Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Haunting Dorchester County?

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I went on the Tubman Trail Ghost & Graveyard Bus Tour, offered by Chesapeake Ghost Tours. I've been wanting to go on one of Mindy Burgoyne's ghost tours for a while -- I learned of her blog and her ghost tours shortly after I began blogging in 2013. A sunny but cold Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally make good on my promise to myself to explore haunted Eastern Shore.

It also was an opportunity to further explore a region that frankly fascinates me. I'm intrigued by Maryland's Eastern Shore: the desolate but beautiful marshland scenery, the lives of the watermen who fish the Bay, the history of the region.

The Eastern Shore holds hundreds of square miles of mostly flat farmland, scrub forest, and marsh, and as Burgoyne points out during the tour, is the least developed contiguous piece of agricultural land between Maine and Florida. Much of the land is barely a foot or two above sea level, and there are signs that, like many of the disappearing Chesapeake Bay islands, much of the Eastern Shore will soon sink into the waters and join the Bay itself. With such a flat landscape, the sky becomes very big, visually. We feel so very small beneath it.

Thus, even on a bright sunny and cheerful afternoon, the landscape can seem mysterious and even ominous.

It's worth noting that, aside from a very few more houses, the landscape has largely remained unchanged since times goneby. Ditches dug by enslaved Africans in the 1800s to drain the fields so they could be tilled and cultivated still drain the same fields. Many of the old farm houses also still stand, although some tilt precariously and more than a few lack a complete roof overhead. The fields where Harriet Tubman toiled are still there.

It is in this landscape, of the marshes and the scrub woodlands and farm fields, that Burgoyne spins her stories about Big Liz, an enslaved African American who was quite probably a Union spy; she was murdered by her master -- who sympathized with the South -- to make an example of what happens to slaves who dare defy the plantation owners.

Big Liz, or so the story goes, was forced by her master to dig a hole in which to safely store his money. After the money was safely buried, he murdered her. To this day, she can be seen, roaming the local marshland, enticing gullible individuals to follow her into the swamp to find the money. Only, if you follow her into the swamp, they warn, you will never emerge alive.

The bus tour brings us through the depths of Dorchester County, down along Smithfield Road and to Hoopers Island. While traveling along Smithfield Road -- known locally as the most haunted road in the county -- we hear about a little girl ghost, who haunts her family home where she died. Seems she was a sickly little girl and when she died, her family buried her in their family plot, out back beyond the house and the barn, as was common at the time. (In fact, as you travel through Dorchester County, you'll note many small graveyards -- family plots, although the homes are now gone, the graves yet remain); Seems that years after her death, the area was badly flooded, and as sometimes happens, her coffin, not being buried as deep as the others in the family plot, got lose and floated up to the door of her former home. The lid of the coffin was ajar, and as her family lovingly adjusted the coffin lid, they stole one last glance at their little girl. They noticed, to their horror, that there were marks on the inside of the coffin lid: she'd been buried alive. Her ghost can be heard faintly crying inside the house where she once lived.

We also hear about two individuals who disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again, on the very same day of the year, seven years apart from each other in 1953 and 1960 -- amazing in a village with just 50 or 60 inhabitants.

On Hoopers Island -- and note, if you want to say it like the locals, you'll pronounce it "huppers" -- you'll hear about the best crabcakes that can be found in Maryland and about "Mary's ghost," both of which can be found at Salty's Restaurant. The ghost is called "Mary's ghost" because it first haunted a waitress named Mary. What's so cool about this stop is that Mary, a long-time waitress at Salty's, comes out to tell you about the ghost which haunts the restaurant, which is in a former school building. Mary is an excellent and animated storyteller, with a fine sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic! It is so rare that you actually get to hear a ghost story from someone who's actually experienced it. On this tour, you get to!

In all, you make three or four stops at various haunted locations, and hear 38 ghost stories over the four hour (plus) bus tour, that takes you from Cambridge to Trinity Church cemetery to visit Anna Ella Carroll's grave to Hoopers Island then through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and finally to Decoursey Bridge where Big Liz haunts the surrounding swamps. During lulls in the storytelling, folks on the bus generally chat and exchange pleasantries, a fun way to spend an afternoon!

