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7.08.2018

Johnstown's Inclined Plane

One thing that never gets old, no matter how many times you do it, is riding the Johnstown Inclined Plane. This is the steepest vehicular incline in the world, meaning that it has the ability to carry an automobile up the funicular. It was built two years after the fateful 1889 flood in order to allow for quicker egress out of the Conemaugh Valley in the case of another flood. The incline allows people to get out of the valley within 90 seconds, instead of the ten minute drive (without traffic) or longer hike up and out of the valley. Once you reach the top, you are in the borough of Westmont and get a spectacular view of Johnstown and the valley. 
This 896.5 foot tall funicular is the world's steepest vehicular incline. It was completed in 1891 as a means of quick escape from Johnstown in the case of another emergency. It was designed by Samuel Diescher, a Hungarian engineer that also designed the famous Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh in addition to a number of other inclines. He even designed the machinery for the first Ferris Wheel at the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. 










Here you can see the motor room which enables to push and pull of the cars of the funicular. 


Some of the former steel company buildings along the river.
 Some specs on the Inclined Plane
The view of Johnstown from the top. The industrial past has given way towards a cleaner place for recreational opportunities. Baseball and hockey are both very popular in the city, along with tubing and rafting down the Stonycreek River. Music festivals are also happening in the city and a grand vision has been created for helping build the city as more of a tourism hub. An article on this can be read here at Keystone Crossroads. In the photo below you can see how the rivers have been channeled into concrete troughs similar to the famed LA River that you see in the famous chase scene in the Terminator 2 movie. They have saved the city from numerous serious floods and also saved it from greater damage and lost lives during the flood of 1977.
Below you can see some of the old steel buildings, and in the foreground you can see the Stone Bridge (railroad arch bridge) that dates back to 1887. This was one of the few things to survive the horrific Johnstown Flood of 1889. The bridge is a symbol of resilience, but also tragedy, in that it caught the giant pile of wreckage from the flood and then a giant fire occurred which killed many trapped in the pile. The inferno burned for three days. Recently the bridge was fully renovated with fresh paint and the addition of LED lights. 
The baseball stadium plays hosts to multiple PIAA uses including both baseball and football. The All-American Amateur Baseball Association has a huge history at the ballpark. The original ballpark was built in 1926 and was replaced in 2005. University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown's Division II baseball team also calls the stadium home.
 Better watch that guy on first!
Advance the runner! Notice the football lines in the turf. 



7.01.2018

Historic Hanna's Town: Rebuilt Frontier Town in Westmoreland County

Hanna's Town is a is a beautiful little village in Westmoreland County. We stumbled upon it on one of our random drives. The numerous 18th century buildings caught our eyes and we had to stop. The village is home to three 18th log houses, and some reconstructed buildings. 
The village was the original founded by Irish and Scotch-Irish immigrants and was the county seat of Westmoreland County, dating back to 1773. In 1782 as one of the final actions of the Revolutionary War, the village was destroyed by the King's 8th Regiment out of Fort Niagara, a Native American tribe, led by Guyasuta, that allied with the British. The village was rebuilt, though the county seat was moved to Greensburg and Forbes Road was rerouted through there instead of the village. Hannastown primarily became a farming community.
These days we are left with a glimpse as to what that village looked like back in those days.

The site also serves as an excellent archaeological spot to give a glimpse into the lifestyles from that time period. With the bulk of the surrounding area being converted into farmland, the area serves as a time capsule, making it an excellent place for archaeological finds. 

The facility is run by the nice folks at the Westmoreland County Historical Society. They are very enthusiastic and welcoming when you visit, telling you about the history of the village and more. For more information on visiting, be sure to check out their website

6.24.2018

Perkasie and Sellersville, Bucks County: Train Station, Covered Bridge, & More

Perkasie, Telford, and Sellersville have a number of neat historical remnants. All of these places were essentially railroad towns that blossomed with the completion of the North Pennsylvania Railroad/Reading Railroad. The line was started in Philadelphia in 1852, and was completed to Bethlehem in 1857. It was originally planned to be built all the way through to the New York Line, but ended up connecting with the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Bethlehem to fulfill those ambitions. This connection with the LVRR made the railroad a prime route for Philadelphia honeymooners heading to Niagara Falls. It also created a competing route to New York City for people from Philadelphia. Industry sprang up all around the line, including the famous Bethlehem Steel Company, American Olean Tile, which had kilns in both Lansdale and Quakertown, and more. The main line now ends in Quakertown, with right-of-way from there to Bethlehem being either abandoned or replaced with the Saucon Rail Trail. The right-of-way between Quakertown and Lansdale is used for freight by the East Penn Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad. The line from Lansdale to Philadelphia is utilized by SEPTA for passenger rail. Since passenger rail ceased to the Lehigh Valley in 1982, plans have continually been floated to reintroduce SEPTA passenger rail to the full line. 

