Lost Again in Pennsylvania

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Lost Again in Pennsylvania

Postby Rick F. » Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:28 pm

This past Sunday I set off to follow one of the routes described in Back Roads of Pennsylvania. Out of its hundreds of interesting-sounding routes, I picked one in south-central PA that looked like it would fit well with the time I had available. The route began in the tiny berg of Montsera (not terribly far from Carlisle) and wound its way to Floradale.

Heading toward Montsera, I passed through Westminster, MD, plus Littlestown, Gettysburg, Mt. Holly Springs, and Barnitz, PA. In Littlestown, I spotted this towering building that I'd somehow missed on previous trips. An R1200GS is not a small bike, but it was dwarfed by this industrial facility, which was smack in the middle of the downtown area and turned out to be the Keystone Milling Company, established in 1916.
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Further on, at Center Mills, I found this dilapidated structure that featured numerous signs with messagees such as "Danger: Cross Dog!" and "Appointments Only." (I saw no sign of the former and made no attempt at the latter.)
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Every town should have a library like this one in Mt. Holly Springs.
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After reaching Montsera, I turned to my real destination--the King's Gap Environmental Education Center, which is part of the Pennsylvania State Park system. A long, winding, and narrow road led to the Center's stone mansion, constructed in 1908 by a local businessman.
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The view off of its back promenade was great, even on a cold and overcast day. Cumberland Valley, Doubling Gap, Waggoner's Gap, and other landmarks were easily spotted in the distance.
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Best of all, however, was this odd building on the far side of the mansion gardens. My first impression was that the building must be a water tower, but that couldn't be right. Who would put a water tank right on top of a building with rooms? When I got closer, however, there was a steady drip of water coming from the third story. I'm sure stranger structures exist--but I haven't run across one yet! (Subsequent research, incidentally, indicated that this was indeed the mansion's water tower. It holds 10,000 gallons and is still in use today.)
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From Montsera, Back Roads lived up to its name and put me on a series of dirt roads through the Michaux State Forest, eventually featuring Ridge Road. In many places, its surface was fairly smooth and the scenery was beautiful.
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Along the way, there was a magnificent jumble of rocks forming the top of a hill. It reminded me of Devil's Den at Gettysburg, only with a lot more trees, fewer tourists, and (regrettably) a ton of graffiti.
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Continuing along Ridge Road, I discovered more fall colors--and a whole bunch of craggy rocks poking through the road. It was one of the bouncier rides I'd had in a while.
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Eventually, I reached the next major destination--Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It had a number of old buildings and other historic sites, including the iron furnace and the furnace master's home (now used as a youth hostel).
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The park also featured numerous trails. I hiked a couple of miles along one of them just to stretch my legs. (Okay, to be honest, I also misread the park map and inadvertently headed east instead of west! I should'a taken the Zumo with me...) Regardless, there were plenty of pretty spots along the way.
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I'd never seen low-rider picnic benches before. These just cried out for some neon under-table lights...
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After my inadvertent hike, I was glad to grab some lunch at the park's general store. My timing was good, too, since the store was closing the next day for the season.
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Leaving the park, my route quickly turned to additional dirt roads, including the western remainder of Ridge Road. All told, I easily went 50 to 60 miles on dirt, averaging anywhere from 10 to 30 mph, depending on the surface. But up in the mountains of the Michaux Forest, the trees were spectacular!
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As the shadows lengthened, I had to forgo the last third of the trip, owing to the amount of time required to cover the first two-thirds mostly on dirt. (Okay, all the photo stops didn't help.) I exited the route at Black Gap, near Caledonia State Park. On the way back home, I pulled over briefly in Gettysburg to put the Gerbings jacket liner back on. I found myself in the famous Evergreen Cemetery arch. Of course, Cemetery Ridge featured prominently in the battle, and this stone arch saw a lot of action for 3 days. Abraham Lincoln later gave his famous Gettysburg Address on a platform in this cemetery.
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All told, it was an 8 1/2 hour ride of a little over 200 miles. The temperature never went above 45 degrees or so, and the sun seldom appeared, but any motorcycle ride with scenery and without rain is automatically a great one!

