Volume LVIIINovember 2011Number 4

Area of the State Feature: Central Pennsylvania

Mifflinburg Lodge No. 370 State College Lodge No. 700 McVeytown Lodge No. 376

The two-year journey to explore lodges from regions throughout Pennsylvania ends in Central Pennsylvania. This mountainous area offers plentiful natural resources, outdoor recreation, beautiful forests, agriculture and a network of historic and modern transportation which unifies the state.

Centre County

Whether a friend or foe, it's hard to deny Pennsylvania State University (PSU) has made a name for itself as an academic institution and athletic powerhouse. State College Lodge No. 700, constituted Jan. 21, 1920, meets just blocks from University Park. The lodge gains members from the diverse university community - including two PSU presidents - and PSU alumni brothers from all over the world visit for stated meetings.

At the annual Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival, the lodge hosts an open house and answers questions about Freemasonry. With District 21, State College Lodge conducts a Safety Break along Interstate 80 during the July 4 weekend. For 24 hours, members offer free coffee, tea and homemade cookies to travelers. "These kind of activities promote the fraternity in the 21st century as a way of life for all men to become better men in their relationships with family, friends and community," Bro. Gerald F. Selders, P.M., Secretary, said.

Moshannon Lodge No. 391, Philipsburg, was constituted July 31, 1867. Philipsburg thrived from local coal mining and other industries, but as the mining industry died out, the economy suffered. Resilient Moshannon Lodge has been taking in new members, and a group of brethren work tirelessly to rejuvenate the lodge.

Old Fort Lodge No. 537, Centre Hall, was constituted Aug. 19, 1875, and just renovated its building. Centre County's final lodge, Bellefonte Lodge No. 268, was constituted Feb. 21, 1853.

Union & Snyder Counties

The Union County seat, Lewisburg, is home to Charity Lodge No. 144, which was constituted May 2, 1816. Just a town away, Mifflinburg Lodge No. 370 still recognizes Charity Lodge's support to make Mifflinburg Lodge's constitution possible on Sept. 25, 1866. The brethren also recognize Lafayette Lodge No. 194, Selinsgrove (Snyder County), as a "parent" lodge.

Constituted Oct. 25, 1824, Lafayette Lodge was vacated in 1837 and revived on Oct. 15, 1844. "Lafayette Lodge No. 194 stands out for one amazing reason: We have not had a repeat Worshipful Master since 1894. ... That tells you a lot about this lodge," Bro. Jim Forster, Secretary, said. Members have a chicken barbecue every month from March to September and host a stand at the Town Street Fair to stay in the public eye.

The second lodge in Snyder County, Middleburg Lodge No. 619, was constituted April 21, 1899, and is located in the county seat. "It was decided that the times of the stated meetings would be the night before full moon so that travel by horseback, carriage or on foot would have the aid of the moonlight; hence we are known as a moon lodge, a tradition retained even to this day," the lodge website states. Masons and gun-lovers, alike, may be interested in Middleburg Lodge's gun raffles. The lodge is currently raffling a handcrafted Past Master's Muzzleloader and a limited edition 22-caliber Henry Rifle with laser-etched Masonic symbols and imagery.

Montour & Fulton Counties

Montour and Fulton counties are the only counties in this region with only one Masonic lodge. The oldest lodge in District 35, Danville Mahoning Lodge No. 224, Danville (Montour County), was constituted Oct. 13, 1847. Montour County was created after the lodge on May 3, 1850, and named for Madame Montour, a prominent woman serving in Native American affairs.

In Fulton County, the original Mt. Zion No. 210 surrendered its warrant in 1830. Brethren had no success reconstituting the lodge until they constituted Mt. Zion Lodge No. 774, McConnellsburg, on April 10, 1954, making it the youngest lodge in District 34. It is also the district's only lodge where the current Worshipful Master, Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary and appointed officers have not previously served as Worshipful Master.

Columbia County

Created in 1813, Columbia County's name poetically pays tribute to America. Washington Lodge No. 265, constituted July 8, 1852, is located in the county seat, Bloomsburg. Every year, Washington Lodge and the local Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs host a blood drive. Washington Lodge has a stand at the annual Renaissance Jamboree and the local classic car show. The lodge also awards annual scholarships to seniors from the Bloomsburg School District. "We need current and future leaders to continue the traditions and strengthen our community," Bro. Dennis A. Laubach, Assistant Secretary, said. "Leadership is sorely needed in these times ... and many of our members currently are in positions of leadership."

