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1.12.2020

A View of Scranton from the Route 307 Lookout Overlook

Today we visit a pretty overlook that gives a view of Scranton, the Electric City, from the east on Moosic Mountain. It consists of beautiful stone work done by the WPA during the Great Depression in 1938. While the overlook area could really use some cleaning, since it is riddled with refuse and graffiti the beauty still shines through. Fortunately though, the elegant stone work and the fantastic view more than make up for the vandalism. The sounds of steam trains echo across the valley and up to the overlook from Steamtown
The cornerstone from the WPA. So many of the nice Public Works projects that we enjoy today came from Great Depression era WPA and CCC projects, including places like this, state parks, state forests, and more. It is amazing how much of an impact these investments in our communities made upon our quality of life. They served a dual purpose in putting to work the legions of unemployed young men in the Great Depression, in addition to bettering the quality of life in our communities. Many of these workers would go on to lead us to victory in World War II.
The view from the overlook is so beautiful. As mentioned earlier, in addition to the views, you can hear the trains from down at Steamtown. One can only imagine how much sound you would hear when this was the buzzing hub of the Lackawanna Railroad.
The scenic overlook sits on Route 307, on the edge of Scranton. This route is known as the Scranton - Pocono Highway. The overlook and improvements to the highway were completed by the WPA. The route is extremely scenic, passing by places such as Lake Scranton, and the rolling landscapes and forests of the area. 

Coordinates:

41.395895, -75.638809


1.05.2020

The Stunning Big Mountain Overlook, Tower Road Vista, Fort Loudon, PA

Today we take a look at the stunning Big Mountain Overlook, just off of the historic Lincoln Highway, on the edge of Franklin and Fulton Counties in Buchanan State Forest. This is easily one of the finest overlooks in the state. Perched on the ridge of Tuscarora Mountain around its summit, you get breathtaking views of the surrounding ridges both to the east, and western views as you head up to the overlook. As with many overlooks in the state, a worn away rock outcropping is the perch for the overlook at an elevation of 2458 feet. The lowest points in Path Valley are around 700 feet in elevation, giving views of roughly 1700 feet down into the valley, making this one of the biggest, if not the biggest, elevation differences between a summit overlook and the valley below within the state. On clear days, you can see about 100 miles out to Maryland, West Virginia, and Northern Virginia since this is gives a view beyond the end of the next ridges. 

The 252 mile long Tuscarora Trail, a spur route off of the Appalachian Trail, goes along the ridge. Just north of the overlook, you can get access to Cowans Gap State Park, home to a beautiful mountain lake, beach, and more scenic overlooks.  
Basically the entire road heading up to the overlook is filled with stunning westward scenic views. I was thinking that this was the scenic overlook as we went down the road. The views are pretty awesome.
Note the multiple ridges out in the distance. 
The road leads up to a loop. At this point you park and then walk about 100 feet to the main overlook.
CeCe was all excited by the snow!
My first glimpse of the overlook immediately blew me away. It is easily one of the finest scenic overlooks in the state, and frankly one of the coolest that I have ever seen. This is up there with Hyner View, High Knob near Worlds End, Canyon Vista at Worlds End, and the views at the PA Grand Canyon. The day that we visited was the start of a warming trend after days of freezing temperatures. This lent itself to neat foggy views down in the valley, with pretty clouds in the sky and great brightness coming off of the remaining snow. It was an incredible sight.
Views to the northeast show Path Valley, the giant valley between the mountain and the next ridge.
Note the rugged topography of the area thanks to this view from Google Earth.
The views to the Southeast show an abrupt drop in the next mountain, Hogback Mountain, and the valley between that ridge and the next few ridges. The valley was still filled with frosty fog.
I love the contrast between the white snow and the trees in the winter. It adds so much to scenic views like this. 
The rugged notches in the adjacent mountains are just incredible.
On the clearest days, you are able to see roughly a hundred miles to Maryland, West Virginia, and Northern Virginia, since no ranges are immediately visible from this direction after Hogback Mountain. This sightline is one of the longest, if not the longest, within the state. The view is absolutely breathtaking. 
Kittatiny and Little Mountains are visible behind Hogback Mountain. Cococheague Creek drains Path Valley and leads to the Potomac River.
CeCe absolutely loved the view!
Note the icy fog hanging out in the valley. It was just beautiful.
Big Mountain Overlook really blew us away. We highly recommend checking it out. For more awesome scenic overlooks, check out our list of many of the state's awesome scenic overlooks.  