Rick F.
Last edited by Rick F. on Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Maria V » Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:38 pm

Another great report and pics. Thanks Rick!
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Postby eap » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:33 pm

Very nice!
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Postby eap » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:34 pm

Very nice! Love that water tower bldg but would not like to live under 10,000 gallons:!:
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Postby Johno » Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:18 pm

Cool pics!
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Postby Ted » Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:24 pm

Another excellent ride report - thanks Rick!
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Postby markf » Sat Nov 10, 2007 1:04 pm

Damn! You could make a livin' leading rides thry PA!
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Postby pjamet » Sat Nov 10, 2007 6:53 pm

Nice report Rick. I rode on most of the roads you did when i lived in Carlisle.
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Re: Lost Again in Pennsylvania

Postby Ben_Ricci » Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:31 pm

Rick F. wrote: In Littlestown, I spotted this towering building that I'd somehow missed on previous trips. An R1200GS is not a small bike, but it was dwarfed by this industrial facility, which was smack in the middle of the downtown area and turned out to be the Keystone Milling Company, established in 1916.
Image



Rick, I know that building! I remember when it was still operating and the local farmers would bring their wagons of corn for processing. I believe it ceased operation sometime in the early 80s--it's been decaying ever since.

Next time you get the itch to wander around Northern MD/Southern PA please give me a heads up (if possible and if you want a tag along). While you were scooting around Central PA on Sunday I was running the backroads of Northern Frederick and Carroll Counties. :lol: I want to learn how to stop and smell the roses.

Once again you've done it again.: Great ride report! And you've found stuff in my "backyard" I haven't seen before. :lol:
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Postby Unity » Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:59 pm

Terrific, Rick. :)

That tower house may be your weirdest place yet. :shock:

Or is it? Maybe you could assemble your Photographer's Phavorites, and then the rest of us could choose the People's Pick. The Weird Winner, of course, should receive an appropriate plaque. :wink:

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Re: Lost Again in Pennsylvania

Postby markf » Sun Nov 11, 2007 11:56 am

Ben_Ricci wrote:
Rick, I know that building! I remember when it was still operating and the local farmers would bring their wagons of corn for processing. I believe it ceased operation sometime in the early 80s--it's been decaying ever since.

:lol:


Isn't it strange how abandoned buildings go from eyesore to history in a few decades? They get a ghost town kinda feel after a while. It's great when you can get that close to history for a photo op.
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Postby Graybeard » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:30 pm

Another amazing report and photo show, Rick! I agree about you leading rides! Either that, or post your tracks!
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Postby Motor » Sun Nov 11, 2007 7:02 pm

Excellent pics Rick, I ride that area all the time as it's very close to home but I never seem to notice the great spots you find. Maybe I just go through to quickly, those gravel roads through Michaux State forest never see the downside of 50 or 60 mph, my BAD :lol:
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Postby Rick F. » Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:10 pm

Maria, eap, Johno, Ted, Mark, PJ, & Larry,

Thanks for the feedback. It seems like once you're off the beaten path, there's always something interesting to look at and photograph. I've often just picked a route by looking at MapSource or Google Maps, as opposed to reading someone's recommendation in a book or article--and I've never been disappointed.

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Re: Lost Again in Pennsylvania

Postby Rick F. » Thu Nov 15, 2007 10:15 pm

Ben_Ricci wrote:
Rick F. wrote: In Littlestown, I spotted this towering building that I'd somehow missed on previous trips. An R1200GS is not a small bike, but it was dwarfed by this industrial facility, which was smack in the middle of the downtown area and turned out to be the Keystone Milling Company, established in 1916.
Image



Rick, I know that building! I remember when it was still operating and the local farmers would bring their wagons of corn for processing. I believe it ceased operation sometime in the early 80s--it's been decaying ever since.

Next time you get the itch to wander around Northern MD/Southern PA please give me a heads up (if possible and if you want a tag along). While you were scooting around Central PA on Sunday I was running the backroads of Northern Frederick and Carroll Counties. :lol: I want to learn how to stop and smell the roses.

Once again you've done it again.: Great ride report! And you've found stuff in my "backyard" I haven't seen before. :lol:

Ben,

Thanks for the info on the milling building. It's always fascinated me how some businesses, areas, homes, etc. seem to wax and wane over time. It's intriguing to imagine what "life used to be like" in a given setting.

I'll let you know the next time I'm going exploring in your neck of the woods--it would be fun to exchange notes on interesting places.

Rick F.
For all my tour articles, check out rsftripreporter.net.

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