Mindy Burgoyne is a Maryland State Government employee, a mom, grandmother, and wife, but also a prolific writer, blogger, and business woman. Pretty amazing, actually. This is what someone can do with talent, a little imagination, a lot of curiosity, and a lot of energy.

Burgoyne said she started researching local ghost stories because she lives in a haunted house, and from her ghost stories and her blog, she received requests for tours. During the bus tour, when she was describing some of the activity in her home, she referred to it as the Delmarva's Amityville Horror.

She wasn't joking.

Getting there: Check the website below for tour times and locations.

Website: http://chesapeakeghostwalks.com/

For other day trip destinations in and around the Eastern Shore, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Eastern Shore label below. Likewise, for other ghost tours, click on the Ghost Walk label below. 

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Two Great Hikes at Rocks State Park

Although spring is in the air, the early March day still promised cool temperatures. The leaves were not out yet, and a recent rain had left the ground a little muddy. Still, the temptation to go on a hike -- to do something -- ANYTHING -- outside, was too much. A hiking we would go!

I had read about the King and Queen Seat a couple of years ago, and had added the hike to my ever-growing list of places I want to go see and things to do. The King and Queen Seat -- a dramatic rock outcropping with sheer drops of 190 feet on three sides is the 3.6 mile hike's payoff. At just under an hour north of Baltimore, it's fairly easy to get to, and on the way, once you pass Bel Air, you get to drive through some lovely Maryland countryside.

The rock outcropping is believed to be a traditional meeting place for two tribes of Native Americans: the Susquehannock and the Mingo. This belief is disputed, however. A book published in 1880 is the first mention of this area being used for ceremonial purposes by Native Americans, and it's entirely possible the author made up the story to make the area more interesting -- as if it needs any marketing! More recently, an archaeological investigation by the Maryland State Highway Administration begun in 2005 failed to find evidence that the site had significance as a “traditional cultural property.” That said, it's something that aught to be significant, right?

It's a strenuous hike -- you go up and down and then back up the side of a mountain, During the first 900 feet, you gain 200 feet in elevation. But after walking briefly along the ridge, you head back down the other side of the mountain, amidst a grove of mountain laurel that must look really lovely in late spring when they bloom and the ferns are leafed out. Between the two hikes that day, my fitbit claims I climbed 76 flights of stairs -- and the second hike was almost flat.

After a brief decent in a series of switchbacks in possibly the prettiest part of the hike due to the moss and lichen covered rocks and the mountain laurel, which in early spring offered the only hint of green, the trail crosses a park road and then gradually heads back up the side of the mountain.

About half-way up, you'll encounter a rock outcropping that is sort of split in the middle; moving to the edge of it, you get a nice view of Deer Creek below. Doofus that I am, I thought, "oh, his and hers. This is it -- the King and Queen's Seat." I was a little disappointed. (No, it's not. It's just an interesting rock outcropping.) Luckily, we kept moving, and finally came upon the real King and Queen's Seat.

The trail curls around the side of the ridge, moving away from the edge and again you encounter a dramatic elevation gain. We were huffing and puffing. Eventually we caught sight of the magnificent King and Queen's Seat rock outcropping. There's no mistaking this -- the rocks stacked upon themselves in interesting formations. This was well worth the strenuous but lovely 3.6 mile hike. Inching out to the edge, a panorama of the surrounding countryside and rolling hills and farmland of northern Harford County unfolds, with Deer Creek running almost immediately below. Stunning in early spring, once the leaves are on the trees, it must be spectacular.

Interestingly, carving one's names and the year seems to be a tradition here, although honestly, I frown upon the more modern inscriptions, but some of them date back to the mid to late 1800s, and so the graffiti suddenly becomes quite cool! Gotta give a call-out to Eldridge, who loves Esther, since 1877.

Sadly, I noted that previous hikers had left behind fast food sauce containers, cigarette butts, and a few plastic bottles. Sad to see when the park even provides hikers with biodegradable bags so they can cart out their own trash. Also sad, there have been a number of deaths at the rock outcropping. So enjoy climbing around the rocks, but be extremely careful.

Finally, we turned around, and began heading down the trail. Although the trail was well marked with white blazes, keep an eye out for the square trail signs. The sign pointed us back to where we'd parked our vehicle, next to the park offices. The decent was steep in a few places but otherwise went quickly.

