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Redbank Valley Rail Trail follows the old Allegheny Valley Railroad, which dates back to 1873. Mile 0 for the trail is at its west end, where the trail meets the Allegheny River and the Armstrong Trail. From there, the trail travels east to Brookville, winding along Redbank Creek for 41 miles across three counties. A 9-mile spur begins in Lawsonham and heads north to Sligo. Note that the spur in unimproved and best suited for a mountain bike.
Currently, 20 miles of the trail are surfaced with crushed limestone. As trail work is ongoing, caution is urged on the unimproved sections. The trail features 27 bridges and three former railroad tunnels. Two of the tunnels (in the communities of Brookville and Climax) are currently closed for repair. Though the Longpoint Tunnel (at mile 8.42) is open, it’s use at your own risk. Visit the Redbank Valley Trails Association website (link at right) for updates on the trail’s developments.
Parking is available on the eastern end of the trail in Brookville at the intersection of Western Avenue and 2nd Street, and also in Climax at Bridge Road.
My husband and I rode this trail yesterday, WOW! It was such a great trail, the best we have ridden so far. The scenery was amazing, wide paths, could be ridden by most any bike, including an FX and beautiful wooden bridges as you cross over the river in several locations! (Make sure you bring your camera, so many photo opportunities!) Plenty of places to stop along the way with benches located all along the path. We rode from Brookville south for 15 miles, stopping for a snack to fuel up for our ride back. We can't wait to do this again!
4 of us started in Brookville and rode 11 miles to mile marker 30. We saw several deer and enjoyed a low humidity day. There are 6 bridges with views of Redbank creek in this section. Good ride.
If you want to ride a great trail don't miss this one . The scenery is awesome . On the East part of the trail there are great bridges with outstanding views and on the West end there are 2 tunnels . Make sure you look up because you will more than likely see a bald eagle . I did see a bear 2 yrs. ago on this wonderful trail . Don't hesitate , get out there and ride this !!
We road north from New Bethlehem. Trail is a little rough in spots. With a little effort this could be a great trail. We had a couple of issues with the bikes and NB does not have a bike shop. Surface is packed gravel but one section had lose ballast.
My son and I walked 5 miles of this trail today. Love the old railroad history! Surface was nice, flat terrain, and easy walking. Will definitely check out more!!
With all the new upgrades to this trail this I believe is one of the best trails in Pennsylvania and maybe all the east . Most of the trail is now covered with crushed limestone with the west end from the Armstrong trail to Long Point tunnel now improved .If you haven't been on this trail you are really missing a gem !! Take a day and ride Armstrong then up Redbank for a completely wonderful experience !!
I was very disappointed to find out that the newly surfaced west end of the trail that I discovered under construction a few months ago extends eastward only one mile. It's a beautiful crushed limestone surface, but only railroad ballast is still in place from there. A very rough ride, but I did continue from Mile 1.0 to Mile 2.0 (from Red Bank and the Armstrong Trail). This is the point where the Pennsy's Red Bank Siding from the junction ended. The spot was was called Mortimer, and the two aluminum stands on the river side of the trail held what was the pot (dwarf) signal for eastward "CP (Controlled Point) MORT." (I found more of these stands over at Sarah Furnace, also controlled by that CTC machine at Brady Tower, west of the coal dock) There are many ties in place for the siding nearer to the junction area, and the concrete bases for the westward home signal bases for CP-Redbank are also there, near the junction. I hoped to find more original mileposts at Mile 1 and Mile 2, but these are gone. Nevertheless, a lovely trail in the very scenic Redbank Creek valley! Kudos for the folks at the Armstrong Trail for that BEAUTIFUL new plaque at Red Bank Junction! What fantastic early 1900's era photos of the old station and the northbound Pittsburgh-Buffalo Allegheny Valley train, in the time before the AV main line was double-tracked, and 40 years before the line was then to be SINGLE-tracked under 1944 Brady CTC. - Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 5-24-2105
this trail is very well kept and a very scenic ride. gorgeous in the fall but nice also in the spring. For the most part very level.
I thoroughly enjoyed a five mile run on this trail. There are markers at every mile. I parked off of an unpaved road called Coder Road off of Rte 28 about a mile or two SW of Brookville. Coôrdinates are N 41 08.665 W 079 06.848.
