Museums, Nature, and the Substance of the Things we Love.

A man is the substance of the things he loves. The love of Nature was passed on to me and I in turn am passing it along. Maybe in their overcrowded world my boy and girl will discover escape from the concentrations and complications of people and revel in their own outdoors.

Charlie Fox, “By Way of Introduction” (no page number), Rising Trout (Carlisle: Foxcrest, 1967).

Charlie Fox Memorial, Letort

Charlie Fox Memorial, Letort Spring Run

This last weekend, I visited Central Pennsylvania, where I used to work and live for much of each year, to attend the 66th Anniversary Banquet of the Fly Fisher’s Club of Harrisburg.  I have written about this club, founded by Charlie Fox and Vince Marinaro, before.   Being in attendance at the dinner of this second oldest fly fishing club in America is always a somewhat humbling experience, when considered in the light of the figures who attended in the past.

This year, many of those figures were honored at the grand opening of the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum (the website is not yet updated), now permanently installed at the Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, PA.  Of course, the museum will remain open henceforth.

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George Harvey Display

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Vince Marinaro Display

Visitors to the museum can enjoy the incredible displays focusing upon George Harvey and Vince Marinaro.  Both of these displays are reconstructions of these figures’ respective fly tying and rod building rooms.  In the latter, the visitor can see no less than four of Marinaro’s own, incredibly rare bamboo rods.  Between these two displays are shelves and full display cases devoted to other famous figures in Pennsylvania fly fishing history.  Of course, many of these figures influenced the development of fly fishing techniques, associated literature, and cold water conservation well beyond the boundaries of their state.

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Gene Utech Display

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Ed Shenk Display

For me, the highlights of the visit included seeing a shelf devoted to Gene Utech, a master of wet fly fishing techniques.  Gene was a close friend, to whom I was introduced by fishing buddy John Bechtel.  Gene, sadly, is now deceased, but I am immensely happy his love of fly fishing will live on in this museum.  A second highlight of the visit was shaking Ed Shenk’s hand.  While I have done so numerous times before, shaking Ed’s aging hand at this particular time, after viewing the display devoted to him, held special significance.  The final highlight included meeting (or renewing acquaintances with) the numerous visitors who were sharing their handmade bamboo rods, flies, landing nets, and art with the public. I was particularly impressed with the affordable (truly affordable — no lie) yet stunning nets offered by Drawbaugh Outdoors (info@drawbaughoutdoors.com).  I will devote a separate post to them, however, as honest, affordable, handmade products deserve special attention these days.

Gene Utech's 80th, Yellow Breeches 3

Gene Utech’s 80th Birthday, on the Yellow Breeches

Any angler or lover of the outdoors (notice my avoidance of the term “nature,” the meaning of which is so very complicated) would enjoy the PA Fly Fishing Museum.  But it is equally true that such people would enjoy the literature produced by many of the people honored there.  One will find no more sincere a lover of the outdoors than Charlie Fox, who is quoted in the epigraph.  If you are a tree hugger and clean water lover — if you love the substances of this world, of which we are all made — he is your man.

Please forgive the poor quality photos.  Most of them, with the exception of the birthday party photo by Leslie Bechtel, were taken on a camera phone.  I am simply too lazy (or focused upon the present) to carry a decent camera around.

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6 Responses to “Museums, Nature, and the Substance of the Things we Love.”

  1. cofisher49 Says:

    It seems like most of the old fishing books I’ve got are by the authors you mentioned. I think my destiny is to fish in Pennsylvania.

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  2. Kenov Says:

    You know, it’s the same with me. When I was young and I’d go to the shelf of our Montana cabin for a fishing book, it was usually Arnold Gingrich. He wrote about all these far-off places such as the Letort. It was wonderful to eventually live near some of those places for a few years. And, yes, you should fish Pennsylvania. The Limestoners are a lot of fun.

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  3. rivertoprambles Says:

    It was a joy to find your post on the same day I was prepping my own post on the famous Letort! I made a quick stop there last weekend, same time, I believe, that you were celebrating in mid-PA. We may have crossed tracks in Harrisburg. I had fished the Letort only once before this brief one-hour stop-over. It was enough to convince me to return each time I head down to VA! Thanks for sharing your historic perspectives. I’ll have to visit the museum some time.

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    • Kenov Says:

      Yes, I was definitely around there. Next time we may have to meet up. Also, consider Big Spring. They have done a lot of work on it, and it is really an amazing limestone fishery now.

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  4. Local and Handmade (You don’t Hear it often Enough): Drawbaugh Outdoors Landing Nets | The Literary Fly Fisher Says:

    […] recently went to the grand opening of the Pennsylvanian Fly Fishing Museum. There, I came across some wonderful landing nets from Drawbaugh Outdoors, based in Dover, PA. […]

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