Vintondale to Belsano
We discovered on Microsoft's Encarta Maps site that at the third zoom level of detail the maps of roads and even trails are so detailed that browsing through them can be the next best thing to taking a hike. Microsoft allows the use of up to 25 of these maps on a page so we decided to take advantage of that to create a "virtual hike." You might want to try the real thing when you get a chance. Unfortunately, even the Encarta maps don't show the Ghost Trail that follows the former railroad from Nanty Glo to Dilltown. But George Warholic's Ghost Town Trail site is already an online tour of that trail anyway. We chose one of our old favorite hikes for the first online walk, from the Eliza Furnace in Vintondale via the State Game Lands trail, Redmill Road, and South Street to Belsano. Walking it round trip, about twelve miles, would take about three hours, excluding rest stops and diversions.
Start at the entrance to the historic Eliza Iron Furnace in Vintondale. This is near the center of the map below, just east of the confluence of the eastern and northern forks of the Blacklick Creek. The eastern fork, which begins near Revloc, flows west through Nanty Glo, skirting Twin Rocks, then through Vintondale. The north fork begins in Barr Township near Colver, then into Blacklick Township and flows past Adams Crossing, White Mill and Red Mill to join the east fork at Vintondale. From here they flow on to the left side of the map to eventually join the Kiski River and later the Allegheny and the Ohio.
Walk north, then northeast into the State Game Lands (from the tan area into the green on the map), following the wooded trail shown in white at the left of the furnace, beginning immediately to ascend the steep hill toward Redmill Road.
This approximately two-mile portion of the hike is through a brushy trail with very few views or landmarks. Fortunately, during winterif there hasn't been a thawyou don't have to worry about snakes, at least. If you look carefully near the end of the first mile and into the second (the trail might be indicated by the little deadend trail to the right/south off the main trail), you might spot Eagle Rock off to your right. It's a huge outcropping of stone that towers over the woods. If you can, be sure to climb it for some spectacular views and photos of Vintondale, now far below.
Maps by expediamaps.com
The fork in the road shown on the map (I don't remember it from real experience on the trail; perhaps the trail to the right was completely overgrown already 35 years ago), gives an important choice. If you were to go right, you'd come into the back area of the old Twin Rocks coal mine. Choose the left branch toward Red Mill road. Where the map shows it curving slightly to the right, you're entering what in my childhood was the Stoy farm; I don't know if anyone lives there now or not. Beware of the possibility of dogs.
Maps by expediamaps.com
When you come to Redmill Road, turn right. The detail is so great here that you can see what used to be Topar's Lane to your right shortly after you start up Redmill Road. At this point, the Atillio Zanin residence is on your left. Here you come "out of the woods" into farmlands on either side of Redmill Road. I no longer know names of residents in this neighborhood, but the first house on the right, atop the small hill, is the former Kennedy Rancho (the name my Dad had painted on the roof of the garage), the farm where I grew up. Only our house and garage were on this side of the road, our 30-acre farm (now subdivided into lots), was on the left. Surrounding our house on the right side of the road is a farm that belonged to a family named Palinkas in my childhood. It was later sold to Jim Clark, who farmed it for many years, but I'm not familiar with the current owner. The lane back to the farmhouse ("Clark's Lane") is clearly marked on the maps above and below.
Maps by expediamaps.com
Continue past the former Dale Learn and Arthur Thompson residences on the left. The next intersection, the first paved road other than Redmill Road, is South Street, to the left. Continue walking the final mile, north, down South Street into Belsano. Once you reach beautiful downtown Belsano, you can turn around and retrace your steps, or turn right up US 422 to state route 271 south, making a loop back to Redmill Road. The mile from here back to the intersection of Redmill and South Street is very picturesque and includes a historic Dunkard Cemetary on your right after you come out of the woods. Traffic being heavy on 422 and 271, and there being no sidewalks much of the way, I'd recommend this in real life only if accompanied by great caution.
From here, continue back the way you came to the Eliza Furnace parking area in Vintondale. I hope you enjoyed your cyber hike!
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