RIDGWAY — Weedville teen William Barnhart was among several artisans who took onlookers back in time at Mountainfest 2020 throughout the weekend.
Barnhart, 16, learned about blacksmithing through a video game called “Skyrim” that he played when he was 12 years old.
“I had never heard of it before the game, and I researched it for a year,” he said.
At age 13, Barnhart began to become a blacksmith himself, using a hammer to create different shapes from metal.
Blacksmithing, a respected trade, has been around since the 15th century. Barnhart enjoys keeping an older skill alive and showcasing how it works.
Barnhart had several of his creations on display at Mountainfest, including his popular railroad-spike knives, and was seen hammering on items throughout the weekend. He has created a few thousand knives throughout the years.
He is widely recognized for his anvil — a large block of iron — and brick forge, Barnhart said, which are located in his personal shop.
When asked what he hopes to do in the future with blacksmithing, Barnhart says he sees himself doing it “forever,” and hopes to open a blacksmithing museum one day.
REYNOLDSVILLE — The Reynoldsville Borough Council has announced a new award honoring standout residents of the community beginning this month.
January’s Citizen of the Month is Henry Deible, who has a long history in Reynoldsville as a businessman.
Announcing Deible’s selection, Council President Bill Cebulskie listed his work and accomplishments in Reynoldsville. Among those accomplishments, Cebulskie noted that Deible is his brother-in-law, and acted as a father figure to him when he was younger.
“We didn’t start out that great, because this guy was going to take my sister away,” Cebulskie joked. “I learned quickly though, I didn’t lose a sister, I gained a brother, and it was very nice as he acted as a father figure for me for many years... with all these tributes we give him, I guess he had one little failure; helping raise me.”
He went on to say Deible had been one of his best friends for most of his life, and he was honored to present him with the award.
Deible has been a dedicated citizen of Reynoldsville for about 66 years, and his family is well known around the community. Many know the Deible family for its involvement with First National Bank and Community First Bank before they were sold to Farmer’s National Bank.
He began working in the family business at 14 years of age as a janitor, and became the president and CEO. He was honored by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year when he retired. He was one of three bankers inducted in 2019.
Deible has also served on the Borough Council for four years, headed the library fund drive, was president of the Reynoldsville Business Association, served on the Reynoldsville Homecoming Committee, and is still the active president for the Reynoldsville Area Industrial Development Park.
Cebulskie and council member Ralph “Tucker” August presented Deible with a framed award for the accomplishment. Deible dedicated the award to his family, many of whom attended the presentation.
“I’d like to dedicate it to my family, who’s mostly all here tonight. It doesn’t come without a lot of sacrifice on the family level. If you’re at a meeting or working someplace, you’re not at home, so thank you all for your support over the years also,” Deible said.
RIDGWAY — For Ridgway resident David Fanale, axes are for more than just chopping wood.
Predominant in Viking culture, axes are one of the oldest tools used by man. In today’s world, though, they have come to be used in the sport of ax throwing, which involves throwing an ax at a target and attempting to hit the bullseye or near to it.
Fanale said that while attending the Bloomfield Little Italy Days in Pittsburgh last summer, he witnessed an ax-throwing unit someone had hosted.
“I thought it would be something nice to bring to Mountainfest,” he said.
Mountainfest 2020 in Ridgway, which took place over the weekend, was the first time Fanale had hosted his own ax-throwing station. He doesn’t claim to be a pro, he says, and really just finds the activity intriguing.
Fanale, who works in wildlife management in New Jersey, said the popularity of the sport is increasing. “Urban ax throwing” is the contemporary name for the indoor activity.
Traditional ax throwing is a historical sport, but originated in an outdoor environment. Urban ax throwing is now held in leagues, group events and walk-in facilities, according to www.urbanaxes.com.
Fanale says he thinks people enjoy the athletic nature of ax throwing, while also appreciating the challenge and feeling of accomplishment. The sport requires good hand-eye coordination.
“Sticking a blade in the wood from a distance — it’s intriguing,” he said.
The activity fit right in with one of the goals of Mountainfest, which was to showcase the history of the area and offer indoor and outdoor activities for people to enjoy in the wintertime, said Tom Fitch of the Elk County Wilds Tourism Association.
BROOKVILLE — Local historian David Taylor appeared at the Rebecca M. Arthurs Library Sunday to talk about his new book, which takes a deep look into the history of Brookville.
Taylor’s book, “The Way We Were: Brookville, Pennsylvania Through the Camera Lens” collects many local photos dating back to the 1800s, and showcases the changes throughout history. The photos are accompanied by Taylor’s own knowledge of the town’s history, as well as some he’s gathered through word of mouth.
The idea for the book began about two and half years ago when, Taylor said, Kelly Harriger started a Facebook page called Brookville, Pennsylvania Photographs. Taylor started with a couple of historic photos with captions of what they were, and after a few time another group member asked “does anyone else think David should write a book?”
Taylor said he thought, “Why not?” He initially planned for the book only being about 100 pages, but it took on a life of its own, he said. The book is 280 pages in total because he got carried away. He had the book published through LaBue printing in DuBois.
“I wanted to be able to present something that people could be interested in and hopefully get to learn a bit more about our hometown,” Taylor said. “I’m an unabashed hometowner, I was once married to a woman who claimed I had Brookville flowing in my veins.”
The first printing of the book was 100 copies, of which Taylor sold 88 before even making it to his first book signing. The publisher is a local man in DuBois, so he couldn’t have any more published until just before Christmas. The second hundred books went just as fast as the first did, and Taylor is now into 250 books printed.
Taylor’s own family are seventh generation Brookvillians. He said many of the historical photos in the book came from Fred Knapp, a Brookville photographer in the 1890s, who he described as “Brookville’s primo photographer.”
Taylor stressed how valuable oral history had been to his publishing of this book, noting that some facts would have otherwise been lost to the generations. He mentioned the swinging bridge that went from the fairgrounds to Taylor Street. He found a woman who said her father had built the bridge, and got the story behind why it was there.
“Now, how wild is that? That’s information that otherwise would’ve been totally gone,” Taylor said. “That kind of information, that oral history, would’ve been totally gone. And there’s several instances in the book where I depended on oral information to come up with some of the text and stories.”