What started out as a trip down memory lane turned out to be a rude awakening to the present and sadness of Scott Creek, meandering along the Ma and Pa railroad line and Bunker Hill road, just north of Delta. There isn’t a whole lot of childhood left except in the mind, so I grabbed a chance to reconnect with this piece of history, still part of the landscape and I would think something the townsfolk would want to preserve.
As a kid I would walk the rails from the slaughter house, out and around the bend of the tracks to the ever-so-long wooden trestle as the line headed north to its final destination of York. In the distance was the long trestle I would try to walk across after a train crossed. It still looks as long as it did when I was a kid. Moss has aged the wood…the rails long since taken up… a few large trees have fell across parts of it, and still it stands, beautiful and strong and bold as ever. I remember slow moving freights at the station, loading or unloading, and I would race down Bunker Hill road so I could get a good look as they crossed over the trestle.
Once I saw a couple men, down under it, but I kept moving and headed home as soon as the train passed over. The trestle is maybe 20 or 25 feet at its highest point.
Looking at it today was like a page from an old book that’s been read long ago and partly forgotten. It was coming back with each bend of the road and it was good.
Rumor had it that a ‘hobo jungle’ camp was located beneath the trestle where the hoboes living there could take advantage of the water of Scott Creek and the handouts of folks who fed them for a day’s work. A couple of times grandma Holden took the offer of help with work around the house and gave them a meal. Sometimes she just packed up some food and gave it to them.
As a 9-year-old, I’d watch the stranger with well-worn clothes disappear down the alley and onto the tracks, walking gracefully across the ties and then out of sight. It was like the circus was in town for a few minutes. These ‘mystery men’ appearing at the door on a warm summer’s day, offering to do odd jobs for some food and soon after, they were on their way.
I never saw the same man twice, but I wasn’t living at grandma’s full time either.
My visits got me there by way of the Ma and Pa train on Friday afternoon, and the same train took me home to Bel Air on Sunday afternoon. I feel grandma took in just about anyone who needed a hand and had an empty stomach.
The two big attractions for me in Delta, apart from Glackin’s Esso station, were the Green Marble quarry at one end of town, and the trestle and slaughter house at the other.
I hadn’t been near Scott Creek or the trestle in many years and so I turned off of Watson Road and onto Bunker Hill and headed into town the back way. Sadly, the first thing I saw was a couple sofas that had been dumped along the creek side of the dirt and slate road. But the beauty of seeing the creek and old railroad bed took me back into time and a space of being a child exploring the far reaches of the world of Delta in the early fifties.
There’s something magical about abandoned rail lines, those flat open spaces of the roadbed, winding along gracefully following the creek in gentle, abstract curves.
The early morning rain had left the dogwood, beech, oak and sycamore glistening with a bright shiny glow. There was no trash then, just water, trees, and trains. The scattered patch-work quilt of blue, white and green plastic jars, gallon containers and shopping bags stood out so terribly wrong in this otherwise tranquil scene of bygone days.
Came to mind that Delta has a recycling center, at the site of the Green Marble Quarry, yet there were bags of trash increasing as I drove along towards town. Why take the time to bag it up, and instead of taking it to a place where some, maybe most of it could be recycled, instead it’s tossed like a sheaf out and over the banks of a lovely creek to be scattered across the fern and lichens of the forest floor. Why?
The landscape now unfolds over the next little hill with more bags and sofas and recliners, tables, refrigerators, stereo cabinets…a veritable ‘rummage sale of unwanted household furnishings’ that once no doubt served a purpose and when worn out or replaced were destined for Scott Creek, a handy place to toss away what was not wanted.
The ‘low spot’ literally and figuratively came half way to town, where a large mud hole filled with water caused a little ‘jerk’ in the road. There were dozens of sofas and furniture, piled up, rotting, soaking wet and stinking. Every color you can imagine on the downhill side of this graceful lane.
The trash kept coming stronger and stronger as it laced the slopes of green. It reminded me for a moment of Christ being crucified on the cross…the trestle, the beams, the innocence of it all and the carnage of raping the land with unwanted things. Like defecating on the face of nature. A curse on those who lay waste to the sacred grounds of Scott Creek and the Ma and Pa trestle.
Before I knew it an hour and a half had passed on this jaunt on Bunker Hill, a short ride but a long process of thought and nerves and sadness. Another bit of looking at the long curve in the roadbed leading to the trestle and I headed out, seeing the town ahead.
Instead of driving up to Main Street for some great ice cream, I followed the wellmowed roadbed along its route south, passing beautiful backyards all well-manicured and cared for. Old basketball nets, tin roofed sheds, ramshackle garages, leading up to a solitary vacant two-story house with a slate roof and a long-gone porch. I remembered this house, where John Wales had his woodworking shop in the back, attached. It was Number 204 Park Avenue and just up the street was the house my grandmother Holden once lived in.
A journey of fifty years in the span of a quiet Sunday ride on the back way to town. A ride a long time in the memory and a long time keeping close to my heart. The sadness of the trashing and massacre of Scott Creek is not right. A group could muster some dump trucks and a backhoe with a cable to haul the debris up and out and it would be a start on keeping a safe walking trail along the history of Delta alive and well.
For now, if you read this and have dumped along Scott Creek, do me a favor and next time you replace the sofa or table, head down to Scarborough Landfill and let them do the dirty work…don’t put the dirty work on a treasure. Better yet, take a walk down to Scott Creek and take a good look…it’s your back yard.
No doubt there is more to learn about Scott Creek and Bunker Hill Road, and as I am informed so too will the message be passed along to you, the readers who need to be informed.
Of course, nothing may be done, and still the beauty of what is there will continue to be overshadowed by man’s dishonor to nature and beauty and all things creative.