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12.27.2015

PA Covered Bridge Journey: Somerset County

All covered bridges have character and are picturesque. The way in which these bridges were built, in large part by local carpenters with custom designs, there is a wide variation on the ways in which these bridges were built. Even though many of these bridges are built under the building styles of the Town Truss, Kingpost Truss, and Howe Truss, there are subtle variations in the ways these bridges are built. The character is unmatched. On a recent venture from Pittsburgh to the Lehigh Valley, I took the long and scenic route, stopping by twenty different covered bridges across the state, in addition to these bridges, I stopped at some other attractions as well. The journey was over 300 miles and took about 12 hours. To say that I am pretty hardcore with my road trips is an understatement. The day was cloudy, misty, and rainy, perfect for visiting covered bridges.
Coordinates: 39.8675° N, 78.8171° W
Packsaddle Covered Bridge - Built in 1877,  Located in Fairhope, PA, Somerset County
These bridges have so much character, from the sounds they make as you walk across them, to the creaking sounds they make when a vehicle crosses over them, to the pitter patter of rain on the roof of the covered bridges in rainstorms, and the smells of the bridges, the essence of the covered bridge is just awesome. The first bridge we are going to check out is in Somerset County. Packsaddle Bridge is one of the most picturesque in the state, and the only covered bridge that I am aware of that crosses over a waterfall. It is built with the Kingpost Truss. While not a particularly unique structure, this covered bridge is simply a spectacular sight when mixed with the spectacular surroundings.

The first stop of the trip was at the Somerset Historical Center. It is home to an entire village that preserves artifacts of country life over the last two centuries.
 One of these remnants is the Walter's Mill Covered Bridge. It was saved from a location four miles south of the historical center and it dates back to 1859. It was originally built with the Kingpost method, but it was strengthened with the addition of Burr Arches.
Coordinates: 40.0655° N, 79.0773° W
Walter's Mill Covered Bridge at the Somerset Historical Center

Next door to the Somerset Historical Center is the monument for the Quecreek Mine Rescue. This monument commemorates the heroic efforts to save nine miners that were trapped while coal mining from accidentally mining into an old mine that was not documented properly. The end result was flooding and collapse, trapping nine men in the mine for 77 hours, from July 24th-July 28th, 2002. This was a success story in the face of the thousands of Pennsylvania lives lost in the dangerous occupation of coal mining. This story had a happy ending for a change in Pennsylvania mine accidents, and the efforts undertaken to rescue these miners have been used to successfully rescue other trapped miners.
Coordinates: 40.07832, -79.08552
Quecreek Mine Disaster Monument
 The Glessner Bridge was the second stop that we made before stopping at Packsaddle, and this is a pretty stunning bridge as well. It crosses the Stonycreek River and dates back to 1881. It is 90 feet long and utilizes the Burr Truss system.
Glessner Covered Bridge Coordinates: 40.0258° N, 78.9207° W
Glessner Covered Bridge - Built in 1881, located north of Shanksville, PA Somerset County
The New Baltimore Covered Bridge dates back to 1879 and crosses the beautiful blue Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. It was built in the Kingpost Style.
New Baltimore Covered Bridge Coordinates: 39.9868° N, 78.7720° W
New Baltimore Covered Bridge - Built in 1879 and located in New Baltimore, PA Somerset County
I stopped at five of the ten covered bridges in Somerset County: Walter's Mill, Glessner, Packsaddle, Stoystown, and New Baltimore. They are all very beautiful. If you are a fan of covered bridges, Somerset County should definitely be a destination for you. Additionally, the Somerset Historical Center, the Quecreek Mine Rescue Memorial, the Flight 93 MemorialMt. Davis, and other destinations make this an area that you should definitely check out. Next we will continue on our cross-state journey into Bedford County.



