William Ryan


CROSS FORK — William Robert Ryan of Boalsburg, formerly of Clearfield, won first place in the 12th annual Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriting Contest with his entry “Four Mile Road.”

Ryan was born in Clearfield, but did most of his growing up in State College, where lives now while attending Penn State studying environmental science.

He attended State College High School before spending eight years in the U.S. Marines prior to beginning his studies at Penn State.

The song ‘Four Mile Road’ was inspired by the Moshannon State Forest and S.B. Elliott State Park near Penfield where Ryan’s family has had a cabin since 1922.

Winners are invited to perform their work at the Smoked Country Jam Bluegrass Festival to be held June 20 – 22 at the Quiet Oaks Campground, Cross Fork. Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriters perform on the main stage at 5 p.m. on Saturday, kicking off the final evening of great music.

Highlights of Ryan’s winning song from verse 3:

“I got the money, if you got an hour

Simon B’s selling his native flower

May these be the last words out of my mouth

West on 80 or to 99 south

Over the Clearfield County line

Young mountain laurel and the dying pine

Highest point east of the Mississippi right on time.

The chorus pays homage to the labor:”


“The glory is there’s nothing here to do

And the only good things missing now is you

The dust cloud breath of the gravel road follows me home

The four mile feels like a thousand when you’re driving it alone”

The Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriting Contest was launched in 2008 to celebrate the State of Pennsylvania, its people, its places, and its history in song. It is a non-profit event intended to provide a venue for amateur songwriters to display their talent and artistry while fostering appreciation for and study of Pennsylvania’s Heritage.

The contest was created, in part, to become a funding source for the Craig A. “Bubba” Bowman Memorial Scholarship Fund. Bubba was a celebrated PA regional musical performer who lost his life in a car crash in 2006. Although the event has not yet generated revenue, it does keep Bubba’s memory alive.

The contest welcomes amateur songwriters of any genre to submit songs having a PA theme or reference. The top three finalists are invited to perform their entry on the Main Stage at the Smoked Country Jam Bluegrass Festival and are awarded cash prizes and full festival passes.

As the event progresses, recordings will be compiled and produced for fundraising and a Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriters tour of performances in schools and communities will be organized. To achieve these goals, the event welcomes sponsorship from individuals, civic organizations, and Pennsylvania Heritage branded businesses and corporations.

For more information, contest rules, and entry form visit the Smoked Country Jam Website at www.smokedcountryjam.com.

Songs from this year’s winners can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/232795950147539/ and YouTube.

Ryan’s Facebook page can be found by searching “William Ryan Music.”