Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bicycling across the Mason-Dixon Line

Digital image above was taken with the wide angle setting (16:9 aspect ratio) on my Canon Power Shot A570 IS (image stabilization). I re-sized the image to 1024 x 576 before uploading it to this blog. Click on image to see full view. The 16:9 image is nice if you have a wide screen on your computer which most do these days. However, most of the images in this blog are uploaded in the 4:3 aspect ratio.

The path shown above is the Heritage Rail Trail County Park in York Co., PA. The trail runs from the historic district of York, PA, south to the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, a distance of about 21 miles. Then the trail runs directly into the Northern Central Railroad Trail in the Gunpowder Falls State Park which runs 20 more miles from the border to Ashland, MD. Thus, the 41-mile trail is preserved in a County park in PA and a State park in MD. Good going rail-trail people.

Today, I parked my car in Glen Rock Boro, York Co., PA, and bicycled about 6 miles to the Mason-Dixon Line; crossed into Maryland; and biked another 4 miles; then turned around at Bentley Springs and returned.

I didn't realize until I bicycled 6 miles to SUMMIT Grove that I had been going uphill since Glen Rock. I thought it was my advanced age that was slowing me down. In fact, the trail in York County averages about 0.8% but then doubles to 1.5% in those 6 miles. I read about it all on an Historical Marker at the Summit which is 825 feet above sea level. I can here someone chuckling all the way out in Colorado ... and no, there is no panoramic view from here. The summit was once the location of a Methodist Summer Camp Meeting and is still active today. I also read that a "helper" engine was used in the old days to help push a heavy passenger or freight train up the grade. Good idea, but where was that helper engine today.

Thank Goodness, there was a good place to take a rest stop before reaching the Summit. I bought a big Lipton Ice Tea at the renovated train station in the village of New Freeland. I had to wake up the proprietor who had fallen asleep, sitting up, with his arms across a portable DVD player. I can understand his fading out; I was probably the second person in the cafe that day- it was Tuesday after Memorial Day. When he woke up, he also said he was tired from moving house and preparing for a wedding- his. Hope he doesn't fall asleep at the alter ... or on his honeymoon.

A little German Heritage: New Freedom was named after a Peter Free, a son of a German immigrant who had bought a large tract of land in the area in 1780. The village thrived on grist mills and lumber camps, and being close to the railroad.

About a mile and a half south of New Freedom near Summit Grove is the border between PA and MD. However, once the border was in dispute, and so, the astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were hired to survey a boundary, called the Mason-Dixon Line, between the two colonies and to set markers. The south face of each marker bore the seal of Lord Baltimore; and on the north face, the seal of William Penn. I believe I passed one of these M-D markers on the trail near the Line but no seal was evident. Understandably, if this was one of the ancient markers and it was indeed identified, it would be just a stump in no time because every bookshelf in every home in America would be displaying a piece of the rock. Let it be. Sh-h-h-h-h.

The remaining images are a bit of wildlife I enjoyed seeing along the trail. I wish to emphasize that this is an isolated, quiet trail, especially during the week.

How about them wonderful ferns growing in Pennsylvania, the state whose name means "Penn's woods".
This wildflower in present on what I believe is the Honey Suckle bush. You can see through the trees to the rippling waters of Gunpowder Creek.
It's hard not to take your eyes off the path while riding through such beautiful scenery. But watch out for those black-colored speed bumps. And keep your camera ready to shoot.

These are not city squirrels. These wild creatures stalk you and then let out a loud chatter to let you know you've invaded their territory.

The official Heritage Rail Trail County Park web site.

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