Grape Run Reservoir Memories: A Walk Into My Past
The holidays will be difficult this year for me and my family. They will never be the same after our tragic loss. We still gathered on Thanksgiving and are fortunate to be as close as we are. I spent a lot time these past weeks walking and reflecting on the event that has so changed my life. And, on many of those walks, found myself near my father’s home in Crystal Ridge.
On Black Friday morning I parked my jeep on the only road leading into this tiny coal patch town. I decided to walk to the Grape Run Reservoir on the dirt haul roads I have traveled since I was an infant.
My father told me he took me out here for the first time to see a large “steam shovel” that was being transported to the strip mines in the area. I was only two or three years old. He said I was afraid and cried when I saw it. Here is a link to an article in the local newspaper on this “huge shovel” https://www.newspapers.com/clip/15616286/the_plain_speaker/ A few years later it was on these same roads that he took me and my brother John for mushrooms. It was here that he first told us to “keep your eyes peeled” as we looked for mushrooms, wild flowers or any other wonders of nature we may find. He was very happy out here. .
So many memories came to my mind as I walked up the haul road through an area of strip mines that were recently filled and reclaimed. As the road made it’s way uphill I was able to see the skyline of Hazleton and recalled even more memories of my wonderful life growing up in this city.
I soon came to the area of the road that was “washed out” by the flood waters of the Cranberry Creek that were released by the demolition of the dam at the Grape Run Reservoir. I was only 8 years old when it occurred but it seems like yesterday. Here is a link to a newspaper article about this act of vandalism. https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=15335798
My dad drove through the washout a couple of times but, as the condition of the road worsened, it forced us to drive to “our” “mushroom woods” from the back road along the railroad tracks from Harwood.
I continued my uphill walk on the haul road and recalled how I learned how drive a car on these rocky dirt roads, as did all of my siblings. Dad loved it out here and spent a lot of time with us in the “woods” and “strippins” of his youth.
The road ends at the right of way of a railroad track. It was abandoned when we picked mushrooms out here but is now again active. . We spent many hours walking the banks out here looking for “red top’ and “cozie” bolete mushrooms. It was on this railroad track the the explosion scene in the Molly McGuires movie was filmed. I still remember the foam coal props strewed near the filming location. .
I always get great pleasure seeing the clear blue waters of this reservoir. It brings back many pleasant memories from my own visits and the many stories my dad and aunts related to me about their childhood memories they had out here.
My dad often recounted how he would walk up here in the morning before work with his dog Count. The dog would always take a swim in the reservoir. My dad said he, and the other residents of Crystal Ridge wouldn’t swim here since it was their drinking water. He said the swam in a smaller reservoir nearby that used the water to wash coal.
I sat along the shore of the reservoir, enjoying the November sunshine, and reflecting on the three generations that now, have lived, and died with memories of this small patch town. The fact that so many of them can not now be shared made for a bittersweet experience.
I made my way back to my jeep, realizing none of us will be here forever and all that read these words will be gone in a 100 years. All we can do is try and enjoy these brief moments we are given. For me, and my family, that will not be easy. But thankful for the wonderful memories we will always be. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Grape Run reservoir hike.