Pennsylvania’s Peculiar Past

So it’s only 27 more days until April 12. The weather today was gray, overcast, cold (Some of us who are inclined to actually enjoy this type of weather might say “crisp”). So what does one do on a day like today? You put on some warm cloths, grab a flask of hot coffee, tuck in your binoculars and a compass and go for a walk in the woods along a trout stream (…of course).

Naturally, I couldn’t do any fishing - not yet (April 12 is “Opening Day” of trout season in the mountains). Nevertheless, I continue a tradition that my grandfather used to do with my dad, my brother and me at this time of the year which was to walk along one of the local trout streams, peer into the creek (or “crick” for us up-state-ers), see if we could see anything moving, pray for warmer weather and dream about days to come. We haven’t been doing stuff like this very long - about a half-century.


If you do any hiking in Pennsylvania you inevitably, and suddenly, will come upon structures in the back woods smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Crumbling stone walls, foundations of buildings, abandoned wells, decrepit remains of small creek dams, door frames (yes, just the frame, nothing else around it). Pennsylvania is an old state and people were here trying to eek out a living long before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Usually such edifices were located near a water source that was used for drinking, fishing, watering crops, primitive hydro-power, washing, etc… Later small villages were established as minerals were converted to metals and later to house men and women working in the nascent oil industry.

Walking within PA State Game Land #127 today, I was coming back from a hike along the Tobyhanna Creek when I came across this small building:

Inside was one small room approximately 9 feet long by 4 feet side. The roof was concrete-covered brick in the shape of an impressively well-shaped arch. There were no other holes in the walls, no windows, nothing in the floor that would indicate any industrial, or domestic usage. The building was located about 50-75 yards from the main creek flow although the remnant of a curved diversion channel was evident right in front of the edifice that led from the Tobyhanna and curved around to an inlet further downstream.

What was it? I have no idea. I found it so intriguing that I decided to take a picture, write and post about it in the hope that someone could unlock the mystery and tell us all. But you have to do it before April 12. If I go back to that stream with somebody on opening day, I need to be able to point it out and say, “See that small building over there? You’ll never guess what that is.”

They’ll probably be MORE impressed if I catch some fish.

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