Rail Bike Guests Can Enjoy ‘Secret Valley’ Up Close
BOYERTOWN PA – Are you ready for a leisurely pedal-powered adventure deep into tall forests, crossing bridges, chasing creeks, and admiring scenic wonders of the Boyertown area? Then climb into recreational vehicles at the heart of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust’s “Secret Valley Rail Bike Explorers” program, and keep an eye out for wildlife that promoters say includes deer, fox, heron, and bald eagles.
Rail bike exploring (above and at top), publicly introduced Monday (March 15, 2021), offers “a pioneering educational and recreational experience,” the trust said. It aims to provide persons of all abilities access to the nature and history surrounding what the popular tourist attraction calls “Pennsylvania’s Secret Valley.”
A first of its kind in the state, trust officials noted, the program relies on rail bikes as vehicles to increase education, health, and quality of life, and all-community inclusion. Rail bikes are pedal-powered vehicles with four steel wheels, disc brakes, and pedals for each seat that rides on the railroad tracks. They take advantage of the railroad line’s gentle grades to ensure a smooth, comfortable ride.
Although rail bikes require pedaling, “the magic of steel wheels on steel rails” makes the experience very different from riding a regular bicycle, according to the trust. “There is no need to carefully watch the road ahead, there is no need to steer, and riding is hands free, making it easy for couples young and old, groups, and families of all ages and abilities to roll along,” it explained.
“Riding a rail bike is a unique experience and a great family activity, added Sylvia Landis, a rail bike sponsor and retired school teacher. You don’t have to travel to the next state to enjoy such fun recreation. When your inner child calls to you, head to the rails,” she said.
Landis and her husband Carl in part funded the program, joined by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation; and by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, administered under the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Recreation.
“Our partnership with Colebrookdale Railroad and its Rail Bike Explorers Program will provide a unique chance for people of all ages and abilities to appreciate the natural beauty of our region in an active and engaging way,” according to Dave Kraybill, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation president.
Pedal-powered rail vehicles date back to the 1850s, when maintenance workers used hand-cars and rail bikes to travel the tracks (above). They transported crews and materials for track inspection and repairs.
Today, there are a variety of designs in use around the world. Colebrookdale’s custom-built bikes will include an educational app and Bluetooth speakers to provide its narrated educational content, “Rails of Revolution,” in multiple languages. Tickets are available for purchase online, here.
Video and photos supplied to The Post by the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust