Tionesta State Park, PA

We stopped at Tionesta State Park on our way to Lake Erie.  Tionesta is on the south side of Allegheny State Forest we were only there a couple of nights and it rained.  The it seemed that there were more waterfalls and interesting things to hike to on the north side of the forest, so if you are venturing this way you may want to stay on the north or east side, but all we saw was beautiful.

By accident we ran across the Historical Pithole City only 4 miles off the road.  Of course we went to see vacant property with a large visitor center that was closed.  But let me tell you the road out there had just been repaved and it was one nice road!!!  Any way this area is where the oil booms began in the 1860s, they struck oil in Pithole and within nine months there were over 15,000 people seeking their fortune in the town.  Within a couple of years the price of oil fell from $8 per barrel to $4.50 and the town became a ghost town.

We also drove the highway to hell…

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Right thru the middle of the Allegheny Forest.  We went East…

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And thats about all I know about that. Peace and Love


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So this was a hard one, you all know that we try not to spend much if anything on entertainment, but we found ourselves about 30 minutes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater.  The tour was not cheap, but it seemed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that we just could not let pass.  A basic tour is $30 per person, and they go way up from there.  I believe on the web site they listed a “focus” tour for up to four people for $1,200, only $300 each??  Of course we choose the basic tour and were not disappointed.

The house was built for Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann of the Kaufmann Department Store in Pittsburg, PA and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  They were introduced to Wright by their only son Edgar, Jr. while he was apprenticing under Wright at his famous Taliesin Fellowship.  The Kaufmann’s like most affluent Pittsburg “royalty” week ended and holidayed outside of town, they owned some property on Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands of PA and commissioned Wright to build a weekend retreat on the property.

The Kaufmann’s dreamed of a cabin facing the falls, but Wright had vastly different plans.  He had extensive surveys and topographical maps drawn of the area but completed the initial drawings for the house in a matter of hours before a meeting with the Kaufmanns.  His plans placed the house on top of the falls instead of facing them.   It was the epitome of “organic architecture” symbolizing a harmony between people and nature.

Echoing a natural pattern established by its neighboring rock ledges, Wright positioned the house over the falls in a stacked grouping of cantilevered concrete trays each anchored to a central stone chimney and a massive boulder.  The house is three levels not including the platform at river level, has four bedrooms each with its own bath, sitting area (all small but functional) and terrace viewing Bear Run and surrounding nature.    You can see here how the building is anchored in this boulder.

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Although the Kaufmann’s gave an initial budget of $35,000 the final price for the house was $155,000 which includes Wright’s architectural fee of $8,000.  Most walls interior and exterior are made of stone which was quarried on site.  Wright also designed furnishings for the home some of which were later replaced, but most remain.  The furnishings are designed low to not inhibit the view from the windows and are mostly cantilevered as well, the couches have no legs they are attached to the walls, the shelving has no support, the windows open outwards and corner windows have not corner support.

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The design blurred boundary between inside and outside.  There is as much outdoor terrace living space as there is interior space and in the living room a glass covering can be moved to expose a staircase directly to the river below.

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There were additions to the property after the initial house was constructed.  Of mention are the guest house further up the hill which is connected by a covered walkway and includes a pool on the terrace and a four-car garage with household help’s quarters above.  Both of these additions were designed by Wright.  Another (probably much needed) addition to the property were screens on the windows.  Although openness and oneness with nature are important no-one wants to live with bugs.

On our tour photos were not allowed to conserve time and visitors safety, but after the tour we were allowed to walk around outside and on a couple of the terraces so interior pictures are thru windows which do not provide the best pictures, but this is what we have.

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Beautiful little weekend get-a-way in the hills.  Peace and Love!!!

PA Barns and Covered Bridges

Pennsylvania Barns

Barns around here are not only picturesque, but very large too.  Pennsylvania barns have a couple of unique characteristics.  The most distinguishing feature is the overshoot or forebay, an area where one or more walls overshoot its foundation.  Another feature is that they are usually built on a hillside or banked.  Where on one side ground level access is on a lower level than the other.  The other side is uphill and accesses the second story.  Not sure how they get to the third or fourth floors, like I said they are really large.

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But mostly they are just really cool and pretty.  Beautiful landscape around here and some cool barn decorations.

