Wildflowers at Shenk’s Ferry glen sprouting despite centuries of encroaching civilization
Bowman’s Hill (New Hope, Pa.) Wildflower Preserve reps enjoy Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve in Lancaster County recently. Backgrounds posts: York County still home to unvarnished beauty, On York County parks, Susquehannocks and carved river rocks and With hot controversy cooled, Highpoint offers Susquehanna River view for the ages.
Man has converged on the Shenk’s Ferry glen that houses an impressive wildflower preserve for four or more centuries.
American Indians built lodges near this southern Lancaster County site, and their European successors built a plant to make charcoal, consuming trees by the thousands. They mined iron ore and built a dynamite factory, site of a blast that killed 11 men in 1906.
Today, Grubb Run flows through a culvert under railroad tracks at its west end.
A larger culvert allows the creek to run through another railroad embankment in its east end. That tunnel is known locally as “The Culvert.” …
York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer Bil Bowden caught trilliums blooming in the Shenk’s Ferry Wildlife Preserve, across the Susquehanna River from York County, recently.
In between, at least two power lines pass through, reminding hikers that the Safe Harbor Dam is nearby.
And of course, the ferry meant large numbers of people passed through there before and after crossing the river. Shenk’s Ferry crossed north of the more heavily traveled McCall’s Ferry, located in the vicinity of the Holtwood Dam. Those coming up the west side passed through Chanceford Township in York County.
Given all this activity in and around Shenk’s Ferry, It’s an act of God that 70 species of wildflowers can bloom in this 50-acre preserve in the spring. And another 60 sprout up in the summer and fall.
A hiker splashing through the creek near “The Culvert” the other day said he has visited the glen since he was a boy.
“Come back in two weeks,” he said, “and you’ll see different flowers.”
York Daily Record/Sunday News photographer Bil Bowden visited the preserve recently.
Here are excerpts from the resulting story (4/19/09):
Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve, on the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, is in top form this week, with the glen’s slopes covered in trilliums, dutchman’s breeches and Virginia bluebells.
Managed by Pennsylvania Power and Light, the area is generally known as one of the finest wildflower preserves in the eastern United States, according to PPL. The preserve’s short, flat walking trail is an old railroad bed once needed to haul ore to nearby furnaces. Below the trail is scenic Grubb Creek.
More than 70 varieties of wildflowers cover the upper hillside to the left, and down the creek bank on the right, but the stars of the show are the trilliums. In mid-April to early May, the white, three-petaled trilliums will cover the left bank.
Short dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot and hepatica peek out from under the winter’s cover first, but May apples, looking like small green umbrellas, and trilliums follow close behind. Once the leaves come out on the trees, most of these will disappear, although others will take their place… .
The York County side of the Susquehanna River boasts wonderful wild flower stands as well. Here, mountain laurel flower in Apollo Park, across the river from the Shenk’s Ferry Preserve. For details about wildflower viewing in York County, ycwebserver.york-county.org/Parks.