Ghost Town Trail
A Rail-Trail in
Cambria & Indiana Counties
The Ghost Town Trail
extends for 19.5 miles in the Blacklick Creek Valley of Pennsylvania
from Nanty Glo and White Mill (near Belsano) in Cambria County
to Dilltown in Indiana County. The trail surface is packed limestone.
The trail project began in October, 1991, when the Kovalchick
Salvage Company donated the former Ebensburg & Blacklick
Map of the
1993 the Cambria & Indiana Railroad donated four miles of
the former Blacklick & Yellowcreek Railroad known as the
Rexis Branch. The Rexis Branch follows the abandoned Cambria
& Indiana Railroad for about four miles along the north branch
of Blacklick Creek from Rexis to White Mill near Route 422. The
Ghost Town Trail name is derived from the sites of once thriving
coal mining towns of Bracken and Wehrum along the trail corridor.
The trail is operated by the Cambria County Conservation &
Recreation Authority in Cambria County and by Indiana County
Parks in Indiana County.
Trail Distances from Nanty Glo Terminus
Rocks 2.5 miles
Vintondale 6 miles
Eliza Furnace 6 miles
Wehrum 9 miles
Dilltown 12 miles
Town Trail Grand Opening Ceremony
Twin Rocks, PA on October 1, 1994
Margaret Lanzendorfer Hancherick, of Twin Rocks, hands mail to
"Pony Express" for delivery to Vintondale and Dilltown.
This ceremony was conducted at the site of the former railroad
station that served Twin Rocks.
The Village of Twin Rocks was established in 1875. The name was
taken from the two identical rocks located near the big bend
in the South Branch of Blacklick Creek. Near this area was a
stone quarry and a deep excavation, locally known as "The
Cut", which was made to route the rails to Vintondale. During
construction of the railroad in 1893-1894 the "twin rocks"
were reportedly cut into building stone and used in the construction
of the Rockville Bridge across the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg.
In earlier times the community of Twin Rocks was also know as
Big Bend, and Expedit.
on trail near "The Cut"
--A Town of Many Names
It is a curious fact, says the Mountaineer Herald; and no doubt
an annoying one, to the business men of Big Bend, that they must,
if they want anything shipped to them, by railroad, give the
shipping point as Twin Rocks, while if they want an answer to
a letter, they must tell the other fellow to address them as
Expedit. In other words, Big Bend is the town name, Twin Rocks
is the railroad station, and Expedit is the Post Office. A part
of Big Bend is also called Seldersville which adds somewhat to
gentlemen, get together.
Weekly Tribune, Friday, August 19, 1904
The name of
Big Bend originated from the large curve in the Blacklick Creek
and Expedit was the name issued by the Post Office Department
in 1896. The name on the application for a post office was Twinrocks,
which was crossed out and replaced with Expedit.
Location of the former village of Bracken. In the background
is a stack of auto tires retrieved from Blacklick Creek by volunteers.
The red notice under the Bracken sign is a warning of trail conditions
after one of the several washouts of 1996. Bracken once had it's
own Post Office, originally proposed as Weber's Siding, but rejected
by the Post Office Department. Bracken was the site of Commercial
Coal Co. mine No.4 which began shipping in 1904 and operated
until about 1920. Author Malcolm Cowley's unflattering description
of the town noted that "Bracken was the God-awfulest mining
camp in Pennsylvania; all of the trees gone, all the houses squalid,
not even a company store".
of this location, on the road between Twin Rocks and Vintondale,
there have been reports of ghost sightings.
The Eliza Furnace, located in Vintondale, is a Registered National
Historic Site and is regarded as the best preserved hot blast
furnace in Pennsylvania. Eliza Furnace was built by David Ritter
and George Rodgers in 1845-1846. Eliza operated for only three
years and was closed in 1849. At peak production the furnace
employed over 90 people and utilized about 45 mules to produce
1,080 tons of iron per year. Besides the furnace stack, the property
included a bridge house, a casting house, wheel and bellows houses,
two two-story framed dwellings, 21 log dwellings, a stove house,
an office, a smith shop, a log stable, and a charcoal house.
of Vintondale is shown in the background. The history of this
area is extensively documented in the book Delano's Domain:
A History of Warren Delano's Mining Towns of Vintondale, Wehrum
and Claghorn, by Denise Dusza Weber.
Furnace during dedication ceremonies of the Ghost Town Trail.
Photo on the top shows the fork in the Ghost Town Trail. Branch
on the left goes to White Mill via Red Mill. The bridge at Red
Mill was destroyed by the flood of 1977 and was replaced in 1999,
permitting travel to the White Mill terminus. The right branch
terminates at Nanty Glo via Bracken and Twin Rocks. The lower
photo shows the junction of the North and South Branches of Blacklick
Creek taken from the trail bridge crossing the North Branch of
Built in 1901
through the efforts of Judge A. V. Barker and Warren Delano,
Wehrum was named for Henry Wehrum, general manager of the Lackawanna
Iron and Steel Company. Wehrum was a non-union closed company
town. The town plan was 6 streets, 60 feet wide and consisted
of 250 houses, a bank, hotel, company store, post office, school
and two churches. Coal mined here was shipped to Buffalo on the
Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad.
Wehrum was the scene of several mine explosions. In 1909, twenty-one
miners were killed in Lackawanna's No.4 mine. In 1922 the mine
was sold to Bethlehem Mines Corporation. Notices of Wehrum's
closing were posted unexpectedly in May 1929. The houses were
sold for lumber and the mine buildings were sold for scrap. Mining
supported many families, and when mining died so did many mining
towns. By 1934 only one house, the school, and jail remained.
Wehrum had truly become a "Ghost Town". (Historical
marker at Wehrum)
Near this site once stood the Blacklick/ Wheatfield Furnace built
by David Stewart in 1846. The Blacklick furnace was the second
hot blast furnace built in the Blacklick Creek Valley: the Eliza
furnace was the first. The furnace stood thirty-five feet high
with an eight foot bosh. The furnace used one tuyere, was waterpowered
and possessed a rated production capacity of 1,400 tons.
In 1849 the
furnace produced 756 tons of pig iron. The iron was shipped by
wagon to Ninevah and Johnstown on the Pennsylvania Canal. The
furnace employeed an estimated 80 men and boys and used forty-six
mules and horses.
The "Pony Express" is greeted by the Postmaster at
Dilltown Post Office 15929 on October 1, 1994, as part of the
Ghost Town Trail Grand Opening.
near the Dilltown terminus showing trail distances. Bridge over
Mardis Run is shown in the background.
Dilltown Pavilion and restrooms shown in the background..
and Images Copyright © 2001 George R. Warholic, except where
noted. All Rights Reserved.