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Wishing, hoping to restore Bunker Hill Road, Wye Trestle to its former glory

By Todd Holden, For The Aegis

9:10 AM EDT, April 10, 2012

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Amid the enthusiasm I had believing articles I had written on behalf of Scott Creek, the Wye Trestle of the Ma & Pa Railroad in Delta as well as the pristine beauty of Bunker Hill Road in Peach Bottom Township, suddenly on a recent Saturday it all seemed so helplessly forlorn. As I walked alone, I couldn't help but feel a sense of impending sadness, as though Mother Nature herself was dying.

The early morning rain left the dogwood, beech, oak and sycamore glistening with a bright shiny glow. There was no trash strewn about when I walked here as a kid, just water, trees and trains. The scattered patch-work quilt of blue, white and green plastic jars, gallon containers and shopping bags stood out so terribly wrong in this otherwise tranquil scene of bygone days.

The landscape unfolded over the next little hill with more bags and sofas and recliners, tables, refrigerators, stereo cabinets...a veritable "rummage sale" of unwanted household furnishings. These items once served a purpose and when worn out or replaced were destined for Scott Creek, a handy place to toss away what was not wanted.

I took a solitary walk south on the road made of soap-stone, slate and quartz...I wanted to walk the road before the slated cleanup began at 10 a.m.

I had heard a property owner on the short road wanted the right of way turned over to him and the remainder of the roadway was to be closed forever. Thus far I have not been able to confirm that report, or meet with the property owner...maybe soon that will be achieved.

For now, this absolutely pristine path to walk is a picture perfect example of serenity...tranquillity...all the things a walking path should be are already there, along with the rippling water soundtrack of Scott Creek peaceful and soothing as it meanders down the slope from the roadway.

A pickup truck occupied by two men and a woman passes by me heading north from Watson Road. They each have somber faces as they settle in for their role in the day's maneuvering of terrible litter to two huge roll-off Dumpsters. I can identify with the seriousness of this adventure.

The volunteers turned out in the misty morn and set about the task of picking up as much litter as they could from years of neglect and disrespect by folks using the historic, short dirt road as a toxic waste dump under cover of darkness.

An organization not even from this area connected with Keep York County Beautiful spearheaded an effort that included local volunteers and certainly made a dent in restoring Scott Creek to more palatable conditions. The conscientious effort by all those involved resulted in filling a 40-yard Dumpster and a 30-yard Dumpster. A lot of debris for a relatively small area.

"We were looking for a large-scale cleanup site within a two-hour drive from Philadelphia. In 2010, Keep York County Beautiful did a survey of all the illegal dump sites in York County, and Bunker Hill Road was one of them," said Leslie Weinberg, of United By Blue, a Philadelphia-based, ocean-friendly apparel brand, which removes a pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold.

In less than two years, they have removed 83,382 pounds from oceans and waterways in 12 states during 60 cleanups.

"For the past few months, I've been working with Tom Smith from Keep York County Beautiful to plan the logistics of the cleanup. We reached out to local press outlets to secure stories, volunteer groups to mobilize participants (we had over 25), mostly from the Delta area, local stores to donate breakfast, and the township to arrange trash removal," Weinberg noted.

The aura is undeniably reverent as the volunteers trudge up the first slope to begin their work. There is a surreal tranquillity in this moment, as thoughts of my days of youth, innocence and adventure flood my mind. Days when Lane Hall and I walked the trestle before a southbound freight chugged into the Delta station.

As a kid, I would walk the rails from the slaughterhouse, out and around the bend of the tracks to the ever-so-long wooden trestle as the line headed north to its final destination of York. In the distance was the long trestle I would try to walk across after a train crossed. It still looks as long as it did when I was a kid.

A surrealistic scene indeed today, where once the famed Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad carried freight and passengers between York, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland...today, remnants of the Wye Trestle creates a scene of graceful beauty and memories of past glories.

Moss has aged the wood...the rails long since taken up... a few large trees have fallen across parts of it, and still it stands, beautiful and strong and bold as ever. I remember slow moving freights at the station, loading or unloading, and I would race down Bunker Hill Road so I could get a good look as they crossed over the trestle.

Those days cannot be relived...only respected as part of the fabric of growing up and taking all of it for granted as we all did when we were younger. Time doesn't matter as much when you are younger, but as we grew it became a relentless wind that blew us into adulthood and away from this perfect preserve of nature. Sad gaps in days of youth and times past as we grew into other passages of our being.

Then, like finding an old pair of shoes that fit so well, we re-discover a place like Scott Creek and Bunker Hill Road, only to find the times have not been good to this natural beauty...she has been scarred by the relentless humans who come only to discard filth, junk, debris and toxic crap along her pristine embankments.

I walk this same path today that I did as a kid 60 years ago...it's the same road, the same trestle, the same creek...but is it? All that I have imagined and hoped for in writing about this parcel of Mother Nature's beauty is not to relive my youth so much as to show respect for what is there. Knowing this land growing up is my reference point, my anchor; yet, seeing the sea of plastic blue bags and discarded junk strewn about, I am both sad and angry at what has happened and by what others have done.

Yet anger was something I felt before, when "Massacre At Scott Creek" was written…in hopes that folks in the area would pay attention to what they were doing and perhaps reverse the slaughter. Now, a great sadness comes over me as I wonder if enough has been done to alter the course. Another two or three Dumpsters could be filled and a path could be built, but is it enough to make a change? I am hoping my fellow Deltonians will see the progress that has been made and take it from there. For they surely must feel as attached to this land as I am.

The local volunteers who showed up are a blessing to the land…people who care. United By Blue and Keep York County Beautiful are both to be commended for the unheralded effort they have put in. We each have a part and I hope that I have made a difference as well. Mother Nature is a precious, spiritual entity that we each have a hand in making timeless.