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The Iron Horse Trail follows two abandoned rail beds: the Path Valley Railroad and the Perry Lumber Company Railroad. Originally, the Path Valley Railroad was going to be an extension for the Newport and Shermans Valley Railroad and would end in Hancock, Maryland. After the grade was constructed to New Germantown, builders decided it would not be possible to tunnel through Conococheague Mountain, so the venture was abandoned.
As for the Perry railroad, the Perry Lumber Company purchased a Climax locomotive in 1901 to remove 19,000 acres of timber from western Perry County. When the company disbanded in 1906, the track and land were sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, becoming one of the first large purchases for the Tuscarora State Forest.
The 10-mile trail is within Tuscarora State Forest and was constructed in 1981 by the Youth Conservation Corps working with the Department of Environmental Resources Bureau of Forestry. Unlike some rail-trails, the Iron Horse Trail has some moderate climbs and requires good hiking boots.
There are two different sections of the trail. One is on the north side of Route 274 and follows the Path Valley Railroad grade; the other is on the south side of Route 274 and follows the Perry Lumber Company Railroad.
The Big Spring State Park trailhead is on Route 274 near the Perry/Franklin County line. A second trailhead is 2 miles southwest of New Germantown on Route 274.
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