The Lehigh River Gorge: Rockport To Mud Run, Beautiful Scenery And More Railroad History.

The Lehigh River Gorge: Rockport To Mud Run, Beautiful Scenery And More Railroad History.

Lehigh Gorge Rockport (49 of 49)
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It’s deer hunting season here in Pennsylvania so I decided to  hike in the historic and scenic Lehigh Gorge since hunting is prohibited along the trail. I still wore some orange as a precaution. Better safe than sorry.Lehigh Gorge Rockport (17 of 49)

I drove to the Rockport access which I  have hiked before and you can read these blog posts in my archives.  Sorry but no time to attach any links today.  Rockport was an early outlet for the transport of coal from the Buck Mountain coal mines. A railroad and incline plan brought the coal here as early as 1840.  The tunnel, built at that time, is still seen on the road to the parking area along the Lehigh River as are some ruins from later railroad building that were located here. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (48 of 49)

It was cloudy when I started my walk and headed east along the Lehigh River but the skies soon cleared and I had plenty of weak, but still warm, December sunshine  to accompany me. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (16 of 49)

The steep cliffs along the trail are  usually covered with hanging icicles this time of year. And beautiful Buttermilk Falls also is partially frozen. But not this year, the warm weather we’ve been having has the entire gorge ice free, Lehigh Gorge Rockport (4 of 49)

In fact, there were many plants still green and alive close to the ground along the trail. It felt more like early Spring than December. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (46 of 49)

I always enjoy walking along the steep banks of the old railroad right of way, with the old trees, now bare, to the north and the rushing waters of the Lehigh River  to the south.  There is nothing as relaxing as the sound of flowing water, Lehigh Gorge Rockport (43 of 49)

There were not many folks down on the trail so I had a nice time walking in the solitude. I imagined the famous naturalist John Audubon walking along this same river when he visited in 1829. Even at that early time he warned us not to destroy this beautiful natural world we were given. Too bad we didn’t listen to him. Unfortunately most of the song birds I usually see and hear along the trail are gone. I only saw a few crows, black capped chickadees and a lot of juncos or “snow birds”, two of which I was able to photograph. Lehigh Gorge Rockport juncos (1 of 1)

I walked to a few of the ruins of the old locks from the “upper” or Grand” division of the lehigh canal. (the red highlighted words link to some articles I found on the history of area) . I always love sitting atop the ruins, thinking about  the folks who built, worked on and used them. It must have been a beautiful place back then.  The canal was an amazing feat of engineering for it’s time.  The canal transported goods and produce to the Delaware River and eventually markets in Philadelphia and New York.  The locks were in use until they were destroyed by a flood in 1862 and were never rebuilt because of the advent of the railroad. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (31 of 49)

I continued my hike and came to another historic area, this time related to the railroads which replaced the canal, and again even more tragic, the site of the infamous Mud Run train wreck that occurred in October 0f 1888 and took the lives of 64 people, many young boys returning from a parade, when tow trains collided near here. Again I spent some time reflecting on this tragic events and how it affected the lives of the families of those who died so many years ago in this remote area. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (36 of 49)

I walked down to the river and walked out to some rocks near where the Mud Run creek enters the Lehigh and spent some quite time listening to the rushing of the water.  I walked another half mile or so and headed back, enjoying the week December sunshine and relatively mild temperature. Always something to see and learn in northeastern Pennsylvania even in December. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike along the Lehigh River Gorge Rockport (11 of 49)


The Lehigh…forms numerous short turns between the mountains, and affords frequent falls, as well as below the falls deep pools, which render this stream a most valuable one for mills of any kind. John James Audubon—written in 1829. Lehigh Gorge Rockport (7 of 49)