Hike the River Trail between Columbia and Marietta
Earlier this week I walked the newly completed River Trail between Columbia and Marietta. The project that produced the Columbia Bypass (Route 441) for automobiles also provided a river level path from south of the Route 462 Bridge in Columbia to access Chickies Rock County Park and this ground level view of Chickies Rock; towering 220-feet above the River Trail. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
The starting point for the River Trail, in Columbia, is the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center; located along the Susquehanna River at the foot of Walnut Street. Columbia Crossing presently houses a neat exhibit on the railroading history of Columbia. The River Trail starts in front of the neighboring railroad station in Columbia and progresses on wide walkways next to the Columbia Bypass until the path goes under the Wrights Ferry (Route 30) Bridge. One soon enters the River Trail in Chickies Rock County Park. The wide path in the park is presently crushed stone, however the plan is to pave the trail sometime in June.
The River Trail passes through 180-feet of solid rock at Point Rock Tunnel. The tunnel was constructed during 1850-1851 to lay railroad track north from Columbia along the Susquehanna River. Blasting through the rock was required, because the narrow strip of land between the rock outcrop and the river was only wide enough for the canal that already was in place. My photo of the interior of the tunnel shows the raw rock; no lining was required.
To increase the number of tracks running north from Columbia, the former canal was filled in and the first of three tracks that bypassed the tunnel appeared starting early in the Twentieth Century. With the downturn of rail use following WWII, the tracks through Point Rock Tunnel were abandoned.
The following trail access guide provide the relative locations of features along the River Trail between Columbia and Marietta. To judge distances, it is about two-miles between Station 1 (Columbia Crossings River Trails Center) and Station 3 (Chickies Rock). Trees shade most of the trail, within Chickies Rock County Park.
The River Trail between Columbia and Marietta is a small part of the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail that will stretch 14-miles along the Susquehanna River from Columbia to Falmouth. A few gaps still remain on this trail. Be sure to check out the big map in the Columbia Crossings River Trails Center at 41 Walnut Street; they have plenty of parking.
Station 4 (Chiques Creek) is an interesting point on the River Trail. A historical marker describes this as the site of a waterwheel-powered sawmill. This photo is an upstream view of Chiques Creek from a pedestrian bridge over the creek, completed in 2014, for the River Trail. In the upper left is a temporary Route 441 bridge; diverting automobile traffic while Kinsley Construction replaces the Route 441 Bridge over Chiques Creek.
In the foreground, to the right, is part of the remains of a low-head dam that stood from 1902 until it was removed in 2015. The 1902 concrete dam most likely replaced an earlier dam also utilized by B. F. Hiestand & Sons Lumber Company; they operated a waterwheel-powered sawmill at this location from the mid-1800s until 1942. Removal of the low-head dam last year eliminated a public safety hazard and reconnected more than 13-miles of the streams in the Chiques Creek watershed for migratory fish.
Links to related posts include:
- Codorus Tow Path Railroad to Chickies
- Eagle Nest within 700-feet of Route 30
- Walking the Lincoln Highway from Coast-to-Coast