Some Good Memories Hiking In The Coal Reclamation Lands, Strip Mines And Mountains Near Hazle Brook, Foster Township
The first weekend of Summer arrived here in Northeastern Pennsylvania with some cool, dry Canadian air, clear skies and brilliant sunshine. Perfect hiking weather. I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine. I planned to hike the railroad tracks near the patch town of Hazle Brook in Foster Township.
When I arrived in Hazle Brook I recalled the coal reclamation project that I visited last January. Some of the large anthracite coal strip mines were filled in, leveled and planted with grass. The reclaimed areas were covered in ice on my last visit . I decided to see what it would look like in warmer weather.
There were now new waterways draining this low-lying area. I saw some cattail growing in some of the ponds.This is a good sign. It looks like this will be a nice little area for birds and wildlife in a few years.
I am very familiar with these type of woodlands. My home in the Green Ridge section was adjacent to an old deep mining and strip mining area just as these woods near Hazle Brook. I walked those woodland every summer for decades. The strip mines were reclaimed near my home. It enjoyed my walk in this area.
The trail was flooded in spots but I was able to follow it to a large strip mine that is now filled with water,. Again, standing atop the strip mine took me back to the strip mine in my home in Hazle Township. So many summer day were spent playing in the old strip mines.
However, I saw something I haven’t seen before in the daytime. As I stood looking at the blue waters of the strip mine a night hawk flew out of a nearby pine tree. At first I thought it was a killdeer but knew it was something different when I looked at the photograph I took. I learned at home it was a night-hawk. Night-hawk are nocturnal and are related to my favorite bird, the whippoorwill. I was lucky to see one in the day.
After seeing the night hawk I spent some time reflecting on the strip mine. I often wonder when the first strip mining began, who the men were that worked on it and when it flooded. This was a large pit and must have been active for years. I walked around the strip mine an came to an electric pole line that is being replaced. I followed the right of way along the strip mine for a short distance.
Up on the ridge, the terrain was different. Scrub oaks, pine and chestnut oak were now the dominant trees. Fluttering in the scrub oaks were a number of birds including this female common yellowthroat.
As the June sun warmed the air, cumulus clouds appeared in the clear skies. The breeze picked up too making for a nice hike atop the ridge. Beneath this mountain is the famous Jeddo Railroad tunnel .The tunnel was built in the 1850’s.
The start of Summer in our area also is the beginning of ‘ huckleberry’ season. The first low bush blueberries usually ripen on the first day of Summer and continue for a few weeks. They are followed by the high-bush blueberries or “swampers”. Following in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents I have picked thousands of quarts of both. These hills and ridges would have hundreds of children and wives of the coal miners picking this delicious berries to supplement their husbands meager earnings.
I followed the pole line for about a mile where it intersected with an older pole line. It is being replaced and I followed this new road down to the main, and only, highway, into Hazle Brook. I enjoyed the views of the mountains on the hike down.
and dragonflies on the way. I made it into this small town, there are about a half dozen houses, around noon. I completed a large oval track. I am glad I decided to hike into the reclamation lands. It reminded me of the woods of my childhood. And those memories are always good. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike. Reclamation area hike June 22 2019