Oriental Lodge No. 460, Orangeville, was constituted Feb. 12, 1870. In the early 1900s, members of Oriental Lodge formed Benton Lodge No. 667, but they have since merged back into one lodge. Oriental Lodge pulls members from local volunteer fire companies, so it supports the firefighters by helping with their carnivals. For 34 years, Oriental Lodge has also hosted the Funfair Flea Market as a fund raiser. During the three-day event, members serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to hungry crowds. The members also enjoy an all-you-can-eat dinner before each stated meeting, and annually, Oriental Lodge awards a $500 scholarship to a senior from each of the four local school districts.

"Oriental Lodge attracts a larger number of younger new members than the average lodge in this state. We feel this allows us to be more active and attract even more new younger members," Bro. Bob Sutcliffe, Secretary, said. "[Society] is lacking individuals that the children of today can look up to ... There are many, many high caliber individuals in our fraternity. ... Where else can you find an organization that fills this need any better?"

Knapp Lodge No. 462, Berwick, was constituted March 28, 1870. Like all lodges in District 35, Knapp Lodge provides educational scholarships and invites the students and their parents to the lodge to accept the scholarships. Photographs and announcements from these events in District 35 often appear in local newspapers.

Tennis Lodge No. 371 Hollidaysburg Masonic Hall Middleburg Lodge No. 619
Northumberland County

Northumberland County, named after a county in northern England, formed in 1772. Lodge No. 22 was constituted in the county seat, Sunbury, several years later on Dec. 18, 1779. The members surrendered the warrant and renewed it March 26, 1787, in recognition of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's independence.

Elysburg Lodge No. 349, constituted Feb. 24, 1870, grew in 2008 because of a merger between Catawissa Lodge No. 349 and Elysburg Lodge No. 414. During the annual spaghetti dinner, members offer tours and answer questions as part of an open house. "Through Freemasonry, those good men can observe what fraternal bonds, brotherly love and charity can do to better themselves and their community," Bro. Scott A. Kramer, W.M., said. The brethren hold a litter cleanup and provide free space for people to sell items during a community yard sale in May. Elysburg Lodge uses geocaching to provide community entertainment and unique publicity. During this high-tech treasure hunt, players look up coordinates for caches (containers filled with trinkets) online and use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to find them. In April, Elysburg Lodge placed a cache - containing items such as a log book, bumper stickers, and Masonic pins and coins - at the Elysburg Masonic Temple.

Heavily involved with the three-day All Home Days Celebration which has honored servicemen and women for 92 years, Elysburg Lodge organizes activities including: a parade, dunk tank, horseshoe tournament and new this year, a blood drive. In October, members also serve hot cider at the Elysburg Fire Department's haunted house. "Our lodge is what I would call a close-knit, small town lodge," Bro. Kramer said. It is the home lodge of R.W. Past Grand Master Robert L. Dluge, Jr.

Shamokin Lodge No. 255, constituted Sept. 4, 1851, has been active in the community in deed and print. These brethren have received newspaper coverage for everything from their presentation of 50-year pins to their donation to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in Haiti to their open house during the Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts.

Additional lodges in Northumberland County include Milton Lodge No. 256, constituted Sept. 13, 1851; Cedar Lodge No. 378, Mt. Carmel, constituted Nov. 29, 1866; Watsontown Lodge No. 401, constituted Jan. 16, 1868; and Eureka Lodge No. 404, Northumberland, constituted Feb. 3, 1868; and Herndon Lodge No. 702, constituted June 11, 1920.

Juniata & Mifflin Counties

With an average population of 57 people per square mile, the chickens and cows in the farmland- and forest-covered Juniata County outnumber the people farming them. On Dec. 2, 1858, Union Lodge No. 324 was constituted in the county seat, Mifflintown. The last lodge in the county, Tennis Lodge No. 371, Thompsontown, was constituted Dec. 24, 1866. The lodge financially supports the Thompsontown Fire Company and Juniata Council for Boy Scouts of America.

Jackson Lodge No. 203 was constituted in what is now Mifflintown on Aug. 4, 1825, and vacated in 1837. It was revised and reorganized May 27, 1845, and removed to Lewistown, where it is the present Lewistown Lodge No. 203 (Mifflin County).