12.26.2015

Buttermilk Falls Armstrong West, Armstrong County, PA

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to stop by this set of falls. I cannot seem to find a definitive name on these, nor find much information on them. These are called Buttermilk Falls, but there is another set of falls in Armstrong County that is given this name. Not to mention the multitude of other "Buttermilk Falls" across the region. I've named them Buttermilk Falls Armstrong West, since this is west of the other set in Armstrong County. Regardless, this falls have quickly become one of my favorites in Western Pennsylvania. This set of Horsetail falls probably measures around 25 to 30 feet, with two tiers, set in the midst of a small, Mountain Laurel and Hemlock filled gorge. 
Let's slow it down a bit...
 Back to speed!
 These falls are beautiful!


While checking these out, be sure to check out the Kiski Junction Railroad, located just 5 minutes further down the road.



12.21.2015

Seven Sisters Bed and Breakfast, Mercer County, Fredonia, PA

This weekend we had the treat of checking out the Seven Sisters Bed and Breakfast in Fredonia, PA. It is located roughly twenty minutes from Grove City and Mercer, and roughly 30 minutes from Pymatuning/Conneaut Lake. It is located just over an hour from both Pittsburgh and Erie, on a quiet plot of old farmland and next to a gorgeous ravine. This B&B even has a private waterfall, McEwen Falls. The proprietors, Gene and Jane, are very kind and they have really made a nice place to relax in the country. 

Jane continues her family's heritage on this property. There was once a dairy farm on the property, run by her grandparents, John and Mary McEwen. They had seven daughters, and the bed and breakfast is dedicated to them. 
Seven Sisters Bed and Breakfast
There are three beautifully appointed rooms.
Dorothy's Floral Garden Room
Mary Frances' Hemlock Room
Julia's Waterfall Suite
The main room, with places to relax and large picture windows
The sun room. This room overlooks the hemlock filled gorge where McEwen Falls is located. 
McEwen Falls with a fresh dusting of snow and the first formation of icicles of the season.
This roughly twenty foot tall waterfall is really quite beautiful.
A look up the ravine back to the building. They also have a large deck outside to enjoy the scenery. 
I highly recommend visiting Seven Sisters Bed and Breakfast. The hosts, Gene and Jane, are extremely kind, the house is beautiful, and the natural surroundings are stunning. This is a perfect place for a nice getaway. Nearby there are lots of recreational opportunities, with the Pymatuning and Conneaut Lake areas roughly half an hour away, MK Goddard State Park 20 minutes away, the Grove City Outlets shopping area and Springfield Falls 20 minutes away, the Harlansburg Station Museum of Transportation 30 minutes away, the Kidd's Mills Covered Bridge less than 10 minutes down the road, along with great fishing and golfing opportunities, and so much more. This is a great area to go for a weekend getaway, and the Seven Sisters Bed and Breakfast is a perfect place to stay.

12.19.2015

Overly's Country Christmas, Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA

On Friday we got to spend the evening at Overly's Country Christmas, at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds in Mt. Pleasant, PA. The display features a drive through area, carriage rides, and a walk through area with displays, shops, food vendors, a campfire, and lots of lights! 

There are a number of cool displays, this one is dairy themed.
The snowmen are pretty awesome!
The entry portal to the walk through area.

They have a nice little model train area

 and a store to help with gift shopping...
And wagon rides!
And a large campfire to help you warm up
So many cool little displays
I highly recommend spending a few hours in an evening at Overly's Country Christmas. While not a huge display, there are lots of little things to do. It is a very relaxing way to spend an evening during the holiday. It is located at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds and it is open through New Years.


12.18.2015

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show, Pittsburgh, PA

Phipps Conservatory's Winter Flower Show is always a treat to take in. This is a world class event at a world class venue. The always awesome botanical gardens get completely decked out in holiday splendor. We try to get to this stunning event every holiday season.
 The decor is breathtaking.
 They are masters at utilizing the relatively new LED technology for decoration. 
 Their miniature train display is always awesome.
Who would mind having a living room in Phipps Conservatory like this? This room shows some of the more traditional holiday decor styles
Now headed to the outdoor attractions..
The conservatory's more modernist decorations are always impressive.
The way these decorations slowly change colors is so mesmerizing.

They truly do an awesome job with their decorations

 
It is always fun venturing through the Orchid Room






The Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show and Light Garden runs until January 10th. We highly recommend visiting this world class attraction.

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