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Covered Bridges

All I can really say about covered bridges is that they are sooooo pretty and cool.  They are all wooden and usually from the 1800 so intended for horse and carriage usage not automobiles, therefore many are only for show and foot traffic these days, but some are still used, some have stoplights for one-way traffic.  They were initially covered to help protect the structure from the elements and extend the life of a wooden bridge.  Several in the area and all unique in their own way.

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We find it strange the most covered bridges and barns are painted the same shade of red??  Wondering if the local hardware stores have sales on “barn” red paint???  But the truth is that originally barns were not painted at all, but treated with oil to protect the wood.  Farmers learned that adding ferrous oxide, otherwise known as rust, to the oil created a sealant to detract fungi and moss that would grow on the wood and trap moisture accelerating rot.  Adding rust to the oils gave it a reddish tint and thus began the tradition of painting barns (and bridges I guess) red.

Peace and Love!!!

Other Cool Things in the Area

Quecreek Mine Incident

In July of 2002 there was a mining accident where the Quecreek mine flooded and trapped 9 miners in a void over 240 feet underground.   The entire story is very interesting and worth a read if you are interested.  But the bottom line is that we just happened to be staying near where this incident occurred.

The rescue operation for this incident was quite ingenious.  They first drilled a 6-inch air hole to provide oxygen to the trapped miners.  The void they were trapped in was closed off by the flood waters and they would have suffocated without the air supply.  Next a 30-inch hole was drilled with many complications, but eventually reached the miners and they were each hauled to the surface via a rescue capsule.  After over 77 hours trapped in the mine all nine miners were rescued.

All we saw was a memorial monument, the capped actual rescue shaft and the air shaft.  Apparently, there is also a museum, but it looked like someone’s house to us with the rescue shafts in their back yard… So glad the miners were safe.

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Mt Davis

Mt. Davis the highest point in PA was about 30 minutes southeast of our campground so of course we had to go.  Driving thru the country we saw more Amish carriages on the road than anywhere near Lancaster.  Did not visit any Amish sites in the area, but passed at least 4 carriages on the main road and several people in yards/fields in traditional dress.  Guess this was the real thing, just people living life in their own way.

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The highest point in PA is surprisingly low at 3,213 ft so they have an observation tower to make you a little higher.

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Lincoln Highway

US Hwy 30 the Lincoln Highway, was the first coast to coast US Highway.  The route changes names and now has various routes, but it basically goes from New York to San Francisco.  You may have seen one of our previous posts from Laramie or Cheyenne, WY last year with a Lincoln statue and mention of the first coast to coast highway well this is the same one.

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HWY 40

More about highways, you wouldn’t think that we drive a lot.  Anyway, Highway 40 here is part of the first federally funded highway.  It was in the early 1800s when Thomas Jefferson was president, 100 years before the model T and other automobiles were popular.  There were several roads across the Appalachian Mountains but no good ones and commerce and war were moving towards the Ohio area and further west.

What is now US Highway 40 is part of our first federally funded highway.  They were having the 45th Annual National Highway Festival while we were here.  We looked for a gathering, but apparently the festival is a smattering of yard sale/ flea market gatherings, which we are not really interested in.  But we rode part of the highway none the less.  There is a nice exhibit and history of the highway in the visitor center for Fort Necessity National Historical Park worth the stop.

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Ohiopyle State Park

Pennsylvania State Parks are free and although we have not yet spent a lot of time in the parks its good to know that they are free, I believe that state parks should all be free.  The weather has been so wet while we have been in PA that the couple of times we attempted to take a hike either the weather was iffy or the trails were muddy.

Ohiopyle State Park is a short drive south from Rockwood and is known as the gateway into the Laurel Highlands.  The Youghiogheny (yawki-gay-nee) river runs thru it and is thought to be some of the best whitewater in PA.  During our visit the water was very high (as mentioned it has been raining for days) but rafting trips were going.  You can see the difference in pictures below what the Ohiopyle Falls usually looks like vs while we were there.

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The river takes a nice horseshoe turn and creates a peninsula with walking trails, but as you can see the river was almost in the trail and there were puddles galore so did not go as far as planned.  Not into slipping and sliding…

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But there are a couple of beautiful water falls not far from parking areas to enjoy.  Cucumber Falls.

