The Ghosts of Washington County – Part 2

Unfortunately, not all ghosts live just in our imaginations. And some come back to haunt us repeatedly. Discovered one of those ghosts along the Montour Trail again.

Between mile markers 29.5-29.0, about a half mile from the old Montour 4 mine portal, there’s a covered pavilion along the trail. Courtesy of an Eagle Scout project. It sits next to a ravine which climbs sharply to the back end of a housing plan. Many springs tumble down that hill, under the trail, under a dirt road and then onto Chartiers Creek. Ultimately this drains into the Ohio River. One of the springs seems to be coming out of the rock nearer to the bottom of the hill. It’s stream bed is quite orange. I associate that color with iron contaminated acidic mine drainage. It joins other springs which come from higher up the hill which ‘appear normal’ but from that point on the stream bed is orange all the way to Chartiers Creek.

I went back there last  week to take some pictures and to test the pH and conductivity of the orange effluent stream. This is a view from the trail of some of the streams on the hillside.  The flow on the right has a definite orange color.

I started the climb down but, unfortunately, the ‘easier way’ I thought I saw turned out to be a wet drainage way. Tried another route that turned out to be steeper than it looked & covered with wet leaves & moss. Got about 75% of the way down. At that point took a zoom close up of the orange stream bed where it seems to come out of the rock outcropping.

And then where it’s culvertized further down under the trail.

But below that point the slope ended in a 5-7′ vertical drop to the spring. Way too much adventure for a mid-70 something. Climbed back up without testing the effluent stream.

The above information was passed along to the Chartiers Creek Watershed Association and  subsequently to the Washington County Conservation District. They’re going to try to access the stream at the bottom of the hill where it’s culvertized under the dirt road.

Let me know if you’ve got some ‘finds’ to document or explore in your area.

The Ghosts of Washington County – Part #1

The southwestern PA region has a long history of mining & manufacturing activity. Some of this activity ‘died’ a long time ago & evidence of it may be obscured, forgotten, or unknown. I had a discovery experience just like that recently.

In the Fall of 2018 we’d moved to a neighborhood in Peters Twp. that was near a section of the Montour Trail that I’d never been on before. So, Frodo, our Standard Poodle, & I have since been exploring that trail. We start out at Mile Marker 30.4 next to the Peters Twp. Sanitary Authority plant on Brush Run Creek. Last week we’d walked only a short way from the parking lot & decided to take an old road/trail that left the Montour Trail & cut sharply up the hillside that lined the trail. It was steep enough & long enough to get the heart started. And it was deserted enough to let Frodo off-leash so that he could run around, explore, & do doggy stuff. A win-win for both of us. When I got tired of climbing, we took a trail across the face of the hillside on to a path & series of cutbacks down. Coming around the last cutback into a clearing saw this locked metal door on the face of the hillside.

Moving in closer realized that it was the actual portal into the Montour 4 mine.

This portal was opened in 1953 and allowed a conveyer belt to bring coal from the mine into a collector which loaded the coal into rail cars parked directly below at the Montour Trail level. Unfortunately, this portal did not have a particularly long use life.

Fortunately, some folks had the vision to see this as the starting place to develop a real regional asset which now connects all the way to Washington D.C.