Rambling Along

There are lots of sights to behold on a drive through southern Chester County.

Cattle quietly grazing on the tall grass.
Sadly, a sight sometimes seen in Pennsylvania.
A barn with a great weathered look.
This scene could be almost anywhere in the state.
Trains to nowhere. A bet a lot of people will recognize where this is.

A Preserved Farm … and a Park

Springton Manor Farm is a county park located in Glenmoore, Chester County. Within the farm’s historic landscape of fenced fields, stone walls and misty morning vistas is a preserved patchwork of colonial plantation, Industrial Revolution era scientific farm, Victorian tenant farm, and gentleman’s country estate. The Manor House and Carriage House overlook 300 acres of centuries-old sugar maples, open pastures and stately Penn Oaks, which grace the lower pond. The Manor House is not open to the general public.

Initially part of a William Penn Manor, Springton Manor has been in agricultural use since the early 1700’s. On this demonstration farm, you can meet the animals and learn about Chester County’s farming history. The barn complex consists of the Great Barn, sheep shed, goat shed, a roost and equipment shed. You may see horses, donkeys, rabbits, calves, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and peacocks. The Family Farm Museum, located within the Great Barn, contains seasonal tools and apparatus used on Chester County farms from the 1700’s to the 1900’s.

The Manor House
A view to the Great Barn
Additional buildings near the Great Barn
Interesting structure. Not sure what it is …
Can you see the house finch? They were nesting in crevices in the stone walls.
Another building with a star …

A Unique Ecosystem

Nestled in southwest Chester County near the Maryland line are several patches of a unique ecosystem called serpentine barrens. One example is found at Nottingham County Park. Dedicated in September 1963, Nottingham Park was the first Chester County park. The 731-acre park sits atop an outcropping of serpentine stone greater than one square mile in size – one of the largest serpentine barrens on the East Coast. It features former feldspar and serpentine quarries, and numerous former chromite ore mines. The National Park Service recognized Nottingham Park as a National Natural Landmark in 2008.

Nottingham Park offers nine pavilions, an 18-station fitness trail, and three modern, handicapped accessible playgrounds. To experience the serpentine barrens, one must wander around some of the trails in the park.

Serpentine, a geological outcrop of rare, light-green rock found only in three small geographic areas in all of North America, has soil so low in essential nutrients and so high in some metals that most ordinary plants will not grow. The barrens have their own community of plants, some of them globally-rare, with practically no species in common with the surrounding forests and fields. Typically, serpentine barrens contain scrub oak, pine, cedar and unique wildflowers. Some areas dominated by grasses are known as true prairies. Some areas with scattered trees are known as a savannah, which can survive and prosper with occasional fires.

Here are some views looking towards the serpentine barrens.
Adorable mini covered bridge next to a pond.

Some Horses and a Vulture Convention

A trip tp eastern Lancaster County provided a look at the following scenes:

A group of vultures found something dead and furry by the side of the road. There was one black vulture and several turkey vultures.

Who’s the other guy?
When I circled back around, the turkey vultures had decided to show off the interloper. More vultures were in the air.

There were also plenty of horses enjoying their Sunday off. I think almost everyone likes horses.

A peaceful browse.
Now I don’t know know what this one is trying to say, but he doesn’t seem happy with me.
Some more horses off in the distance.
A bonus shot of an Amish buggy.

A Drive Around Hibernia County Park and Chambers Lake

A trip to Chambers Lake looking for some Trumpeter Swans didn’t yield any birds, but an assemblage of photographs (as usual). I did get to see some sections of Hibernia County Park that I don’t normally get a chance to visit.

A nice father and son scene at the Lake but no swans.
The back of the barn near the mansion.
A view from the Lake Campground out onto Chambers Lake.
A great stand of oaks in the Lake Campground.
Some interesting fallen branches with last Autumn’s leaves near Fiddlers Campground.

The Goshenville Wetlands

Adjacent to the Goshenville Blacksmith Shop is the Goshenville Wetlands, a nice place for a short walk and a dog friendly area. It is located in East Goshen Township, which lies in northeastern Chester County. Here are some early Spring photos of the wetlands and the nearby historic structures.

The first thing you notice from the parking area is the honey bee project. The Bees by the Blacksmith Shop is a public-private partnership that brought honey producing hives to this open space. The Watermark at Bellingham Senior Living sponsored the hives, and Carmen B’s Honey, a Township-based small business, manages and maintain the bees. The Watermark will introduce apiary education to its residents and begin using the honey in its recipes and cooking classes. The Township was also set to begin a youth apiary program. In 2022, a kids program complete with youth-sized beekeeper outfits so they can safely get close and see the inner workings of the hives will be started.

