Sunday, March 30, 2014

Leetonia Railroad

Dropping logs from train

Not many trees left on the mountain

Leetonia Train late 1880's
There was a time you could hear a train whistle blow in Leetonia a time of loggers, trains, mills and the tannery. The time Leetonia bustled with work and tough men and women carving a life out of the wilderness. Driving through Leetonia now you would never know that life existed.  All that is left now are a few of the houses turned into seasonal camps a hint of where the old railroad beds lay buried in brush and trees along with and crumbled foundations and many a working man and woman's dreams.  
Many people died in Leetonia by disease or from the dangerous work of logging on step slopes and working on the railroad. Such was the fate of John Schwab(see original story) crushed under the wheels of the Leetonia train.
Charles John Schwab 1887-1919
The young were not spared either as the graveyard still shows to all who hike up the hill where many small children under two and babies were laid to rest because of disease. Another young boy whose last name was Campbell lost his life at ten years old. The boy played near the tracks when a runaway train car ripped off his leg, then slowly and painfully took his life.  Anytime I watch the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," I can't help but think about Leetonia's similar accidents. If you lay quiet enough on a summer day you might still hear the whistle blow, and the brakes squeal of the Leetonia Train going through the valley into the busy town of Leetonia. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Elk Township starts work to reopen Leetonia Road

Road after grader
Yesterday I heard the sound of a large machine and looked outside to see the township grader coming down the road. Six large tires chained, some aggressive teeth and a blade hit the road past our house. I watched as the teeth bit into the ice in front of the grader and the large machine struggled swinging from side to side with wheels spinning a battle against the frozen ice and snow covered road. As Lee and I watched Ed run the machine up the road we had real concern for him navigating a winter's worth of ice and snow. The big grader has tasted defeat on this road before and there isn't any cell service to the South of us.

Just about the time Lee said, "Should I go look for him?" We heard the rumble of the heavy machine coming back. I went down and talked to Ed before I drove into town and he said that they may bring the truck with the plow on it down Saturday. He was hoping the coming rain would soften up the ice and make it easier to get off with the truck. 

The day he came it was still in the 20's and even after the grader beat on the road there was still \ 2-3 inches of ice left. He said he used the grader from my place down to just past Cedar Crest Camp. I am not sure I share Ed's optimism on that ice softening up enough that the truck will be able to plow it by Saturday, but I hope he is right.

It did start raining today and I was awoken to the sound of a Cardinal's call outside my window. The quiet mornings of winter are over. I spotted a Bluebird, Turkey Vulture, Rabbit, and fresh muddy bear tracks on my neighbor's porch. So the animals have put in a positive vote for Spring and with the arrival of the large yellow grader I too am starting to believe. 

You should still use four-wheel drive coming up the valley and be prepared for icy spots like the above picture if you come up this weekend. I think the majority of the ice might be gone before the following weekend as the temperatures are going well above freezing for the next ten days. Happy Road Opening. Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Indian Post Box then and now

Late 1800s

Late 1800's bridge before rock

2014 March 
So this details the Indian Post Box disappearing act. It wasn't the rock that moved it was the bridge in the second picture which was moved further to the left by at least 75 feet. You can see from the last picture John Schilken took over the weekend the rock and hole are still there.  A few trees have grown up around it so it isn't as easily found in the summer. According to John Grube the bridge in the second picture was washed out in a heavy storm. The man fixing the bridge stayed at Red Rock camp and moved the bridge down to give the camp a little bigger front yard. You couldn't make a decision like that on your own now days. It took over 2 years of planning to put the new bridge in front of our house and they wouldn't move it on a whim.

John went down the road towards Cedar Run on Sunday and this is his road report:
  The road is ice down by the camp Cedar Crest (Camp below ours....  I believe).  From that point down to the Mine Hole bridge, the road is about 70% defrosted.  The stretch where you went over the hill between Mine Hole and 414 (where it gets narrow), is very ice.  I would say the lower section, Mine Hole down to 414 was 70% defrosted too.  There are definitely nasty areas in both areas where the road has limited exposure to the sun.  I'm sure you know where those are.  

