Missing the Obviously Purple Lizard

With a relatively mild March Sunday, I decided to go poke around nearby regions of Rothrock State Forest in search of overlooked tidbits. Truth be told, I wanted to ponder possibilities for the “Beidleheimer Shay” which people keep insisting “someone they know has seen”. We doubt it exists, but…

My first stop was Greenlee Rd, just southeast of Whipple Dam park. I explored a bit of the very steep hillside off the road. If a locomotive went over this bank (i.e. the road was former RoW), recovery would have been exceptionally difficult. No trace of RoW on the hillside, but there is an interesting fragment of something on the northwest side of the road. It merges smoothly onto the road at one end and becomes a trail over the hump of the hill. Curious, to say the least.

I then decided to head up Greenlee Run. It’s always bothered me that we don’t have RoW mapped in that region. It just seems conspicuously absent. I stopped at Sand Knob Trail. A short trip up the trail showed nothing of interest along Greenlee Run there.

While perusing the Purple Lizard map (large, water resistant version, (c)1997), I noticed a funny dotted line in the area. Examining the key, I found it to be “abandoned railroad”. Ummm, why have we missed this? Well, normally I use the smaller (newer?) PL map with abandoned railroads shown as the traditional railroad symbol —|—|—|— and I honestly don’t think that version shows this piece. It’s gone missing, so I can’t verify that.

Anyway, I therefore headed up Bell Ridge Trail from Greenlee Rd and promptly found very substantially built RoW about halfway up the hillside. At a guess, I think one end of it comes out on Beidleheimer Rd as a track that Vince and I had examined before and noted as “curious”. I went the other way (NE) and followed it at least 0.6 miles. It gets quite close to Greenlee Run (closer than the map shows) and continues beyond Beidleheimer Trail (which the map does not show).

Walking back along Greenlee Rd, I noticed a curious track merging up onto the road. It looks like crude road, but it has some railroad characteristics as well. I also noticed at least two log slides coming down from the south side of Greenlee Mountain, one of which is probably Owl Gap Trail. It’s sort of curious that these slides end a ways from the RoW on the other side of the run. Could this mean that there was a branch along existing Greenlee Rd? Maybe.

I continued NE on Greenlee Rd and spot-checked for further RoW. For a while it doesn’t seem like there is anything. But just before the first sharp turns, there is a crude track curving off the road. Again it looks like crude road, but while exploring down it and cutting back across to Greenlee Rd, I think I may have encountered railroad grade. If so, these guys were determined to get every inch up this hollow that they could. I can’t believe they made it much farther!

It’s interesting to note that Croyle Run Trail goes from near here to the location of the Croyle Run sawmill on Beidleheimer Rd. It might be worth walking it sometime, keeping an eye out for grade, as we know there is at least a short leg headed this way from the sawmill site.

I headed out by way of Big Flat and Keith Spring. Just past the spring I stopped to look at what I think is the start of Wildcat Gap Trail. It seems unlikely that this could have been a railroad route, but it might have been a gravity-only route. Someone needs to walk down through there when the snow is gone.

I’m currently GPS-less, so no map of today’s trek, but perhaps we will record it next weekend.