The drive to the overlook is really easy. Turn onto Aughwick Road on Route 30/Lincoln Highway at the Mountain House Inn. Follow Aughwick Road and then bear right onto Tower Road. It is about 2.8 miles from the Mountain House Inn. The state forest roads can be a little dicey in the winter weather, so take care as you drive. You may have to pull over and walk the rest of the way if it gets too treacherous. 

Coordinates: 

39.950243, -77.936541

12.22.2019

Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute Complex: World Class Art and Natural History Museums, Library, Music Hall, & More



“I spent the first half of my life making money and the second half of my life giving it away to do the most good and the least harm.”
-Andrew Carnegie
Carnegie has a checkered history when it comes to the growth of this nation. He was a Gilded Age titan whose industry shaped the outcome of the nation and the world, but the success of his businesses came from the low wage and dangerous exploitation of largely immigrant populations, namely my Eastern European ancestors. The sickness and accident rate was morbidly high, more than twice that of workers in other industries. He even forced his employees to work on holidays, including Christmas and New Years. He would pit immigrant groups against each other so that they would not demand better working conditions, and instead focus their anger upon other downtrodden immigrant groups. The mortality rate of his workers was through the roof. Uprisings and strikes were met with violent force by Carnegie's goons, resulting in death and serious injury for those who simply spoke up. The Pinkerton Guards, a group of these goons, opened fire on strikers in the Homestead Strike of 1892 and killed seven workers.

Carnegie spent the latter half of his life giving away his huge fortune of money back into the community, through the creation of community centers throughout the country. He built extravagant libraries, theaters, pools, museums, and more for the betterment of community life. The central palace of this philanthropy can be seen at the Carnegie Institute and Library in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. This enormous building was built in 1895 and houses the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Carnegie Music Hall, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Oakland Branch.
 
 A view from a snowy day on the steps of the Carnegie Library portion of the complex.
 In the halls of the majestic Library.
Some of the beautifully extravagant decor in the library area. The library serves as a community gathering spot, where people from all walks of life in the city of Pittsburgh gather to socialize and better themselves through academic study. 2,509 libraries were built with funds contributed by Carnegie throughout the world, between 1883 and 1929. At the time of his last grant in 1919, nearly half of the libraries in the United States had a connection to Carnegie. 
 Some fossils at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
 Specimens exist of all sorts of ancient organisms at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. This world class museum is one of the jewels of Pittsburgh.

 
Some of the precious rock collections at the museum
 Perhaps the most famous part of the collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the dinosaur collection. It is the world's largest collection of Jurassic Dinosaurs. 

 The Stegosaurus has always been my favorite Dino. 

The museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex is the first complete specimen ever collected. It was found in a Montana hillside in 1902. It was assembled in New York soon after, but out of concern for it possibly being bombed during World War II, it was sold to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for protection and display. 
 
 Using scientific evidence, they have recreated the types of environments in which these dinosaurs lived, thus leading the display to be known as Dinosaurs in their Time

 Cultural remnants are also displayed, including Native American craft work...
 And Egyptian mummies
Taxidermed animals from far off lands are also included, giving people a glimpse into the many different species that inhabit planet earth, and a look into their habitats. 
The Carnegie Museum of Art has prohibitions upon the use of cameras within its beautiful halls, filled with spectacular art work. The museum was one of the first to feature lots of modern art. The Carnegie International is the oldest North American exhibition of global contemporary art. It was started upon the opening of the building at the request of Carnegie himself. The competition was created as a means to display modern art, and scope out some for permanent housing in the museum's collection. 

The most notable collection in the possession of the museum is the entire Charles "Teenie" Harris archive. This African-American photographer hailed from Pittsburgh and captured photo essays of daily life in segregated and Civil Rights era Pittsburgh. He also captured photos of famous individuals, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Sam Cooke, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Charlie Parker, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art
My personal favorite part of the Carnegie Museum of Art is the collection of Impressionist works, especially the Monet, Manet, and Pissaro works. Other impressionist work includes examples by Degas, Cassatt, C├ęzanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse,

Not pictured, but well worth checking out, is the Carnegie Music Hall. This is perhaps the most stunning room within the complex. It is extravagantly decorated and stunning to see. The acoustics are just about perfect. While they do not host a ton of shows anymore, it is a highly recommended treat to check out this place. It is more often used for seminars and lectures than for shows these days. Upcoming in 2020, there will be a seminar with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

It is important that you get to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History at least once if you are into those two fields, and/or into beautiful architecture. Located within a short walk of the complex is the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh's Schenley Park, in addition to the rest of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University Campuses. Oakland is the cultural heart of Pittsburgh and well worth exploring.

For more information on visiting the complex, check out the Museums website at https://carnegiemuseums.org and the Library website at  https://www.carnegielibrary.org/clp_location/main-oakland/
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