncannon. 

In 1904, Standard Novelty Works opened a factory in Duncannon which produced the Lightning Guider, a popular steel runner sled at the time. When the factory closed in 1990, millions of sleds had been sold. The site is now the location of the Old Sled Works, which is the home to an antique mall, penny arcade, Jimmy’s Old Fashioned Soda Fountain, and the Duncannon tower. 

Duncannon is one of only a few towns through which the Appalachian Trail directly passes. It is the half-way point of the trail.  

 The age of the place impressed me, and was evident as I looked up and spied original tin ceiling tiles.

The Appalachian Trail runs along Market Street, which is the main street downtown. In the center of market street sits the Doyle Hotel, which offers food and lodging to hikers. It is also popular with bikers passing through and it seemed like a natural spot to stop for bite to eat after the soccer game. 

The soccer game ended at about 1 p.m. with a win by Boiling Springs, and then we headed the 10 minutes up Route 15 to Duncannon. My father was with me, as he had come to see the game; unfortunately the foodie teen daughter had gone back on the bus. 

There was ample parking on the square and we walked the short block to the Doyle hotel. 

It was after lunch and there were just a few customers finishing up their dishes. There were maps of the Appalachian trail, mementos and hiker logs. The age of the place impressed me, and was evident as I looked up and spied original tin ceiling tiles. 

We walked into the main entrance, which led into the bar, where seating was family style, along long tables. Being just two of us, my father and I opted to eat lunch at the bar.

A kind gentleman behind the bar brought our menus and asked for our drink order. They had Troeg’s Pale Ale on tap, which made me extremely happy and my dad ordered a fresh brewed iced tea. There were ample specials listed on the board. 

When the bartender came back, he eagerly provided a full menu explanation. On special was the chili, which was made primarily with 7 pounds of ground beef, and 7 pounds of homegrown peppers. He offered New York strips, hand cut and individually priced by the pound.  

The selection of hamburgers were Angus beef, were are offered in a half pound or a third of a pound size. There were wraps and salads which “are not all iceberg” I was told. Fries are fresh cut with the skins on right before cooking. 

As the bartender continued to describe the menu, I noticed used personal pronouns in his sentences, for example, “I’ve got”, “I made”, and so on. As he spoke, it was evident to me that he must be the owner. Right then I knew that the food would have one essential ingredient... people who care about the quality of the product that they are serving to their customers and take pride in their food.

We ordered a cup of chili to split. It had no beans, just mainly equal parts beef and peppers. 


Old to new | New to old
Oct 6, 2012 09:01 am
 Posted by  dreamvas

Great descriptive writing, Jane ! Would like to taste that chili !!
Makes me want to go to Duncannon.
Haven't been there is years.
I still have my sled too !!!!!

Oct 19, 2012 11:03 pm
 Posted by  Believeit

Duncannon has a rich history and has unfortunately come against economic and local political challenges over the past few decades. Now there is at least one known family living in a tent on another's lawn due to loss of income, a young father who drug an old a/c down the sidewalk to junk to pay for formula for his new baby, and businesses that are barely surviving.

In June 2012, a charity by the name of Believe IT Duncannon was formed to create revitalization in the area by empowering the individual which will lead to empowered families and a revitalized community. To date, the Borough Council has refused to sit down with the Board of Directors including the Mayor who sits on the Board. The Hotel Doyle deserves to be patroned and the owners struggle to make it from one hiking season to the next. To learn more about our efforts go to www.BelieveITDuncannon.org.

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