A postcard, a photograph or any knick knack, no matter how small — these are worth far more than the pocket change they cost. As any souvenir collector knows, these mementos are memories, proof of a day well-lived.
Now, thanks to a new program by the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, visitors to McKean County have a new way to catalog their travels: collectible pins.
“We are excited to launch this unique program,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the ANF Visitors Bureau. “McKean will be the only county in the state of Pennsylvania offering a collectible pin program that brings together ten different historic sites and museums to encourage visitors to explore the entire county.”
A launch party for the Historic McKean County Collectible Pin Trail took place Tuesday at the Marilyn Horne Museum & Exhibit Center in Bradford, which is one of 10 locations participating across the county.
In addition to the Marilyn Horne Museum, represented on the pin trail are the Kinzua Bridge State Park Gift Shop in Mount Jewett; the Zippo-Case Museum, the Penn Brad Oil Museum and the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau Welcome Center, all in Bradford; the McKean County Historical Society in Smethport; the Eldred World War II Museum, the McCleery Discovery Center in Kane; Lynn Hall and the Serenity Glass Park, both in Port Allegany.
Travelers to each of these 10 spots can purchase a pin to attach to a special lanyard. Pocket maps showing the pins and locations can be found at the participating sites.
People can also download a PDF version of the trail map at www.visitANF.com.
The collectible pins are available for purchase by the public starting today.
Representatives of the organizations met Tuesday morning to receive a “start-up kit” for the program. The ANF Visitors Bureau covered the cost of the first 100 lanyards and pins for each location.
“As many of the locations participating are non-profit organizations the ANFVB has provided the logistical and financial support to guarantee that all of the county’s sites were able to participate,” Devlin said. “As the pins are sold, each location will have their own funds to purchase additional pins.”
She explained that the project began as an idea to promote the smaller sites.
Matthew Hileman, executive director of the Marilyn Horne Museum and an executive board member at the ANF Visitors Bureau, brought up a pin program at Disney, and the idea developed from there.
The program provides an easy guide for visitors to follow to learn the history of the area.
“We have some really rich history in our county,” Devlin said.
She added that while some sites on the trail are well known to casual visitors, some are not, and this will be a fun way to promote those sites.
“Tourism is the key to unlocking the economic potential of our communities.” Devlin added. “The pin program will encourage visitors and residents to travel throughout the county, where they will dine, shop, spend dollars at local businesses, and hopefully make plans for a return visit.”
Devlin is hopeful that visitors the trail will encourage visitors to stay the night, which is when an area really sees an economic impact.
Plus, “They’ll have a better experience. They’re not rushed,” she added.
Most of the sites have regular open hours when visitors can stop.
For the Serenity Glass Park, which is outside and does not have staff, pins will be sold at businesses around Port Allegany.
To visit Lynn Hall, visitors can contact owners Rick Sparkes and Adam Grant at 954-554-8492 to schedule a tour. Visit lynnhallpa.com to learn more.
In fact, the press release from the ANF Visitors Bureau notes, “When making plans to visit one of McKean County’s historic sites, be sure to call ahead as many of the participating organizations have seasonal hours.”
Alicia Dankesreiter, an executive board member for the ANF Visitors Bureau and manager of Bradford Regional Airport, suggested that a display of lanyards could placed at the airport, too.
Pins will retail for $5.95 each plus tax, and lanyards for $4.95 plus tax. People can also order the ANF Trail Central Pin, the logo lanyard and a print copy of the pocket map for $10.90 plus tax and shipping.
For more about the McKean County Historic Collectible Pin Program, call the ANF Visitors Bureau’s at 800-473-9370 or email email@example.com.