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Westsylvania: Forty years at Quemahoning Lake | Columnists

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Westsylvania: Forty years at Quemahoning Lake | Columnists

Automobiles and vans — one of many latter carrying two stand-up paddle-boards — streamed by our parking spot. Two mountain bikers rode previous, having missed the path entrance simply off the Plank Street bridge.

That Quemahoning Dam Street was busy was not shocking. This was a lovely Sunday afternoon throughout Labor Day weekend, and this street results in mountain bike trails, boat put-ins, swimming, picnic shelters, campsites, recreation fields and onshore fishing spots.

My spouse and I had been there to bicycle that very same street, which wraps round half of Quemahoning Lake. Quickly we had been having fun with lakeside views and sharing greetings with people we encountered alongside the best way.

As we rode, it occurred to me that I’ve been having fun with this lake for about 40 years.

In the event you do the mathematics and know the native historical past, you’ll guess accurately that my visits to the Que precede the time when this lake went public across the yr 2000. Earlier than then, I used to be certainly one of many fishers who trespassed there throughout the days when the reservoir was owned by Bethlehem Metal Company.

Again within the early and mid-Eighties, Bethlehem Metal was imploding and had many issues far bigger than chasing fishers from the banks of an industrial reservoir. Whereas standing on the shore and watching our fishing traces, we’d speculate about how good it might be if the Que went into public possession.

Quick-forward to the brand new millennium, and our dream grew to become actuality. The lake and surrounding 3,200 acres of watershed had been bought to the Cambria Somerset Authority, which nonetheless owns and operates the useful resource at this time.

Frankly, as fishers our goals had been moderately restricted to boating the Que’s waters and fishing the lake freely. By good administration and quite a lot of efficient partnerships with different organizations, the CSA has turned the Que right into a recreation vacation spot for individuals with a wider array of pursuits.

My thoughts swims with private reminiscences:

I’ve been deep within the bowels of the Quemahoning Dam itself, taking a look at a valve put in to launch water in enough portions to feed rapids and coldwater fisheries downstream. I’ve participated in Benscreek Canoe Membership “full-moon paddles” on the lake, when fans embellished their boats with gentle strings, then gathered round fires for picnics afterward.

The Laurel Highlands On- and Off-Street Bicycle Affiliation (LHORBA) has made the Que a middle for roadies and mountain bikers. Organized road-bike rides, starting and ending on the Que, had been a weekly exercise of mine for a number of years.

I participated in a few work days with LHORBA mountain bikers, developing a 17-mile path across the lake. Since its completion I’ve biked and cross-country skied on that new path.

My church hosts an annual picnic in Quemahoning shelters. I’ve camped with buddies there. I’ve paddled the lake’s backwaters numerous instances, normally with my spouse and neighbors and, final yr, my brothers.

A pal and I as soon as had a memorable outing the place we rode our bikes on outdated Que hillside logging roads solely to wind up misplaced as darkness fell. Approximating our automobile’s location from seen lights, we shouldered our bicycles and bushwhacked down the lengthy, rugged hill by means of brush and briars to get there.

The Que has hosted nature exhibits and concrete canoe races that I’ve skilled. And I’ve listened to gospel music drifting out to my kayak from the Christian summer season camp that operates on certainly one of its shores. So many reminiscences over 40 years!

One factor I haven’t carried out because the Que grew to become public is to fish it legally. Which is ironic as a result of the CSA and fishing teams have made this lake a way more productive fishery than it was again within the Eighties.

However I’ve drifted away from the exercise that first launched me to this stunning lake. The chums with whom I fished are gone from this life — besides after I return to my Quemahoning reminiscences.

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