“Time does not pass, it continues.”
— Marty Rubin
A sparkling diamond-like pattern appeared on the Youghiogheny River as the afternoon sun made its journey across the blue, cloudless sky.
Kayakers and tubers drifted with the waters’ flow, enjoying the serenity of the tree-lined view and the antics of a dog and his master playing near the riverbank.
The Youghiogheny has long been a draw for those living in Adelaide — a small community just a few miles from Connellsville.
For generations, the land and the water, and what both provide, have brought joy to those who have chosen to live and visit there, and prosperity to those who have invested in the community.
The center of Adelaide is bounded by the Yough with the Great Allegheny Passage trail cutting through the small community.
Many of its homes sit near the riverbank or just steps from it, while others are tucked behind the oak and maple trees that offer shade in the summer.
“I lived in that river,” said resident Lorraine Gillotte Furnier as she recalled her ties to Adelaide, its people and history. “We had a little beach there and had a lot of fun.”
Her grandparents built the house, and, like her father and mother, she and her husband resided in the family home.
Today, she still enjoys the water and walking and biking along the trail that follows the shoreline.
Furnier’s recollections of the early days are similar to her contemporaries and the generations that have followed, as they too recalled family gatherings and why they have stayed close to home.
Martha Louise Hoover, Adelaide’s matriarch of sorts, also continues to live in the family home and has only fond memories of growing up in the small community.
“We had lots of fun,” she recalled while looking through the black and white photographs that documented the early days. “We loved to play school, jump rope or play hop-scotch or tag.
“The boys would play marbles, kick the can or baseball.”
Both Furnier and Hoover, too, recall the Labor Day gatherings of former and current residents where there would be games and dancing for all.
“It would last all day,” said Furnier. “There would be hot dogs and hamburgers to eat.
“It was such a wonderful time.”
Similar to the hamlets, villages and towns up and down the Yough, Adelaide was once known as a coal/coke patch town where immigrants flocked to find work and eventually settled.
Named for the wife of coal and coke magnate Henry Clay Frick, Adelaide was in the heart of the Connellsville coke region and a bustling community with stores, churches and a one-room, elementary schoolhouse.
Beehive ovens dotted the hillside of Adelaide in the early days. According to historical documents compiled by Dr. Angela M. LaPorte, over the 35-year span between 1880 and 1914, more than 327 million tons of coke was processed in the region.
While many fathers, sons and brothers worked in the coke ovens or coal mines, there were other industries that also provided income for the families of Adelaide, including the nearby Kopper’s Company plant where railroad ties and telephone poles were treated with creosote to preserve the wood.
The LaPorte family operated a store during the early 1900s.
“My father said that my Aunt Teresa would give away free ice cream to her friends,” said Angela LaPorte. “I’m sure giving away free ice cream didn’t help the store profit.”
The names LaPorte, Shaffer and Porterfield are prevalent in the community as it is not unusual for second and third generations to remain in the homes built by their parents and grandparents as they feel connected to the land and one another.
“We’re out in the country, and it’s very peaceful here,” explained Diana Porterfield. “We know one another, and we feel safe here.”
This particular Saturday afternoon, Porterfield and several other families that had formed a community group were wrapping up a daylong yard sale where the proceeds would be used to improve the neighborhood park.
The project was started several years ago by long-time resident Sam Miller, who decided the overgrown, debris-ridden area needed to be used for something other than an eyesore.
Every so often Miller could be seen cutting down the weeds or burning brush — little by little clearing the property.
Cliff Hughes spotted his neighbor and joined his effort.
“I felt bad seeing him up there all by himself,” said Hughes.
Others, too, were similarly inspired and began helping out.
Today, there is a pavilion for family picnics and several pieces of equipment that allow the younger residents to swing, jump and climb to their heart’s content.
Visitors, too, use the park as a place to rest their weary bodies after a long ride or walk along the trail that passes through the small community.
Over time, those who have lived there for all or most of their lives have witnessed change in the landscape of the community.
Gone are several of the company houses that had sprung up during the coke boom as well as the post office, school house, church and other buildings.
Even the once prevalent beehive ovens have been torn down or covered over by the weeds and brush.
However, just as time continues, so has Adelaide.
Its longtime residents have been joined by newcomers over the years who have built new homes on the bluffs overlooking the river and the tiny “patch town” that has retained its charm.
The addition of the Great Allegheny Passage along the Youghiogheny many years ago has brought a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and an influx of others seeking temporary refuge at a local campground.
While residents were once wary of the visitors, they have come to accept their short-term stays and enjoy their company.
Denise Gallo and Deene Yenchochic now own the campground that has changed hands a few times since its inception some 35 years ago.
Modern cabins with flatscreen televisions and all the other amenities found at home are amid large recreational vehicles and those who still like to “rough it” in the outdoors.
As the two owners sat outside their well-stocked store, inviting swimming pool and playground, several recreational vehicles pulled to the front of the registration office.
It is a familiar sight beginning in April and continuing through September and October.
Over the years, Gallo and Yenchochic have made numerous improvements to the now-Kampgrounds of America (KOA) facility to meet the needs of both their long-term and short-term guests.
“Everyone comes to just get away from their routine or to spend quality time with their families,” said Gallo. “We have people that will spend every weekend here during the summer and others that stay for several weeks.”
George Lynn, a former South Connellsville resident, now splits his time between his summer home at the campground and his residence in Arizona.
“I love it here,” he said as he took a break from watering his plot of grass that surrounds his motorhome.
“I grew up swimming in the Yough, so when my wife passed away it made perfect sense to come back here for part of the year.
“It helped me to heal.”
While the landscape of Adelaide has changed over time, what has remained constant is what it has meant to those that call it home or find it to be a place of refuge.
“I love it here,” said Hoover. “I have always loved it here.”