Silver Canoe store reflects past

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Close by the upper banks of Keystone Lake along Route 210 in Cowanshannock at the entrance to the Silver Canoe Campground is the camp's brand new, old-time-style Silver Canoe Company Store.

It's a general store reminiscent of past times — where things moved kind of slow.

It's a place where you can chat with the storekeeper for a good while, grab a bottle of Coca-Cola out of a 1950s Coke machine and then play a game of checkers on the front porch next to the pickle barrel before heading home or back to your campsite long after the sun has gone down.

“There's a lot of front porch sitting going on here,” said store manager, Kayla Thompson.

“That's part of the charm of the store. A lot of people end up sitting on the porch. We kinda make things pretty laid back, easy and comfortable. We make it feel like home.”

The Thompson family, Ron, Pam and daughter Kayla, live on the grounds and operate the campsite and store year- round.

They recently opened their new camp store.

“We wanted to open the store to service the community as well as our own campers,” said Kayla Thompson. “The closest stores are in Elderton and Rural Valley. We've been busy stocking up the store. Every day we add more and more supplies.”

“You can get your basic general items like milk, bread and eggs, or some snacks and drinks, basically anything you would need convenience-wise,” she added.

The general store is open all year round, Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Besides the food, you can pick up plenty of camping needs, clothing or gift items in the store. Lottery sales are in the works.

Relax while you're inside. Shoot a game of pool, throw some darts or spread out on a big, soft, old sofa while you admire the moose tapestry on the wall.

The store building has a recreational hall and will soon have a laundry.

The nearby campground has a 2-acre private lake where you can fish or paddle around in a rented canoe or boat,

There are 72 camp sites with utility hook-ups, tent sites, cabins, hot showers, a pavilion, playground, sports courts and plenty of planned activities.

Guests are near to the Keystone Lake boat launch, Dayton Fair, parks, hiking trails and shops in Smicksburg.

The campground is open year round with 15 of the sites having water and electric all year and the rest of the sites electric only.

The main camping season is April 15 to Oct. 15.

Marsha and Keith Heimberger, of Saltsburg, live at the camp 90 percent of their time.

“We were up here when we had 26 inches of snow...and we sat outside by the campfire,” said Marsha Heimberger.

She is also a frequent visitor at the camp store.

The lifestyle at the camp suits her and her husband just fine, she said.

“We just go around and visit everybody all the time,” said Heimberger.

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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