Friday, June 13, 2014

The "'Raystown Ray' Is Alive And Well!" Story

Raystown Ray? 
It was an ordinary day.  Looking across the water, trying to see what I just took a photo of a second ago.  Seems to have disappeared beneath the water on Raystown Lake which is located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  Couldn't have been the mythical monster dubbed "Raystown Ray" …. or could it have been?  Carol and I are visiting with our friends who live in State College, PA, Jerry and Just Sue for the weekend.  
Our tour boat called "Princess".
They decided on a trip to Raystown Lake to take a boat ride and explore the surrounding area.  While walking around the visitor's center at the lake I picked up a brochure and as I scanned through it I found an article about the mythical monster called "Raystown Ray."  A photo of the creature was featured a few years ago on the program Fact or Faked: Paranormal Flies.  And wouldn't you know it, I think I saw it appear for a moment before it disappeared beneath the surface.  
Photograph from the Visitor's Center
Raystown Lake is a reservoir that is the largest lake in Pennsyl- vania.  The original lake was built as a hydro- electric project while the current 8,300-acre lake was created primarily to control floods, provide electricity and support recreational activities.  The lake is surrounded with woodlands that is owned primarily by the Army Corps of Engineers and therefore is not developed with residential housing.  
Touring on Raystown Lake.  
I saw three homes on the two-hour boat ride that we took on our visit.  The current lake was created in 1972, but the story of the beginning of the lake goes back to the late 1800s.  It was then that a small town developed along the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River on what is now the northwestern shore of the lake.  
The town of Aitch that was covered with water to form
Raystown Lake.
A new post office was to be erected and five prosperous men all wanted it to be named after them.  After much discussion and bickering, the first initial of the last name of each man was used to name the town and post office. Therefore, the men named Anderson, Isenberg, Taylor, Crum and Henderson had their names combined to form the town's name of "Aitch."  
The dam as seen from Raystown Lake.
Then in the late 1960s the Army Corps of Engineers acquired 30,000 acres of primarily private land on which to build a dam and lake.  And so begins the legend of Aitch.  Property owners in Aitch had their land seized, but were given proper reimbursement for their land.  
Photo I found that shows the power plant from the
other side of the dam.  The lake is in the distance.
They were given sufficient time to move their businesses, furnishings, vehicles and other personal property.  Eventually the remaining structures in Aitch, that would be inundated by the construction of Raystown Lake, were either demolished, removed or relocated.  It was said that ….. There were allegedly no fatalities as a result of the Lake's construction …. but the haunting stories still remain.  Supposedly the woods surrounding the lake is dotted with wild-growing roses that once lined the yards and driveways of Aitch.  
Boats moored near the Seven Points Marina.
Archaeological evidence is still found from time to time of the lost town.  There are websites that claim that Aitch still exists and is an underwater ghost town where the bodies of those who refused to leave their homes are still trapped.  Could it be that what I photographed today was one of those residents rising to the surface to see what was going on or was it just a monster?  
Hungry mouths await food near the Seven Points Marina.
You can buy fish food to feed to these fish that jump over
each other to try to get the food.  Had to be close to a
hundred carp begging for a snack.
Today's Raystown Lake is a 29,000 acre project with 12 public access area, a 8,000 acre lake, picnic area, beaches, boat launches, camp- grounds, trails, hunting, fishing and marina that is operated and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  The dam that was created to make the lake produces hydroelectric power for much of that area of Pennsylvania.  After the dam was completed in 1972, the resulting lake was conveniently filled by Tropical Storm Agnes.  June 6th of this year marked the 40th anniversary of the day Vice-President Gerald Ford dedicated the dam that formed Raystown Lake.  The boat ride the four of us were on today left from the Seven Points Recreation Area and meandered down the lake to the dam and then back again.  The sun was hot, but with a slight breeze.  Perfect weather for a fun trip on a beautiful lake with good friends.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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