Fine Food and Pennsylvania CoE Campgrounds

We found two excellent Corps of Engineers campgrounds in northern PA, each site with power and water, and some at both with full hook-ups.  Prices are a reasonable $17 to $18 if you have America the Beautiful; but twice that if you don’t.


Tionesta Lakes is located just outside the northwest PA town of that name.  It is very shady, which is likely a factor in poor cell and data reception on these campsites.  However, there is a lightly-used group shelter near the camp entrance, and there you can make all the calls you like and enjoy two or three bars of 4G LTE.  If that fails, drive a couple of miles into town and borrow desktops at the library.  Do bring your groceries – don’t expect to find a supermarket in a town of 500.  If you plan to go on a weekend, make your reservations far in advance:  the locals flock here on weekends and holidays.

Tionesta is 18 miles north of Oil City, former headquarters of Quaker State Corp.  I dragged the Kat to the Yellow Dog Lantern restaurant, and despite serious misgivings, The Dog became one of her favorite eateries on the planet.  We learned that the long-time owner had sold out to her prodigal chef (the one who fed me 20 years ago) and today Sean cooks better than ever.  I ordered Chicken Marsala with wild mushrooms and angel hair pasta.  It was simply delicious, and served in portions so large that the half that went into a go-box served as our dinner the next day.  Kat says that I cook a better version, but if I picked wild mushrooms we both could be done with eating.

Fried Oysters with Shallot Butter

She out-ordered me by going for a spectacular cup of French onion soup roofed with browned Gruyere, followed by a large appetizer serving of Fried Oysters with Shallot Butter.  I prefer half-shell or baked oysters to any previous version of fried, but Nevermore, not if they’re fried like these.  The breading was not cornmeal or panko, but probably some combination of flour and batter.   The butter was lightly scented with yellow bell peppers and a hint of shallot.  This is food worthy of Brennan’s or Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, at half the price.

Ives Run’s Osprey

Ives Run Campground is a Corps of Engineers project about 140 miles northeast of Tionesta and twice as nice.  Along the route from Tionesta to Ives Run Kat saw a black bear sprinting across the road.  I spied a bald eagle perched atop a dead tree, scowling as though he were President, but the Kat, focused on her driving missed him.  There is serious wildlife in The Wilds of Pennsylvania.

Sun Setting On the Lake

Ives Run is a lovely 1300 acre lake and each campsite has water and up to 50 amps.  Some have full hookups, most have shade, and if your awnings are up to keeping you comfy in full sun (it was quite cool during our visit), choose a site near the boat launch without shade.  There you’ll enjoy powerful 4G LTE data and a strong cell signal, courtesy of a tower you can see a couple of miles southward, high on a hill.  You will want reservations for weekends, but there are usually a few walk-ups available Sunday through Thursday afternoons.   Wellsboro, a town of 6,000, is less than ten miles away and offers just about everything a camper could need, except perhaps a sense of humor.

Rainbow Over Ives Run

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