A decade ago, rode from New Bethlehem to Armstrong Trail, and it was rough. Ballast rocks pavement is punishing. But the scenery was fabulous.
This year, given all the recent work for improving the surface, and the designation of Trail of the Year by DCNR, made a quick visit to check it out again, starting at New Bethlehem.
Unfortunately, the surface is still ballast rocks in most of the trail, something that the official map found at the kiosk doesn't report.
Also, attitude by the local residents maybe should change a bit, specially dog owners: while riding, intersected two dog owners with 3 dogs off leash, some of which were startled when seeing a cyclist, and posed a potential safety threat. In this case, the dog owner apologized, and held the dog by the collar, apparently no leash was available. At the small police station in New Bethlehem, when informed about the off-leash dogs on trail, the lady staffing the station replied "oh, we don't take care of that", referring to the Redbank bicycle/hiking trail, as if being outside their administrative jurisdiction.
Maybe I was expecting too much, but didn't see any signage on Route 28 about the trail, or where to park.
Looking forward to when mileage 1-17 are improved to a surface of fine crushed limestone.
The printed map, found at the kiosk, is overwhelmingly a high-quality production map. If the map is a sketch of a dream vision of the future, I hope it soon comes true.
Here's some nice background to that little mystery spur trail in my recent report, courtesy NS Shire Oaks Yardmaster Eric Johnson. Thanks, Eric! -Rich Ballash
The Climax Tunnel looks really interesting. Almost looks to small to fit a train into it.
You mention west of New Bethlehem the bridge over Red Bank Creek and spur line. That was the industrial track to the Terry Coal Co. loadout. I think there may have been an actual mine there in days gone by. Latter day it was coal trucked in from strip mines, crushed and processed. There was a decent looking tipple there and Terry had an old SW8 (Conrail, ex-LV) that switched the tipple. Perhaps you recall, the loco used to set at a dirt pile/bumper right along Route 28. Conrail would spot empties in the tipple yard, engine would fetch them and push through the tipple/loader. In the old days, I think the industrial track/mine spur used to cross Route 28 where the engine sat since there is a slight hump in the road and appears an old right-of-way up the gully to some other mine waste piles. BTW, the Conrail SW-8 that was at the mine loader still lives on, it is the Lehigh Valley painted switcher loco on the Kiski Jct. RR!
i really enjoyed walking the redbank trail gives the husband and i some peaceful time together to enjoy the nature and get some exercise in also we walked it this past sunday 8-24-14 we seen the coke ovens
The Redbank Trail is truly a work-in-progress. As other reports indicate, there are many sections where the trail surface is still purely the old railroad ballast. I don't like ballast. Railroad tracks are OK on it... Not a mountain bike. And sure, my last NAME is only one letter different from it, but riding on ballast versus nice, smooth crushed limestone is as different as I am from a typical railfan! So I sought out a nice, smooth ride, and I found it. 4.5 miles of beautifully finished trail. Go to New Bethlehem, right to the middle of town, where PA-66 and 28 come together from the north and northeast. That big, open trail space in the dead center of town is obviously where the old train depot sat. I parked at the east end of that, at the corner of Vine and Arch Street. But there's lots of space anywhere in this area. You don't need to park in a municipal lot. The trail surface over my report span is a beautiful 50/50 mix of typical gray, crushed limestone, and a crushed golden brown sandstone or something which makes a particularly attractive trail surface, thinly spread out over that clean, fresh railroad ballast edging. This railroad was in really nice condition when we first saw it in 1985, shiny rails and all. The ballast they left behind is very attractive, and I like the ride even more because it actually LOOKS like an old railroad grade, nicely groomed and clean! Now, let's head east from town. 0.4 miles east of Vine and Arch is the only intact real Pennsylvania Railroad "class act" on this stretch, a classic, pointy-topped cast iron "W" whistlepost, in very nice condition, in classic white and black paint. I turned around at Mileage 21.4, only 0.6 miles east of that whistlepost. The trail surface returns to railroad ballast at that point. The nice thing about this trail is that TRAIL mileposts were set to coincide with RAILROAD mileposts. That's nice, because if there ARE railroad mileposts (and there are PLENTY east of here), they can (and SHOULD