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Big Spring State Forest Picnic Area
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Blue Marsh Lake

This is a famous recreation area with 1,147 acres of land under water and a large island in the middle with no inhabitants. This island is claimed by Bern Township. The lake is located in the northwest of Reading, Pennsylvania with the main portion stretching along the border between Bern and Lower Heidelberg Townships.
There is another portion of Blue Marsh Lake that extends to North Heidelberg and Penn Township and this region is basically sparsely populated. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manage this man-made lake that lies along the Tulpehocken Creek, a great place for bird watching, boating, biking and hiking opportunities for various visitors.

The name Blue Marsh was the actual name of the village that existed where the man-made lake now lies and in Lower Heidelberg Township, this was the first settlement to be established. At the time, 18th and 19th century homes had been set up, the fertility of this land saw the advent of many farms in the region and wildlife was also in plenty due to the presence of a densely forested area right here.

Pyles General Store, a church, post office and a schoolhouse were the other establishments in the village that was in those days. The plan to provide flood control to a portion of the Schuylkill River Valley is what led to the relocation of residents of the early settlement and today, most of the buildings cannot be traced apart from a few that were spared.

These include most of the buildings in Old Dry Rd. Farm that were relocated out of the village and Gruber Wagon Works which moved some distance away from the area before construction works of the dam began. The Flood Control Act of 1962 authorized the reservoir which was followed by the commissioning of a total of eight projects on the Delaware River basin.

Funding for this project was through the Pennsylvania Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act and construction finally began in March 1974 which was undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. In September 1979 the project reached completion and the lake came into existence giving the area that was once a village, a whole new face.

Though Blue Marsh Lake was created for one particular purpose, today, it is a popular recreation area where individuals check in during the summer season for boating, fishing and swimming. The Stilling Basing forms a good spot for fishing and this is where water from the dam is expelled. There is also the multi-use loop trail circling the lake and connects with Berks County Park and the Recreation trail system.

If you want to come as close to the lake as possible, you can use Foxtrot Hiking or Skinners Loop trail that lead you to the edge of the waters. During winter, individuals can enjoy ice skating, ice boating and ice fishing while the lake itself offers a great environment to go birding. That is not all; equestrians and bikers have also been catered for by having trails in place around Blue Marsh that are suitable for these activities.

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