Democratic Watchman July 21 1865, page 3
A TRIP TO THE SNOWSHOE MINES
"Dear Editor: Believing that we can edify and interest some of your readers, in a small degree, for a short period, with a trip we are making to Snowshoe, we have concluded to submit our notes, though superficially taken for the perusal of your patrons:
This morning at 8 1/2 o'clock, we took the train at Milesburg for the aforesaid place. En route discovered many changes since last we journeyed through this region, some being caused by high water, and others by certain improvements, such as clearing land, building houses, barns, &c. The Intersection being the first station after leaving Milesburg, and, our taking it for granted that one and all are acquainted with this point, we shall pass it by unnoticed. Immediately above this station, to out astonishment, we discover that where the railroad crosses the Erie pike, Wallace's run has done much damage to the latter, making it scarcely passable. There is no road at all between the railway and bridge, and I may say, but little between the former and the toll-gate. But soon, to the right of the road, we behold a new school building, situate upon an elevated ground, commanding an elegant view of Bald Eagle Valley, surrounded by beautiful shade trees, with large and commodious play ground attached these-to. As we glide onward we see the golden grain as it falls from the cradle of the industrious husbandman being gathered by the women of his household, and his children enjoying themselves around the premises in their childish and puerile plays. This is a remarkable feature in Boggs township, where so many have gone forth to battle never to return. The blighting hand of war has smote our vicinity with many stripes, the effects of which we are only now realizing. The women (God bless them,) whom we have ever respected highly and cherished kindly for their effeminacy, amiableness, beauty and virtue are now acting in the stead of the sturdy yeomanry who were wont to reap and gather our harvests. Now, we have passed through the farming region, and have arrived at the foot of the Allegheny mountain. Here we see square timber and logs strewed in every direction, which have been floated hither by the east and west forks of Wallace's run during the high waters of spring. But we are now ascending the mountain, and as we slowly journey upward and onward, to our surprise we behold a two story log dwelling, chunked, but not daubed, at the side of the road, with a large sign-board over the piazza, thereon inscribed, "Hunters' Dale." From this station we have an excellent view of the deep ravine below, and are enabled to see far down over the declivity that we have just been ascending. - Such picturesqueness is not often witnessed this side of the Yosemite valley. The locomotive still moves forward, puffing and blowing, ejecting from its smoke pipe dust, ashes, and coal clouds in voluminous quantities, evincing great effort on the part of the "iron horse" to keep up the alternate motion of the piston - the drivers have almost ceased to revolve, and now the progress of the engine and train has been brought to a halt. We are now at the water-tank, quenching the thirst of the indefatigable lion of mechanism. His thirst is allayed, and now be glides along, seemingly with perfect ease, towards the top, leaving one switch after another behind, until we have arrived at the summit of the mountain. Here we are favored, with a beautiful view of the able lands of the Allegheny mountains. The sun shine brightly, and the scene is one of dazzleation. Behold! we are approaching the Edminston premises. On both sides of the road we see houses without tenants; weeds and underwood have taken possession of the farming land; the fences are very much dilapidated, and - all around seem dead to civilization. But still our move is onward. Here, we see a plateau; there, a rugged cliff; yonder, a cloud-capped mountain, and beneath, a profound ravine - all presenting a sight too sublime and beautiful for one to fully comprehend at a glance. But hark! a rumbling sound greets our ears - the noise is new to us, and we hear the air far off in the distance echoing back the sound that left us minutes after we had passed over the cause. Little did we anticipate that the "Little Trestle," which is only forty feet high and two hundred feet long, would produce such audible and bellringing sounds. The country, at this point, is a grand, glorious, and magnificent picture of mountain scenery. We are passing onward toward another structure of the same kind known as "Miller's Spring Hollow Trestle." This is the highest and perhaps the most substantial trestle on the road. Its height is 65 feet, and it is 575 feet in length. Here, too, we behold beauty and grandeur in the landscape. The tall pines, the giant oaks, and the dense hemlocks, free as the air, together lift their heads high into the sky, adding much to the appearance of the rolling and broken surface. But we had scarcely finished our former note until a like peculiar sound greeted our ears as on the previous occasion. With it was mingled the intonation of waters, making the rumbling sound more musical and euphonic to the sense of hearing. That sound is foretelling a joyful scene, and bids us cast our eyes upon the