Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lausanne

Posted by Stu On May - 8 - 2013

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Photos taken June ‘12 via camera & camera phone, hence different photo sizes

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Another find via geocaching.  Seriously, if you’ve never geocached, get a GPS or smartphone and go play already.

I was surprised to read that a ghost town was only 20 minutes or so from me.  Lausanne, near present-day Jim Thorpe, has very little written about it, and not all that much remains.  The little I know has come from a geocaching description and talking to a group of anthropologists (more on that later).

With almost no knowledge and armed only with a camera, phone, and GPS, I set out early in the morning to the first set of coordinates.  I knew the trek would be a few miles (how many exactly, I forget now) and that I was being led to a few different locations.  This corridor of green was a promising start to the expedition:

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I had read that there would be the remains of an old toll bridge somewhere along the trail.  I crossed water three times on the way to the first destination, but I wasn’t sure just where the bridge was supposed to have been.  The first crossing had an actual bridge, one of the more unusual ones I’ve seen:

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The second crossing had some old planks and pipes in the water, but seeing that this was barely a stream and I stepped over it without getting my shoes wet, I highly doubt there was a toll bridge here:

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Yet another crossing led to a somewhat larger stream with a rock wall nearby.  Maybe the bridge was here.

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After getting lost once and crossing three streams (or the same stream three times) I finally came to the first goal of my tour of Lausanne – several foundations of either houses or storage buildings (as per one of the anthropologists I spoke with):

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I roamed among the ruins of the homes/storage buildings for a little bit and then entered a second set of coordinates that would take me somewhat back the way I just came from, but past my starting point.  But first there was one more water crossing, this time over a type of bridge I had never seen before.  And this time it was the actual Lehigh River, not some piddle of a stream.

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Yep, this “bridge” was just two cables going across the river.  I was about to cross when I noticed someone coming from the other side.  And then someone else.  And then another.  About a dozen people came across the bridge and looked rather confused with me being there.

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One talked to me and I explained I was ghost town hunting/geocaching.  They told me they were anthropologists from Temple University and had an excavation site not too far away.  I asked if they knew about Lausanne at all, and one said he did.  He was the one that said the houses I just came from may have instead been used for storage.  We talked a little longer, and then I decided it was time to make my way across the cable bridge and finish up my exploration of Lausanne.

I finally made it to the old town square; a hotel and post office once stood at the site.

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I roamed the area for a little bit; a lot of it was quite overgrown.  I then made my way back to the car, which was not that far away from the town square.  All in all, this was a fun little adventure.  Being guided to different areas by GPS coordinates and having to cross the cable bridge really made this outing stand out.

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Popularity: 23% [?]

Avondale Mine Disaster

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2010

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With all the attention Centralia gets, it’s amazing most people are unaware of other mine fires and disasters.  I admit I had never heard of Avondale until I went looking for a geocache hidden there.  How does a mine disaster site with a 100+ death toll become overlooked?

There are 2 signs along the side of Route 11 in Plymouth that give a brief history of the disaster.  From them it’s a very short walk to the site itself, maybe 1/3 of a mile.

As the signs say, a fire broke out in 1869.  A coal breaker caught fire right by the mine shaft.  Since this shaft was the only entrance, workers became trapped inside.  Suffocation was the cause for many of the 110 deaths, including a few good Samaritans attempting to rescue the trapped miners.  It’s no secret young children were employed in mines during this time period; a few of them were also killed.

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When we visited, it looked like work had recently been done.  An honorary marker had recently been placed, and what appear to have been two planters were also nearby.  Walls and stairs from the mine can be found all around; we also found a few fairly intact buildings a bit down the trail.

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Popularity: 20% [?]

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% [?]

Dogtown

Posted by Stu On December - 28 - 2009

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Dogtown, found between Gloucester and Rockport (yes, the same Rockport where that silly Paper House is) has a long and unusual history.  Settled as early as 1641, the town never became too big, with its peak population in the early 1800’s reaching a few hundred.  Farming was next to impossible due to the rocky ground, so the sea was a major provider of industry.  Trading, fishing, and war kept the men busy, but also made a fair share of widows.  Men were often lost at sea, and the Revolution took its toll as well.

By the 19th century, especially during the War of 1812, families died out or moved on to greener pastures, and drifters, ex-pirates, and other undesirables began squatting in some of the abandoned homes.  As the dredges of society moved in, the remaining families and widows relied on dogs for protection.  Eventually, the people left and the dogs ran wild, hence the town’s name.
I was unable to find the town’s original name, if it even had one.  It’s only referred to as Dogtown, even though it existed well over a century before being labeled as such.

Dogtown had been abandoned for quite some time by the Great Depression, when a rich man named Roger Babson, who had great interest in the town’s history, researched the town’s residents and began to mark their paths and former dwellings.  Today, some of the cellar holes have a last name or number posted along the trail; the numbers correspond to a map created by Babson.
Also noteworthy, and probably what drives people to visit the ruins more than anything else, are Babson’s “inspirational” boulders.  Out-of-work stone cutters were hired by Babson during the Depression to carve motivational messages into about 30 of the boulders scattered about town.  Today the Babson Boulder Trail is marked, and many of these rocks are along it.  Others are more hidden or are down side paths.

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The entrance to the Dogtown trail is pretty skeevy, with trash and graffiti all over.  It doesn’t look like the area is maintained much.  There is a holder with some maps in it.  We took one and found the trails aren’t too well marked.  The map itself was pretty hard to follow too.

…so, as usual, we said screw it and winged it.  At first we were only able to find a few numbers.  There are several rock walls and paths running here and there in the woods.  It was pretty cool knowing these were walking paths first used nearly 4 centuries ago.  With pretty steady foot traffic from the 1640’s til the 1810’s, it’s no surprise these are still well defined.

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We walked around for a good hour and pretty much saw nothing but rock walls and paths.  None of the famed boulders were in sight.  Admittedly, we were pretty lost, and the few times we attempted to use the map, we thought we were somewhere else on the grounds.  That’s about when we stumbled into Town Square.

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Finally having a reference point, we noticed we weren’t all that far from the boulder trail.  Off we went.  And we finally saw them, almost in rapid succession.

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There are others as well.  While I admire Babson’s generosity in hiring unemployed stone cutters to carve these, I wonder who his target audience was, since nobody was living here by this time.

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Popularity: 25% [?]

Old Stone House Ruins in Scarborough State Park

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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This place can be found along the water in Scarborough State Park.  We noticed it coming back from the Block Island Ferry.  Really not much to say, other than it’s impressive oceanfront ruins.  Poison ivy abounded here; luckily I managed to avoid it.

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Popularity: 25% [?]

Ocean View Hotel Ruins

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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Not far from the port on Block Island can be found the ruins of the Ocean View Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1966.  Sections of the foundation and some rubble are all that remains of it today.  The area also had quite a bit of poison ivy, so needless to say, I had to tread very carefully.

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Part of the area has been maintained by schoolkids and is being used as a garden.  We didn’t see anything growing when we were there though.

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The above bluff is right by the hotel site.  A small plaque on the ground tells of a couple being married on this spot.

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Popularity: 15% [?]

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