Walking the Line on a Sunday in October

While Cecil County has many beautiful areas, one that our family particularly enjoys is the rugged Basin Run Watershed area. This place, where natural and historical resources abound, contains some of the most fascinating elements of our built environment, as well as spectacular vistas. Its ecology and geology are just as absorbing. Running right through the heart of these stony hills and valleys is the abandoned right-of-way of the Old Baltimore Central Railroad, known in later years as the Octoraro Branch.

Since this is such a relaxing place to admire the environment, we were excited when Valerie Owens, a reference Librarian at Perryville, asked if we’d like to join her and a few friends for a walk up the line. Of course I said yes and so on a beautiful Sunday in October, Kyle and I picked up Milt Diggins, an author of a great new local history title to drive down to Liberty Grove. There, in this old village, we met a couple of additional friends of Valerie’s, Angelia and Rod.

So on this sunny autumn day, as colorful leaves gently fell in the woods and the temperature neared 60 degrees, we stepped off for a two mile hike. Beginning at Liberty Grove, we stopped not too far outside of Colora, near when a siding branched off for the Bainbridge Naval Training Center.  As the six of us chatted our way through the forest on this ideal day for strolling, past old farm houses, fields, and trickling streams we wondered and commented about lots of things.  Could that ancient stone work in the creek be part of a dam for an old mill site? It looks as if the geese are settling in on their winter home on Basin Run. Look at the cut through that rocky hill.  What sort of stone is that?  You say the valley had its first frost of the season Saturday night?

Not too far outside Colora we puzzled over an old trestle that once carried those puffing, rumbling steam engines across Basin Run. Long past its prime and seldom visited for any reason these days, its ties, timbers and rails are slowly aging away. At this tranquil place near Balderston’s Orchard we started crunching our way through the fallen leaves back to Liberty Grove.  A gentleman living in the village has mounted the old railroad depot sign on a shed about where the station stood. When he bought the property about 1990, it was up in the rafters of the old shed, he says.

It’s been a long time since a rumbling locomotive disturbed the tranquility of Liberty Grove and rails and ties have largely disappeared along the right-of-way.  (The railroad got permission to take up the road south of Colora in 1961.)  But this corner of Cecil is the place to reflect on our past, while enjoying the natural and historical resources that are remarkable undisturbed in the first decade of the 21st-century.

Thanks Valeria for inviting us along along for a stroll up the line.  It was an enjoyable Sunday afternoon in October with a pleasant and interesting group.  We’ll look forward to a walk down the line someday.

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