The Ghosts of the Cold Springs Resorts

Stony Valley Rail TrailCoal was discovered in the Stony Creek Valley in northern Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, in 1824. Before long, there were several active towns in the area and by 1851, the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad had completed a rail line through the area. (Some sources say it was the Dauphin & Susquehanna Railroad.)

Around the same time the S&S rail line was built, a 200-room hotel was constructed and the area became a sort of summer resort. By the 1880s, a second hotel was added, according to StonyValley.com, along with features like a restaurant, bath house, bowling alley, and more.

According to an Aug. 13, 2009, article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “A resort hotel was built at Cold Spring, where mineral springs thought to have life-enhancing properties flowed. Wealthy ailing Philadelphians would come here to take the waters.” The same article reported that the area’s “48-degree waters attracted visitors as early as 1775.”

The fantastic book Pennsylvania Ghost Towns: Uncovering the Hidden Past describes the two hotels as being side-by-side and “stunning three-story Greek Revival buildings. Formal columns punctuated the views from the porches and balconies. A shady lane served as a promenade for ladies in long, elegant dresses and gentlemen with top hats and canes.”

By 1900, however, whatever appeal the hotels once held was gone. And in September 1900, a fire (described by some as “mysterious”) destroyed both hotels and many of the other buildings.

Today, the Stony Valley Railroad Grade runs through State Game Lands #211. It’s a great trail for hiking and mountain biking. You can even access the ruins of the former Cold Springs resorts.

When I bike the trail, I like to start at the eastern trailhead (parking is easily accessible off Gold Mine Road). These photos are from a ride I took on May 27, 2013.

The trail itself is beautiful, often covered in shade by the many trees growing on both sides. (There are a number of rough patches, so if you’re biking it, you’ll definitely want to be on a mountain bike.) It tends to be a very quiet area, with few visitors at any given time.

RauschGap

About 3.5 miles from the eastern trailhead, you’ll find signs marking the area known as Rausch Gap. This was once a town that included several dozen homes, but was abandoned by 1900. A small cemetery and some ruins are still visible today.

ColdSpringsSign

A little less than 6.0 miles from the eastern trailhead, this small sign marks the side trail you need to take down to the Cold Springs resorts ruins.

ColdSpringsTrail

The trail to the Cold Springs resorts ruins is steeper than it looks in this photo, but easily manageable.

ColdSpring1

These stairs on the eastern side (the left side as you go downhill) of the access trail are the first part of the ruins that I noticed.

ColdSpring2

The stairs are just to the left of these ruins on the eastern side of the access trail.

ColdSpring9

Another view of the ruins on the eastern side of the access trail.

ColdSpring7

Beneath this tree is a concrete block. If you zoom in (click on the photo), you can make out the top curve of what was once a drain or pipe of some sort.

ColdSpring11

This stone wall, on the western side of the access trail, was presumably once part of the foundation of one of the two hotels. The wall is the most impressive of the remaining ruins.

ColdSpring10

Another view of the wall on the western side of the access trail.

ColdSpring6

This is a view from the top of the wall on the western side of the access trail.

ColdSpring5

The stone wall along the western side of the access trail is fairly long even today, but this corner at the western end of it shows that it was once even longer.

ColdSpring4

A look down the length of the stone wall on the western side of the access trail.

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