Two years ago, my husband and I uprooted our cozy living arrangement in the shadows of Toronto and moved to the, somewhat remote, town of Foxburg Pennsylvania to open our very own chocolate shop. Ever since, one pivotal question, accompanied by a hint or two of disbelief, has been cropping up in the minds and on the lips of nearly everyone who visits our place…”Why did you choose Foxburg?” The obvious answers are that I grew up in a neighboring town, Knox, and used to work in the winery, located on Main Street in Foxburg. Yet, this is not all there is to it. Realizing Foxburg is kind of like the story of the Alchemist, wherein a young fellow from Spain sets out on a journey to find riches and the richness in his own life, only to discover that the richness was his search and the riches were with him all the while. For our purpose, conveying the richness that is Foxburg may be a bit of a challenge, but only if you’re in a really big hurry and don’t care to seek them out for your self. For those of a more inquisitive nature, you may begin here.
The very first big event in Foxburg was, it’s making of course! The year was 1785 when Samuel Mickle Fox of Philadelphia decided to purchase some land among the great Allegheny Clarion Valley. However, it was his son, Joseph Mickle Fox, who built his summer home, a.k.a: The Fox Mansion, in 1820. Legend has it that Joseph consulted a local “Indian” (i.e Native American) to walk with him over the land in order to find the most suitable place to build! Joseph and his family invested eight years building their home entirely of materials obtained from their land. The mansion was completed in 1828 and carriage houses, stables, an ice house, a greenhouse, barns, a log cabin for the Fox children to play, and a complete arboretum where added by and by. Interestingly, the Fox’s built the first arboretum in the Commonwealth and collected specimens from each indigenous tree to the area to give it sustenance. They too brought one of the country’s original golf courses into play, which is not only still operational, but never took a break! Recognized as philanthropists, the Fox family took great interest in community at large and also constructed the Episcopal Church and the Foxburg Free Library.
For a great length of time, the railroads were the main event and Foxburg was booming! Some 30,000 residents once occupied the little houses speckled over the hillside. There was a train station in the heart of town and even a beautiful inn where travelers and locals could eat and stay the night. (Actually, there were two different inns built in the same place at different times; both of which burned down! ) In the 20’s a unique double decker railroad bridge was constucted which was the signature feature of the town for many years. (It replaced two of the old wooden bridges that also burned down in earlier years.) It’s distinctive feature was the allowance for trains to pass over the top while cars drove over the single lane on the bottom! Pretty nifty, but now it can only bee seen on memorabilia, as it was demolished in 2008 and replaced with a modern two lane bridge.
Which brings us into the present. Foxburg had taken a little siesta from the industrial hustle and bustle and actually seemed reluctant to wake up until sometime in the nineties when a prodegee to Joseph Fox’s community interests rekindled the smoldering embers beneath the bed of Foxburg and lit it’s butt back on fire! Now there are events here every day beckoning those of many interests. A first class restaurant, a jazzy winery, a laid back riverfront hotel, a swank cafe & chocolate boutique, a lively pizzaria, a quaint coutry store, an exciting outdoors outfit, a curious gift shoppe, a mighty wurlizter in a musical theater, the river, the trails, the peace and quiet! Can you even imagine? Each year something is in the works and “change” is the word whispering throughout the valley. Newcomers are delighted and locals are excited as Foxburg reclaims it’s former glory in a new culturally driven light.
So… what was the question? Why Foxburg? Don’t ask me! Whether Foxburg can be your richness or your riches, all I have left to say is, figure it out for yourself! I’ve found my richness in “food of the gods”!