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E.O. Austin Home and Historical Society – The Dam Museum

Shoot!  A photo shoot, of course!  My husband, who is seriously one of the good guys (and pretty darned good-looking, I must add), my wonderful mother, and I recently journeyed over to the little town of Austin, PA to visit the E.O. Austin Home and Historical Society. I had been preparing for weeks to do a photo shoot of 3 of my classroom decor sets in the vintage school room at this museum.

This blog post is mainly going to be about the Historical Society itself, which most people just call the Austin Dam Museum. If you have not visited this place yet, you truly are missing out. It is an amazing recreation of the original home of Edward Orramel Austin, who was the founder of the town of Austin, PA.

 Original E.O. Austin Home
E.O. Austin Home and Historical Society Today
According to the Austin Historical Society Website, “In September of 1856, Edward Orramel Austin came to Freeman Run. He fell in love with the area and began to build a village. From then on, he lived his entire life in the valley. He served in the Civil War and returned to his valley after. His dream grew until his town, at one period, was one of the largest in Potter County. At the time of his death in 1908, the town of Austin was at its most productive with paper mills and saw mills, as well. He lived to see a great dream come true. Two years later, nearly the entire town was swept away when the great dam builty by the Bayless Pulp and Paper Company failed to hold back its 500,000,000+ gallons of water. The home of E.O. Austin went with it.”
The museum itself is a replica of Mr. Austin’s house from the 1800’s. Ron Ebbert, who has devoted much of his life to this historical project, has taken great pains to make sure the historical integrity and accuracy of the house is in place. It sits in almost the exact location as it did before the flood of 1911. He has overseen the collection of thousands of pieces of meaningful memorabilia from Austin and the surrounding areas, and has helped arrange those pieces into organized rooms and sections of the home.
Ron Ebbert taking a moment to relax on the front porch of the E.O. Austin Home
The museum showcases an area one-room schoolhouse display, Austin Flood of 1911 memorabilia, a military room, logging and farming display, sports memorabilia, post office, a church display, an authentic kitchen from the 1800’s, and so much more.

Of course, this room was my favorite.  So much in education has changed over the past 100 or more years, and yet, I felt a connection to those teachers who loved their students just as I do mine today.Paired with a visit to the Austin Dam Memorial Park, a trip to this museum is well worth the drive. The history of the Austin Dam is quite fascinating. In 1911, the dam broke, and a torrent of water carried logs and debris through the growing town of Austin. At least 78 lives were lost in the devastating tragedy.

Today, a park stands at the site of the dam ruins. While there, guests can visit a welcome center, gift store, historical wall display, interpretive trails, and enjoy a picnic lunch in the large pavilion.


Our visit to the museum was not only fun and productive, it was also a great learning experience. I had a vision of how I wanted my photos to look set up in an authentic old schoolhouse, and because of the graciousness of the Austin Historical Society, everything turned out just as I had pictured it in my mind.
My husband was a great photographer and my mom helped me arrange the decor just how I wanted it. She is such a talented decorator!
Here is a peek at the 3 classroom decor sets!  Hope you love them as much as I do!
Shelly Rees

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  • Judy Gosda July 20, 2016 at 1:42 am

    My grandfather was Edward W Austin,his wife was Grace. My mother was Kittie M Austin She told me that E O Austin was my relative. Can you tell me if this could be true? I was told about this flood from my mother. They lived in Austin. She mentioned how people climbed on top of their roofs to survive. I have her copy of the book Marie Kathern Nusehke wrote. That’s what brought me to this page.

    • Shelly Rees July 23, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Hi, Judy. It’s possible that is true, but I really do not know too much about the history of Austin. The tragic story of the Austin Dam breaking is quite fascinating; many people fled the flood by climbing to their roofs or running up the nearby hills. I would suggest contacting the E.O. Austin Historical Society with your question. Here is their email: [email protected] Thanks!

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    I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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