A Walk Into Green Ridge Past, The Landscape Has Changed So Much But The Memories Will Always Remain.
It was another very mild day here in northeastern Pennsylvania and I walked down the old trails which have changed so much since I first walked them almost a half century ago. I first headed south and east down a path we would ride our sleds on many a cold winter day and night. This is what we called the “mini bike strip” since the kids in the neighborhood, who were fortunate to own a small motor bike, would ride out here. There was a pond here and we played many a “hockey” game on this ice, on frigid winter days, with sticks, cans and , of course, no skates.
I walked to the railroad tracks, the subject of many posts here on my blog, and remembered the first time I hiked out here on a warm summer afternoon when I was going into the second grade.. My mom was shopping downtown and told me not to leave the yard. I didn’t often listen to mom.
They built a highway here a few years before that summer and prior to that this area of Green Ridge was connected to Cranberry and Hollars Hill. The area was covered in coal silt and dust, a byproduct of the washing process at the famous Cranberry Coal Breaker, which burned down sometime in the 1950’s.
The silt and coal dust was many feet deep. I remember a wooden sluice going through the middle of it taking water to the Cranberry Creek. We would play in these “black sands’ as we called this area, coming home covered from head to toe in the black dirt and looking like coal miners. Our moms weren’t very happy about this either.
I then hiked up the steep hill to the south of the railroad tracks. This hill, covered with thick grass, was created from reclaiming and refilling the many deep stip mines and culm banks that were located here when I was a kid. Near where I followed an off road trail up the hill we found many fossils on the banks of a deep strip mine.
And also near here was a large, steep culm and slate bank we named “killer’ and other kids named “flat top” . It was always a challenge climbing the steep sides of the bank covered with loose slate and rock. The view from the top was always worth it. We surveyed our own little world from up here and spent many hours playing and pretending we were soldiers, superheros, and world explorers. I continued to climb this hill every birthday and holiday to reflect on the passing years of my life. It was with great sadness as I watched them level this landmark about 10 years ago.
I continued on my hike and actually found some old roads and familiar sights that were not leveled or buried in the reclamation project. I hiked this road for many years, looking for mushrooms in the fall.
And this moss covered piece of concrete is all that remains of the old mine shafts. i was always intrigued by these old structures and wondered how old they were and who worked them. I later learned that long before the area was strip mined the entire area was atop many levels of deep coal mines that began at these old shafts. I also learned that a neighbor from Green Ridge lost his father in a mining accident and his body was never recovered. I was walking on sacred land.
I again entered the reclamation area and decided to take a path south and up to the old “tower” lines. These tower lines were a landmark to us although we usually hiked them on the northern side of the tracks. One day we did follow them up to the highway near Interstate 81, which was newly constructed when we first started hiking out these woods. The “tower” lines were replaced by modern pole lines last year and I lost another fond memory of my childhood.
I walked back down the hill along the interstate. When we would hike out here when i was young we would look for different licence plates on passing cars. Sometimes it would be 10 minutes until a car passed and there was very little truck traffic in those days.
At the bottom of the hill I came to another section of the old D. S. & S. railroad track. The rails were long gone even when we first hiked out here but I understand they ran along the railroad track and then along Stony Mountain where I hiked a few weeks ago, as some of you may remember from my blog post.
I walked the tracks back , through the reclamation areas, and realized how much I missed the old strip mines, trees, rocks and other objects I knew so well. i was glad to see this old telegraph/telephone booth, now overturned. We spent many hours playing in it ans seeking shelter there during passing rainstorms.
I walked back home on this mild day, sad to have lost so many of the places I knew and loved, but glad to still have memories of those many wonderful days we spent exploring, camping and growing up in those old strip mines. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-page-2/nggallery/photographs-page-two-blog/railroad-and-reclamation-area-hike
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
― L.M. Montgomery