Catch-Up Report: Cowan’s Gap and a Vacant House Guarded by Vultures

 

Two weeks ago, after all that rain, I went to see if there was any flooding–but I didn’t find much. I ended up in Cowans Gap State Park, near Mercersburg, PA, which was my boyhood vacation spot. If you haven’t ever been there, it’s well worth a visit. Very scenic, and free! I hadn’t been there for maybe 40 years and was pleased to see that it hadn’t changed a lot. (Looked a little smaller for some reason…)

The water level there was about as high as it ever gets, but there wasn’t that much coming over the dam or along the spillway. Speaking of which, I kept expecting to see the Dude bouncing his way down along these rocks!

After lunch at Cowans Gap, I rode south until reaching US 30 where it goes over the Tuscarora Mountains–fun ride! (See also Qijote’s excellent post about riding the mountain passes in this area at http://bmwbmw.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4802.) Way off in the distance, you could spot the Sideling Hill cut where Interstate 68 passes.

After taking 522 south to Hancock, I ran across “Dam No. 5 Road” and followed it to find … Dam No. 5 on the Potomac. There was plenty of water here, but the river wasn’t out of its banks.

The dam was built in 1849, and Stonewall Jackson tried hard to blow it up during the Civil War (to wreck the C & O canal in that area), but he didn’t succeed. Speaking of the C & O canal, it had the most water in it that I’d ever seen.

Someone wisely placed the dam-keeper’s house well up on high ground.

At Williamsport, the geese didn’t seem to mind the extra water.

As I took State route 68 towards Boonsboro, I thought I would find Devil’s Backbone Park totally under water, but it wasn’t. It was closed, however, perhaps in fear of flooding. A brief excursion on foot to the banks of the Antietam showed much deeper and faster water levels than average, but nothing threatening.

In Middletown Valley, I took Poffenberger Road for one last deperate attempt to find deep water. When I got to Catoctin Creek, I discovered that the bridge was getting a bit of a renovation. (I didn’t try to get across–it’s all yours, Dude!)

A week later, I was off in search of abandoned houses and other scenic sights. This little pond certainly qualified:

Similarly, the jumble of rocks on a little creek:

Does this qualify as going “off road”??

I found this place nestled back in the trees off of Hughes Road near Finksburg. Reminded me of the little house at the end of the “Blair Witch Project”…

These guys were just waiting for someone to go inside!

On Sam’s Creek Road, I revisited the Taj Mahal of abandoned houses. It’s a large, three-story house, together with several barns and other outbuildings–all of which are just sitting there and gradually falling apart. Makes you wonder why such a presumably valuable property would be abandoned. In this shot, you can barely see the house at all.

This picture of the same house was taken during the winter months and provides a better view of what’s actually there.

The first jaunt was 260 miles roundtrip from Catonsville, and the second was just 115. Boiling hot both days, but nice and dry. If anyone’s interested in the specific routes to find these places, just let me know.

Rick F.

Rick

Written by Rick

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