Thanks for that information and the pictures of the Indian Post Box. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

South End of Leetonia and GPS warning!

South End Leetonia

Tannery Wagon moving bark

Francis/Leetonia Rd. School house row

State House 1910
These are all pictures of the South end of Leetonia from late 1800's through 1910. The first picture(late 1800's) shows all the houses along the road to South of Leetonia, which now has one camp named Cedar Crest in that area. At the upper end of the creek you can see the old tannery building. The stream moves back and forth from the Tannery and makes it way down to Pine Creek.

The second picture shows the a Tannery wagon moving bark as you can see younger children are common place as workers during this period of Leetonia history.  The third picture is a row of houses going up Francis Leetonia Road to the old school house. Behind the school house is where the current Leetonia Cemetery exists. The last picture shows a high view of the same area  and includes the State House(now heliport area), and the Tannery as well as the Schoolhouse area. The lack of trees makes many of the old pictures difficult to orientate since the area doesn't look a thing like it did back then. 

I have a total of eighteen old photos of Leetonia I will post sometime during my next few posts. The riddle of the Indian Post Office has been solved by John Grube. He told me that Red Rock Camp used to be closer to the road or should I say the road was closer to Red Rock. It appear the bridge over Cedar Run washed away in the early 1950's when it was replaced the person in charge of construction stayed at Red Rock to save driving back and forth. As a way of repaying the favor the gave Red Rock a bigger front yard by moving the bridge downstream a bit.  The old road can still be seen as a circular drive in front of the camp. And if you line up the road you can see the old bridge abutments. The old road then would have made a sharp left after the previous bridge and allowed travelers to be sitting in the position of the stage picture. If you look in that area under the brush you will still see the old "Indian Mail Box". Whether or not the Indians used this or it is folklore is still up for debate. But the location of the mailbox is at Red Rock Camp.

Two people have been stuck in the Leetonia area in the last couple days. The first a lumberman who started a skid on Francis Leetonia Rd and ended up in the ditch. He walked a good three miles to our house(the only live people in Leetonia) to call for help. He understood the risks and was prepared to walk. The worst and most dangerous of the stuck people was yesterday. Two women, four children(one only 19 months) in a van followed their GPS up Leetonia Road from Cedar Run. They said they were trying to get to the PA Grand Canyon. If you use GPS up here you better have Good Problem Solving skills cause it will get you deep into trouble. 

This could have been worse if I hadn't decided to go to Leetonia to check on a camp and visit some crazy Ruin camp people(you know who you are). On my way back I see three young girls walking down Leetonia Road towards Leetonia about a half mile from my house. I stopped to see where they belonged and they said their van was stuck in the road up a ways. I wondered why they chose to walk away from my house and towards Leetonia until I saw which way the van was pointed as I drove up to it. It was point going to my house, but since they didn't know where they were and were just out of sight of my house they walked toward the only buildings they had seen in Leetonia. They had the van pretty much buried into the ditch and I doubted I could pull it out with my truck, but offered to try. I went home and got the truck and chain, but even in four-wheel drive it was little use as I could get no traction on the 4 to 5 inches of slush snow. It also appear their chassis was hung up. So I took them to the house to call for a tow. There is only one person who will even consider towing anyone back here and that is Wayne of Gaines Garage. It was going to be two hours until he could come so I had a few children visitors for a while. The female adults preferred to stay with their vehicle and wait, so most of my story came from the kids. They told about how they had followed the GPS and gotten stuck a number of times until their mother in an attempt to keep from going off the steep side went into the ditch less than 500 yards from my house. I had gotten enough of a look at the adults to realize they wouldn't have been able to walk the eight to nine miles need to get help. It could have been a long night in the freezing woods or days before anyone would have found them. The sad thing is I don't think they had a clue how serious of a situation they were in. Other then the guys who came up to their camp for the weekend. I was the only person close and they started by walking away from me. I asked if they had seen the sign that said "No winter maintenance". They said they did but they were already in quite a ways. I blame the State for that one as there isn't a sign until you get two miles in where our township starts. That is way too late to help most people if they read it. This accident ended on a good note. The tow truck came and they got out and headed back to the York area. I am sure it didn't turn into the fun day trip to the canyon they had planned on.

