September 20, 2015

J. R. Lindermuth and His World of Pennsylvania

We’re often advised to write what we know. A majority of my stories and novels have been set in my home state of Pennsylvania, since it’s the territory I know best.
My Sticks Hetrick crime novels are set in a fictional town near Harrisburg, an area where I lived for 20 years. Much of my historical fiction takes place in the anthracite coal region, where I was born and raised and now live again.
Some might suppose the coal region a dismal area with little to attract visitors. In fact, tourism has become a major industry for many of our communities, focusing both on the history and resources for outdoors

For instance in the small community of Ashland visitors to the Pioneer Tunnel can descend into a mine and learn how coal is mined and/or take a ride on a narrow gauge steam train. Just off the Pioneer property there’s a state-operated mining museum.

Then there’s Jim Thorpe (named for the Native American athlete who is buried in the community), which is even more focused on tourism The town offers a variety of attractions: The Asa and Harry Packer mansions, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, tours of the old jail where a number of Molly Maguires were hanged, a butterfly sanctuary and a variety of unique shops and restaurants, as well as rafting on the river, mountain and trail biking, and hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Or you might go to Pottsville and tour Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery

Had enough of history? The region is also home to Knoebels, America’s largest free-admission amusement park The park has more than 60 rides for adults and kids, an historic carousel, a swimming pool, golf course and camping facilities.

Care to just get back to nature? Ricketts Glen State Park offers hiking (22 beautiful waterfalls along the trails); swimming, boating and fishing on Lake Jean; picnic facilities and camping.

A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick   crime series, and a non-fiction book about Pennsylvania coal mining history. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society and writes a weekly column on local history for two newspapers. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Comment for a chance to win a copy of A Burning Desire, latest in the Sticks Hetrick series.
(All info provided by Author) 


  1. My favorite memories of Pennsylvania involve whitewater rafting down the Lehigh and playing paintball in Jim Thorpe. The beauty of the western part of the state, which I always associate with Slippery Rock and the hard scrabble determination of her people, which is typified by Pittsburgh's renaissance, are impressive. The Barnes Collection of art outside of Philadelphia reminds me that Pennsylvania is also a place of culture and intellect, if sometimes mixed with a bit of hucksterism and patent medicine. But if I had to pick one Pennsylvania memory that is always with me, it was the time I spent at Pendle Hill, the great Quaker retreat center. That was in 1902. Below, are two poems from that experience.

    A Pendle Hill Grace

    Someone chipped the way for me
    with bits of bark and shards of tree
    that I might walk this way with ease
    and listen to the bullfrogs sing.

    The sun is poling through green leaves
    to bid me do as I well please
    but pay respect to all of these
    for God is in the smallest things.

    The lily pond, the honeybee,
    a child’s laugh, an old man’s wheeze,
    the robin’s breast, a soft cool breeze:
    God freely gives them all to me.

    © 2002

    Evening Primrose

    The voodoo music of the bugs
    has ushered out the evening sun;
    the yellow primrose time has come –
    its night of life has just begun.
    Those tight-wrapped petals, which unfurl,
    hold cupped inside a precious pearl:
    a soul that left its form today
    and now to God will make its way.
    The flower gives a tender kiss
    to tell them they will all be missed.
    Ephemeral life and fleeting night –
    tomorrow comes: too swift with light.
    We say, “goodbye;” we say, “goodnight.”
    We laugh; we cry – as well we might.

    (c) 2002

  2. Fascinating introduction to Pennsylvania, John. You paint a wonderful picture, which is no surprise as you do so in your books.
    Interesting about Jim Thorpe, I seem to think I saw a movie about him with Burt Lancaster as the athlete - but I might be wrong.
    Lots of luck with your career.

  3. My previous knowledge of Pennsylvania comes only from visiting Philadelphia. Thank you, John, for giving me an inviting overview of the state's interior. I have some friends who visited the coal mining tourist towns and loved them. I was skeptical. You've convinced me. And I love the photo of the waterfall. I'd be happy to hike in an area like that every day.
    Thank you, also, Ken Weene, for your eloquent comment. From these posts, I'm learning so much about our country and its diverse and talented people.

  4. While reading comments about certain locations, my creativity is sparked as a setting for fantastic photo ops. Such a place is your area as described. The history is unique and inspiring. I'll just bet a lot of wonderful old style architecture abounds as well. Sounds like a place I'd like to visit.

  5. Great post, John! Pennsylvania has a lot to offer. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Enjoyed the poems, Ken. Thanks for commenting.

  7. You're right, Margaret. Burt Lancaster did star in the film--way back in '51. Maybe this is one of those films Hollywood should consider remaking--preferably with a Native American in the role. As always, thanks for your support.

  8. Hey John,
    I didn't realize we were neighbors, sort of. I lived for too many years in west central NJ. My daughter went to Dickinson College in Carlyle and I spent many a time during those four years out there.MY foster daughter went to Albright in Reading. Central PA ia a very historical area. Love the Lancaster area and Amish country. Food is to die for or get fat from. Bought lots of things at Shupps Grove and Renningers. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
    Keep on writing.

  9. We've driven through Pennsylvania a few times, while detouring from Central Texas to Ann Arbor, MI. I remember how beautiful the countryside is in your state. "Postcard" perfect, in most places. You've presented a pleasing picture of your home state. Thanks. Celia

  10. I have only visited Pennsylvania once. It was a rushed trip of only a few days. It's nice to get a bit of history on places you've visted, passed through or never visited at all. I've always wanted to go back and visit with my family and now I have some great information to share with them. Thanks!

  11. Most of the furniture in my newlywed house came from flea markets and vintage shows around the Gettysburg are, lovely golden oak with a rich patina. Even a large cradle I used for my son was from there, and after he outgrew it, we put a thick slice of glass across the caning bottom and used it as a bar. What a treasure. What a lovely state!

  12. Never been that far east, but I'll keep in mind the name of that state park.


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