Uncharted Lancaster: Tunnels of Enola Adventure
Distance: Approximately 4 miles round trip, which includes trekking up and down steep slopes, creek stomping, and traversing dark passages. This adventure will take you through five different tunnels and culverts. I hope you aren’t scared of the dark!
What to bring: Appropriate footwear that is either waterproof or water-resistant, an internet-connected device with GPS, something to write with and on, and a flashlight or headlamp.
At the height of the Great Depression, a bold thief robbed a bank vault in Philadelphia. He then escaped west via train, eventually making his way to the scarcely populated freight line of the Enola Low-Grade. Click here to learn more about the Enola Low-Grade.
His plan was simple.
- Stash the jewels near one of the tunnels beneath the train line along the Susquehanna.
- Disappear in the 5,000 man work camp building Safe Harbor Dam.
- Once the heat was off, recover the jewels and live a wealthy man.
Unfortunately, fate had something different in mind. Shortly after arriving, the burglar died in a drunken altercation. With his death, all knowledge of the gems and their location was lost. That is until his diary was recently rediscovered.
If you can decipher the diary’s clues, this treasure could be yours.
Where to Park
While none of this adventure is located inside of Lancaster Conservancy’s Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, you may elect to use their parking lot, which is located at the bottom of the hill at Shenks Ferry. Click here for the GPS location of the Shenks Ferry parking area.
There are a few additional parking spots along Green Hill Road before you reach the tunnel and directly after it. However, if no spaces are available, you will, unfortunately, need to come back another day. Lancaster Conservancy is serious about parking and has several signs stating “illegally” parked cars will be towed. That would be a terrible way to end your adventure.
Choose Your Own Adventure
There are two approaches to completing this adventure—the easy way and the hard way.
The hard way is longer but designed to take you through all the tunnels without almost any backtracking. However, it does have you walking along and crossing an active railroad. Not to be a killjoy, but this is technically illegal. Click here to learn more about the Hard Way.
Before You Go
For the most up-to-date information about parking and accessing Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve, be sure to visit their website by clicking here.
Hunting is prohibited on the rail trail where the bulk of this adventure takes place, but much of the surrounding area, including Shenks Ferry, allows it. Consider wearing orange during those times. Here’s a link to Pennsylvania hunting seasons. Deer and turkey are the big two.
Please observe social distancing while on your adventure. No treasure is worth dying for. There’s enough for everyone, and I will keep the cache stocked. If the parking lot or trail looks full, please consider coming back another day. Even Indiana Jones knew to let the grail go.