The walk provides open views over the wetland with a dry walkway and elevated platforms and walks over potentially damp areas. There is a nice view of Ridley Creek which runs along side the property.

The historic structures are adjacent to this area and are connected via the walking path. The Goshenville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. The Blacksmith Shop was built in 1840 and is open to the public two days a week from April through October. An image of the shop is a symbol of East Goshen Township.

The Milton/Hickman Plank House in the foreground and the Blacksmith Shop beyond.
The front of the Blacksmith Shop …
and the back.

Spring Has Sprung

My recently untimely absence has been due to a short vacation and an adjustment to a new job situation. After a fairly mild winter, Spring is making an appearance here in eastern Chester County.

Forsythia are some of the earliest flowering shrubs and are great in flower arrangements.
I think almost everyone loves daffodils.
Because you can’t have too many.
The lovely magnolia.
I believe this is also a magnolia variety.
Early azaleas at Jenkins Arboretum.
Winter is still hanging on at Jenkins …

The Secrets of the Trees

Trees and forested areas can be some of the most difficult to photograph. For me, it’s primarily the challenge of finding the strong focal point. The woods in Promised Land State park are some of my favorites. Let’s take a drive around the Upper Lake.

A lake in the picture never hurts.
I love how this spot emphasis the boggy and marshy qualities of the Poconos.
I would love this dock.

That’s a Lot of Concrete (and a bonus park)

Looming over the town of Nicholson, Pennsylvania is the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, a railroad bridge completed in 1915. It is a concrete deck arch bridge on the Nicholson Cutoff rail segment of the Norfolk Southern Railway Sunbury Line that spans Tunkhannock Creek. Measuring 2,375 feet (724 m) long and 240 feet (73.15 m) tall when measured from the creek bed (300 feet (91.44 m) from bedrock), it was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed in 1915 and still merited “the title of largest concrete bridge in America, if not the world” 50 years later. Built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, the bridge is owned today by Norfolk Southern Railway and is still used daily for regular through freight service. Apparently almost half of the bulk of this behemoth is underground, in the form of bridge pillars up to 138 feet (142 m) below ground.

The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1977. In 1975, the American Society of Civil Engineers or ASCE designated the bridge as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. ASCE recognized the bridge as “not only a great feat of construction skill” but also a “bold and successful departure from contemporary, conventional concepts of railroad location in that it carried a mainline transversely to the regional drainage pattern, effectively reducing the distance and grade impediments…”

The bridge towers over the town of Nicholson.
A view further upstream.
The cows don’t seem to notice the vast structure.

I also swung by Lackawanna State Park on my way back from the bridge. The 1,445-acre park is ten miles north of Scranton. The focus is the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake, which is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through forest. Boating, camping, fishing, mountain biking, and swimming are popular recreation activities here.

I’ve always wanted a canoe mooring on a lake.
At least these geese don’t mind the weather.
Another rainy late spring day ….
Great spot for a picnic and a boat trip.

Waterfalls and a Slightly Confusing Name

Nestled in the far north of Susquehanna County not far from the New York line, Salt Springs State Park feels like one of the more remote state parks in Pennsylvania. It is well known for its deep gorge with three waterfalls, old growth hemlock trees and the salt spring which gives the park its name. It is unusual among state parks in that it is managed by the Friends of Salt Springs State Park, a volunteer organization. The Friends also own and operate an adjacent tract of land. Prior to becoming a park, Salt Springs was the homestead of the Wheaton family. The park offers hiking, camping, picnicking, and educational programming.

A beautiful waterfall. The bank is eroded away by flooding and it takes some scrambling to reach the falls.
Beautiful spot for a picnic.
Dramatically perched trees along the gorge.
The Barn
An organic garden.
This is a private residence. The Wheaton House is to the left in the back.
A lovely little bridge from the camping area.

I visited on a rainy day which cut short some of my planned activities. I had intended to find the salt spring which is near the main homestead. From looking at photos and video on the internet, this spring is gurgle bubbling up through a pipe in a small hole in the ground. It does not seem like a main feature of the park which bears its name.

The park is lovely, especially along Salt Springs Road.

A lovely view over the fields.
There is a great mix of green here.
A calmer section of Fall Brook.