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 …

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 Northern Visitor

The presence of a snowy owl in the area causes great excitement. Even the local news take notice. A bird in eastern Lancaster County recently created the expected onslaught of birders. I set out one Saturday to have a look as well. Note to self: don’t go looking for an owl without your “good” camera.

The bird was close to the road but not in front of the most photogenic backdrop. The online consensus is that it is a “she,” but I’m not sure how you tell juveniles from females.

On a porch roof.
Grainy close up courtesy of phone camera.
Is the bird thinking “There are so many, but are they edible?”
One of the benefits of an owl on your porch roof is that everyone can see your laundry drying.
The farm across the road.
The area is full of lovely farms.
The hay obsession continues. This is quite a pile.
Horses had clearly been using this hitching post at Hayloft Ice Cream.
The Willows Covered Bridge along busy Route 30. Probably one of the saddest covered bridges in the state.

It’s Very Early Fall in Lancaster County

An unusually bright and sunny day greeted me in late September in Lancaster county. The sky was so blue and the white so white that it almost hurts my eyes. I’m not used to this here in Pennsylvania. As it was a Sunday, the buggy traffic was out in force, and the field horses were grazing in the fields.

Buggies are upcoming in the next episode!

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.

A Little Piece of Paradise

I made two recent trips to Dixon Meadow Preserve in Montgomery County to see a sora (seen) and a yellow crowned night heron (not seen), This Preserve provides some great bird habitat in the suburbs, especially in connection with the adjacent Erdenheim Farm. With its 14 acres rand boardwalk measuring nearly two-thirds of a mile, the Preserve is a haven for birders, walkers and those who simply enjoy the area’s natural beauty

Purchased by the McCausland family in 2009, Erdenheim farm is home to prize winning Cheviot Sheep, Black Angus cattle, and elegant Morgan Horses. Situated on close to 450 acres, Erdenheim Farm remains one of the last sanctuaries of pastoral life within the greater Philadelphia area.

A view of Dixon Meadow Preserve,
A stream wanders through the Preserve and under the boardwalk.
Redbud in bloom.
Erdenheim Farm Black Angus at twilight.

A Better Day for Photography than Birds

A trip to the Octoraro Lake area for some birding did not produce what I had hoped for on the bird front. I saw some ducks and great blue herons and managed to take some of the worst bird photos I have ever attempted. I did better with photos of the surrounding countryside.

One of the spectacular farms of the area.
I usually avoid shooting abandoned buildings, but this is part of a working farm.
Enjoying lunch on a sunny day …
This was the fastest moving Amish buggy I have ever encountered.
While this one was trying to avoid traffic on my way home.

Finally, a shot from northwestern Chester Country, because I like it and don’t have another post to put it in.