The roads are still four-wheel drive only with chains, nerves of steel and the ability to walk out if needed. If you lack any of the above characteristics wait until April 15th., when they plow all of the roads. Mountain girl Paula,logging out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Leetonia Pictures from late 1800's

White House in Leetonia

Train in Leetonia

Indian Mail Box
Thanks to John Schilkin for these pictures he emailed me. They are self explanatory late 1800's. One picture the last one of the Leetonia stage brings a bit more questions about the Indian Mail Box location. I thought it was in the rocks near Red Rock Camp, but this looks like the stage is running right up to the side of the mountain. Either the stream has moved or I am in the wrong place all together. So if any of you have an exact location for the mailbox let me know. 

We still have quite a bit of snow and ice. I am hoping next week's run of warm weather will take a bigger toll on it. John can tell you first hand how much fun it is to drive on soft snow on a narrow road. Even with four-wheel drive he has a new respect for the unplowed section of Leetonia Road in March. I like to call it March madness without the sporting fun of basketball. March is about melting, mud, snow and ice and anything else the weather can dream up. April is safer they clear the road and we try to forget about winter for another season. Thanks again John for the pictures. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out and impatiently waiting for Spring.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Frozen in Leetonia

Frozen Donut

Frozen wall along Leetonia Road

Frozen Falls behind log cabin on Leetonia Road
Yesterday, we made a trip down Leetonia Road to Cedar Run our first in a long time. The warm weather last weekend combined with the -14 yesterday turned the road into a hard pack of ice and snow we could navigate with the Subaru. It was pretty easy going as long as we went slow and stayed in the center until the last 2 miles down from Mine Hole to 414. This part of the road is not groomed by the snowmobile groomer and there were some deep tire marks that froze into pretty tough ruts. Still all in all it was far from the worst time we have driven on the road. Fortunately, we met no one as passing would be extremely hard without someone getting stuck. Until the weather changes the road is passable by four-wheel drivers using extreme caution.

I took a few pictures along the way and was excited to find a snow phenomenon that rarely occurs. It is called a snow roller or donut. Here is the definition:
snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind, picking up material along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made.
Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and are often hollow since the inner layers, which are the first layers to form, are weak and thin compared to the outer layers and can easily be blown away, leaving what looks like a doughnut or Swiss roll. Snow rollers have been seen to grow as large as two feet in diameter.
The following conditions are needed for snow rollers to form:
  • There must be a relatively thin surface layer of wet, loose snow, with a temperature near the melting point of ice
  • Under this thin layer of wet snow there must be a substrate to which the thin surface layer of wet snow will not stick, such as ice or powder snow
  • The wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not strong enough to blow them apart.
  • Alternatively, gravity can move the snow rollers as when a snowball, such as those that will fall from a tree or cliff, lands on a steep hill and begins to roll down the hill.
Because of this last condition, snow rollers are more common in hilly areas. However, the precise nature of the conditions required makes them a very rare phenomenon. 

The ones I took a picture of where probably made some time ago, but were still holding their shape. I noticed several along the road going to Cedar Run. It almost looks like some little elves were busy in the forest making sculptures. 

Along with the snow donuts the ice falls were as beautiful as ever. The extreme cold we have experienced has made them very thick and colorful. Some blues and browns are seen by the human eye and a better camera than I had to take the above pictures. 

Today there were a lot of turkeys and deer out in the sunny day looking for some acorns and other things to eat before we get more snow. Possible 1-3 tomorrow predicted and it looks like March isn't giving up the negative temperatures quit yet with a negative ten predicted Monday night. I don't know about anyone else but I am ready for a March meltdown. It has been a long, cold winter in Leetonia this year and it is far from over. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.