Monday, April 08, 2013

The View....

If, when I do my posting here, it seems I'm spending a lot of time writing about my view as I walk the mutt, it's because recently we had a big change put forth here in this little village.

And it amazes as well as entices me.

For as long as I can remember, the view from the front yard at my home has been to look up the hillside, across the road from my house, and near what is apparently the crest of that hill, all you could ever see was trees and a man-made landscape behind those trees.

This village came about via the coal mining industry a little over 100 years ago when the coal mining town of Peale -which was built in about 1884 -started to become defunct as the mines in Peale began o wear out and new mines were started a couple of miles just to the west of Peale then.

My great-grandparents (on my Mom's side) came here in the early 1880s -from Sweden. My great-grandfather came over in 1880 and my great-grandmother and the five children they had then, arrived in 1881 or 1882 -thereabouts.

When Great-grandpa arrived, he came to a little mining town in Lycoming County -called McIntyre and that's where he was working and living when my Great-grandmother and the children (3 of my great-uncles and my oldest great-aunt) came to join him. Their residence there lasted until October of 1884, at which time, the coal company moved the residents of McIntyre, by train, up to this new place in Clearfield/Centre Counties (it's partly in Clearfield County, partly in Centre County -with the Red Moshannon Creek being the line dividing the town county-wise.)

Then, in the 1890s, as the mines in Peale were closing down, my great-grandparents and the family -which by that time consisted of several more children -like 6 more additions for a total of 11 living children born to the family- then bought property in the adjacent town to Peale, known as Grassflat, and built what for the next 40-50 years was the family homestead you could say.

The landscape then when they built that house in the 1890s looked a bit different than it did by the time I was born and grew up here.

As long as I could remember when you looked across the road towards my Great-grandparents house, all you saw up behind their house were piles and piles of dirt, mounded high with a huge slash in the ground behind those big lumps and on the other side of that big slash, a very steep "high wall" which then all changed the original contour of the hillside in the town.

This was the remnants of a coal stripping operation which probably was a working site -I'm guessing -maybe in the early 40s, to the 50s here. I don't remember any heavy equipment working in this particular part of the stripping cut so that's why I think that's when the operation there took place.

So I grew up with that being the norm as far as the landscape on what would be the southeastern part of my view from my house.

On the northern side of town -there was another stripping cut too but that one, I remember when it came to be -but I don't recall the year, not the exact year anyway. Just that it probably was in the mid-to-late 50s and it really wasn't an operation that lasted all that long either so it must not have been a very good stripping site to have petered out fairly early on.

That site too changed the contours of that part of the village -so that on most every side, the residents had a strip mine cut within view, just beyond some trees that were left behind.

This past fall though the strip mine site on the north side of town was "reclaimed" thanks to the Mine Reclamation Act. Someone got the bid to come in and clear the woods there, bulldoze the piles and piles from the stripping cut and then, grade it back to what is supposed to have been the original contours of that mountainside.

By December or thereabouts, the same contractor came in and did the same thing to the stripping cut on the south-easterly side of town and the view from the front of my property was also changed then in an effort to make the mountainside look like its original contour over 110 years ago!

I went on a search and destroy mission here through pictures I have taken that might give a little more idea of what the landscape I was familiar with looked like just a few years ago and then, what it looks like now, since the reclamation has been done.

This photo below is at the intersection of Cooper Two Road and Clearfield Street -just down the street from my house. The center section there -between the Y in the two roads -no longer looks like this. This particular part of the hillside is an area that was strip mined I think in the late 50s and just behind the fir treetops in this photo, is what was left and had never been backfilled before this year.

This picture below here is basically the same view -just a little closer up to the area and this is what that intersection looks like now, since the reclamation is completed on that side of the town. 
This view, from Clearfield Street is a little higher up the hillside and shows a bit more of the mid-section of the hillside -which would be the area where the actual stripping took place and this was taken back when the reclamation work was an ongoing thing there this February.

This picture is of a 4-wheeler path that used to be near the top of Clearfield Street and was one of my son's favorite places to ride his bicycle when he was a kid and also, he once took me for a ride in his VW baja bug, up this path. It went almost straight up and trust me, when you ride up that in a little VW Bug, it almost feels like any time the bug is going to go upside down and then, slide down that hill on its roof! One of the things my son loved to do to me -for openers -and also, one of the things he kind of laments now is no longer there -having been bulldozed this winter and then, smoothed over to restore the old, pre-stripping, contours of that particular hillside.

I was hunting for pictures that might show a bit of the way the hillside on the southern exposure here used to look and how it looks now but can't locate any pictures that actually show very much as my little camera doesn't do all that well with taking snapshots from afar and expecting to show any real stuff that really shows the remnants of the old stripping cut. That hillside had grown up so much over the years into woods that pretty well hid the stripping piles that you can't make them out unless you know exactly where they were.

I'm trying to figure out a way now though to get some closer photos of that particular hillside now that it is almost completed and just having the finishing touches on smoothing the ground over. One area up the street from my house -about where that particular stripping cut began now has a very rolling contour to the hillside and is a beautiful sight to see!

What I'd really like to be able to do but doubt I can get the kind of shot I'd like is to show how the hillsides on both sides of the valley (or perhaps you could call it a gully) where I live and how the ground looks so pretty now without those big old mounds of leftovers from the stripping jobs.

Every time I walk Sammy and look over from one hillside to the other, it reminds me of how beautiful this area had to have been when my great-grandparents first came here and now, my grandkids can see if the way it should look -showing off the real beauty around this little area.

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