Despite being tired from the strenuous hike to see the King and Queen's Seat, we decided to finish the day with the short, easy, 1.1 mile there and back trail to see the Kilgore Falls -- the second tallest waterfall in Maryland. This meant a short, 5-minute drive to a different section of the state park.

This trail was surprisingly well populated for a weekday. The trail offers views of a pleasant meadow paralleling the Falling Branch of Deer Creek. Along the way, we encountered ruins, labeled on different websites as a stage coach stop or a the ruins of a mill; interestingly enough, although "substantial ruins" are mentioned several times by different guides as being on the opposite side of the creek, there they were, within 15 feet of the trail. Shortly after seeing the ruins, you reach the falls easily within 15 minutes.

Once you come within hearing of the falls, you have to cross Deer Creek via stepping stones which brings out the kid in you. Even with recent rain, all the stones were exposed, and only one wobbled a bit precariously. The trail leads you into a natural horseshoe of steep rock walls, overwhich tumbles Kilgore Falls.

In warmer weather, I imagine the pool below the falls would entice a number of folks to wade in and splash around.

Two important points are worth noting: the park's website doesn't do this park and these two hikes justice. And, movie goers should note that both the King and Queen's Seat rock outcropping and Kilgore Falls appeared in the movie, "Tuck Everlasting."

Know before you go #1: Even on a week day (albeit a gorgeous one) in early March, there was no solitude at the King and Queen's Seat or Kilgore Falls, although the rest of the Ridge Hike we walked alone. The park is a popular one, frequently fills to capacity on summer weekends and holidays, so plan ahead, go early to ensure both that you find parking and can get in; once the picnic areas are at capacity, the park is closed to additional visitors.

Know before you go #2: Wear appropriate clothing. Although the trails in summer are well shaded, you may still want to take usual sun precautions. Hiking boots are a must, as the trail can be steep and rocky in places. Even in early March in Kilgore Falls, we spotted an intrepid black snake out sunning itself, so even on the easier Kilgore Falls trail, think snakes and wear appropriate footwear. Finally, I noted that some trees, not immediately adjacent to the trail, had what I thought were poison ivy vines growing up them, but park rangers indicated were poison oak.

Know before you go #3: If you're not up to the full 3.6 miles Ridge Trail loop, you can take a short but steep trail directly to the King and Queen's Seat from the parking lot in front of the park office. In addition, there is another parking location, directly off of MD Rt 24, that leads you up to the rock outcropping, but that means you miss the loveliness and adventure of the rest of the loop.

Getting there: To the park office and access to the Ridge Trail Loop, 3318 Rocks Chrome Hill Rd, Jarrettsville, MD 21084; for the parking lot for the Kilgore Trail, 1026 Falling Branch Rd, Pylesville, MD 21132.

Hours: Dawn to dusk

Dogs: Leashed!

Website: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/rocks.aspx

For other day trip destinations, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Forgotten Fort Foote

I happened upon Fort Foote accidentally. I was on my way to Fort Washington, which I'd visited with my two sons years ago. I saw signs for Fort Foote and since I had all afternoon at my disposal, I turned and followed the signs to the fort.

Fort Foote was constructed in 1863 on top of Rozier's Bluff, 100 feet above the Potomac River below, to strengthen the ring of fortifications that encircled Washington, D.C. Two of the guns that protected Washington are still there, along with the remains of the fort's earthworks.

Fort Foote was a Civil War-era wood and earthwork fort that composed a portion of the wartime defenses of Washington, D.C., by helping defend the Potomac River approach to the city. It remained in service well after the Civil War, and concrete and brick improvements were made to the fort, the ruins of which still remain.

In the opening days of the Civil War, the defenses of Washington D.C. were primarily concerned with an overland attack on the capital city of the United States. In 1861, the Arlington Line was constructed to help defend the city from attack via the direct, Virginia approach. Additional forts were constructed on the city's northern approaches to defend against any attacks from Maryland. But most of these forts were earth and log forts -- temporary for the period of the war. 

At sea, or rather, by river, however, only Fort Washington, a fort originally built to defend the city in the War of 1812, blocked the approach along the Potomac River, but at 16 miles from Washington, it was considered too far away to adequately protect the Capitol. Rozier's Bluff, just 6 miles away from Washington, was considered ideal, and so Fort Foote was built.

