Tunnels of Enola: Hard Way

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The hard way is a substantial four-mile hike. This version is designed to take you through all the tunnels and culverts without almost any backtracking. The probability of wet shoes and even a wet butt is relatively high, but I promise you it’s worth it! Traversing these seldom seen, built by hand tunnels from 1905 is a fantastic experience.

This is as close as you can get to being Indiana Jones without Nazis shooting at you.

The hard way has you starting your adventure from the Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve parking lot. The GPS coordinates for each tunnel are provided below. However, they are relatively easy to spot if you carefully observe the terrain. Each tunnel is at the bottom of a ravine with a stream running through it. If you see or hear water, that’s where you want to go.

When you are on the Enola Low-Grade, a rock wall or an impossibly steep hill will be blocking your path on the right. When the landscape transforms into a ravine, begin to look for a way down. They all have some form of a trail that leads to the tunnel.

The ravines are especially easy to identify when looking at a topographic map. The map below has the trail highlighted in red and blue. Red for the sections above ground and blue for the parts where you are going through a tunnel. Referencing the map below, you will be traveling right to left stating in Shenks Ferry and heading towards Safe Harbor.

Red marks the above-ground trail and blue highlights your underground path.
Red marks the above-ground trail, and blue highlights your underground path.

Getting Started

Start walking towards the Columbia and Port Deposit Railroad. It’s visible from the parking area. Once you get to the tracks, turn right towards Safe Harbor. There’s a “road” beside the railway that keeps you off the rails.

Head towards the tracks and then go right.
Head towards the tracks, and then go right.

Railroad Warning

Not to be a killjoy, but it is technically illegal to walk on railroad tracks and is considered trespassing. It can be extremely dangerous to walk, run, or drive down railroad tracks or even alongside them. Do so at your own risk!

First Tunnel

Here’s the first tunnel’s GPS location.

You will only be on the tracks for about 1,000 feet before turning. Keep an eye out for a stream on your right. Once you see it, follow the water uphill until you come to the tunnel. It is here that you will run into your first major obstacle. It poses a real dilemma. My advice is to go left. There’s more to see.

smallestTunnel2

This is the smallest tunnel of the bunch. It starts short, but once you get ten feet inside, the passage opens up so you will no longer have to stoop over. When you get to the other side, you need to do three things before leaving.

  1. Match the exit with a drawing from the diary. Here’s a link to the diary. 
  2. Find the pair of double digits painted on the tunnel. The numbers are always on the side facing away from the Susquehanna.
  3. Using the clue written on the diary page and the numbers at the tunnel, record the solution. You will need it later to unlock the treasure’s location. 

Need a hint? Click here.

Once you have the information you need, hike up the hill to rail trail. Facing the tunnel’s exit, it’s probably easier to go up the hill on your left.

Second Tunnel

From the rail trail, the second tunnel is approximately .4 miles away. Here’s the GPS location for that tunnel.

Hopefully, you fare better than Doctor Forrestal did when you arrive.

The remains of Doctor Forrestal, perhaps?
The remains of Doctor Forrestal, perhaps?

Before traveling through the tunnel, repeat these three steps.

  1. Match the entrance with a drawing from the diary. Here’s a link to the diary. 
  2. Find the pair of double digits painted on the tunnel. This one is a little tricky. The numbers are always on the side facing away from the Susquehanna.
  3. Using the clue written on the diary page and the numbers at the tunnel, record the solution. You will need it later to unlock the treasure’s location. 

Need a hint? Click here.

About 2/3rds of the way through the tunnel, you will run into your second major obstacle. It’s here that the tunnel makes a sudden three-foot drop in elevation. I typically sit down on the left side with my legs over the edge and slide down. This is where you can expect to get your butt wet.

Please be careful while getting down. The rocks here can be slippery.
Please be careful while getting down. The rocks can be slippery.

When you finally exit the tunnel, you will find that you are on the banks of the Susquehanna. Not only have you traveled under the Enola Low-Grade but also the Columbia and Port Deposit Railroad. It’s my favorite tunnel!

This is a great spot to take a break! It has a fantastic view of the Safe Harbor Dam and Big Indian Rock Island.

Once you’ve rested up, scrambled up the hill to the railroad tracks (and not the rail trail), turn left towards Safe Harbor. Again, this is an active railroad, so be careful.

If you look over the railing you can see inside the tunnel you just passed through.
If you look over the railing, you can see inside the tunnel you just passed through.

Third Tunnel

The third tunnel is another easy 1,000-foot walk along the train tracks. Click here for its GPS location.

If you are looking for a side quest to round out this adventure, check out this abandoned cold cellar just 20 feet off the tracks while on your way to the third tunnel.

sideBuilding2
Abandoned cold cellar

Keep an eye out for another small stream. Once you find it, turn right and follow it up the hill until you come to the tunnel. Once you travel through it, repeat these three steps.

  1. Match the entrance with a drawing from the diary. Here’s a link to the diary. 
  2. Find the pair of double digits painted on the tunnel. This one is a bit harder to find. Try climbing on top of the tunnel to find the numbers.
  3. Using the clue written on the diary page and the numbers at the tunnel, record the solution. You will need it later to unlock the treasure’s location. 

Need a hint? Click here.

Be sure to check out the overturned train wreckage from December 23, 1981, that litters the hill at the third tunnel. Learn about the accident and it’s toxic cargo here.

trainWreck1
Boxcar remains from a train accident?

Once you are done exploring, climb up the hill to your right (when facing the tunnel). There’s a path you can follow without passing onto private property. When you get to the rail trail, turn right and continue heading towards Safe Harbor.

Fourth Tunnel

Click here to reveal the fourth tunnel’s GPS position. The fourth tunnel is a half-mile away but will take you past some excellent rock climbing areas. If it’s a beautiful day, you’ll be treated to a show as people attempt to scale the wall.

Keep an eye out to your right for changes in the topography that will reveal the tunnel’s location. Again, there’s a footpath that will take you down to the tunnel. Be mindful of private property signs. The area can easily be accessed without trespassing.

For the last time, perform these three steps.

  1. Match the entrance with a drawing from the diary. Here’s a link to the diary. 
  2. Find the pair of double digits painted on the tunnel. 
  3. Using the clue written on the diary page and the numbers at the tunnel, record the solution. 

Need a hint? Click here.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you can even find a stalactite inside the fourth tunnel.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you can even find a stalactite inside the fourth tunnel.

Inside the tunnel, you will find this tiny 100+-year-old stalactite. Plus, you can stand in what I call “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” You will know exactly what I mean when you get there.

In the Hall of the Mountain King
In the Hall of the Mountain King

Unfortunately, this tunnel is more or less a dead end…unless you’re a little crazy!

The end?
The end?

If you want to be a completionist like me, you can crawl through. I’ve done it. Although my knees did not thank me afterward.

insidePipe1

Now that you have visited all four tunnels and obtained the four pieces of the password find their sum to unlock the treasure’s location.

Use the password you just generated to unlock the following webpage.

Click here when ready.

Note Well

All the tunnels can be accessed without trespassing onto residential private property. Please observe the signs and stay on Conestoga Township property.

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.

Railroads

Not to be a killjoy, but it is technically illegal to walk on railroad tracks. Railroads are private property, unlike public trails, roads, or waterways. They are owned by the railroad that operates them. Every time you walk on them without permission, except at grade crossings, you are trespassing. It can be extremely dangerous to walk, run, or drive down the railroad tracks or even alongside them. Do so at your own risk!

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