be) left in place as pertinent, and classic historical, mileage markers. And to those of you who seem to have REMOVED (or defaced) the markers west of town, SHAME ON YOU! More on that later. Love the black, cut stone retaining wall through the west side of town, with the built in steps down to the track bed, and the traces of those industries once obviously served by the railroad here. The stone walls along the river here are awesome. I even saw a guy repelling off of them just west of town. A backwards spur trail splits off back to the southeast one mile west of town. The 0.1 mile spur trail crosses the river on a deck girder bridge which must have led to a substantial mining operation further to the southeast. One can ride back into town to the east if you want to make a loop from this point. Now for those mileage markers. Incidentally, mileage starts from Red Bank, where this line joined Pennsy's former Allegheny Valley Pittsburgh-Buffalo main line at the Allegheny River to the west. A "triple treat" with that little bit of "shame on you" comes into view at wooden TRAIL milepost 19, a little bit of the new, the old, and the VERY old! Lined up from right to left, first a very "shot up" ex-CONRAIL metal milepost 19 (a neat railroad artifact in itself), wooden TRAIL milepost 19, and a very original (but TOP cut off) Allegheny Valley Railroad CUT STONE milepost 19... with a disgustingly cute little smiley face and crude "2 mi" painted in where the original railroad mileage was... Egads! The same fate fell on stone marker 18, but at least its top is still intact. Someone apparently stole the ex-Conrail milesign off its skeletal pole. I call thievery at places like this what might be referred to as "the Conrail Gift Shop" (snicker snicker). Finally, and only 1/10mi. short of mile 17, the classicly creepy east portal of CLIMAX TUNNEL. Originally stone, but having suffered some concrete portal (and interior) repairs in the past, the raised "187-" above the portal harkens back to the Allegheny Valley Railroad! Really cool! Lots of heavy, loose sandstone has fallen down around the approach. The concrete barriers have been slid away to the side, and darn if the only solo biker I saw all day before that didn't come FLYING around me as I headed back toward New Bethlehem! Scared the bejeezus out of me! Where'd she COME from!? The only couple I saw riding west later told me that this lady lives WEST of the tunnel, so she MUST have ridden THROUGH it! It's very dark and looks like all CURVE, so I never even considered doing that! And how do you like THAT encounter for a "small neighborhood!?" It looks like Climax Tunnel was another one of the AV's "river loop cutoff" constructions, as are seem over on the Allegheny Valley trail at Rockland and Kennerdell Tunnels, where the original railroad followed the river loops. So that's all for my nice, smooth ride, a nice relaxing nine mile round trip. Enjoy the ride! I'll be back up there again later to search for another smooth stretch of this WONDERFUL cross-country trail OF KEYSTONE HERITAGE. -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 8-24-2014.
The Allegheny Outdoor Club had a great ride on the Redbank Valley Trail from Brookville to the Mayport Rd (RT 536) Its about 15 miles and very nice. The trail is closed about a half mile past Mayport for construction a Hawthorn.
I really wanted to ride to the Longpoint Tunnel from the Armstrong trail, but the surface is fairly horrible. Too many washouts to count, and too many people driving down the trail to camp along the creek. The loose ballast surface make you focus so much on not going over your handlebars that you can't enjoy the scenery. I guess we'll have to head out east past the sewer construction to find the best parts of the trail. I would not recommend (first time I've ever said that) riding in from the Armstrong Trail where the Redbank Creek meets up with the Allegheny river. Even on our mountain bikes it was an extremely punishing ride, and if you have a cyclocross or road bike, don't even contemplate it. The only noise was the constant shooting of stones out from under our tires.
My wife and I heard of the trail from another enthusiast last Fall and headed out for a weekend of riding. We knew the area near Hawthorne, PA was closed for sewer line excavation earlier this Spring. It is still closed and a mess in that area. We accessed the trail at Mayport, PA, between MP 25 and 26. There is very little parking at this access point.
We rode north towards Brookville as far as the trail had been completed, about MP 38.5. The trail from that point on was compacted ballast. We decided to turn back at that point. However, equipment for finishing the surface was parked right there on the trail, so I'd say there will be more work completed fairly soon.