Construction began in the winter of 1862–1863, but progressed slowly. By fall 1863, the fort was complete, and was ready for action. Due to its location along the coast, the use of iron in the fortifications was limited, and most of the fort was constructed of earth and locally cut lumber.

It was named after Union Rear Admiral Andrew H. Foote, who distinguished himself in actions against Confederate forts along the Mississippi River but died of his wounds on June 23, 1863.

The portion of the fort that faced the Potomac was over 500 feet long with earth walls approximately 20 feet thick. A central traverse ran the length of the fort and contained bombproof magazines and storage areas for the eight 200-pounder Parrott rifles and two 15-inch Rodman guns contained in the fort.

The guns themselves came in dribs and drabs, due to delays in casting and the demands of guns needed for combat in Virginia. The first 15-inch Rodman gun arrived in late 1863, and others arrived at various points over the next two years. The fort was not completely armed until April 1865, just before the final surrender of Confederate forces in Virginia,

Fort Foote never fired a shot against any opponent, Confederate or otherwise. With the end of the war, the Federal government began turning over Washington's forts and the land on which they rested to their pre-war owners. In a few cases, the Federal government chose to retain possession; Fort Foote was one of those exceptions. New construction of concrete and brickworks was required to fulfill its role as a federal prison, which it performed between 1868 and 1869.

During the First World War, the fort was used for gas service training, and during the Second World War, the site was used by officer candidates from Fort Washington. 

Today, what's left of the fort is operated as Fort Foote Park, which is maintained by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) as part of the National Capital Parks-East system. It is not a popular tourist site. The park has the look and feel of a poorly maintained regional park rather than an NPS park; other than a few signs posted near the parking lot (which I freely cribbed from for this post), there is little explanation of what you are seeing. After researching the park, I'm guessing that the concrete ruins are from the post-Civil War period, when it served briefly as a prison. It seems a shame that at least the area around the ruins aren't being maintained. It's almost as if the NPS doesn't expect anyone to actually go there.

Fishing and picnicking along the Potomac River are the draw for all those I encountered that mid-April Sunday afternoon -- everyone but me at cooler chests and fishing poles. I toured the abandoned earthworks and concrete ruins near the two Rodman guns completely alone. Vines and weeds grew among the ruins and fallen trees marred the earthworks. Nature is slowly reclaiming its own on this historic site.

So why go see it? The views of the Potomac River from the bluff are amazing. But also go to explore the history and to understand the times in which it was built. This was one of 60-odd (numbers I've seen vary) Civil War forts built to protect DC from Confederate forces and is a part of our national history.

Know before you go: Wear proper shoes, and because of the condition of the ruins and overgrowth, be alert for snakes amidst the ruins. Entering the ruins, although theoretically possible, is not advised -- these ruins are crumbling.

Getting there: Fort Foote Rd, Fort Washington, MD 20744

Dogs: Yes

Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/fofo/index.htm

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cooking Like the Masons at Gunston Hall

For my birthday, my sister gave me a day's hard labor! She purchased two spots in an Open Hearth Cooking Class at Gunston Hall. The class promised participants that they would experience "one of the most fun, rewarding, and exhausting tasks of the 18th century" and they were right!

It was a fine October day. The weather was starting to get cooler, and we appreciated the 50 degree weather. We arrived just before 10 a.m. and met a couple there. With four, plus two docents, the kitchen was filled, but roomy enough that we all felt comfortable.

We cooked in an authentic environment, using the dishes and tools of the era. There was no running water, so we carried it from the faucet outside, about 20 feet away, in heavy buckets that weighed more than the water they carried.

In some ways, it was like learning a new language. We learned new words, such as trencher, a long hollowed out bowl that can be used as a serving pied, bowl, or to knead dough in, or a spider -- not the creepy crawly kind but the three-legged cast iron pan, which sits about a foot high, allowing hot cools and embers to be stacked below. Other words -- pipkin, sounded quaint to our modern day ears.

Our dinner menu sounded ambitious, even by modern day appliance standards: roast young chicken, freshly churned butter (which went on the authentic-looking but entirely store-bought multi-grain bread), sausage and apples, carrot puffs, a winter squash pudding, and salat (salad), followed by boiled plumb pudding for dessert.

