Dirt Roads of Lancaster County
DIRT ROAD DIARIES
OLD DIRT ROAD
Lancaster County is home to about 90 dirt roads that collectively stretch more than 50 miles
A LancasterOnline Special
By P.J. REILLY | LNP
CASEY KREIDER | LNP
"Yeah I'm chilling on a dirt road,
Laid back swervin' like I'm George Jones..."
Dirt Road Anthem, by Jason Aldean
With 533,000 residents, Lancaster County has the sixth-highest population among all 67 Pennsylvania counties, according to 2014 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
And the Pennsylvania State Data Center has projected it to be the second-fastest growing county in the state through 2040.
Despite its high population and rapid development, Lancaster County is home to about 90 dirt and gravel roads that collectively stretch more than 50 miles.
"Except for the people who live near them, a lot of people in this county don't even know these roads exist," said Matt Kofroth, a watershed specialist with the Lancaster County Conservation District.
"We're not like Potter County, or anything, but we do have a fair number of dirt and gravel roads, considering our population and where we are in the southeast."
A SPECIAL PROGRAM
Kofroth oversees the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission's Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Roads Program in Lancaster County.
"The county gets $100,000 a year, in state funds, through the program.
Its primary goal is to prevent unpaved roads from contaminating waterways with sediment and chemicals used to treat them.
"A lot of times, these dirt and gravel roads are right next to, or very close to, high-quality streams," Kofroth said.
Take Fishing Creek Hollow Road in Drumore Township, for example.
At 3 miles long, Lancaster County's longest unpaved road follows Fishing Creek in the Lancaster County Conservancy's Fishing Creek Nature Preserve.
Fishing Creek is a coldwater fishery that supports stocked and wild trout.
Through the dirt and gravel road program, Drumore Township has gotten funds for projects like installing water bars on Fishing Creek Hollow Road that direct runoff away from the stream and prevent road erosion.
Caring for dirt and gravel roads is a never-ending job, according to local road managers.
Martic Township Supervisor Duane Sellers said roads such as Westview Drive and Clark Hill and Sellers Roads have to be graded regularly to smooth out ruts and potholes.
"Water, temperature and tires," Sellers said. "You're always fighting with them on those dirt roads."
LAST IN LINE
When the snow falls and the plows are deployed, dirt and gravel roads often are the last to see municipal road crews.
"We usually get to them after we've opened up just about everything else in the township," Sellers said.
In Clay Township, Whitney Fox has watched her father, Harold, plow sections of Laurel Drive and Fawn Hollow Road many times.
The family's home sits at the corner of the two unpaved roads.
"My dad will take his skid loader and plow because there's no way else we could get out," she said.
That's a price the family has willingly paid since they moved there nine years ago, Whitney said.
"It's usually pretty quiet out here," she said.
A look at five dirt/gravel roads in Lancaster County
"Except for the people who live near them, a lot of people in this county don't even know these roads exist"
1. CLARK HILL ROAD, MARTIC TOWNSHIP
Length: 950 feet; This small stretch of road winds through a wooded hillside between House Rock Road and Bridge Valley Road. It once was so rutted, and laden with boulders, that even four-wheel drive vehicles had a tough time navigating its short length. There's only one residence with a driveway off Clark Hill Road.
2. RED LANE, UPPER LEACOCK TOWNSHIP
Length: .5 miles; There is one Amish farm on this short road, which serves as a convenient cut-over for buggies and other vehicles to travel between West Eby and Stumptown roads. By using Red Lane, vehicles traveling east on West Eby and Stumptown can avoid having to use the more-heavily traveled Monterey Road and Route 772.
3. FISHING CREEK HOLLOW ROAD, DRUMORE TOWNSHIP
Length: 3.1 miles; This is Lancaster County's longest dirt or gravel road, winding and twisting along Fishing Creek through the Lancaster County Conservancy's Fishing Creek Preserve. There are three places where the stream crosses the road, and motorists have to drive through the water to keep going, offering a truly unique driving experience. Be sure to pick up your feet!
4. WESTVIEW DRIVE, MARTIC TOWNSHIP
Length: .3 miles; Westview is a well-traveled, paved street from Bridge Valley Road to Delta River Road. If you drive that stretch, you'll probably think you're still on Westview when the pavement bends and the street name changes to Delta River. Westview actually continues straight at that bend. It drops down a steep hill as a dirt road with farm fields on both sides, passing a well-kept cemetery, until it meets River Road. There are no driveways off this section of Westview Road.
5. LAUREL DRIVE, ELIZABETH, CLAY TOWNSHIPS
Length: 2.6 miles; There are several residences on this road, which cuts through parts of two Lancaster County townships, as well as Heidelberg Township, Lebanon County. It stretches between Fox Road and Museum Road. Much of Laurel Drive cuts through State Game Lands 46, where there are signs noting there is no winter maintenance.