A Fall Walk On The Railroad. And A Lot Of History Along These Old Tracks.
It was sunny and cold this morning, a perfect day for a fall hike. I decided to walk the railroad tracks from near the old mining patch town of Hazel Brook down to the Pennrose Reservoir near Weatherly. I had planned to drive my jeep out to the railroad track but found the old mining roads blocked with a gate.
I now had to change my plans since it is about a 1 1/2 mile walk to the tracks from the gate. I decided I wouldn’t make it to the Pennrose Reservoir so I decided to first check out the old major railroad junction, first known as lumber Yards and than, when it became a repair shop for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Ashmore Yards.
I walked through some old strip mines and the culm, slate and waste associated with the same. I grew up in these abandoned strip mines and find them to be pleasantly nostalgic. We would explore the ruins looking for quartz crystals, coal, and fossils. We built forts and imagined we were soldiers, space explorers, caveman or just about anything else a group of young boys can imagine.
I got onto the railroad tracks, built long ago to haul coal from the deep underground mines and found they are once again, almost 150 years later still being used to transport coal from newly opened strip mines near Stockton. This operation wasn’t here when I last hiked here about a year ago.
I then walked to the famous junction, Lumber yards and later the Ashmore yards junction. Here is a quote from the 1893 History of Luzerne County .
“Lumber Yards is a junction where the railroad forks, one branch going to Weatherly and the other to White Haven; a neat little station house and a few dwellings near by.”
I walked the still active railroad south and east and passes another sad reminder of our past, the site of the former Beryllium plant, now a federal superfund site. Like many of the coal miners who developed black lung from exposure to coal dusts in the mines many men developed the often lethal beryllium disease. I wouldn’t drink the water in this area.
I walked down the tracks and past the former plant along the heavily wooded and beautiful hills drained by the headwaters of the Hazel or Black creek. There is also history here., On the older topographic maps, the area near where the Dreck Creek enters into the Hazel Creek is referred to as Indian Springs.
I believe the Native Americans followed the Black Creek up from the Lehigh River and then up either the Dreck, Hazel or Black creeks and down into the Sugarloaf Valley to meet up with The Nescopeck Creek and eventually get to the Susquehanna River.
I like to think I was looking on, and enjoying, the same views many a Native American enjoyed for so many generations. Imagine the unspoiled beauty of the ancient trees, home to deer, bear, bobcats, wolves and elk they walked by in this same area.
I walked down to the pole line that intersects the railroad track and decided I had better turn back. I am glad I did since it was a steady four mile climb back up to Hazel Brook. I only encountered few birds, sparrow, blue jays a some junco and this young curious buck, on my entire hike. It was still a great day to be out and about in Northeastern PA.
Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike this morning. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/ashmore-yards-and-railroad-tracks-hike-november-8-2015
Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. ~Henry David Thoreau