Although we all helped with each other's dishes, we each chose one to make. My first creation was butter -- we started with heavy cream (yes, bought from the store for lack of a cow), and I churned it for an hour. I got impatient: "Is it ready yet?" My arms ached, my shoulders started reminding me they existed. I felt like a little kid on a long drive. "Are we there yet?"

But it was so good, when it was finally ready.

After the butter formed at the bottom of the churn, we emptied out the watery butter milk. In olden times, to keep the butter from going rancid, any remaining milk in it had to be washed away, so I placed the new butter in a shallow bowl and poured fresh cold water over it, and with a wooden spoon, began smooshing it around the bowl. The water grew cloudy, so I poured it off into a pipkin, and added new clean water. Literally, rinse and repeat! Soon the water stayed clear. Then I added salt. And smooshed it into the soft, smooth butter. We tasted it -- oops! Too much salt. And such a simple solution! The docent advised me to wash it out. So I poured on cold water, smooshed it around with the wooden spoon, smooshed and rinsed until the butter was perfect.

My second chore was to make the sausage and apples.

The recipes we followed were from colonial era cookbooks, such as the Compleat Housewife or an Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion, The Virginia Housewife, and American Cookery. These cookbooks didn't contain the specifics that our modern day cookbooks offer. Some of the recipes suggest adding "a little salt," "a piece of butter," or a "bundle of thyme." You are directed to "cook until ready." These are frustrating directions for us modern-day cooks, used to carefully (or not) measuring half teaspoonfuls of dried rosemary or roasting meat at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I mean, we KNOW how long to cook the meat. But cooking over a fire introduces that lack of specificity.

Sometimes the recipes sound so simple -- like the Plumb Pudding. But it was very complicated and took three hours to make!

At the end, we all sat down to the feast, enjoying the food we made in the smoky kitchen. It tasted great -- amazing!

One of the most fun aspects to this cooking adventure was that we were doing all this in the outdoor kitchen, right next to Gunston Hall, on which site meals innumerable had been prepared over the years (although the building itself is a recreation). During the day, sight-seers touring Gunston Hall would stop in, ask questions, smell the good cooking. Although we weren't dressed to period, we felt like part of the exhibit, as they asked questions about what it was like to cook over an open hearth. Although it sounds romantic and quaint, it is hard, back-breaking work.

We left full, but exhausted, after our long day!


Sausage and Apples (Martha Bradley, 1756, Vol. VI, p. 351)

Cut half a dozen fine sound apples, peeled and cored, into moderately thick slices, put them into a pan with half a pound of sausages, and fry them together. The apples will be done by that time the sausages are, and they will be of a fine brown.

Warm a dish, and lay the sausages in the middle, with the apples round them; send up a beacon of gravy thickened with a piece of butter and with a little mustard stirred in among it.

The gravy must not be poured into the dish, for some prefer the sausages dry; but it is a great improvement for those who love it.

Carrot Puffs (Primative Cooker: or the Kitchen Garden Display'd, 1767, page 62)

Scrape and then boil your parsnips or carrots; then mash them, and to a pint of pulp, grate the crumb of a penny loaf, with eggs, nutmeg, orange-flour water, and sugar to your taste. Mix all up with a little sack and cream and fry them in a fine suet, which must be hot when you put them in your pan; a spoonful of each puff in place.

Plum Pudding, boiled (American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, 1796, page 36)

Three pints flour, a little salt, six eggs, one pound plumbs (we used raisins -- any dried fruit would work), half pound beef suet, half pound sugar, one pint milk; mix the whole together; put it into a strong cloth floured, boil three hours, serve with a sweet sauce.

Know before you go: wear clothes made from natural fibers, such as linen, silk, cotton, or wool. Synthetic material can melt and cause severe burns. Ensure you wear closed-toe shoes.

Getting there: 10709 Gunston Rd, Lorton, VA 22079

When: Gunston Hall holds the Open Hearth Cooking Classes on one weekend in October and in April.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Exploring the Ghost Town Rail Trail: Dilltown to Eliza Furnace

Last summer, we stayed the weekend in Pittsburgh, but on our way back home to Maryland, decided to stop for a couple of hours and start what I hope will be an ongoing exploration of a new (for us) rail trail: The Ghost Town Rail Trail. This rail trail stretches 36 miles between Black Lick (PA) to Ebensburg.