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And the Slide – this is supposed to be a natural water slide that people play in in warm weather, but with the high water looks more like a suicide slide…

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And of course our favorite tree monster.

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Nice visit in southwestern PA.  Peace and Love.


Three National Monuments in the Area

Johnstown Flood National Memorial

Another interesting place in the area that we did not know was here, but worth a visit.  The story again is a lot longer than I will go into here, so if interested look into it further.

The Conemaugh river was initially dammed in the 1840s by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a water source for the Main Line Canal which provided transportation from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh for goods (think Erie Canal).   Shortly after completion of the dam, the railroad replaced the usefulness of the canal and it was mostly abandoned.

The dam and adjacent lake changed ownership several times and the integrity of the dam was compromised in numerous ways over the years.  Leaks were patched with mud and straw, discharge pipes for controlled water release had been removed and sold as scrap and other modifications had been made over the years.

In 1881 the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club purchased the property and built a club house and cabins for the wealthy elite from Pittsburgh.  The dam constantly sprang leaks, but they were patched and life went on for the elite owners of the club and for the communities and businesses downstream.

In 1889 May was an extremely wet month and the area was saturated.  On May 30, 1889 Memorial Day after a town Memorial Day celebration in Johnstown 14 miles downstream from the lake, the bottom fell out and it rained cats and dogs overnight and into the next day.  May 31, the dam was leaking and without the discharge pipes and blocked spillways, water was flowing over the top in the torrential rains and the rivers were well above flood state down hill already.

Maintenance directed by Elias Unger, whose house has been restored and visitor center is made to look like his original barn, was being performed on the dam the morning of May 31 as the water was breaching its top.  But the efforts were in vein, as the dam failed at 3:10 on May 31, 1889 releasing about 20 million tons of water down the Conemaugh River destroying several towns in its path including Johnstown.

Over 2,200 people were killed in this flood, it is said that the entire lake emptied in a matter of minutes and the wall of water was as high as 70 feet as it rushed down river.  I can not imagine…

Not much for pictures, but this is the south side of what remains of the dam looking towards Mr. Unger’s house safely above the lake and an artists rendition of what it may have looked like.  Before posting this (May 21, 2018) we saw on the NBC Today Show Al Roker just wrote a book about this flood.  May have to read it???

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Fort Necessity

So, we all know George Washington right.  Well this was his first battle and he was leader of the troops at 21.  In the 1750s there was bitter competition for the property known as the Ohio Valley between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.  The British and the French both claimed hold on this territory.

The battle of Fort Necessity sparked the French and Indian War when George Washington warned the French to withdraw and they refused.  Washington attacked the French and lost, but eventually the war also known as the “seven years war” ended in 1763 and the French were expelled from this territory.

This battle was also the only time Washington ever surrendered to an enemy!!!  Go George, Peace and love, Out….

We just happened upon this memorial park where there is a very informative visitors center, recreation of the fort and interesting exhibit for the first National Highway 40.  See other post for more information.  No pictures, just a stop on the road.

Last but not least, just checking to see if you read between the pictures…

Flight 93 National Memorial

September 11, 2001, four commercial airliners were hijacked by al Qaeda terrorist in a planned attack against us the United States.  The first three successfully hit their targets, the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.  The forth plane, United flight 93 from Newark, NJ to San Francisco, CA was delayed for 25 minutes.

The delay was the key element in this set of terrorists not hitting their target, thought to have been the Capitol in Washington, DC but will never be known for sure.  Around 9:30 over eastern Ohio four hijackers took over the plane incapacitating the captain and first officer, they turned the plane towards Washington.

At least some of the passengers and crew were herded to the back of the plane where they contacted family via cellphone and phones on the seat headrests.  They became aware of the other terrorist-initiated plane crashes and correctly assumed they were unwillingly part of the attack on US.  Mutually they decided to fight back and charged the cabin for control of the plane.  Six minutes later the plane crashed upside down at 653 miles per hour in a field just north east of where we are staying.

These were very brave men and women who saved countless lives at the terrorist planned destination.  Not sure how I would react, hopefully the same, really makes you think.  Sometimes others make decisions that have drastic consequences on many other people and there is absolutely nothing you can do in the moment to prevent it…  or can we??