This trail is very well maintained. The ride was varied, scenic and the bridges over Red Bank Creek provided good vantage points to view the valley. The Rachel Carson-Baxter Bridge section was open. The day was sunny and ride out in the early afternoon was a bit bright, but by late afternoon the return ride was more shaded.
Highly recommend this trail, can't wait until it's completed into Brookville.
The Mrs. and I loaded the bikes in the truck and went on adventure for Mother's Day, figured we would try out the Redbank Valley Trail. If you're thinking of heading east of MP 23 or so, don't bother, or make sure you're past the sewer line project. The contractors are making a giant mess of things. Heading west from New Bethlehem, the Climax tunnel is not marked as being closed, but it is on the return heading east. As you progress west of Climax, the trail goes to compacted ballast and it's a rough ride on a good day. This trail has a ton of potential, but the surface needs to be consistent and much better. Thinking of riding this on a hybrid or road bike? I don't recommend it. We'll probably try getting on at the western terminus to see how things are from MP 0 - MP 15 or so later in the year.
The Redbank Valley Trail was recently honored by DCNR as the 2014 Trail of the Year!
The 41 mile "main trail" follows the Redbank Creek from Brookville to the Allegheny River where it connects with the Armstrong Trail. An undeveloped 9 mile spur runs from Lawsonham to Sligo in Clarion County. Unfortunately the Climax Tunnel situated at Mile 17 is CLOSED. We have received some funding and plans are in the works to rehab the tunnel.
The trail is currently closed between Mayport Mile 25 and Oak Ridge Mile 23 for the Hawthorn Sewage Project.
Please visit our website at redbankvalleytrails. org for trail surfacing updates and closures or follow us on facebook before planning your visit!
The beauty of the this trail is breathtaking and the volunteers are amazing! Once the Climax Tunnel is open, the Redbank Valley Trail will earn 5 stars for sure!!!
Darla Kirkpatrick, President RVTA
My son and I did a wonderful pedal & paddle trip on the Redbank Valley Trail and Redbank Creek between New Bethlehem and Climax. Finding the trail was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t see any signs pointing the way. I didn’t realize that they just started work on this trail in late June 2010, so now I understand the lack of signs. The New Bethlehem trailhead is at the west end of Arch St. behind the feed mill. I’m not sure if parking is allowed there. The trail just looks like a grassy driveway, but after about 100’ you’ll see the gate and the crushed limestone trail (see photos). We parked in town by the dam and rode up Liberty St. to Arch St. The Climax access is great. There is a gravel/grass parking area for about 10 cars on the SE side of the creek with a wonderful takeout ramp right next to the Hunter’s Moon Lodge B&B. The ramp is a little steep, but it’s in great shape and provides easy access to the creek (see photos). The trail is across the bridge on the N side of the creek. It looked like parking might be allowed there too. The first thing you’ll see is the Climax Tunnel. When we visited in May 2012 the concrete barricades and debris from the tunnel were pushed to the side (see photos). The rock overhanging the tunnel entrance was interesting (see photo). We walked into the tunnel first and checked it with our lights. We found one hole in the ceiling with a small pile of bricks on the trail (see photos), but it was passable. The rest looked clear so off we went. The east end still had the barricades in place and a small closed sign (see photos). Glad we came from the west end!!! The ride to New Bethlehem was smooth and scenic on a crushed limestone trail. At about MP 19.5, there is a fork in the trail with no signs. The right fork leads to a long bridge over the creek, but then just dead ends onto a road in South Bethlehem (see photos). The left fork is the main trail to New Beth. We went around the metal gate and rode down Liberty St into town. Total biking distance was only about 3 miles.
We put our kayaks in just below the dam next to SR28. In May 2012 it was a small rocky slope, but I’ve seen pics of a new grass ramp that was built later in 2012. The creek was a nice scenic float with quite a few riffles and maybe some Class 1 rapids. Just enough to keep it interesting. We only scraped a few times and never had to get out and pull. I’m guessing the average depth was about 1 to 2’. The New Bethlehem Borough website says the water level on the St. Charles gauge should be 3’ for an enjoyable trip (USGS 03032500 Redbank Creek at St. Charles, PA). The creek seemed pretty popular with the local fisherman. If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Climax Tunnel is at the top of a HUGE bend in the river. I’m guessing the total kayaking distance was about 6 miles.