works of nature, and to behold the element of Beech Creek as it spumes and its craggy bed, leaving naught behind but the verdant moss and inclining branches that decorate its verge to chronicle and welcome other smiling bubbles as they wend their way towards the waters of the great deep. Nor is this all - Nature has other beauties here, God, in His wise Providence, has not forgotten to beautify this portion of His creation. The high peak, the moderately elevated knoll, and dense forest, together with a number of other diversified freaks of Nature, make this place truly beautiful. The trestle (Beech Creek) is 68 feet high and 600 feet long, being the longest work of the kind on the Snowshoe railroad. But we have passed over it, and are fast approaching another. On the left we see cleared land the axe of the industrious laborer has hewn down the forest, and the land that once grew wild and spontaneous plants now grows domestic grains, cultivated by the indomitable tillers of the soil. Houses and barns have been erected for she protection of their families and crops; and, judging from the general appearance of things, ere long the forest will disappear, and the work of agriculture will go on as industriously and extensively here as in the valley. We have now arrived at "Wolf's Trestle." It is 54 feet high, and 550 feet long. At this point we rather congratulate ourself with the idea of getting out of the wilderness safely, and, being merry and exhilarated over the thought, we took but a casual glance at the country; and, though this be true, we can say, without the fear of contradiction, that it possesses some very enticing and fascinating views. From here to the City of Snowshoe the country is pretty well settled; though, before arriving at the city, we pass over "Flack's Trestle," which is 33 feet high, and 175 fee long. This trestle seems to be in a hollow, which, in our humble estimation, makes those qualities which are calcuthan those before mentioned. But we are at the City of Snowshoe. It is beautifully situated on the west side of a hill, containing three hotels, two stores, two offices, a blacksmith shop, and about a dozen dwelling houses. Upon the whole, I think it rather a pleasant and healthy place. Especially do I think it a pleasant place for those who want recreation, for here they can breathe the pure mountain air, and drink from the unalloyed freestone fountains of water. From this point on the road to the mines we were comfortably seated in a coal car. On the way we passed over two trestles. The first the "McMaster Trestle," which is 15 feet high and 350 feet long; the second the curve trestle, measuring in height 18 feet and in length 400 feet. At both these points we discovered great improvements, and at the east end of the McMaster trestle we were greatly astonished - here we beheld quite a town. A few houses are to be seen near the curve trestle - they are plain, but neat, and, from the appearance of the gardens, we are persuaded that the inmates are horticulturists of the first class. But we have arrived at the mines and to cur left we behold several pits for charking coal, which is quite a novelty to one who has never witnessed the like before. Here we also see several coal chutes, (over which is erected a shed,) a blacksmith shop and a stable. These include all the buildings about the mines. Now we enter the subterranean passage to trudge our way under the surface of the mountain to the sappers or miners. The light of day is fast receding, and behold, this moment we are enveloped in darkness! Our flambeau ahs began to illuminate the dark walls, and now we hie toward the desired spot with great eagerness. Thank fortune, we are one of the guests of a subterrane, and have the honor of reclining on a huge lump of coal.
Upon looking around we discover that the substratum is kept from falling into the drift and subterrances by cross-pieces and uprights, these of course, have an excellent substructure. The work on a pillar has just been finished - it falls - the sound is dull and heavy - the myriad pieces are scattered in all directions, and the hearts of the miners are made to feel glad at the scene. The coal is taken out on a railroad, in cars, drawn by mule; and, at the mouth of the drift dumped into chutes which convey it into the railroad cars below. Out of curiosity, in coming out of the mines, we concluded to follow a car; but we had not gone far before we discovered the animal ahead was too swift for us to hold pace with, and was compelled to abandon the project, and make our way out as best we could. Again we are in the pure air and light of heaven. The train is ready - once more we are seated upon a coal car, slightly hungry and dirty, awaiting the signal of our arrival at the Snowshoe depot. Here we remained until 2 1/2 o'clock P. M. Our dirty seat is exchanged for a more respectable one to the passenger car. At 4 1/2 o'clock we arrive at home. Had no accidents. This, perhaps, is owing to the attentive manner in which the gentlemanly conductor, Edward A. Nolan, discharged his several duties. Ed was always at his post; and with a congenial smile upon his face be cordially received on the train those desiring seats, and politely aided those in slighting who had arrived at their journey's end.
MILESBURG, July 18