Thursday, April 01, 2010

Prowling Around in Peale!

Yesterday, I took Sammy for the big long walk down to Peale -the ghost coal mining town down the road from my house. Round trip, the walk was 3.9 miles, which of course, I'm gonna round off to say it was a 4-mile walk. Makes sense to me, anyway.

And, if you recall I wrote about that and also, about how my camera got dropped and bounced on the ground which, in turn, sort of smooshed the lens in a bit. I still have not had any success in finding some place that does camera repairs -specifically on Kodak Digital cameras -so I'm still looking, still hoping too that one will turn up someplace.

But I did have some good things that happened from that walk and picture taking event. I was able to download the pictures I took yesterday, plus a few others too from last week, to my computer. So, I decided then I could do the post I had hoped to do yesterday and give you a little bit of a tour of Peale -our own little ghost town here.
Technically, this picture is not of Peale but rather is a view from the end of our street looking over at the mountainside in what is called "Cooper Two" and is of the mine reclamation project work ongoing there. The beige colored portion is where they have filled in and bulldozed the mountain to pretty much its original contours and this also shows approximately where the old Boney Pile (or slag pile or Tipple -pick your choice of what you want to call it or what you know that as) used to be and which is now completely covered over.
As we started down the dirt road into Peale, Sammy was quite taken (as was I) by the sight of dandelions already blooming all over along the roadside. (Today, we walked up the road behind my house into the Dobry Town section of town and Maya was equally fascinated by these little yellow flowers and picked a nice little bouquet of nine dandelions -one for each kitten she says.)
This is the first little bridge one comes to when entering Peale and the little stream that runs under it -Moravian Run -is the stream that runs through the middle of Grassflat. However, since it has long been polluted by the mines as well as people who drained their septic systems or other wastes from their homes directly into it, no one around here ever calls it by its correct name. Rather, this rill is known as the "Sulfur Creek" to I think everyone around town here.
This picture and the photo directly below here are new items -to me anyway -having been erected along the roadside as you go into Peale since the last time I was down there.
Both of these young men -as well as one other guy -were killed at this point in the road while riding ATVs over Labor Day Weekend of 2008. There were four ATVs involved and two going east met two going west on Peale Road in a horrific crash which killed them. The one ATV had a passenger -the lady who used to live next door to me -and fortunately for her, she was thrown clear of the bulk of the wreckage and had no major injuries.
Just a few yards on down the road, at a little offroad, is yet another memorial that also has been erected fairly recently. This one is for a young man (father of two small children) who took his own life down in Peale last year. Suicide is a terrible thing to contemplate and to take one's own life at such a young age, with small children being left fatherless, makes it even harder to cope with for those left behind in the wake. At least, that is how I view it. And I think regardless of the problems he may have had, did taking his own life really cure all those ills?
This is just a clearing behind where the young man died and which is used for target practice by some of the local hunters in the area. It's hard now to believe that once upon a time -like about 100 years ago or so -there were houses standing in this spot, and for that matter, all along this road too. Many of the houses were dismantled and moved, piece by piece, up to Grassflat when the mines in Peale died out -including even two churches that once had been in Peale which were moved out that way and re-erected in Grassflat.
This is the view of the hillside along the right-hand side of the road, looking down into Moravian Run, as it runs through the gully below the road. The hillside along here on this side is quite steep in many places and there's no way I would even think of trying to venture down into the woods there for a better picture or anything for fear I would slip and slide on some of the leaves that have built up there over the years and have a big long, really bumpy slide down to the foot of the mountainside there. This side of the road looks considerably different today though than it did when I was growing up as back then, many locals used this as their private dumping spot and for the entire length of the road where it has the dropoff, almost straight down, the amount of litter and the items disposed of here too made this area look absolutely terrible and disgusting. Thankfully, it has been cleaned up over the years but what a job that had to have been to clean up old furniture, appliances, car parts, and just the usual run-of-the-mill garbage that people used to dump there was incredible and a huge, huge mess for many years.
I'm not sure if the area here in the lighter color -kind of cleared -is what remains of the old sidewalk or pathway that ran along the upper side of the road and in front of the houses that were situated there years ago or if it is perhaps the old road into Peale which was rebuilt some years back and widened a little bit then in the process. It looks like it would be kind of inviting to walk along this pathway, to maybe get a closer look at where the houses once stood and maybe even find some of the old foundations then too. Who knows what "treasures" one might find if you could locate and explore the old foundations? But I know one thing for sure, if ever I were to do some exploring like that, this would be the time of year I'd consider doing that -before the snakes all come out of hiding there! (The area is known for an abundance of both rattlers and copperheads. Not two of my favorite living things, for sure!)
As you go down the hill into Peale, around an S-curve, you come to this road that veers off to the left and winds up a hill. This road takes you up to the area where there used to be a park, as well as the company store and even a brick-lined swimming pool! Yep! Believe it or not, years ago Peale was quite the lovely little boom town with many amenities for that era too!
And this my friends, is the last house standing now in Peale! There was another house -a nice big white place that was right beside this place but it burned completely to the ground a few years back. A lovely act of arson that was. And what a shame, what a loss -not just to the people who owned that place and used as a camp, but also to the community at large as it was irreplaceable in terms of historic value, although apparently the arsonist didn't see its value in that light.
This shot -taken from the Peale Road overlooks from one mountain side to another and the ghost town that was known at the turn of the 20th century as Peale lay in the valley and all along both hillsides there. I think it's such a beautiful view to stand on this road and be able to look over at the other mountainside and try to envision the homes that once were scattered all around this region as well as the people who hurried about doing their daily chores in their homes and for the men, how they labored long and hard under the surfaces around these mountains to dig out that black gold, the coal, in the many seams there.