Lewistown Lodge provides educational scholarships; hosts a golf tournament benefiting local food shelters; and supports the County Playground Association, local library and Salvation Army Kettle Drive. Two of its most significant community projects included providing a sound system for the 4H Youth Park and purchasing defibrillators for the local high schools.

McVeytown Lodge No. 376, constituted Nov. 16, 1866, is the final lodge in Mifflin County.

Huntingdon County

Huntingdon County, covered by the 8,300-acre Raystown Lake, was established in 1787 and named for the village of Huntingdon, which Bro. Dr. William Smith, R.W. Grand Secretary from 1778 to 1782, laid out in 1767. The town's only lodge, Mount Moriah Lodge No. 300, began when Huntingdon Lodge No. 55 was constituted in 1792 and vacated in 1806. The lodge rose again, as No. 178 in 1821, but fell victim to anti-Masonic sentiments in 1837. Phoenix-like, members reconstituted the lodge as Mount Moriah Lodge No. 293 in 1854, and Mount Moriah Lodge No. 300 was constituted in its place on Nov. 26, 1857.

The lodge has a history rooted in the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. R.W. Past Grand Masters George B. Orlady, (who was instrumental in founding the Masonic Village) and J. Simpson Africa (whose grandson served as an engineer to build the Masonic Village) belonged to Mount Moriah Lodge. Before the Masonic Village opened, the lodge donated and planted more than 8,000 trees and plants on the campus.

With a procession and cornerstone laying for the local J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, the lodge had an instrumental part in helping to celebrate the hospital's 100th anniversary last year. This year, Mount Moriah Lodge is raising money for the hospital's breast cancer center. Its 333 members have participated in the Annual Huntingdon County Pride Telethon, conducted blood drives and hosted an open house which led to five new members. "Our lodge is beginning to reap the rewards of being active in our community, and it satisfies me to say, 'I am a Freemason,'" Bro. Anthony E. Schmidt, P.M., Secretary, said.

Despite being located about 12 miles from three different Masonic lodges, Mount Union Lodge No. 688 (constituted March 1, 1917) has maintained about 235 members for the past 40 years. The lodge and its strong core of officers and Past Masters hold "Outpost" meetings in the spring and fall; man a funnel cake concession stand at the local antique tractor show; and support baseball teams, the high school band parents' organization, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Last year, Mount Union Lodge's motorcycle ride raised money to provide 50 free Thanksgiving dinners for residents of a neighboring federal senior citizen housing development. "These times may be difficult, but they are also exciting when you consider the effect that each of us can have on society," Bro. Gregory A. Dimoff, Secretary, said.

Cromwell Lodge No. 572, Orbisonia (constituted Jan. 31, 1888) is also located in Huntington County. The lodge meets in an historic converted church with stained glass windows and a vaulted ceiling. Members enjoy local strawberries and hand-churned ice cream after their June Stated Meeting. "The estimated population of Orbisonia Borough is just 400, making the long history of this thriving lodge quite extraordinary," Bro. Bobby Snyder, D.D.G.M., said.

Bedford County

During the 19th century, wealthy tourists flocked to Bedford County to see the rich coal region, beautiful railroad excursions and Bedford Springs Hotel. Bro. President James Buchanan used the hotel as his "summer White House," where he received the first trans-Atlantic telegram. Early lodges in Bedford included Bedford Lodge No. 48 and Bedford-Bath Lodge No. 137, but most of their records burned in the 1819 Chestnut Street Grand Lodge Hall fire. With its 296 members, Bedford Lodge No. 320 (constituted May 27, 1858) raises funds for Masonic charities, needy individuals and families, and servicemen and women overseas.

Everett Lodge No. 524 was constituted primarily by members of Bedford Lodge on Oct. 22, 1873. The lodge's Clement Masonic Temple is named for a Texas brother who helped construct the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He believed Everett Lodge needed a lodge building, so he bequeathed a large sum of money for that purpose. Members now share their building with the community for Masonic and non-Masonic charitable events. Everett Lodge holds several benefit breakfasts and meals throughout the year, and members support the Special Olympics, Everett Little League and people needing financial assistance. Everett Lodge also hosted a golf outing in October. "Masonry is an old and trusted fraternity with values for living even in today's world." Bro. Paul E. Price, Secretary, said. "Great and lasting relationships are created within the lodge."

