Mountain Springs Lake Siding
I had been to Mountain Springs Lake perhaps three times before, and I was delighted to discover that a geocache had been placed there - and a fairly recent one at that. It is a wonderfully remote and beautiful spot. It's principle claim to fame is that it was the center of the ice-cutting industry in the region, from about the turn of the century until 1948, when mechanical refrigeration finally caused the industry to, well... melt away. It is approached, most commonly, from a dirt road that splits off from Rte 487, a few miles north of Lake Jean, at the top of Rickett's Glenn State Park. But for many years, the only way to get there was by rail, along the Bowman's Creek Railroad, from Noxen, 13 miles downstream.
Access is quite feasible in any reasonable vehicle, except, perhaps in very wet weather. One passes through a swampy and wooded area and eventually descends into a parking area at the end of the lake. On this 80° day, there were but two cars in the parking area, and in the two hours we were there, we saw only four people, and all but one of them at quite a distance. A brief but friendly conversation with a lady sitting on the dam fishing, suggested that the fishing was not the attraction she had hoped.
Departing the lake via the access road, one is soon offered the temptation to take a hard right and swing up onto the old railroad bed. A Park Service sign bills this as a "snowmobile" route, but I prefer to think of it as a cross-country skiing or bicycle trail, depending on the weather. In fact, it is quite passable by car, although I wouldn't try it in a Miata. It is quite rewarding on a fine day.
Following the path of Bowman's Creek as it gather's strength, the railroad line ran from the Wyoming Valley, out through the mountains past Harvey's Lake to the tannery town of Noxen, and on up into the hills of these ghost towns to Towanda and Upstate New York. One push on the pedal of a bike would start you on an easy glide through 13 miles of beautiful forest land until you glide approach into Noxen, where you are greeted back to civilization (although there are those who would dispute this), by a remarkable white horse, concluding a most successful day!
© Frank Burnside Jr. 2002