Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Glen Onoko “Turn Hole” Tunnel

Posted by Stu On April - 16 - 2010

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This was an added bonus to an already scenic hike.  This tunnel can be found along the trail in the Glen Onoko section of Lehigh Gorge State Park.  It’s not very long, maybe a few hundred feet in length.  The Central Railroad of New Jersey constructed it in the 1870’s.  The tunnel was used until the 1950’s, when this portion of the track was abandoned.

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Tunnel entrance from trail.

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Trains definitely couldn’t pass through here now.

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The railroad ties are still in place.

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What’s left of the bridge leading to the tunnel.

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Popularity: 24% [?]

Rausch Gap

Posted by Stu On July - 10 - 2009

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Hidden in between Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation and Swatara State Park in northern Lebanon County are the ruins of the town of Rausch Gap, once a mining and railroad town.  The basics are up on that sign right there, so I’m not going to reiterate all of them.  Basically, the area’s coal mines went dry quickly.  Soon after, the railroad company moved all its employees and operations to larger and busier towns along the tracks, leaving virtually no employment in the area.  Throw in the fact that Rausch is smack in the middle of an area known as Saint Anthony’s Wilderness (it’s still almost wilderness today), and you have the recipe for a ghost town.

Rausch Gap can only be accessed by a hiking/biking trail that runs partially along the Appalachian Trail.  One end is shorter but is much more brutal on cars to reach its parking area.  The other end, the one I ended up using, has much more accessible parking but requires a 3.5 mile hike to get to the town.  This is, to date, the farthest I’ve hiked to reach a site and easily crushes my previous record of 1.5 miles to reach Dana, MA.

On the trail to the town are several random mile markers spray painted onto trees:

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Also along the trail are concrete markers.  I’d find out later on that the trail leading to town was once the very railroad track that gave life to the towns of the “Wilderness,” and these concrete things actually held spare pieces of track in case the rail line ever needed repairs.

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After a long and seemingly perpetual 3 1/2 mile hike, you come across a bridge and a sign.  One side of the sign is the info pictured above.  The other is a map:

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Let’s back up a bit.  Just before coming up to this sign…if we go about 300 feet off the right side of the trail, we come across some of the town’s ruins, including a well.

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OK, back up at the bridge, there’s a small trail that goes off to the left just before crossing it.  Taking this down about 1/3 of a mile leads to a tiny cemetery with only 3 headstones.  There is a 4th stone but nobody’s really sure if it’s a badly weathered headstone or just a rock.

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I didn’t have much daylight left and still had to hike another 3 1/2 miles back out, so I quickly explored the other side of the bridge.  I found the remains of an old stone bridge.

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That was about all I had time to find.  I had about an hour to get back out to the road.

Popularity: 42% [?]

Duffy’s Cut

Posted by Stu On June - 18 - 2009

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In the summer of 1832, Philip Duffy, a railroad contractor, hired 57 Irish immigrants on the docks of Philadelphia.  They were to fill in a ravine near present-day Malvern so rails for a new track could be laid.  They began their task, but only 6 weeks later all 57 were dead.  History blames a cholera outbreak, but cholera generally only has a 50% death rate.  Local legend claims that some, if not all, were murdered.  The locals at the time had a high prejudice of Catholicism and of immigrants.

Whatever happened to them, they were quickly buried in a shallow ditch with no ceremony.  In the 1870’s, a small fence was set up around what people thought was the mass grave site; it turned out to be the wrong spot.  By the 1910’s, it was discovered that at least part of the grave was now under the tracks; some time prior, the railroad had the track reset.  Papers reporting the deaths of the workers were found in the 1970’s, hidden in a vault.  The events at Duffy’s Cut were almost completely lost to history.  The area didn’t even get a historical marker until 2004.

The marker is at the intersection of King and Sugartown.  A few blocks away is the mass grave, which is currently being examined by archaeologists.

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Popularity: 27% [?]

Tuckerton Railroad Coal Dump

Posted by Stu On March - 3 - 2009

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Although railroads in Central & South Jersey are just about defunct nowadays, there are still several reminders of their presence and significance – Winslow Junction, the track that once ran next to the Freight Station, the trestle behind Hebrew Park are just a few examples. Here is another.

The ruins of a coal dump for the Tuckerton Railroad can be found along Memorial Drive in Barnegat. I lived in the area for 25 years and never knew it was there. Kind of amazing, seeing that it’s just a block away from Route 9.

Popularity: 43% [?]

Ashley Planes & Powerhouse Ruins

Posted by Stu On January - 27 - 2009

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Gravity makes trains sad. On some mountainsides, a train simply couldn’t get the speed or power needed to make it up the side. In the Ashley area, three huge planes (as in inclined plane, not airplane) were built to get freight cars up the mountain. Small cars, or barneys, would push the freight cars from plane to plane.

Along Rt. 309 is a trail that leads to one of the plane sites and the ruins of its powerhouse.

Popularity: 16% [?]

The “Cannonball” Tunnel

Posted by Stu On January - 27 - 2008

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I heard about an old railroad tunnel not too far from my house – about 10-15 minutes away. I’m used to having to go 2+ hours to find such things, and now I’m surrounded by them, it seems.

The “Cannonball” was a train that ran from Wilkes-Barre to Hazleton. This particular tunnel runs under Penobscot Mountain. The entrance was completely flooded, so we couldn’t get in this time. I plan on returning. Still, just standing next to the mouth is a humbling experience.

Seeing this place reminded me very much of Manunka Chunk, though I think this one is taller. Manunka Chunk is in much better condition, however. This looks more like a cave than an old railroad tunnel.
Also, no pirates.

This is somewhat accessible from 81 North, but we as usual took the long way in. We walked about 3 miles roundtrip and had to walk around a pond and over a stream, and then up a mountain or 2. On the way, we came across this. No idea what it is.

Ah, our bridge. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across this situation.


Is it sturdy? Only one way to find out.

(Yes, this time it was.)

Popularity: 18% [?]

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