A Walk in the Woods - 1928
The following Editorial appeared in The Record American on August 4, 1928 in the midst of a mid summer heat wave. The author sought relief from the the hot pavements of Mahanoy City by taking a walk on the mountanside just south of the borough. We would certainly like to determine the identity of the author as this lyrical piece of writing gives one a true sense of what the author experienced in his jaunt along the lokey tracks almost ninety years ago.
Portions of the 1928 journey can still be made by entering the woods either from Linden Street , as he did , or from the the Pottsy, as I do on my frequent walks in that area. Portions of the lokey path are still visible from above Linden Street going west to the mountainside just above the school complex.
I have posted a few pictures of the path and added other pictures from my mountain wanderings.
"Those inhabitants of our town who may suffer greatly under the prevailing hot spell are advised to leave the piles of boards, bricks, mortar and asphalt and seek solace on the hillside where temperatures are much lower than on the floor of the valley. It can be said that this advice is superfluous insofar as a small percentage of the population is concerned because hundreds may be found trekking to the shady recesses of nearby woods almost any hour of these hot, mid-summer days."
"But to those who seldom wander far afoot the suggestion is made that they make it a point to get away from the town, preferably some evening and learn for themselves the comparative delights of a walk along the hillside. There are several paths that lead to the woods and which require a minimal amount of physical exertion but the one most available for those residing in the central or western sections of town is along the lokey tracks that lead from what is known as the Hartford drift to the Tunnel Ridge breaker. To reach the level tracks it is only necessary to walk to the extreme southern end of Linden Street and after an easy climb of a hundred feet or so reach the lokey road which is almost level and which winds around the hillside as far west as the Boston Run colliery, several miles away."
"At the mouth of the mine drift which is just a little to the east of the ending of South Linden Street the air is positively cold as it emerges from the mine opening into the outer atmosphere, having traveled for miles through the mazes of underground workings. The influence of the cool mine air is felt within an area, the radius of which is perhaps a hundred feet from the drift’s mouth. But after cooling off the walker should resume his way westward along the tracks and take in the view that unfolds as the valley is disclosed around the bend in the hill. The view is really worthwhile and there is likely to be more breeze here on the hottest day than is to be found on paved streets.There are several paths that lead to the woods and which require a minimal amount of physical exertion but the one most available for those residing in the central or western sections of town is along the lokey tracks that lead from what is known as the Hartford drift to the Tunnel Ridge breaker. the delights of a drink such as Coles Spring can afford make sure to bring a drinking cup because for property rights has not been imbedded in the minds of the young vandals who roam these hills and no drinking vessel remains long at the spring spout. Glasses, tin cups and even lowly tin food cans have been wantonly destroyed by hunnish hands that defile and deface for no other apparent reason than that destruction gives them joy. But so far they have not succeeded in either destroying or defiling the stream of pure mountain spring water and those who bring a vessel may be rewarded by a draught of Nature’s delicious nectar, fit for the gods."
"If the time of returning to town is so arranged that daylight is beginning to wane the view from the hillside into the valley is one to delight the soul of any lover of the beautiful. Already the mantle of dusk throws its softening influence over the town and its surroundings. In the distance a Reading train may be seen winding its way up the floor of the valley, its course chartered by the smoke spirals that mount heavenward from the stacks of the giant locomotives that labor and puff there way up the grade, the noise of their rhythmic panting coming to the ear in softened cadence out of the distance. The black smoke palls float lazily up from the valley and out over yonder ridge. Down the silver ribbon that is the state highway the endless procession of automobiles moves swiftly past the houses at Coles patch and one can hear the swishing noise made by rubber tires on the asphalt surfacing."
"Turning eyes townward the gaze beholds the first twinkle as lights are turned on in houses down below. Then as dusk gathers street lights send up their refulgent glow and opposite hills begin to caste latent shadows as ridges stand out against the evening sky. The scaffolding that supports sheave wheels at Elmwood mine stands silhouetted against the light like some giant gallows. The conical shapes of the black culm banks at Hills mine take on a new beauty as dusk gathers and these stand out like dishes of black ice cream set on a table for giants. George Luks, one of America’s foremost painters, made these conical shapes the background of a painting that now graces the walls of a Pittsburgh art gallery. But even Luks’ talented brush failed to capture the symmetrical beauty of these giant culm piles when clothed in the softening influence of dusk on a summer’s evening."
"Lights are always going on in the town below; the apex of the Victoria theatre’s advertising sign glows like molten steel in the distance, vari-colored and twinkling. A passenger train passes on the Reading like a sinuous snake , glowing, as light points show car windows; lights shine from an expanse of window panes somewhere and we identify the shirt factory on Laurel street; the façade of the new Polish church with its stately steeples appears between two slight ridges and its architecture is appreciated for the first time; the color of the steeples is a pale green blending into darker colors and the effect is beautiful. Lights of moving autos brighten up the gloom below intermittingly and add a grotesque effect to scenes of changing shadows."
"We near the end of our evening’s walk to cast a backward glance at the hillsides now being rapidly swallowed up in the darkening gloom. The hillsides are dotted with bonfires. Why? No one knows. Boys making bum soup, perhaps but boys’ whims are hard to fathom and practical reasons are never necessary to explain why boys build fires on the hottest days in mid-summer. Yet there they are; little forms bobbing gnome-like about the blazing faggots; getting closer to the heat their elders are trying vainly to escape. There’s something about a boy’s will and the wind’s will."
"We get back into the town and find the air hotter than where we came from. But the drink at Coles Spring and the view of the town at dusk was worth the effort in the walk. There’s beauty to be found even in our coal ridden valleys and our man slashed hillsides if we go looking for it."
The Record American
August 4, 1928
The first four pictures below were taken on a recent walk along the lokey path described by the editorialist in the article above.
"But to those who seldom wander far afoot the suggestion is made that they make it a point to get away from the town, preferably some evening and learn for themselves the comparative delights of a walk along the hillside. "
"There are several paths that lead to the woods and which require a minimal amount of physical exertion but the one most available for those residing in the central or western sections of town is along the lokey tracks that lead from what is known as the Hartford drift to the Tunnel Ridge breaker."
"To reach the level tracks it is only necessary to walk to the extreme southern end of Linden Street and after an easy climb of a hundred feet or so reach the lokey road which is almost level and which winds around the hillside as far west as the Boston Run colliery, several miles away."
The athletic complex at Mahanoy Area is visible through the trees from the lokey path. The Mahanoy Area Cross Country team utilizes a portion of the lokey path for their challenging 5 kilometer course.