Hold Your Ground #14984
These trees help hold a small rock island together in the middle of the Juniata River against the never-ending flow of water. Photographed slightly above from an old railroad bridge on the Lower Trail rails-to-trails, the little island has weathered both high water and low water through time. It’s shown in low summer flow here. Powerful floods throughout the seasons make the little island disappear under roaring water. Other trees that have fallen upstream have often lodged against it with no effect; the island holds firm.
Through time, all that water has passed, and not much changed. The ever-flowing water always continues pushing against this little rock island. I can imagine someone a hundred years ago may have had pretty much the same view.
The tiny island is just across and immediately downstream from the railroad bridge center pier. Obviously, the large pier has been doing interference blocking for the island for a long time. However, it seems the rock island may have been there originally before the bridge, but perhaps not.
Does the little rock island have a name? Not that I know of. Being just the narrowest sliver of land and the merest of river happenstances, it’s just too small for an official handle I’d suppose.
In the stream bed, rocks are plentiful at this point. Nature landed most of them here, but there are a few exceptions. If you look closely, you’ll see a few have been cut and shaped with corners. That’s because bridge builders have worked here and those were made by the canal stonemasons; later the railroad bridge builders tossed some of them aside and they’ve never left the site. You see, the railroad used larger blocks made of different stones, so it’s easy to tell the two efforts apart. A few rocks worked by both sets of builders some eighty years apart ended up in the river and didn’t go far.
The first bridge here was built in the 1820s for a Pennsylvania Mainline Canal aqueduct and used for decades to move freight east and west across the state. Almost eighty years later, the Pennsylvania Railroad built its Petersburg Branch through here, mainly to haul stone from nearby quarries on this branch. They mostly built upon the filled-in canal and used the original end and center piers for their own bridge with plenty of modifications to carry far more weight.
Years ago, both the canal and railroad carried plenty of passengers and freight through here over time. If this island was here originally, then it’s been seen and enjoyed by thousands of people passing through over time. Today, a highlight for bike riders on the Lower Trail is stopping on the bridge to enjoy the river view and this scenic little rock island. It’s certainly a great refreshing place to take a break from pedaling!
The companion horizontal view of this picture is Rock Island #14983. Also, a wider color winter view in stark plainness is shown here, taken on another winter day. It’s called Slipstream. With all the leaves gone, there you can see the bare bones of the island, what surrounds it, and the mountain behind. Click on the picture for a larger view.
Location: Mt Etna along the Lower Trail, Blair County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks
Up Next: Rock Island #14983