|The first sign announcing the James Cleveland Trail|
Along Greens Valley Road
I grew up knowing the history of the crash and though I knew there was a memorial for James Cleveland at the top of the mountain, it would not be until 2009 that I would first visit the monument. In the years since, I’ve made my way back up the mountain at least once each year to pay my respects to the pilot who lost his life here.
Arriving at the sign for the trail there are two options depending on how much clearance your vehicle has. Vehicles with low clearance should park here, but any vehicles with higher clearance can turn here and drive down to another parking area roughly a hundred yards down the side road.
|The start of the trail from the second parking area|
|Bridge over Little Fishing Creek|
I soon came across an old road; this road was the same one that had been blocked off where I had parked my vehicle. I thought it was strange that here, where the trail and road cross, is a sign announcing the Cleveland Trail. My guess is that this spot was the original start of the trail and when the old road was blocked the trail was expanded to its current length.
|Sign marking the trail|
Along the old road
In the middle of the woods
As I stood there, the woods seemed even quieter than it had minutes ago. The reality of where I was and the tragic event that happened eighty years ago sunk in. The young man had lost his life when his plane hit the mountain roughly twenty feet below the southern summit and slid through the trees. The plane burst into flames as it was torn apart – the fire was so bright that it could be seen from the airmail field in Bellefonte. Sadly, Jimmy had turned twenty-six only a couple weeks before the crash that instantly claimed his life.
|Monuments at the crash site|
Due to the weather conditions, Ames flew directly into the side of the mountain and the trees prevented search planes from discovering the wreck. Unlike many of the airmail crashes, Ames’ plane did not catch fire due to the angle it landed – the escaping gas ran down the mountain, away from the engine.
|Close-up of the memorial|
Placed by Jimmy's brother