White Cliffs of Conoy: Where Beauty and STEM Abound

Spring is the perfect season for enjoying the great outdoors, and many destinations in Lancaster County boast not only beautiful land, but opportunities to explore STEM too! The White Cliffs of Conoy happen to be perfect examples of beautiful views, scenery and nature, as well as a history rich with science and exploration!

Located in Conoy Township in Bainbridge, PA, an off-street parking lot is available at the intersection of Race Street and North Front Street. The trail to reach the cliffs is paved, and wide enough for bikes and pedestrians to pass both ways, making it ideal for walkers, joggers, bikes, wheelchairs or strollers. An accessible porta-potty is also available to visitors.

As you head towards the cliffs, about a 1.25-mile stroll that is mostly flat, be on the lookout for plants and animals that live alongside the river. The trail guides feature interesting things to search for, and describe the history of the land along the trail and the various uses it’s had over time. Don’t miss seeing bald eagles, the ruins of the Village of Billmeyer and the native wetland restoration efforts that are taking place. The Haldeman Mansion is also a point of interest on your journey, the birthplace and home of famous scientist Samuel Steman Haldeman. With a passion for nature and the world around him, Samuel was known for his contributions in the areas of Entomology (the study of insects), Conchology (the study of seashells) and Archeology (the study of historic people and cultures), to name a few. You’ll see how Samuel’s exposure to the nature and wildlife that surrounded his home sparked his interest in science from an early age.

Just before the Cliffs, you will pass the ruins of the Limestone Factory and Quarry. This area of rich industrial heritage is actually what formed the White Cliffs of Conoy, as excess limestone and dolomite was piled up by the river over time. Arriving at the White Cliffs of Conoy, climb up to nearly 30 feet above the riverbank for spectacular views. Science and nature abound in Lancaster County, get out there and take a look!

Muddy Run Observatory:  A County Treasure

Muddy Run Observatory was built in 2016 by Exelon Corp. as a community outreach center and research facility. It is located in Southern Lancaster County and lies in truly dark skies, away from the light pollution of much of the surrounding area. It is by far one of the most innovative and well thought-out and technologically sophisticated projects of it’s type in Pennsylvania.

On the day I visited, the visitor’s center was closed. In fact, it’s been rather difficult to get any real information about when the observatory will be open to the public. The grand opening, which was scheduled for October 2016, was postponed due to rain, and another date is not available at this time.

According to the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, the observatory will be open to the public sometime this summer. Educational outreach for the Observatory will be provided by the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society in coordination with the Astronomy Enthusiasts of Lancaster County, In Muddy Run Park.