Swatara Creek Area - State Game Lands (SGL) 80
Spent last Sunday taking the bike for a short walk in the woods.
Red = SGL Trail - rocks, dirt, and grass
Blue = Public roads - Paved
Started from the Swatara State Park Trailhead on Monroe Valley Rd. Rode part of the rail trail and on roads to the SGL access on Old State Road. For the first 1/2 mile or so the Game Land road is very steep and rocky. Once past the steep part the trail opens up and follows the contour of the mountain. After about 4 miles you come to another parking/access. The trail continues east(left) along a stone/dirt road to the SGL boundary. My return followed Monroe Valley Rd past Camp Strauss and Monroe Valley Golf Course. (Place to eat.) Road traffic is light on Sunday AM but golf course traffic can be a hazard.
The Game Commission calls this the 'Old Tram Grade' trail and is marked for horses and biking. I can't find any information on the history of the tram. Sunday only during hunting season.
Not really difficult. Trail markings are a bit difficult to see at times. The approved route turns right at the second. Most of the trail is wide open, grass covered, dry, and free of rocks. Good alternative to the MB-trails in Swatara SP.
I'm sorry to edit your original post.
Originally Posted by Ali_Pine
"Old Tram Grade" information.
This is part of an old abandoned narrow gauge logging railroad that has ties to Twin Grove Park, still standing, but nothing like its former glory.
To quote from another entry, "Amos M. Strause along with his brother in law, Harry G. Beck started the construction of Twin Grove Park in 1930. Amos & his father, Samuel Strause, owners of the Strause Lumber Company in Schuylkill County, started a logging operation in 1916 on the south side of the Blue Mountain in the Monroe Valley area. 3000 acres of land were either purchased or leased in order to harvest the trees. The Reading Railroad Company constructed a narrow gauge railroad from Inwood east for seven miles into the Monroe Valley. The railroad extended two miles beyond the current day Camp Strause. The mining of coal in Schuylkill County, at the Lincoln Colliery was in full production. Timber to support the mine operation was in dire need. The Reading Railroad provided the transportation to ship the props & headers to the mines. After seven years of operation the logging operation was moved to the northern part of Lancaster County & continued at a much slower pace until 1936. The great depression hit our nation in 1929. Jobs were scarce & unemployment was high. Many families were without a source of income. The logging operation became idle for long periods of time during the depression. The coal mines closed & the need for mine timbers ceased. In order to give his men work Amos started the construction of the restaurant in 1930. This was the start of Twin Grove Park. Other buildings followed until the famous park was fully developed."
If one uses Penn Pilot Photo Centers
finds Monroe Valley at the Swatara Gap (Where I-81 crosses through the mountains and creek via two bridges roughly 80 - 100' above creek level), selects 1937 - 1942 imagery, downloads high resolution photos of the mountain, and is somewhat familiar with cartography, one can see the original grade as it gently snakes its way along the north side of Monroe Valley at the foot of the mountain. Keep in mind that the Monroe Valley grade was abandoned in the 20s, so it's hard to discern from the surrounding forest.
I hope this helped the topic starter and those who stumble upon this thread.
Sources, personal experience, old timers now gone who remembered the railroad, and internet sources for the reader's verification
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