Category Archives: Central Pennsylvania

Tracking a Ghostly Trail

The paths of old railroad tracks trace history, and since some of them have now been turned into walking tracks like the Lower (rhymes with “flower”) Trail in central Pennsylvania, you can take a stroll through the past.  The interpretation is spotty (there are a few signs, and a sort of helpful brochure), so much is left to the imagination. Industry and settlements once thrived along here — now there is just an overgrown ditch where  the canal preceded the railroad, and the graceful arches of the stone bridge are mossy and almost obscured.  It is hard to believe that this track once carried countless people and tons of goods aboard panting steam trains.  On a Tuesday early afternoon, it is so quiet that you can almost hear the ghosts whispering, until a distant chainsaw growls or a lone cycler whizzes by.  We walked part of the trail along which “the remains” of a stone company town were supposed to be evident.  As you can see by the photo above, “evident” is a relative term.  We wanted there to be more than one blank-eyed roofless grey building blending in with the forest so badly that we thought we saw several, only to discover from another angle that it was just more trees and gray underbrush playing with our fantasy.  (Mood music from Twin Peaks rose in my mind.)  Despite the  occasional creepiness, the Lower Trail is a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours.  To catch the mood, I am going to attempt my very first audio clip of one of the babbling brooks along the trail, under the stone bridge.  Close your eyes and think calm, if slightly disturbing, thoughts of the spirits that must inhabit these woods, and of structures that have melted into the forest so completely that only their shadows remain.

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