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.

Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge

Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge over Mill Creek in Lancaster County Central Park. The bridge is also known as the County Park Covered Bridge, Baer’s Mill Covered Bridge, Isaac Baer’s Mill Bridge, Keystone Mill Covered Bridge, Binder Tongue Carrier Covered Bridge, and Mill 2A Covered Bridge (that’s a lot of names). The bridge is used by road traffic from within the park to access a picnic pavilion.

Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge

The bridge has a single span, wooden, double burr arch trusses design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It is painted red, the traditional color of Lancaster County covered bridges, on both the inside and outside. Both approaches to the bridge are painted in red with white trim. It has a 94 foot span.

The span of the bridge from the trail below. Excuse the backlighting.

The bridge was built in 1876 by W. W. Upp over the Conestoga River. In 1972, it was damaged by the floodwaters caused by Hurricane Agnes. It was repaired by David Esh in 1975 and moved to its present location in the Lancaster County Park over Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conestoga River. Unlike most historic covered bridges in the county, it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The banks of Mill Creek

Horned Larks and Goodbye to Winter

Disclaimer: There are no pictures of horned larks in this post

The grapevine (okay, Ebird) continued to carry news of horned larks, Lapland longspurs, and snow buntings in farmers’ fields in northwestern Chester County near Honeybrook. As mentioned in my previous post, I had visited this area over the Winter in connection with a trip to try to find a snowy owl that had briefly been seen nearby. On the first try, I had no luck. This time around I spotted horned larks in small flocks, which is a new species for my life list. This is a very picturesque area with lovely farms that merited more photos.

This young farmer was fertilizing his fields for Spring.

Here’s a better look.

Cattle feeding and soaking up the sun.

Two Amish schoolhouses are close to each other in this area.

Some looks at the farms and fields.

The plastic tubes are there to protect the young trees as they grow along this riparian boundary. The tubes will biodegrade over time.

Pennsylvania “standing stones.”

The Wertz Covered Bridge

The Wertz Covered Bridge, also known as the Red Covered Bridge (but aren’t most of them), is a historic wooden covered bridge located at Bern Township and Spring Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The bridge is a 204-foot-long, Burr Truss bridge, constructed in 1867. It crosses the Tulpehocken Creek. It serves as the walkway entrance to the Berks County Heritage Center, which also includes the Gruber Wagon Works. It is one of only five covered bridges remaining in Berks County. It is the largest single-span covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was restored in 1959 and later in 1984, however, when the Warren Street Bypass opened, the bridge was closed permanently in October, 1959. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1978.

The bridge is part of the Berks County Heritage Center, an historical interpretive complex commemorating important eras of Berks County cultural history. The Gruber Wagon Works (a National Historic Landmark) the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Deppen Cemetery, Bicentennial Eagle Memorial, the Distlefink statue and a salad and herb garden are all encompassed within the Heritage Center.

The view from Tulpehocken Road.
Inside Pennsylvania’s longest single span covered bridge.
The Bat Colony of the bridge. I love bats. They eat insects and are so cute.
A look around the Berks County Heritage Center…
A look up at the bridge.
The view from the other end.
Tulpehocken Creek

One Bridge to Rule Them All

The Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge in Port Royal, Juniata County is the longest remaining covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was built in 1902 and is 278 feet long. It is a single-lane, double-span wooden covered bridge which crosses the Tuscarora Creek. Its design is based on the Burr truss developed by Theodore Burr, who was a preeminent bridge designer and builder. This bridge has been owned by the Juniata County Historical Societysince 1962. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

A view of the bridge. It is so long it has a center support.
Let’s look inside.
Looking toward the new road bridge.
A view of Tuscarora Creek.

Downstreem and off on the tributary Licking Creek, one finds the Lehman Covered Bridge, an historic covered bridge located near Port Royal in Juniata County. It is a Double Burr Arch truss bridge and was built in 1888. It measures 107 feet and has vertical siding, windows at eave level, and a gable roof. It was damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and subsequently rebuilt. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

To the south is the Delville Covered Bridge. This bridge is located at Dellville, Perry County. It is a 174-foot-long, three span, Burr truss bridge over Sherman Creek, constructed in 1889. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. On November 3, 2014, the bridge was significantly damaged in a fire that police believe to have been caused by arson. By early 2019, most of the structure has been completely restored back to its original condition.

There is a nice little park around this bridge for a picnic.
Sherman Creek.

Some additional bridges on upstream on Sherman Creek are pictured in my blog post on Sherman’s Valley.