I read that they got a grant to do some repairs to the Climax Tunnel. I hope they can keep it open because without it this trip is not possible. Climax Road does climb up and over top of the tunnel, but it’s steep and not a ride I’d want to try.
Kudos to all the volunteers at the Redbank Valley Trails Association. It is amazing how much work they’ve done in just 2 years! I can’t wait to see the rest of this trail completed. I’m looking forward to many more pedal & paddle trips on the Redbank. Thanks all…..MM
One year and a day after my last visit, I was prompted by the notice on this trail's website that there was a new parking lot and crushed limestone surface at the Summerville station. I was anxious to see what had progress had been made since my last visit, and this was my opportunity to head NORTH from that point this time. I was quite pleased to get at least a small taste of what a great trail this one is poised to become. A nice, rolled, multi-vehicle parking lot has been provided at Summerville. It appears that finish work on the trail surface has begun from Summerville northward. The view south shows only a short span of crushed limestone. Although a little soft and sinky, it is quite a nice, new, and smooth trail surface. One mile north of Summerville, one finds cut stone milepost 35 (Yes, and MP34/76 is still there at the Summerville road crossing). As I stated last year, these are very old milestones, the oldest of the three generations of mileposts that can be observed on this trail. Generation #2 are those "dual-numbered", cast iron, Pennsylvania Railroad units such as #34/76 at Summerville, again noting mileages starting at both ends of this "Low Grade Secondary" Branch line; Red Bank (0 and 110) and Driftwood (110 and 0). I have observed this numbering system on some of the railroad's branch lines, but when a line got truncated, that second (raised) number was usually painted or plated over, like MP2 on the Five Star Trail. Generation #3 are those metal, "highway-style" modern metal signs, set as maintenance-free "Mickey Mouse" (as one 40-year ex-PRR Pittsburgh Division engineman called them back in 1985) units. One of those is still in place here with #35. Thru-girder Bridge #35.7 has been redecked and fence-railed, with brand new wooden planking. At the north end of Bridge 35.7, a gate and sign warn that the finished trail ends here, and that you are traveling your own risk on the unfinished trail and bridges beyond this point. I continued, and found the finished trail surface continuing, and the trail becomes VERY primeval from this point, with deep rock cuts and splendid overhanging pine trees in the dark forest (I saw no less than five white-tailed deer on this round-trip venture). Only 0.2mi. further north, re-decked and fenced Bridge #35.9 marks the end of current crushed limestone surfacing. Continuing onward, the trail is very ridable for the next mile, but at Mile 37, the surface becomes very rough, with a both small and large ballast surface. It is hard to look at anything but the surface directly ahead, and keeping your bike upright. Bridge #38.0 is finished and fenced, and cut stone Milepost 38 hides in the tall weeds on the west side, just north of the bridge. These are all thru-girder, and quite high, steel spans over the large creek far below. Observing the cut-stone bridge piers, one can see that this line was ready for double-tracking, which never happened. North of MP38, the unfinished trail surface smoothes out to a double cinder-track, weed-centered surface, which is much easier to navigate over, then it quickly roughens up again. I had enough neck-jarring by Mile 39 (no milepost), and turned back at this 5-mile mark. Sadly, I left the trail ahead to its tunnel, and Brookville, until the trail is finished. When that surface has been completed, this is going to be one exceptionally scenic and wild trail adventure. Fuel note: If you find yourself on this or any of the adjacent Allegheny River valley trails between 10am and 4pm, all-year round, too, do make it a point to treat yourself to their "LOADED" (pulled pork, sausage, and cheese) sub sandwich at the little, no-name food trailer on PA-66, right at its junction with ALTERNATE PA-66, midway between North Vandergrift and Kittanning. This is a lunch stop WORTH going out of your way for! Very cheap, and WHAT A SANDWICH! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 9-28-12
They've made alot of progress on trail improvements- most of it has been graded and rolled and they started putting crushed limestone down this winter. most of the bridges are complete- I believe you still need to watch out for one spot north of New Bethlehem where there is no bridge at all going across a roadway.
I look forward to doing some winter hiking and seeing the icicles hanging off all the rock cliffs along this trail.
some good places to view the icicles anytime it is cold enough:
Moore Road near Brookville---
Heathville on the downstream side---
and about 1 mile downstream from New Bethlehem
This is a very scenic trail and easy to get to many different parts to do one section at a time.
