Faust Flat horseshoe

After considerable explorations, we can’t find the large horseshoe depicted by Kline in the vicinity of Faust Flat. Though it would seem it should pass through Smith Gap, no sign was found there, and the terrain seems very steep.

We have definite roadbed in the vicinity of Underwood Trail, but it disappears into brutal undergrowth before reaching Smith Gap.

Linden Hall sawmill location?

Precisely where was the sawmill at Linden Hall, and how did the railroad reach it? Examining Penn Pilot images and satellite views gives a few possible clues, but nothing definite. There is supposedly a book on Linden Hall’s history, which we need to find and peruse!

Detweiler Run Natural Area — 3 miles (map!)

Our most successful day so far!

We decided to spend the day on an aggressive attempt to figure out what’s going on? in the vicinity of the “Grand Junction” [our name] of McKinney Trail, Thickhead Mountain Rd and Detweiler Run Rd. We left a vehicle at the gate where Detweiler Run Rd leaves Bear Meadows Rd. We then drove to Penn Roosevelt and hiked uphill from the gate on Thickhead Mtn Rd. Although it was a climb, it’s a fairly nice road and it went quickly.

At Grand Junction, we went around the curve onto Detweiler Run Rd and to the RoW (shown on Purple Lizard map) descending the SE face of Thickhead mountain. We proceeded a short way up the RoW and out the road, looking for a curving “road crossing” we thought we had seen on satellite and Penn Pilot images. Turns out we were probably seeing nothing but a wash of bare stones… Drat.

From the junction of the RoW and DRR, we descended straight downhill into the Detweiler Run valley, which is pretty shallow at this point. Starting up the other (SE) side, Vince spotted some curious rock piles. Before long we had discovered TWO parallel RoWs a short distance apart on the hillside! The lower one appeared to end rather abruptly down-grade not far from us, while the upper one appeared to continue down the valley. We decided to each follow one up-grade, both headed back towards Grand Junction.

Just NW of Grand Junction, both RoWs crossed DRR. Shortly after the road, a RoW came in from the left (this apparently being the grade with the nice trestle remains we found previously) and merges with the RoW nearer Thickhead Mtn Rd. The grade I was following sort of fades out into the middle of the junction of the other two tracks. It appears it may be an abandoned fragment. Hmmm.

With all this stuff surveyed, we set out downgrade (SW) on Vince’s new mainline. The rockwork we had stumbled on earlier is quite impressive, and then the grade just starts dropping dropping dropping. Very impressive! As we went, it became evident the parallel grade goes nowhere, despite considerable rock work. Perhaps an earlier attempt which turned out to be too steep?

Down we went, and all of a sudden a trailing point switch going off downhill! Vince found the track ahead to be merely a tail track, so we reverse course and head down the switchback. Why aren’t these switchbacks shown on the Kline map???

Further down, we saw the next switchback approaching from down the valley. The end of our present direction held a surprise, however. There isn’t quite room for a tail track, so they actually dug a cut into the hillside to fit the tail track! These guys were determined. We examined and found a rough log road, or maybe even a log slide, coming down on the NW side of the tail track cut. It seems possible the cut might also have served as a log loading dock.

We continued down the valley on the bottom track. These are some of the nicest switchbacks we have seen, and it’s hard to fathom how they escaped the Kline map.

[other items seen]

A bit further we encountered a sign post for Shingle Path and the Mid State Trail. The MST is now on the RoW going SW. Articles by the Purple Lizard dude told us this was the case, we just didn’t know where it happened!

The RoW continued nicely right to the Huntingdon/Centre county line and edge of Detweiler Run Natural Area, then stopped. Could this explain why the DRNA is still natural? It appears so, as the NA is some seriously rugged and wild terrain, with plenty of virgin timber.

We continued through the NA to discover that RoW resumes on the other side. Obviously this is a separate route, coming in from Alan Seeger. We theorized that the distance in from the top was reaching the limits of practicality, and that logging this portion had to await construction of the AS route.

We cut uphill to Detweiler Run Rd and hoofed it back to the truck at the gate. It was an exhausting trek , but we were elated to have resolved some mysteries and discovered a bunch of track and switchbacks not on the Kline map. What a day!

We later determined we had mapped 3 miles of new RoW (making our most productive day so far) and hiked about 8 miles in some pretty rugged terrain.

Detweiler Upper

Boal Gap Crap

We started off with Vince showing me some stuff he recently found in the Boal Gap area. The first is a nice fragment, complete with ties, in a small cut at the first sharp left turn on Bear Meadows Rd when entering through Galbraith Gap. This is just upstream from the road bridge. This is certainly the most accessible fragment for those who doubt the validity of our findings!

The next was the tail track for the first switchback, which goes off behind a camp where Laurel Run Rd departs Bear Meadows Rd.

The third was a possible location of a connecting track up to the Lonberger Path, although the grade required in this area makes this a bit uncertain. There does seem to be some ballasting along a driveway up to a camp, but then things get very steep.

We then headed up LRR to the top of Little Flat Mountain, where I noticed a curious lead veering off the north side of the road. We followed it out to where it seems to go underneath our previously surveyed “big curve” of RoW (part of Mid State Trail) at the very crest of LRR on LFM. Perhaps an earlier route? This area is a bit baffling!

