Located in the village of Varden, the following landmarks highlight the region's rich cultural history.
Built by Robert Enslin (1850-1855), the Shaffer house was a single-story structure. Originally, the first floor was composed of a kitchen area and a small inner hall. Mr. Enslin eventually enlarged the house to include a second floor where two bedrooms and a living room are today. In 1932, Mead Shaffer Sr. and Frank Shaffer bought the house. At that time, fourteen windowpanes were broken and stuffed with old clothing and newspaper. A second story was built over the kitchen, and in the late 1930s, Mead Shaffer Sr. constructed a fireplace containing some stone from Moosic Mountain. Also in the 1930s, a small brick chimney was built, and the stairways to the second floor and basement were relocated. In the 1960s, Mead Shaffer Sr. received two artificial hips, though this did not stop him from building a retaining wall behind the house. Prior to the retaining wall, the house sat before a rounded hillside, and in the middle of this area was a cave for storing root vegetables. No evidence of this cave remains today.
During the 1930s and 40s, ice was harvested from the pond upstream from Holster Creek. The ice was transported to the Icehouse (pictured left, in background) by a team of horses with a bobsled, and then packed with sawdust. The Shaffers may have been the only ones in the area with ice, for other villagers used the Icehouse during the summer months. The Icehouse itself was approximately 20’ x 24’ with a garage attached to the south side. The ice cakes were about 16” x 20” and weighed about 100 pounds. When the ground level was filled with ice, a horse and a set of pulleys were used to pull the blocks up two planks to the upper level of the Icehouse. The Shaffers stopped harvesting ice after an accident in 1941. Mead Shaffer Sr. was filling the bobsled with ice when the horses on the bank began to move, causing the ice to shift. The horses became scared and ran toward Mid Valley Road, crossing the bridge and crashing into a mailbox that was attached to a telephone pole. The horses straddled the pole, ruining the bobsled, harnesses, and tongue assembly. Fortunately, the horses were unharmed. The Icehouse was eventually torn down sometime during the 1950s. A young sycamore tree now stands in the site.
Used during the 1930s and 40s, the Milk House is located near the back door of the Shaffer House. It contains a well and two chainfalls with which one can lower milk. During the prime of the Shaffer farm, the Milk House produced two cans of milk per day. The cans were wheeled out to the road where the milk truck (Dairymen’s League Cooperative) picked them up and took them to the creamery. A pipe on the left side of the Milk House was used to hold buckets, strainers and other equipment used in milk handling.
Owned by Robert Enslin, the sawmill was located across the main road from the entrance to the driveway on Holster Creek. From an adjacent property on the North side, logs were skidded to the sawmill. In the winter, when vegetation is scarce, one can still see stone walls related to the old sawmill.
More information on the sawmill can be found in Assessment of Historic Architectural Resources: Varden, South Canaan Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania, produced by Louis Berger and Associates, Inc. in March 2004 and submitted to the PA Department of Transportation. pp. 46. The document is available in the Salem Public Library in Hamlin, PA.
There are numerous stone walls throughout the VCA built by farmers to confine livestock, mark boundaries, and rid the fields of stone
The original garden was located on the hill behind the Shaffer House. There were blackberries, plum and peach trees, and a vegetable garden. A corncrib was also located on the side behind the dairy barn. The corncrib was elevated three feet above the ground in order to keep out rodents. It was approximately 4 feet wide and 20 feet long and flared out at the top.
The structure was built by Mead Shaffer, Sr. as a storage building for his masonry business. It is now used as a storage and maintenance building for the Varden Conservation Area.
At the junction of Pond View Trail and Shaffer's Way, just a short distance from Homestead Pond, are the ruins of an old root cellar. The site of an old 40' x 60' horse barn is located nearby.
The diverse species of trees and shrubs which surround the pond include:
The Homestead Pond was built in 1962 or 1963. The area was originally occupied by a large, rocky swamp and a pigpen. There were three drainage ditches across the swamp to keep the area dry. A bulldozer was used to form the edge of the pond with rock and clay. The pond was originally stocked with trout, which were naturally replaced by blue gills in the late 1970s. The pond was later drained to remove most of the blue gills and was restocked with bass, perch and bullheads. Chain pickerel have since taken over. The pond experienced beaver problems in the 1980s and again in the summer of 2001, though no beavers have been seen since 2002. There is a trickle tube on the far northern end, as well as an earthen spillway on the far eastern end of the dike, to aid in drainage if a large amount of water rushes down from the hills. This spring-fed pond is not supplied by any streams. The pond is 18 feet deep at its center and about 6 feet deep near the southern edge.