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2019 Pennsylvania Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options


Weatherly, PA's Mrs. C. M. Schwab School Building

Today we visit the Mrs. CM Schwab School, a beautiful and historic school building from 1901. It was built as a gift from wealthy steel executive Charles M. Schwab to his wife's childhood hometown of Weatherly, PA. 

The building's status has been in limbo since it was closed in the 90s and fell into private ownership. It was acquired by members of the Weatherly community in 2017 and is said to be in the midst of a renovation project. 
When we visited the building and its stunning clock/bell tower, it was covered with at least forty turkey vultures.
Charles M. Schwab worked his way up the executive chain to become president of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel. He then set the stage for the company to be purchased and transformed into US Steel. Following clashes with management, he left the company to organize the struggling Bethlehem Steel Company, which he had left out of the purchase and merger that formed US Steel. Schwab purchased Bethlehem Steel, and soon sold it to JP Morgan. Eventually, drama within the industry and friction between him, Carnegie, and the other executives at US Steel led him to becoming president at Bethlehem Steel. His efforts turned it into the second largest steel producer in the world.

While he was still with US Steel, he gifted the Mrs. CM Schwab School to his wife's childhood hometown of Weatherly on their 18th anniversary. On the occasion of their 18th wedding anniversary, they stopped in the borough with their private railcar and offered them a gift of their choice. The borough assembled a meeting and decided upon the creation of a new high school.
The building was closed in 1991 and has fallen into disrepair. An effort is in place to restore it, thanks to an ambitious community effort. The staggering amount of turkey vultures sitting upon the building, and its stunning architecture captured our attention. This borough has lots of other nice architecture, industrial, and Lehigh Valley Railroad remnants that are very nice. 
Did I say that the vultures were really something else? I never saw them congregate on a building like this. 
If you are in the Weatherly area, be sure to check out this beautiful old building.


Wharton Furnace: Nicely Restored Iron Furnace in Fayette County

Today our explorations take us to the historic Wharton Iron Furnace, one of the nicest restoration projects I have seen with a 19th century iron furnace. This furnace's dates of operation show it running from 1839-1873, with it running regularly from 1839-1850. It was reopened during the Civil War to produce cannonballs. It is 33 feet wide, 31 feet deep, and 31 feet tall. It is located in what is now a part of Forbes State Forest, and is worthy of a side stop en route to the area's attractions, including Ohiopyle and Fallingwater, which are about a twenty minute drive away. 
The furnace, and the community effort to restore it, is extremely impressive. These old furnaces, if anything remains of them, are often piles of rocks or small foundations that have been overwhelmed with undergrowth. Some largely undisturbed, and intact, gems remain, such as Venango County's Rockland Furnace though that one is an outlier. 150 years in the elements of Pennsylvania with no maintenance will lead to almost anything crumbling away.
This charcoal furnace was built by Congressman Andrew Stewart.
Other remnants from the furnaces more booming days can be found throughout, including these remnants from the adjacent creek. 

This photo shows the furnace from 1932 or earlier. I sourced it from the awesome Coal and Coke/Old Industry of Southwestern Pennsylvania page, which is one of my favorite blogs in regards to old industry in Western Pennsylvania. 
One of the last ingots made in this furnace.

If you are in Fayette County, we highly recommend stopping and checking out this neatly restored former iron furnace. 


Allegheny Front Hawk Watch: Stunning Overlook for Bird Watching

There is something so special about being at or above the height of a flying eagle, hawk, osprey, or other majestic bird. At a height of 2780 feet on the Allegheny Front Escarpment, you will see raptors, other birds, dragonflies, monarchs, and other creatures make spectacular sliding and swooping maneuvers both above you and below you as they sweep into the valley below during their spring and fall migrations. The Allegheny Front serves as a prime migration spot, where single-day counts of hawks can measure into the hundreds, or even thousands, Bald and Golden Eagles into the dozens, and countless vultures, and other creatures. 
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch tallest hawkwatch in the state, and is the state's westernmost official hawkwatching spot. The next official hawk watch is located 500 miles west of this spot. Official hawk counts are kept by volunteers during the spring and fall migrations, the results of which you can find at this link. 

This prime viewing spot is on the border of Somerset and Bedford Counties and overlooks Shawnee State Park, Chestnut Ridge, Gallitzin State Forest, and more. 
The lake at Shawnee State Park
The rolling hills of farms and forests. 
Some of the bird watching enthusiasts.
The bird watching was absolutely epic. There were more than a dozen bald eagles that flew by in the time that we visited, along with hundreds of hawks, monarch butterflies, dragonflies, and even one osprey. 

Even if there were no birds, the scenic overlook at the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch is simply tremendous. 
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch is a tremendous place to spend an afternoon, especially during the main migration seasons in fall and spring. As October comes upon us, Golden Eagles will be in the migration mix as well. We highly recommend going out of your way to check out this place. Nearby are the many covered bridges of Somerset and Bedford Counties, Gravity Hill, the Flight 93 Memorial, and even the attractions of Johnstown are within 40 minutes of the spot. This is also located very close to the Lincoln Highway.

For more information, check out their website at
40.081673, -78.728287


Autumn Views in Pittsburgh: Fall Colors, Fireworks, Heritage Festivals & More

This selection of fall scenes from Pittsburgh shows why you need to explore the city during the fall. Between the fall traditions and changing colors, the city is an awesome place to see in the fall.
Here is the curve on Serpentine Drive. During the summer, this curve is used for the Vintage Grand Prix and it is stunningly beautiful. At the top of the hill, there is the Neill Log House, dating back to sometime between the late 1760s and early 1770s. 
Top view of the curve
Looking down into Junction/Panther Hollow, over towards Carnegie Mellon University
Pitt's Cathedral of Learning is home to a number of awesome traditions in the fall. For the school's homecoming football game, they shoot fireworks off of the tower, providing a one-of-a-kind spectacle.
During the day, the changing colors around campus make this Late Gothic Revival tower really stand out.
The views from the upper floors are incredible. This view looks out over Schenley Park and Phipps Conservatory
Here you can see the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Music Hall, the Library, and Carnegie Mellon University.
Here you can see Soldiers and Sailors Hall on the lower right, a number of campus buildings, Western Psychiatric Hospital, The Pedersen Event Center, the VA Hospital, the Upper Hill, Downtown, and more. 
The lobby area of the Cathedral of Learning is used for ethnic celebrations in November, including the Slovak Heritage Day (seen here) and the Polish Heritage Day, where delicious ethnic foods, dancing, music, and crafts take over the Commons Room of the building.
St. Paul's Cathedral
View from the West End Overlook towards downtown and the Three Rivers. 
From a much foggier day! Pittsburgh is great to explore in the fall.
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