We then went down Laurel Run Rd to the first sharp curve to the right. This location is perhaps known as “Cool Springs”–it is the start of Fleet Foot Trail and Cool Springs Trail (aka New Laurel Run Trail?). We explored in this area and found what seems a pretty certain RoW fragment, but it seems to go nowhere significant. The hollow becomes steep pretty quickly, so it’s doubtful that track continued along the Cool Springs Tr route. I kind of think I found a portion curving parallel to the road’s horseshoe which could be the big horseshoe shown on Kline’s Linden Hall Lumber Co. map, but it requires some squinting…

We explored a ways down LRR, including a trip up over Bear Gap Rd, but that route seems way too steep to have been the switchbacks into Bear Meadows.

Rain forced an early termination to the day’s activities. Other than Vince’s earlier discoveries, the day was a disappointment.

Detweiler Run Bottom End

We decided today was the day to look for RoW in Detweiler Run, farther south of our previous exploration. We started at the previously-surveyed Bebelheimer RoW at two camps near the junction of Beidleheimer Rd and Bear Meadows Rd.

Sure enough, a little study found that the RoW continued past the previous stopping point. Things get pretty ugly in the area, due to lots of downed trees and a very meandering stream, but with some determination the route can be found to go up Detweiler Run. After a bit, the RoW becomes pretty clear and is essentially that of the Johnson Trail (?) (from Greenwood Tower). The reason we had missed this before is that it pretty much dies right around where the Mid State Trail comes down from the gate on Detweiler Run Rd. We must have missed it by mere feet on our previous exploration!

It appears the Kline map is correct in showing the Detweiler Run area entered from the south; we need to someday verify it is entered separately from the north.

We then spent some time pondering the connection up on to Bebelheimer Rd from this grade down along the run. It seems likely it was obliterated by road construction and that the RoW is actually under BR. No  RoW parallel to the road seems evident in the area, as we have seen in other places.

Note: This Beidleheimer/Beidelheimer/Bebelheimer thing is enough to drive one crazy. Some day I am going to the Huntingdon County courthouse and pulling deeds to try to resolve this!

Triester Valley with a Visitor

Our friend Kim was visiting, and we decided it would be appropriate to show her just how warped this pastime really is. We took her to the vicinity of Penn Roosevelt Park and showed her a couple of the nicer fragments of RoW, including the two alternate routes NE out of Stone Gap and the hillside track on Broad Mountain in Stone Gap. She actually seemed fairly interested, proving she’s a wacko too!

We then decided to really test her mettle on this rather humid day by looking for some new RoW. We took Crowfield Rd into Triester Valley. Heading off to the south of the road, we began looking for the RoW which we believe had to come through Smith Gap from previously-surveyed RoW found along Underwood Trail.

We crashed through brush. We sweated. Kim thought she had something. I thought I had something. Vince thought he had something. We crashed through brush. We sweated.

Let’s just say that the highlight of the afternoon was seeing a large hawk sitting in a tree at eye level about 10 feet from us. Seemed a little dazed and confused. Probably ate a defective mouse.

We commend Kim’s patience with our insanity! Net mileage: ZERO.

Sand Mountain

Part I

Despite hot and humid conditions, we decided to check out the stretch of RoW I had discovered near Underwood Trail and Crowfield Rd.

We got on the RoW behind Underwood camp and proceeded WSW, basically paralleling Crowfield Rd. A lot of this is pretty nice rock RoW, and we found clinkers at some evident watering spots.

Eventually the RoW enters a former clearcut which just fundamentally sucks. Lots of thick undergrowth. It appears one area must have had a substantial trestle to cross a large wash. In the most clear of these areas there are suggestions of multiple RoWs, one of which could be the slight hook to the south shown on Kline’s map. Note: The elevation (1700 feet) shown by Kline for this south terminus seems entirely bogus, a situation we have seen with his map in other areas.

Eventually we ended up at the familiar Twin Springs camp, at the east end of a previously-admired deer control area (DCA). Since the RoW seems to head straight into the DCA, and the previously-surveyed RoW on the west side seemed to head straight into the DCA on the same bearing, it seems reasonable to conclude that the RoW goes through it and the railroad thus paralleled Crowfield Rd its entire length. That would mean Kline’s map is rather defective in this area, since it shows no connection between the ascent out of Penn Roosevelt Park and this Sand Mountain branch. Oops.

Part II

We hiked back along Crowfield Rd, cursing those fricking deer flies. We are not deer. Go away.

Picking up the RoW at Underwood Camp again, we proceeded NE. Again, pretty nice RoW for some distance, with some pleasant cuts and fills. At points the RoW is clearly visible from the paralleling Underwood Trail. After a bit we reached the brand new DCA (let’s just shoot all the deer and leave the woods unfenced, ok?) where I had quit before. With some effort, we manage to continue following RoW through this area, although recent logging has done substantial damage. We theorized about the practicality of getting these logging railroads onto the National Register…
On the other side of the DCAs (there are two), things got ugly. We entered a “ferns from hell” zone. Despite our desire to find the large horseshoe shown by Kline, we eventually called it quits and found a series of meandering trails which took us back onto Underwood Trail, which we followed back to the truck (aka deer fly exclusion zone).

The day yielded some very nice mileage, mostly not shown on Kline’s map. It’s just too bad we couldn’t find that darn horseshoe.

A survey of historic logging (and other) railroads in central Pennsylvania and beyond.