Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Whitehall Parkway

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One of Pennsylvania's least-known abandonments is also one of its most interesting (and enormous). A great guy named Shawn emailed me about this site in November, and Brian and I only got to it two weeks ago.

Part of the Ironton Rail Trail, the Whitehall Parkway is the site of some of America's earliest cement plants, and has dozens of stone and concrete ruins in varying states of decay -- in some, only a wall or two remain.

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Easily the best part of this abandonment is that it's legal to visit. The surrounding townships turned the site into a hiking trail, and we saw at least a dozen people biking, jogging (and snapping photos) on a frosty January day.

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This would've been nice and eerie if my jeans weren't so damn blue.

11 comments:

bluecapriethan said...

Great photos. A lot of these places are totally overlooked or ignored and will soon be forgotten to time. Thanks for documenting all these places. I had emailed you a while back about Michter's Distillery and visiting that. Any luck on getting a name of an owner? I've been digging around online and haven't found much. Nearby is Cornwall, PA and, while the historical iron furnaces have been preserved as a state site, the massive open pit and a few other more modern building remain unused and abandoned.

Al Ebaster said...

Hey Blue,

No luck on Michter's yet. Our work schedules, plus the cruelly short winter days, have kept us from exploring too much, as you can probably tell. We're going to try going up there and talking to the locals as soon as possible though -- never know what might turn up. That said, if you have any photos of Michter's (or anything around Cornwall) we'd be glad to host 'em and post 'em.

bluecapriethan said...

I have 3 pictures I had taken last summer of Michter's from the road but they are on traditional film and I don't have a way to scan them in unfortunately. The website I had sent you had some pictures from 2005 on it, and it really hasn't changed at all since then. It seems like someone keeps after it a little bit. The shrubs and grass seem to get really high and overgrown and then someone cuts it once or twice a year. The buildings are really starting to be in poor shape. The one storage house collapsed some years ago, but all of the main structures are still standing. Another website I came across:

http://web.tampabay.rr.com/ybfowler/legacy.htm


More info and some newspaper clippings, but again, no current owner identified.

I can understand doing less exploring in the winter. It can get really cold and windy, especially in January and February.

As for Cornwall, it's been some time since I have gotten up there, but my wife has never been there so we plan on doing an early spring trip up there and I should have my camera along with me then.

bluecapriethan said...

Ok, I think I may have stumbled upon a name! I forgot until now that Michter's was the business's name, the actual name of the distillery is Bomberger's Distillery. After doing a little searching, I found a possible owner's name. According to an uncited source on Wikipedia the owner is Dwight Hostetter and he is a one man restoration crew. Here is the link to that:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomberger's_Distillery


Unknown if the info is true, but it does jive with the small bits of work going on occasionally up there.

Al Ebaster said...

Awesome work, Blue! If Hostetter is indeed the owner (and I'll try to verify that), and if he's working on it for personal reasons, as your discoveries suggest, he might be more open to giving us a tour of the facility than a developer would.

I'll hit the phone books this weekend -- hopefully there aren't too many Dwight Hostetters in Schaefferstown.

bluecapriethan said...

The only Dwight Hostetter that is a woodworker that comes up with a google search is a guy in Alabama. Kinda doubt that's the guy. Only thing I worry about is the Wikipedia article is uncited where the name is listed. That would be great if you could find the guy and get an interior tour. There are a lot of people around this area that are wondering what's going on up there and what is left inside. If the article is correct and this guy is a preservationist, getting a little exposure of the historic property may be the motivation he needs to really clean it up. It may also yield some helping hands for him. I'd be willing to help him clean up the place. I hate to see little bits of history disappear.

Anonymous said...

pennsylvania is for dykes ans sissies.what a craphole state you live in.

Anonymous said...

sounds like dwight hostetter really is the current owner, we asked the farmer behind the distillery yesterday and he directed us to a house a short distance away but no one was at home to talk to.

Ethan Smith said...

Are you interested in a tour of the place? I have been doing work there and can see if Mr. Hostetter would want to give a tour. You may have to wait until the weather is warmer as his health does not permit him to go out much in the cold. Whatever you do, don't just go on to the property. If the wrong people see you, you could get yourself in trouble.

Vulin said...

Ethan, Im located in Lititz, and am very interested in taking a tour of the place, and working on possible bringing the distillery back to life.

Anonymous said...

I heard the place is being sold again....guess the guy couldn't keep up with the upkeep. Now how reliable the news is.. well it was told to me by a person calling me to see if I wanted a tour of the property.The person asking me was drunk and he got the news at a bar.....but they were asked if they wanted a tour of the property because we are related to the Bombergers that started the place

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About ForgottenPA

Created by Al Ebaster in 2007 after a trip to Centralia, ForgottenPA has become one of Pennsylvania's most popular urban-exploration websites. Brian is our photographer, and we're happy to have Ethan Smith, aka Bluecapriethan in the comment sections, on board as an author and photographer as well.

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