Sunday, January 02, 2011

Middle Spring Creek and Cemetery

As I mentioned the other day, I finally found a map site online that actually names bodies of water smaller than major rivers; Google Maps on the terrain setting does, although no other settings on that service - map, satellite, and hybrid - do. In the course of that discovery I learned that the stream I was calling Burd Run was actually Middle Spring Creek, and Burd Run is much farther north and doesn't go through downtown at all (although it does eventually converge with Middle Spring Creek, a situation covered further on in this post).

In any case, the name Middle Spring rang a bell, and I remembered that a certain Middle Spring Presbyterian Church about three miles (4.8 km) north of downtown Shippensburg had one of the oldest cemeteries in the area (you see where this is going, don't you?). On looking at the map I noticed that the creek actually runs next to the cemetery, so I planned a hike for today with the cemetery as the goal, and a few side trips to catch views of the creek on the way.

I've already showed you Dykeman Pond, the springs of Middle Spring Creek (complete with its old stone spring house), a view of the creek as it runs through the Duck Ponds park, and as it crosses King St. downtown beside the McLean House, so just click those links if you want to look again. We'll start our walk just a little north from there.

One block north Burd St. parallels King St.; the photo below left is a shot of Middle Spring Creek where it crosses Burd St. Just around the corner and a little farther up the creek crosses Springhouse Rd., but it's not very photogenic at that spot. But... Just before the crossing is a little duck pond, and that shot below right is the Great Blue Heron who seemed to know I had a camera aimed at him and posed very prettily.

Not long after that we hit Earl St., which turns into Newburg Rd. as it passes by Shippensburg University. A brief side trip down Hot Point Rd. (apparently named after the Hot Point Inn which sits on the shores of the creek) takes us back down to the creek.

A little farther up Newburg Rd. we go down Bard Rd. for another look at the creek. Bard Rd. passes through a beautiful patch of marsh and meadow, and just over this patch to the north are these intriguing barns:

And a short walk to the west brings us to the creek again.

A little farther up Newburg Rd. we come to a stream crossing under the road from the east; now who could this be? Why, it's our old friend Burd Run, the real Burd Run this time (top photo). And just around the corner and down Fish Hatchery Rd. a little we come to the place where Burd run merges with Middle Spring Creek (bottom photo).

About another mile up Newburg and Middle Spring Roads we finally come to the cemetery. The first Middle Spring Presbyterian Church was a log cabin built on this spot in 1738, and the inevitable churchyard sprang up behind it. The church finally built a nice brick edifice across the road and down a little in 1848, and started a new churchyard. The old cemetery has since been declared a historic site and has two plaques to declare it so, but I'm a bit disappointed. In Rhode Island we treated our old cemeteries with reverence, keeping them up and in decent repair. So far, all the older cemeteries I've come across here in the Cumberland Valley have been left to their own devices and consequently in very bad repair. There was one section that has survived fairly well, but even there the wrought iron of a fence was rusted and unpainted and the stones in bad shape. Plus all of the stones were fairly plain and lacked the inventiveness of the Yankee colonial-era stone carvers. I admit it - I've been spoiled by New England colonial cemeteries!

In any case, I got two shots worth sharing. I couldn't resist the top photo; despite the rust and lack of paint, those Victorian wrought iron fences were so charmingly Gothic, and I almost expected Lurch to approach me with his silver card salver intoning "You rang?" in his basso profundo, to be followed by Gomez and Morticia Addams bearing martinis and promises of fun. The bottom photo features older stones from the 1830s.

And finally, a last look at Middle Spring Creek, from the bridge at McClay's Mill Rd. The top photo looks south (upstream) and the bottom photo looks north (downstream). From there the creek travels another mile and a half (2.4 km) to where it joins Conodoguinet Creek, which in turn flows northeast for another approximately 30 miles (48 km) to the mighty Susquehanna River across from Harrisburg. But we're not walking that today; it's time to go home and get some lunch!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. How long a trek was it? Great stuff as usual, I will need to go back and look at the previous posts, though.

    Happy new year!

  2. FYI, my new location is here. Hope you will continue to visit! :)

  3. As always, very solid photography, Roy. So how much were you offered for your hair and beard?

  4. I have always thought that your richly illustrated posts are just like taking a walk along with you as you direct my attention to both things of beauty and things of historical interest. That is a rare ability you have Roy. Have a great 2011 - I look forward to walking alongside you often.

  5. Lovely wintery pics, Roy. I especially love that red-roofed barn. And well, you know I enjoyed the grave stones!

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