I was pleased to find that the Redbank Trail group is making wonderful progress on what should prove to be one of the most spectacular trails in the region! Of course, locating railroad artifacts on these trails is my game, and what a bonanza we have up here along the Redbank Creek. My first rendezvous with the trail was at the currently convenient midpoint parking spot, the old Summerville Station. This is where the old Lake Erie, Franklin, & Clarion Railroad interchanged with the Pennsylvania's Low Grade Secondary Track (the Redbank Trail). The LEF&C has vanished without a trace (abandoned 1993), while trail committee member Jim Hummels, who I encountered riding the trail, tells me the coal-hauling Low Grade line was abandoned about 8 years ago. Right at the post office parking lot, note ex-PRR cast iron milepost 34 / 76 (along with a modern ex-Conrail metal milesign 34). This is a classic "dual numbered" (and rather rare) gem, indicating 34 miles west to the line's junction with the north-south Allegheny Valley Line at East Brady Junction, and today's north-south AV Trail, this trail's eventual western terminus, and 76 miles east to the line's former junction with the north-south Harrisburg-Buffalo main line at Driftwood, PA. Heading south, Milepost 33 is a CUT STONE relic, similar to those I found on the Allegheny Valley Trail, this one also accompanied by a metal Conrail mile marker. Painting mileposts became a maintenance headache, so they just started plopping in those cheap reflective signs in the mid-1980's. Cut stone Milepost 32 is sliding down over the river bank, almost buried by the old ballast. Next we see another one of those classic cast-iron dual mileage posts, "31 / 79." Note how the appropriate number faces the train travel direction. This one is very rusted. I do hope the guys up there retain and repaint these classic beauties! Something got the old milepost at MP 30, as only a metal sign remains here. And my southernmost point on this trip was cut stone Milepost 29, and its Conrail counterpart milesign. This trail is not finished and, although scraped, I found myself riding on mostly half-inch to one-inch ballast stones, a little tough to navigate over at speed. The bridges on the five miles south of Summerville are finished now, with beautiful, smooth, new wood decking and guard rails. There is a short, feeder stream bridge 2.6 miles south of Summerville, and a big, beautiful, curved plate girder trestle 3.2 miles south of town. Jim told me that all of the bridges are finished now, save for a few at the west end of the trail, west of New Bethlehem, and that the trail is rideable, in this current condition, to Brookville. The tunnels out at the west end are going to be a problem, and they are currently closed. The scenery along Redbank Creek is just as a previous reviewer stated, similar to that of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Huge hemlocks and mountain laurel line the very isolated trail, quiet and peaceful. No road noise anywhere, even though you are only a short distance east of paralelling PA-28 (the "rollercoaster"). If my first five miles along this trail is any indicator, (and Jim says eastward is even BETTER!) this trail is going to be one of the certain "must-do" trails in this region. You WON'T be displeased with what you see along the Redbank Creek. When we get that finished surface, this will be a 5-star trail!
Some further details on Patton Road access:
It's about three miles on Dairy Road, three tenths mile on Cunningham Road, and one mile down Patton Road. This is a narrow, single lane dirt road, so if you meet a vehicle coming from the other end, one vehicle will have to back up to the rare pull over. There was no road sign for Patton Road in October, 2010. For these reasons I would recommend using other access means discussed below.
You can find limited, unofficial parking where the trail crosses paved hiways at Mayport, Heathville, Summerville (near Post Office) & Baxter, PA. We rode bikes from the Mayport bridge (about a half mile off Rt. 28), past the Patton Rd parking, to a bridge near Heathville. Very scenic, reminded us of the PA Grand Canyon!
This area was graded and rolled, fine for mountain biking even without the finished surface.
For a quick check on trail progress:
Along Rt 28, about halfway between Summerville and Baxter, you will find Morre Road near a hill crest (watch closely!). It's just a short distance to where the trail crosses this road, and you can park here to view two examples of bridges within a quarter of a mile on either side of Moore Road. The nearest one has railings and metal grid walkways. This area was more suitable for hiking, still rough gravel & ballast.
There appears to be about ten miles rolled now. This will be a great Rails to Trails when completed, but even in its' present state was quite enjoyable.
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