Crystal Ridge Memories: A Walk In “Baisley’s Strippin”

Crystal Ridge Memories: A Walk In “Baisley’s Strippin”

Crystal Ridge (32 of 92)
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It was another cold and sunny day the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I  decided to again return to my dad’s birthplace, the tiny patch town of Crystal Ridge. Some of my earliest memories were riding on the this, the only road, into the tiny town to visit my grandmother.   It was bumpy  road and we called it the “rollercoaster” ride.clouds above road to Crystal Ridge

I  parked my jeep alongside the  road  just outside of the town and walked  into the tiny village of Crystal Ridge. 

This area has recently underwent a massive mine reclamation project. . The many  towering culm and slag banks and deep strip  mines along the road when I visited as a child are  gone. Reclamation area near Crystal Ridge

I was soon on the only street in this small former coal   town were all the homes were owned by the mining companies.  There are   maybe a dozen homes remaining here. It was, and still is a close knit community.  high clouds on road to Crystal Ridge

I walked past my dad’s house which was now hidden with overgrown trees.  I remember the many visits here in my early years, including Holy Supper on Christmas Eve. My grandmother had a coal stove and there  was no indoor toilet. Yep, we had to use an out house and it was not pleasant. old mining house in Crystal Ridge

I reflected on my own memories, and the many stories my dad and his six sisters told me about their childhood in Crystal Ridge. They were very poor but very happy.   I continued my walk up the hill that led to the path to the large strip mine behind the homes on the south side of the town.road along stip mine

My dad called it “Baisley’s Strippin” and I heard many tales about his adventures in this huge strip mine. He ice skated, sledded and searched for crystals here. I researched the local newspapers and found no reference to “Baisley’s strippin” so if any of my readers have any information on the name please share with me. I did discover that one of the first strip mine  in the entire Anthracite region began here in 1882, as evidenced by this link to an article I found. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15777769/the_hazleton_sentinel/strip mine

I descended the steep, slate covered  slope of the strip mine, as I did many years ago when my dad first took me down here to look for quartz crystals. The entire area was noted for the large crystals found here and my dad had some very large and beautiful ones he gathered while living here. steep slope of strip mine

It seems most of the crystals, and large deposits of sulphur have been gathered by geologists and collectors over the years. I did not find any on my recent hike. A quick Google search of  Crystal Ridge found some of the beautiful specimums found here. http://www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com/jhbnyc/mineralmuseum/picshow.php?id=28176Trees and boulders in strip mine

I decided to follow the  remains of the roads that winded there way down to the bottom of the “strippin”.rock formations in strip mine

Along the way I walked by huge boulders and some of the trees that were able to grow on the steep banks of the strip mine.large boulders in strip mine

Over the years the residents of Crystal Ridge disposed of their thrash by throwing over the banks of the deep strip mine.  I found many old items down here and wondered how old they were. Like this old chair. Who last sat on it? When and where was it purchased? How did it get down here?

Or who wore this shoe?old shoe in strip mine

Or who cooked with this this old pot. How many meals were cooked in it? Was it a large or small family? So many question. that I have had finding old “junk” since I was a child. 

I made it to the bottom of the strip mine and imagined my dad and his friends building a large fire here so he and his sisters and the kids in the patch town could warm up as they  ice skated. 

My dad told be his and his friend once took a sled ride down this steep bank. He said sparks flew up from the sled as it hit rocks under the snow. He said it was a  stupid thing to do. I often reminded him of it when scolded  me on some of my adventures, or should I saw misadventures. Here is a link to some more photographs of my hike in “Baisley’s strippin”. Crystal Ridge part one November 26 2017.

I made my way to this large outcrop of rock.

I have learned the enormous pressures of this twisted rock created the many crystal,s for which the town was named, over  millions of years. 

My dad said one of the most remarkable memories of his youth living in Crystal Ridge was being present and seeing and hearing the rock outcrop break off and fall into the strip mine. rock formation in strip mine

I crawled around and atop the huge boulders that fell to the bottom of the strip mine. 

It was a strange coincidence that the week after I took this hike, my aunt Betty, without knowing of my visit to Crystal Ridge, showed me this photograph of my aunt Mary and my cousin Josephine. It looks like my adventurous spirit runs in the family. I believe this photograph was made in the early 1940’s. Not much has changed.   

I continued to explore the large rock formations and  the large veins of crystal that run through some of the rock.

I walked past the outcrop of bedrock and found the source of the water in the strip mine. I was surprised to follow this stream and found that it flowed from under another outcrop of rock. 

I tried to find the source from the banks of the strip mine but was unsuccessful. I will have to look for it in the summer.

From atop the southern side of the strip mines you could look across the deep strip mine pit and see some of the homes in the village of Crystal Ridge. 

I walked along the woodlands on the south side of the stip mine and made my way back to the haul road that led to Grape Run that I hiked a few days earlier. 

Once again I reflected on my childhood memories in this small patch town as I saw the Green Ridge  skyline in the distance. And once again I felt the deep sadness that many  of those memories can no longer be shared. But, like the owners of the shoe, chair and pot I found in the strip mine, I too, will someday only be a memory. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Crystal Ridge hike part 2. 

“The most difficult journey any of us ever take in our adulthood is the return to our parents’ house. A home visit makes us recall all of the childhood events that formed us. Returning home reacquaints us with family members and our former self.” 
― Kilroy J. Oldster

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