Shawmut Trail Trek Blends Nature and History

Smethport Web — by Matthew Muller

Leaves on Shawmut TrailSmethport residents gathered at the Shawmut Trail Head behind the 911 Center on an Indian summer Sunday afternoon for a guided nature photography walk. The event was sponsored by the Smethport Creative Arts League and served as a field exercise for naturalists and photographers of all levels who had received a crash course on nature photography by Dr. Tim Pierson in the high school art room last Tuesday.

SCAL President Julie Mader said, “The inspiration behind this event would be the variety of people I know of who love the outdoors and taking pictures… and yet these folks don’t know each other.”

She noted that there are all sorts of “closet” photographers and artists in this area who are truly talented and just need an opportunity and a little bit of encouragement to share their work and interests with others. “Promoting an active community interest in the creative arts is what the SCAL is all about,” she said.

PCTA members receive tips for improving waterways

Left to Right: Waterway Chairman Kurt Weaver, Spring Reilly of the PA Fish and Boat Commission, Trail Association President Sally Newton, and Trail Association Director Corky Hull.

At the beginning of the trail before an iron frame bridge that crosses Marvin Creek, Pierson gave the group last minute advice on framing their camera shots and offered insight on how to speedily identify trees by their autumn colors: yellows are sugar maples, red are red maples, some of the other reds and oranges are black cherries, and the greens are evergreens and oaks.

The trail offers a unique blend of nature and history. Ruins of the prior age of petroleum are as common as berry-laden bear scat. Here, one can catch a glimpse of rusted pumps and tanks half hidden by autumnal foliage laying trail side like the skeletal remains of a bygone era. “This region had been the ‘Saudi Arabia’ of the times from the 1880s until the 1920s,” said Ross Porter, referring to when McKean County had been the globe’s major oil producing region.

The trail begins on what had been an 1880s era poor farm and a pauper’s graveyard—the unmarked burial site of Ralph Crossmire, infamous for haunting the Old Jail House Museum—lies cloistered in a venerable pine grove.

The Shawmut Trail parallels Marvin Creek and its main trail is part of a vast system in the Smethport area consisting of over one hundred miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, making the rural community an ideal base of operations for your next outdoor adventure.

A second trailhead for the Shawmut Loop is located just northwest of the Route 6 bridge coming into Smethport on the other side of Marvin Creek from the Dollar General.