Now remember I said at the beginning of this post that this walk amounted to 4 miles, round trip. Well, imagine if you will that down in Peale, right before where the last house there still is standing, when I was growing up there was another house there too and there was even a family still residing there then as well. The youngest child in that family -a girl 3 years younger than me had to walk from down in Peale up to the end of the street where I live -almost 2 miles from her home to that point -and there, she was picked up by a guy, hired by the school board to drive her then the rest of the distance up to the school house here in town. A good hike that was from where I lived to the school house so had she had to walk the entire distance from her house to the school, I would estimate it would have been a walk of about 3 miles, one way!

Anyway you cut it, that walk sure would have been just as effective I bet as it would be to take herbal weight loss pills today. Maybe even way more effective for all I know. And you can bet your bottom dollar though that's something I wouldn't care to do any real life comparisons of either method though, would you?

I'm just grateful that I wasn't the one who had to make that long walk just to meet up with my ride to get to and from school every day! (And then, when that family finally moved out of Peale around 1957-58, they moved into a house at the other end of Grassflat, which still entailed a walk of well over a mile, one way, for that little girl to get to school every day!

And kids today think they have it rough when they walk out of their houses and have to go a distance of not even the length of a football field to their bus stops and then get to ride the distance to our local school. (Of course, our local school today is about 6-7 miles from where I live so I wouldn't want to have to walk that to get to school either -for darned sure!)

And there you have it -a little visual tour of the west side of Peale. One of these days -if I ever get my camera fixed or manage to get a new one -I'll take another jaunt down to Peale and take you around to show you the cemetery as well as the bridge over the Red Moshannon that cuts Peale in half -with half being in Centre County and the other half in Clearfield County.

There's not much to see there today -mostly just trees and a few little landmarks most of which are known only now to the hunters who frequent that area every fall in search of turkey, pheasant, rabbits, squirrels, deer and yes, even some nice big black bears that still inhabit the area.


TechnoBabe said...

You have been blogging up a storm lately, Jeni. With the pictures and the narrative by the tour guide in this post, this seems like longer than 3.9 miles. I think this is so pretty, all natural.

terri said...

What a beautiful place. And what fun to get a bit of the history behind it as well.

Maggie May said...

A pretty little place with some sad connections.
Keep walking! :-)

Nuts in May

Suldog said...

That's pretty neat, Jeni. Shame about the town sort-of disappearing, but it sure makes for a good story and photos.

Deb said...

That's a lot of history in a four mile walk! Thanks for taking us with you on your walk! I enjoyed myself!

Palm Springs Savant said...

that's nifty. I'll have to read more about that reclamation project, I love things like that. good post today Jeni

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, what a gorgeous place...forgotten by time, it seems...but so sad that piece by piece Peale has disappeared! Thank you for this wonderful tour and piece of history...I love exploring like this, and don't get to do it nearly as often as I would like! Will pray for you as you face yet another surgery...I am so sorry, dear are in my thoughts! Have a wonderful Easter Weekend! Love, Janine XO