“Travel atop the berm created for the Schuylkill River Desilting Project.”
— Jeff Menaker
River/Creek · Wildlife
This trail starts near the intersection of the Commissary Trail
and Sulivan Street. Just before you reach Sullivan Road at the end of the Commissary Trail
, look left for an unnatural looking berm rising up. (It will be between a small footpath and a larger footpath with yellow posts).
Ascend the berm and you'll find yourself along the top of a wall built to impound water pumped from the Schuylkill River. The berm was created as part of the first large scale river cleanup effort in the United States. In the Late 1940's and early 1950's, Pennsylvania and the Army Corps of Engineers dredged and cleaned the Schuylkill River in an effort to remove large amounts of polluting coal silt. This wall is part of Impounding Basin #21, built to contain the large amounts of coal laden water that were removed from the Schuylkill River. Inside the basin is a large stone weir which allowed silt to settle and water to return to the river.
Atop the basin is a small footpath. Aside from a slight grade at the entry point the remainder of the trail is level. There is a lot of understory growth including thorns to navigate along the way. The remnants of this berm end at the Commissary Trail
Flora & Fauna
You'll see wildflowers, understory growth, and even grape vines along the way. There are also often waterfowl in the river to the south, and reptiles and amphibians in the seasonal ponds to the north.