The sign at the Saylors Creek entry point to the trail. Photo courtesy of Indiana County (PA) Parks.

Yes, it was the name that first grabbed me, but then I saw some photos from other riders and promptly added it to my ever-growing list. The Ghost Town Rail Trail derives its name from numerous mining towns -- most of which are now abandoned -- that once existed along the railroad corridor.

Because of time constraints and the fact that it was predicted to be an unbearably hot day, combined with the prospect of a long car ride home in front of us, we decided to only ride a short-leg of the rail trail -- from Dilltown to Eliza Furnace and back, a comfortable 12 miles round trip, with Eliza Furnace as the destination.

We looked for signs of the former towns, but saw little, other than what looked as if it could be foundations of something, in Wehrum, and a few crumbling concrete walls along the trail. So note, there are few remnants of these former towns evident, and those that can still be seen are located on private property not open to the general public. But even as I was disappointed not to see ruins of towns or some empty, abandoned buildings, I realized that's not why bike riders should check out this trail.

It's a well groomed, fine packed gravel trail -- a pleasure to ride on, even with my smooth-tired hybrid. The section we rode was in heavy shade for all but a few short patches, with constant views of Backlick Creek, a wide, shallow lazy creek. Every once in a while I noticed a fish splash.

There were no ghosts, of course, but we noticed a couple of snakes on the trail. Deer tracks -- and deer themselves -- were also abundant. Two piles of bear scat, filled with remnants of the red berries (yes, I looked) from bushes along the side of the trail, marked the travels of a hungry bear or two -- I imagine they weren't far away when we rode by... We heard woodpeckers, and my husband is pretty sure he saw a bald eagle. There's quite a bit of wildlife along this trail.

It's also a comfortable trail. The ride is pleasant, the path is wide enough and not crowded, so riding side by side was easy. There are multiple benches and picnic tables along the way, and at Dilltown and Vintondale, there are bathrooms (as there are at other major access points).

Our destination and turn-around place was Eliza Furnace, built in 1846 and the first of three furnaces to be built in the creek valley. It is also one of Pennsylvania’s best preserved iron furnaces, although it operated just three years, until 1849. An interpretive exhibit is located at the site. Vintondale was established next to Eliza Furnace years later -- in 1892 -- as a company mine town.

After our ride, we crossed Rt 403 to the Dillweed Bed and Breakfast to purchase a sandwich and a cool drink to enjoy on the inn's front porch. This establishment frequently hosts folks specifically to ride the trail.

Getting there: We accessed the Ghost Town Trail in Dilltown, but there are access points in Saylor Park, Heshbon, Dilltown, Wehrum, Vintondale, Twin Rocks, Nanty Glo, and Ebensburg.
  • Saylor Park - 1284 Old Indiana Road, Blairsville, PA 15717 - Parking, restroom in season, picnic facilities, nearby walking path and ballfields, park is operated by Burrell Township.
  • Heshbon - 10485 Route 259, Blairsville, PA 15717 - Parking, portable restroom in season.
  • Dilltown - 7452 Route 403, Dilltown, PA 15929 (Could also be Homer City, PA 15748) - Parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, nearby trail shop and bed & breakfast, water.
  • Wehrum - 2415 Wehrum Road, Vintondale, PA 15961 - Parking
  • Vintondale, Rexis - 1069 Main Street, Vintondale, PA 15961 - Parking, restroom at Eliza Station, picnic area, water.
  • Twin Rocks - 1397 Plank Road, Nanty Glo, PA 15943 - Parking
  • Nanty Glo - 1097 1st Street, Nanty Glo, PA 15943 - Parking, restroom in season at football field, local restaurants.
  • Ebensburg - 424 Prave Street, Ebensburg, PA 15931 - Parking, local restaurants.

Hours: Daylight

Website: There are several websites that provide information about the Ghost Town Rail Trail, as well as my go-to guide book, developed by the Rail Trails Conservancy, Rail Trails Pennsylvania, Ne Jersey and New York (Wilderness Press, 2011). But I recommend checking out the Indiana County Parks' website, as it offers the best and most specific directions to the rail trail access points: http://www.indianacountyparks.org/trails/ghosttown_trail.aspx. The Ghost Town Rail Trail Wikipedia page provides a handy elevation chart, which is good for planning your ride.

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!