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Remember: The Journey Of Trout Creek

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Journey Of Trout Creek

In comparison to the other three streams that flow through Allentown’s city parks; Trout Creek has two unique distinctions. First, the majority of the stream flows through completely urbanized areas. Trout Creek is most definitely a city stream. Second, the majority of the banks of Trout Creek are completely dominated by the invasive species Japanese Knotweed. In some areas, the knotweed stands three of four feet taller than me.

So, where does Trout Creek begin? If I was to believe the atlas that I purchased at a gas station, it would begin just south of Dylan St in Salisbury Township. I have now discovered that the atlas is in fact the atlas of lies and Trout Creek exists for a much longer duration than the maps have it existing for in that atlas.

The actual headwaters of Trout Creek remain a mystery to me. I imagine them to begin as a trickle somewhere on the South Mountain. I did not seek them after visiting the first location where Trout Creek is a major player, as I will explain later. That first location is Laubach Park, just off of Emmaus Avenue in Salisbury Township. Here, the creek is an ankle deep trickle.

I actually walked (or hopped) between stones up the creek here trying to find its exact beginnings. Alas, I was thwarted by private property. You see, a major detractor to an urban stream is that it exists and passes through highly developed areas which mean that in order for me to fully document it; I would have to trespass, and trespass a lot. I cannot afford any fines, so I kept the trespassing to a minimum.

After abandoning the atlas of lies, I searched for the creek with nothing but my eyes. I actually used the presence of Japanese Knotweed to guide me and it usually wasn’t wrong. Driving down Emmaus Avenue, you are actually traveling parallel to Trout Creek. Here at Harry S Truman Elementary School, the creek is still very small but has increased depth and yes, for the most part, is surrounded by invasive species.

Further down Emmaus Avenue on Potomac Street, another bridge view of Trout Creek:

I stopped in a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall parking lot to see if I could find the creek in the woods behind it. After walking into the woods a bit and tripping into a rose bush, I decided I had better head back before the Witnesses towed my car.

There are many opportunities to view Trout Creek as it makes its way through Salisbury Township into the city of Allentown from bridges similar to the one on Potomac. Here again, another bridge view, this one on Dauphin Street. Note the continued presence of Knotweed:

The creek follows its urban pathway east until reaching Mack Boulevard where it turns north and heads into the familiar surroundings of Trout Creek Parkway. After exiting TCP, the last glimpse of Trout Creek before its end is on the Auburn Street Bridge in South Allentown(more Knotweed).

While taking pictures there, I was approached by an incredibly unfriendly man who asked me “just what the hell I thought I was doing?” I told him that I was a writer, taking pictures of the creek for a piece I was working on, to which he responded: “Is that so?” At this point, I was actually rather frustrated having spent about fifteen minutes trying to figure out where Trout Creek ended and having not yet found it, I turned and said in a very loud voice:” Yeah, What of It?” Realizing the man was much larger than me; I quickly got in my car and drove away. In my rear view window he offered me a one fingered salute to wish me luck on my findings.

At this point in my journey I was frustrated. Unlike my relatively easy time documenting the journey of Cedar Creek, the labyrinthine streets of South Allentown had me flummoxed. Soaked with sweat, bleeding from a poor encounter with a rose bush, stinging with the results of a failed attempt to rid myself of a bee and fresh from a wonderful gentlemanly encounter, I was ready to hang up the towel and call it a day. That is until I saw the knotweed off of the Basin Street Bridge.

I quickly steered my boat of a station wagon into a paved area off of Basin Street by some train tracks, ran across the street and saw Trout Creek’s end, in the Little Lehigh. I reached into my pocket for my camera and discovered I had left it in the damn car. Heading back across Basin Street, which is just wonderful to cross (Do not ever do it), I saw a man in winter clothes walking in circles around my car while having a conversation with the August sky.


