I’ve been out to the Livonia area poking around the Laurelton Lumber Co. reaches several times this year, but had not gotten a chance to survey my findings. On the second day of Vince’s visit, we headed out Rt 192 to grab these pieces and perhaps find something new.
Needle in the Haystack
Our first stop was the feature known locally as “The Haystack” which is the first hairpin turn on Stover Gap Rd southeast of Livonia. Heading slightly back towards Livonia from this parking spot, we picked up a clear rock right of way high on the bank to the west. We surveyed a well constructed (but unfortunately brief) segment to the NW, where it intersects one of those blasted deer areas. I am told by the MacNeal family (of MacNeal Orchards at Livonia) that railroad continues from here to a point very close to the actual town of Livonia, and includes switchbacks in a steep area near Elk Creek, but haven’t had a chance to survey beyond the deer area. Note: On the map, it looks like the GPS track might have been cut short… perhaps a weak satellite signal?
Up the Hill
We next drove up to the first real switchback in the road (where the Mid State Trail departs the road). The locals probably have a name for that too, but if so I forgot it. We had previously surveyed to the east of here, and RoW is visible coming out to the road towards the Haystack, but we’d run out of time to complete the survey. We headed east on the MST (obvious rock RoW) for perhaps 100 yards, then headed overland NNE to reach the approximate end of our previous survey where the railroad route had reached a grassy fire road. We easily picked up the route again, and just as easily lost it after a short distance as it sort of resides in a streambed. Continuing downstream, we picked it up again where it emerged from the stream, and followed it a considerable distance to where it emerges onto Stover Gap Rd nearly down to the Haystack. It was a considerable construction project along here… quite the pile of rocks! At one point it gets pretty wide; it’s possibly there was a siding or something there. The final distance to the Haystack was obliterated by road construction.
Along the walk back to the Haystack, Vince explored a “ramp track” which departs the road and steeply pitches down to the stream in the hollow below. Apparently they wanted a few trees from down in that hole!
Back to the Haystack
Returning to the haystack, I showed Vince a lot of stuff going on just up the hollow from the hairpin turn. It seems like the track was coming down hill and made a switchback there (rather than the road’s hairpin turn). The “ramp” down to the stream must have departed in this vicinity. And there were apparently several log slides that came down the mountain and intersected tracks at this point. It seems obviously that there were several log loading ramps at this point. With the stream, it was probably a watering point too. Must have been a busy place!
Andy MacNeal of Livonia believes that the photo in Kline’s book 2, p. 227 “two miles east of Livonia” is taken at the Haystack. I can sort of buy it, but I’d like to see a larger print to be convinced. Andy also says that a water crossing is detectable at the bottom of Vince’s “ramp track”, and that the track can actually be followed perhaps 300 yards downstream in the hollow. He says there is a significant cinder pile down there, with a large sycamore tree growing out of it. Someday I’ll go inspect that. Someday!
Final Stop: Line Trail Sawmill Site?
Our final stop before Vince had to leave was on Rt 192 just west of RB Winter park. DCNR employeer Paul Zerby had told me there were signs of a sawmill on Rapid Run at Line Trail (at the county line). We walked back Line Trail past a camp and it looks like he is right. There is obviously a dam breast there, and numerous curiously-parallel timbers in the stream below the breached dam.
Vince eyeballed it and proclaimed it to pre-date the logging railroad era (apparently he can carbon-date objects by looking at them!). Despite my skepticism, he may be correct. A search on the web suggests there were sawmills on Rapid Run in this general area wayyyy back… possibly pre Civil War. Curiously, there is also Douty Mill Trail nearby, so there might be other similar ruins on Rapid Run.
Finally, while poking around on the web I found a historic map hosted by Penn State which shows “Reynolds & Stover saw mill” at approximately this location, with “Stover & Reynolds hotel” at Livonia. I suppose this was the Livonia Hotel predecessor. Apparently Mr. Stover preferred the role of hotelier to sawyer…? There appears to be another sawmill on Tunis Rd nearby, but I can’t read the associated name.
Combining our data for this region from 2008 with this new data, we get the following map. The arrow indicates a steep area along the creek which must be the location of Mr. MacNeal’s switchbacks.
At some points, I should update our overall totals here…
I inadvertently gave the named McNitt instead of MacNeal in the original version of this posting. Sorry about that!