Thursday, December 12, 2013

Remnants of Old Roads and Bridges -- Old Linden Hill and Pigeon Hollow Roads

Old Linden Hill Road, 1849
I'm pleased to say that this is another Guest Post, written by Dave Olsen. Dave actually submitted this to me a while ago, along with the wonderful post about the David Wilson House. It's my own fault that it took so long to post it. As you'll see, it's about a couple of road remnants, left behind when the main road was rerouted earlier last century, during MCH's expansion era. As Dave shows us, if you look hard enough, traces of the past are all around, unseen by the vast majority. If you ever happen to come across something like this, feel free to let us know. I know there are other road and bridge remnants around, waiting to be discovered (and written about).

During the course of my pavement pounding this past winter, in addition to getting some up close and personal vantages of the various posts and references that you continue to add to the MCH history, I have become quite interested in the old roads that can still be found in our area. Although Millcreek, Linden Hill, Limestone, Pike Creek and Paper Mill Roads to name just a few have all been thoroughly traveled for the past 300+ years, they have been modified substantially over the last 50 years or so. Due in part to the development of the entire MCH, the various roads still basically follow the same routes, however, there are some significant deviations when compared to the older maps (1849 & 1868) that we typically use as reference.

The first of these roads is Linden Hill. Old Linden Hill Road starts on the northern boundary of Carousel Park at Limestone Road and to the best of my knowledge this is the same route that can be seen on the 1868 map. If you follow the road it will end at the lower parking lot for the park. The road continues across the small stream that feeds the big pond at Carousel. Although the timbered floored bridge has been rebuilt I’m sure many times, there is some evidence still of the old foundations on either side. The road continues for approximately 75 yards and terminates as it starts to venture up the hill.




In present day, as you travel up New Linden Hill Road, the old road would have joined approximately where the woods end and the field begins on the south side. Both roads probably followed the current route until approximately 100 yards past Skyline Drive at which point Old Linden Hill dives down along the northern side of New Linden Hill. At this point, the old road cut is still very visual as it dives down towards Pike Creek. The telephone poles are still present and active. At Pike Creek, the old bridge foundations are still very much visible and in pretty good shape. Here is where things get interesting. As noted on the map, Old Linden Hill Road then takes a hard left south along Upper Pike Creek Road, crossing present day New Linden Hill Road. Approximately 30 yards past the new intersection, the old road would once again take a hard right west again and start up the hill towards Poly Drummond Road. It re-connects with present day Linden Hill about a quarter mile further up the existing road. I have included several photographs showing the road cuts that are discussed.




The second road can be tied to your post about the Eastburn store. Traveling along present day Pigeon Hollow Road is definitely like being in a time machine. It is very easy to vision yourself on a wagon picking up a few supplies and heading back to your farm except the current road abruptly ends. As the map shows, Pigeon Hollow Road ties into the earlier version of Paper Mill Road before it follows the same type re-direction that we saw of Old Linden Hill Road at Pike Creek as it heads towards Newark. Here is what piqued my curiosity.


Once again while out for a run this winter, with the vegetative growth and greenery at a minimum, while heading towards Limestone Road, almost directly across Paper Mill Road from the old Eastburn homestead (which by the way should be a post someday), are the remains of an old stone bridge. The ruins are completely hidden from the everyday traffic both because of its location and the speed at which most people travel that stretch of road. However, if you are on a bike or foot, it is very obvious as it is directly adjacent to the road sign on the west bound side. Once again, as a testament to those stone masons of the era, the bridge foundations are still intact and provide yet another glimpse of the rich history of the area. It also further explains the location of the Eastburn store that was referenced in original post and, at least for me, cleared up logistical questions.



10 comments:

  1. Dave, Thanks for the post. I find the location of the old roads interesting too. They are easiest to spot in the winter, especially with a little snow on the ground. Francis A. Cooch has a chapter in his "Little Known History of Newark, Delaware And It's Environs" titled Abandoned Roads. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Donna P.

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    1. Donna,
      Any idea where I could get a copy of the book by Francis A. Cooch. My husband and his family are from New Castle County. My in-laws grew up in Stanton area. My father-in-laws family owned the farm the area that is now All Saints Cemetery and my mother-in-law lived on St. James Church Rd. Her dad was Clarence Sidwell Reed. He was a local mechanic during WWII.

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    2. Kay, I got my copy at an auction. It has great provenance. It is signed by the author to William Penn (Bill) Frank, a late well known Delaware reporter and book collector. It has his bookplate in the front. I bought it at the auction of the estate of Nancy Churchman Sawin, another Delaware historian.
      EBook can be downloaded here:
      https://archive.org/details/jahresberichtde00vetegoog

      Used copies are available here:
      http://www.amazon.com/Little-known-history-Newark-Delaware/dp/B00085XXRO
      and here:
      http://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/29731/francis-a-cooch/little-known-history-of-newark-delaware-and-its-environs-the

      A reprint is available here:
      http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/cooch-francis-a/page-1/
      Donna

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  2. Portions of Old St. James Church Road is another abandoned road. As far as I can tell, all that remains is a service road to a swim club, but at one time crossed Mill Creek. One section still survives as a suburban street next to the Village of Lindell. I'll have to do some exploring this summer and see if I can trace the abandoned route.

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    1. You're right, Bill, St. James Church Road did connect across and a part of it (still called that) goes through the Village of Lindell. It crossed Mill Creek near the old Lindell house. I know I wandered back there one time in the middle of a run, but I don't think I found any obvious evidence of a bridge. Definitely worth another look, though. Let me know when you go. Winter (like after the holidays) might be a good time to check it out, too.

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  3. Scott - Is there a modern day map that can be used as an overlay for the MCH Map that is posted on your site here? I am always looking at the map but sometimes lose site of where it is compared to modern day roads. There might be a website or something that i'm not familiar with that would give me this information. thanks so much for all of the information you provide. Joanne M.

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    1. Joanne -- As a matter of fact, yes, there is. A while back Jim Meeks of the New Castle Community History and Archaeology Program made for us a zoomable modern overlay of the 1868 map that's at the top of the page. It can be found here:
      http://nc-chap.org/maps/zoomify/fullScreen/millcreek.php

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    2. Thanks so much! it's so wonderful that there are people like you and Mr Meeks who do this kind of stuff for people like me to enjoy. Now I'll never get to sleep--I'm fascinated with maps. lol

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    3. You're quite welcome. I really enjoy it, as I'm sure does Jim, who made that map just for this blog. I'm fascinated by the old maps, too. That 1868 map was one of the first things that really got me interested in MCH history, and I don't think it's a stretch to say I couldn't do much of what I've done without it. I've spent many hours staring at it and the other old maps. If you haven't taken a look at the 1849 map, check out the link up to the right under "Historical Resources". Incidentally, that map comes courtesy of Jim, as well. Enjoy!

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  4. Im sure you have noticed on the overlay, but after old linden hill road continued over the old structure in the picture and traveled north, it followed right next to what is not the bike path that follows the current linden hill road, it then went into the property of what used to be the meeting house hill community pool. Which is now gone, but the old sidewalk next what used to be the road is even still there. There are then steps which are newer than the road, and old remnants of a sidewalk or concrete from the road in the woods where the pool used to be. It then went across the street and followed parallel behind the house to which are now on rankin road, and it came out on polly drummond close to the dunkin donuts in the shopping center. Would love to see pictures if anyone has any

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