Some Very Special Bridges

Columbia County is home to a unique pair of bridges. The Twin Bridges, named East Paden and West Paden, are located on Huntington Creek. They were constructed in 1884 by W. C. Pennington for $720, and are named after John Paden, who operated a nearby sawmill. Twin Bridges County Park was created in 1963 when a new road bypassed the bridges.

The original West Paden was washed away by floods waters in June 2006. It was reconstructed in 2008. The bridges are open to foot traffic and contain picnic tables. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The rebuilt West Paden Bridge – you can see a bit of the new road bridge to the left.
A very refreshing dip in Huntington Creek.
The view from the side, and picnickers with the downward view.
The shady inside.
The entrance from the East Paden side.
A view from the park of both bridges.
Inside East Paden.
Casting an interesting shadow.

Now for a bonus bridge – down the road a short distance is the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge. It has a deep woods feeling compared to the Paden Bridges. You can walk through this bridge.

The Josiah Hess Bridge.
A very shady interior.
Down the side, from the other end of the bridge.

And They’re Back …

This past Labor Day Weekend was spent trying to see the covered bridges in Columbia County that I had not previously viewed. I was able to see the remaining bridges, except the Lawrence L. Knoebel Covered Bridge inside Knoebels Grove, which was skipped due to the holiday weekend. It wasn’t visible from the road. The weather was nice this day, unlike on some of my other recent covered bridge adventures. I’ve put most of the rest of Columbia County’s bridges in this post, leaving a special grouping until another day.

The Columbia County bridges are painted red, although some do have white trim. All but one of the bridges pictured below are in the southern part of the county, south of Route 80.

The Krickbaum Covered Bridge
The Richards Covered Bridge
The Johnson Covered Bridge
Parrs Mill Covered Bridge – access to this one is blocked, and I’m not that ambitious.
The Esther Furnace Covered Bridge
A good side view here.
The Davis Covered Bridge
The Snyder Covered Bridge.
Good access for the side view here.
The Hollingshead Covered Bridge near Catawissa.

I had also previously missed the Covered Bridge in Briar Creek Lake Park near Berwick (and north of 80). I manged to accidentally photograph this one in black and white. Don’t ask.

The Covered Bridges of French Creek

Chester County still has a fair number of covered bridges, with 15 still in existence. Many of them are open to traffic. It also continues to share some bridges with surrounding counties (Bartram, Pine Grove, and Mercers Mill, for example). A cluster of bridges span French Creek in the northeastern section of the county, west of Phoenixville.

Heading east, we encounter the bridges, beginning with Rapps Dam Covered Bridge.

Interesting that these bridges have white ends and red sides.

We come upon Kennedy Covered Bridge next.

The western most is Sheeder Hall Covered Bridge.

You have a good view of the side of this one and the creek.

The covered bridge saga continues next week.

Sherman’s Valley: A Hidden Gem

Nestled between the mountain ridges in Perry County is Sherman’s Valley. The valley is traversed by Route 274, with its heart in Blain, PA. I came here in search of a couple of covered bridges on Sherman Creek. The narrow valley feels remote due to its situation between two ridge lines. However, it is not to far from Carlisle and Harrisburg.

It was, unfortunately, quite a gloomy morning when I was there. Here is a sampling of what I saw (and, or course, those covered bridges):

Farm house across the road – like my grandparent’s former farm.
The Mount Pleasant Covered Bridge.
Sherman Creek
The New Germantown Covered Bridge
I see these stars all over the place on homes and barns. This one has a twist with the flag motif.
Great red color on this barn.
Nestled against the backdrop of mountains.
I love how this house has been built around a log structure.
Another great red barn.

A Quick Visit to Some State Parks

It is one of my goals to try to visit every state park in Pennsylvania. I’ve made pretty good progress so far, but I think some the parks in the western part of the state will be a challenge due to distance. This May I was able to stop by Colonel Denning State Park and Fowlers Hollow State Park.

Colonel Denning State Park in Newville, PA is named after a William Denning, a sergeant in the Continental Army, who made wrought iron cannon for the Army. He was never actually a Colonel. His namesake park hosts hiking, camping, boating, skating, cross country skiing and a swim beach and all the usual picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

The lake at Colonel Denning State Park.
A lovely pavilion next to the dam spillway.

I also made it to Fowlers Hollow State Park, a small state park in Blain, PA in the valley of Fowler Hollow Run. One can hike, fish, picnic, hunt, horseback ride, mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile at the park. There is also a small campground. Its trail system connects with the trails in the Tuscarora State Forest.

A nice, shady picnic area.
A group of equestrians was on the move.
A view of Fowler Hollow Run.
And finally, a view from Hemlocks Road in the Tuscarora State Forest.