Hyndman Lodge No. 589, Bedford County's final lodge, was constituted Aug. 10, 1891. Isolated in a valley between two mountains on the Maryland state line, many of the 80 members belong to the Scottish Rite and Shrine in Maryland because they are the closest Masonic groups. A fire destroyed the Hyndman Lodge building on Christmas in 1949, leaving behind the Master's gavel and resilient members. Now, they contribute donations to cover an annual $750 scholarship for the local high school.

"I think it's important to be a Mason ... because of the many modern influences to conform to the 'Ways of the World.' We, as Masons, can provide the young men of today with desired role models of integrity, fellowship and charitable benevolence," Bro. Randy Hillegass, Secretary, said.

Blair County

The Pennsylvania Canal system, Allegheny Portage Railroad, National Road and Underground Railroad route have all passed through Hollidaysburg, Blair County's seat since 1846.

Portage Lodge No. 220, Hollidaysburg, was constituted Dec. 3, 1846. The members meet at the Hollidaysburg Masonic Lodge, along with Juniata Lodge No. 282, in a building jointly owned by its members.

Juniata Lodge was constituted Dec. 8, 1853. Last year, 50 worthy candidates joined this lodge, which has particularly young officers. Bro. Adam J. Nileski, J.W., coordinated for the 20th Masonic District to hold a Masonic CHIP event at a benefit for Rhiannon Kline, a 9-year-old living with cystic fibrosis. (See p. 21 for more information on this event.)

"Being a Mason is understanding there is more to the world than just yourself and your family - that we are part of a larger family that binds us all together. Our actions affect this larger group more than anticipated," Bro. Charles I. Maxwell, Secretary, said.

Altoona, the "Mountain City," is an industrial and agricultural center with a history rooted in the Pennsylvania Railroad, for which the city was built. On Dec. 8, 1853, aptly named Mountain Lodge No. 281 was constituted less than a year before Altoona was incorporated as a borough. Logan Lodge No. 490 was constituted May 1, 1871. This past September, it hosted a golf tournament to benefit the Penn State Altoona Scholarship program. The city's final lodge, Hiram Lodge No. 616, was constituted June 22, 1898. From its early days, the lodge has been committed to Masonic education, often leading the Masonic School of Instruction. Hiram Lodge is also known for its fish dinner fund raiser.

Blair County is also home to Tyrone Lodge No. 494, constituted July 10, 1871, and Woodbury Lodge No. 539, Roaring Springs, constituted Aug. 19, 1875.

Cambria County

Johnstown, in Cambria County, may be best known for its flood of 1889 and the world's steepest vehicular Inclined Plane, which was built after the flood. Freemasonry inundated Johnstown prior to either of these historic events when Cambria Lodge No. 278, Johnstown, was constituted on Oct. 20, 1853. The lodge grew so large that, on Aug. 5, 1875, Johnstown Lodge No. 538, was constituted by Civil War veterans of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. After two local lodges merged with the lodge, it became known as Greater Johnstown Lodge No. 538 in 1996.

The Cambria and Greater Johnstown Lodges now share the Johnstown Masonic Temple which was built from 1931 to 1934. This edifice boasts ornate lodge rooms and serves as the headquarters for local Order of the Eastern Star chapters, Red Cross of Constantine, Allied Masonic Degrees, Tall Cedars, Rainbow Girls and a Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association chapter.

Greater Johnstown Lodge is committed to ritualistic excellence and understanding the rituals' meanings. The members partner with other bodies for various community events and try to meet outside of the lodge room for parties and conferring degrees. They maintain a Facebook page and have done magazine and television interviews to attract new members. "At a time in western civilization's history when personal responsibility and accountability are not esteemed, it is important for men to build a network of brothers who you can count on for support and assistance and to re-instill what a civil society means to our young members," Bro. James Dreier, Secretary, said.

Summit Lodge No. 312, Ebensburg, (constituted Nov. 5, 1857) is the final lodge in Cambria County.

Catching Up

In the August issue of "The Pennsylvania Freemason," two lodges were inadvertently left out of the article featuring Southcentral Pennsylvania. Our apologies for not listing these Schuylkill County lodges: Schuylkill Lodge No. 138, Orwigsburg (constituted June 7, 1813), and Pulaski Lodge No. 216, Pottsville (constituted July 9, 1831).


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