The Sellersville station dates back to 1902 and displays the classic tan brick style that the Reading Railroad was known for. Telford, Perkasie, and Quakertown are also home to old train stations.

Downtown Sellersville

The South Perkasie Covered Bridge dates back to 1832 and is the oldest covered bridge in Bucks County, and one of the oldest in the state and the world. It is a 93 foot long town truss bridge that was saved from demolition in 1958. It was reconstructed for preservation and as an anchor attraction at Lenape Park.


Perkasie is a place that really treasures its public parks and heritage. 


Menlo Park was once a small amusement park, and it still has an old Herschell carousel in operation, along with a swimming area. Overall, these are two small boroughs that have many neat historical remnants. 


6.10.2018

Cole Run Falls Revisited: Laurel Highlands, Somerset County

We have probably visited Cole Run Falls at least four or five times, including on this other visit. It is a great place to go if you are driving in the area and have about half an hour to spare riding on the gravel and dirt roads of Forbes State Forest and walking down to the falls. For western PA, a place with relatively few waterfalls compared to Northeastern PA, let alone large ones, this is certainly a larger waterfall. Overall, this is a small to medium size waterfall that is very picturesque. It goes into a small gorge that is filled with hemlocks, moutain laurel, and other flora. Its creek leads into nice trout pools, including Blue Hole, and others, and several covered bridges, the Barronvale and Kings Covered Bridges, are located nearby, in addition to Seven Springs Mountain Resort. 
I would rate the hike somewhere between easy and moderate. It is very short, though once you head down the gorge, there are some spots that require a little maneuvering and have some slick mud that you will need to pay attention to. If you head down into the gorge, I recommend you err on the side of caution and put on some hiking boots with a decent tread, just to be safe.
Here is the view from the top. About 15 feet back from the top of the falls, there is a nice little pool that you can dip your feet into.
A little overexposed. This is a fun set of falls to experiment with your camera settings at, for there is variable lighting and lots of ways for you to compose your shots.
That's better!
A shot that is "rooted" in beauty! A large tree root helped to naturally frame this photo.
As I said earlier, this gorge gives you so many chances to come up with unique compositions with your shots.
Immediately following the falls, there are a number of little falls.
Depending upon my mood for the day, I like to switch up the speed at which I shoot the falls. I often prefer stop motion shots like this, but the lighting was not as conducive to it. Overall though, we highly recommend checking out Cole Run Falls if you are in this area of the Laurel Highlands. You will certainly not regret it. Be sure to also check out the nearby Barronvale and Kings Covered Bridges and Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

Finding it is easy, for it is already listed within Google Maps, but here are the coordinates:
Coordinates to the parking area are: 
39.973007, -79.284217

6.03.2018

Wholey's: Awesome Fish Market & More in PGH's Strip District

There are several places that come to mind as Pittsburgh staples when it comes to family owned institutions for specialty foods. The first is the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company for the finest and freshest Italian market specialties. The second is Wholey's. This is the place to go in Pittsburgh to get the freshest fish, meats, vegetables, and one of the finest fish sandwiches in the city. Upon entering Wholey's you are greeted with display cases of pretty much any kind of fish that you can think of. 
Wholey's has been a staple for people to visit in the Pittsburgh region since 1912.
The cafe part of the market has fantastic food, including some of the finest fish sandwiches in Pittsburgh, Lobster Mac and Cheese (which is pictured here), Lobster Bisque, and more. The prices are also extremely affordable.
As soon as you walk in, you are greeted with what is on special for the week. It is not unusual to see squids, flounder, and more.
Lobster tails galore!
The fish area at Wholey's.
Live trout

Lobsters
Their meat selection is fantastic as well. Their bacon is absolutely top notch.

Along with their bottled soda collection, featuring Natrona Bottling Company's Red Ribbon Bottled Sodas
Wholey's is quintessentially Pittsburgh and you have to check it out. For more information on hours, location, and how to visit, check out their website at www.wholey.com


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