I walked back onto the bridge once I had crossed Basin Street, trying to avoid drawing attention to myself and hoping the man would move his argument with the sky elsewhere. Sure enough he did and I grabbed my camera from the front seat and ran very quickly back across the street. A couple of errant car honks and an extra glaze of sweat on me I happily took pictures of Trout Creek ending itself in the waving arms of its frequent companion:

Being as urbanized as Trout Creek is, it is no surprise that an invasive species like Japanese Knotweed has almost free rein on its banks. The same can be said for its high impaction of storm water and sediment. At points, there are so many drains into the creek I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more storm run off than actual creek water. Trout Creek needs help, all of our creeks do.

See Also:
Park Log: Trout Creek Parkway
Park Log: Trout Creek Parkway Part 2
Invasive Species 1: Japanese Knotweed
The Journey Of Cedar Creek



Blogger LVCI said...

Trout creek starts out in a small pond/dam at the top of S. Mountain. It consists mainly of Mtn. runoff. We used to fish and in the winter ice skate on this as a kid.

It can be reached by going on Rt 309 South, past Lehigh Street exit, Past Emmaus avenue. As 3099 reaches the top of the Mtn you take the Summit Lawn exit. Make a right and immediately make another right onto dirt road that parallels the top of 309's Western embankment. The pond/dam is on the left.

From this small pond the water proceeds down the wooded area and under 309 through a cement tunnel about 6 feet high and 10 feet or so wide. Onward towards Emmaus Ave area.

CAUTION: We encountered rattlesnakes as a kid. They seem to like that watering hole.

August 16, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Thank you LVCI. You are a better resource than google maps...

I'll check it out.

August 16, 2009 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger LVCI said...

Well perhaps one part starts in Salisbury, but if you zoom in you will see the one I spoke of as well.

Actually two flow into one.

August 16, 2009 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I seriously suck at google maps. I guess I am old fashioned. You give me a paper map or an atlas and I am golden.

August 16, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Unless of course the atlas turns out to be the aforementioned atlas of lies.

August 16, 2009 at 2:08 PM  
Anonymous CJ said...

Great post my friend. I wish I could have joined you on the journey. Sounds like I would have had a blast.

August 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

lvci,, you must be mistaken about the rattlesnakes. both abby pattishall and greg weitzel, who are experts entitled to change our 80 year old parkscape, have publicly stated that there are no poisonous snakes in penna., our watersheds or our parks.

August 17, 2009 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger LVCI said...

michael molovinsky said... lvci,, you must be mistaken about the rattlesnakes. both abby pattishall and greg weitzel, who are experts entitled to change our 80 year old parkscape, have publicly stated that there are no poisonous snakes in penna., our watersheds or our parks.

Snakes are illiterate and can't read.

According to the
Pa. Fish & Boat Commission
, "There are 18 nonvenomous and three venomous snake species in Pennsylvania... The three venomous species of snakes in Pennsylvania are the northern copperhead, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and timber rattlesnake... Snakes tend to be found near cover such as fallen logs, brush piles... "

"All snakes in Pennsylvania are protected by Fish and Boat Commission regulations... Threatened species such as Kirtland's snake, eastern massasauga and rough green snake cannot be caught, killed, possessed... The timber rattlesnake is protected under additional regulations and permits

You and I are not!

Does the Parks dept have legal authorization or is it just best policy to just leave them be?

August 17, 2009 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Guys, there are poisonous snakes in PA. They are not in our park system. You will never find a naturally occurring poisonous snake in any riparian buffer or wilderness area in any of the city parks.

August 17, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Dave McGuire said...

Andrew, I see evidence of our rainy day expedition of discovery up the Trout Creek, ending at Laubach Park. There's more to be discovered about the origins of this system, and the threats it continues to face from ill-considered development on South Mountain. Perhaps we'll try again in mid to late fall.

Dave McGuire

August 24, 2009 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Yes indeed Doc. I have being doing map research and would love to try again. Also, I must thank you for your help in creating this blog post.

August 24, 2009 at 8:51 PM  

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