TROY - Paul Bozzo could see that people were enjoying the opening of the "Endless Mountains Rural Places, Rural Lives" exhibit Thursday in Troy.

"Everyone seems quite engrossed in reading everything and looking at the photographs," Bozzo, a member of the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance (NTCA) board of directors, commented.

The exhibit is located in the State of the Art gallery, located in the State Farm Insurance building at 1109 Main St. in Troy. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, people showed up for an opening reception.

Collected from 2010 to 2013, NTCA solicited photos, artwork and writing from local residents with a focus on the places that hold special meaning in their lives, according to the NTCA. "Sometimes referred to as cultural landmarks, these are places that are part of our living culture and memory," the NTCA noted in a news release. "As such, they help us understand and value the place where we live."

"Some of the stories are very touching," Bozzo commented.

Bozzo especially liked an essay, "Bucky's Cairn," by Laura H. Hewitt of Sheshequin Township.

Hewitt wrote about this cairn, which she described as "a carefully placed mound of rocks hidden amidst a mountain top wood" that "marks the resting place of a family dog."

"To the eye, it is only a pile of rocks, but to the heart it is a life story."

In these woods, she wrote, her two sons, Jeremiah and Jarrod Blain, played in their childhood. She said they were able to "leave a mother's strict vigilance for hours on end, far enough for their exploratory independence, with a trusted dog."

The woods, intersected by a stone boundary, was a "world of freedom and adventure" for them, she wrote. Although the boys didn't know it then, those rocks were to one day be used in a special way.

Time passed. Her sons grew up and moved away. The beloved pet, Bucky, passed away.

But then Jeremiah came back to lay the dog to rest. This final act brought the family together.

"My eldest son, the dog's first and perhaps favorite companion, chose this location on the mountaintop and toiled to break through layers of rock in order to lay his friend to rest in a special place."

"When you are connected to it, it's something very, very deep," Hewitt commented.

Deb Harer, who owns the gallery and the insurance agency, was impressed by the opening reception and the exhibit.

"I love it," she said.

According to Harer, it was always her intent to have such an exhibit in her building. In the past, her gallery has also featured other artists' work.

Harer was acquainted with one of the people, Suzan Richar, who had their work on display. Harer said Richar is an insurance professional and she had known her from insurance meetings she attended.

Janet Ordway of Troy visited the exhibit and thought it was "neat."

"I enjoy pictures anyway," she said.

Another visitor, Gina Kellogg of Towanda, liked the paintings of Doreen Delbridge Gerlach, which were on display and were an invitation to "time travel into the sweet ghost of farming in Bradford County, Pa." The watercolor and oil images of farms in the New Era area of Bradford County were created in the 1950's, according to the NTCA.

The artwork was accompanied by caption notes written by the artist's daughter, Trudy Gerlach.

"These seven paintings draw forth in me tears of joy and loss and longing for a time and people long gone from the physical earth," Trudy wrote.

Kellogg said she liked the paintings "because they capture the feel of this area."

She was also moved by some essays of high school students.

"I'm glad the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance took this on."

The exhibit will be on display at the gallery until March 30. Hours are Monday to Friday 9 to 5; Tuesday and Thursday until 7 p.m. and Saturdays 9 to 12. There is a special Facebook page (Endless Mountains Rural Places, Rural Lives).

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.