The large bolder is the impact zone, there is a memorial wall with each name having a panel and the panels are in the direction of the flight plan as it crashed.   33 passengers, 7 crew and 4 terrorists were killed in this crash, but how many were saved?  PEACE AND LOVE!!!

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Near Gettysburg, PA

From Gettysburg, we ventured out to Lancaster and Amish Country.  Lancaster was a much larger city than we anticipated.  I didn’t realize it, but Lancaster was the second capitol city of Pennsylvania.  We basically just drove thru Lancaster since our destination was really Amish Country.  Of note in Lancaster is the architecture housing style known as “row houses.”  Some were actually connected, possibly built at the same time and looking identical to each other, but others were separate structures built within inches of each other and having very different looking styles.

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From Lancaster we headed out to Bird-in-hand, Intercourse, Paradise, Strasburg and the surrounding area that is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country.  This area is home to one of the largest groups of Amish in the US, either second or third depending on the source.  Although I am sure that there are Amish communities in this area where people live the simple lifestyle, the main roads thru this area are very commercialized and definitely utilize modern conveniences.  We did see some indications of the typical Amish, buggies and children in traditional dress.  Actually, I think the buggy is a guided tour group?

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There was also a “coach” shop where they sold buggies, nothing like our “coach.”

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The area is very beautiful and full of picturesque farm landscapes.

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We also took a day trip over to Harrisburg and Hershey.  Harrisburg is the current capitol of Pennsylvania, the third for the state.  First Philadelphia, then relocated to Lancaster in 1799 and finally to Harrisburg in 1812.  The current capitol building was completed in 1906 and is quite an elaborate capitol building complete with Italian and Irish marble, mahogany furnishings, stained glass, ornate ceilings and priceless murals.  The guided tour of the main building is free and lasts about 30 minutes.  Nice thing to do on a rainy day.



From Harrisburg its just a couple of miles to Hershey, PA and with our love of chocolate we couldn’t resist.  We had also read on line that they offer a FREE factory tour, presumably at the Hershey factory.  You can just call us SUCKERS.  Hershey has “Hershey World” basically a very large chocolate shop with thousands of kids high on sugar and overpriced Hershey merchandise.  The “factory tour” was a 10-minute Disney style ride that had an over 15 minute wait in line with these same kids high on sugar.  We chose not to take the tour and left pretty quick.

All in all, nice area of Pennsylvania we enjoyed our stay in Gettysburg and touring the surrounding areas.  Peace and Love

Gettysburg, PA

Another big jump three states West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania settling in Gettysburg.  Nothing like out west last spring where it took 3 days to cross a state, hahaha.  Gettysburg was settled in 1761 by Samuel Getty, an ancestor of the petroleum Getty family, who established a tavern where soldiers and traders came to rest. By 1860 the borough had grown in size to approximately 450 buildings including carriage manufacturers, shoemakers and tanneries.  Then came the civil war.

The battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, it was the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North.  This battle lasted three days and is considered the Civil Wars bloodiest battle.  Despite initial Confederate successes the tides turned against Lee on the third day.  It is considered to be the “highwater mark of the rebellion” putting an end to the hopes of a Confederate States of America although the war continued almost another two years.

Upon arriving, I was wondering what you are suppose to gain from visiting a battlefield???  The sorrow and misery of battle, the strategic maneuvers of the Generals or just the bravery and commitment of the troops… Really don’t want to imagine the approximately 50,000 people who died in these battles???  This is a really beautiful valley so sorry there was such a terrible battle on it.

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National park pass did no good here.  The only NP sponsored activity was the auto tour with interpretive signs to read.  The rest is part of the Gettysburg Foundation who charges for tours, films, museum and various other attractions.  The auto tour and sign reading was quite sufficient for us since tours start at $30 each.  Beautiful fields and lots of information regarding the battles.

The battlefield and tour now are a large collection of monuments.  There are approximately 1,300 monuments in the park and many more outside the park boundaries.  The roads are literally lined with monuments –

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We spent over 3 hours reading interpretive signs on the auto tour, but I bet it would take a week just to find all the monuments in the park much less reading them.  There are monuments to each state that participated in the battle including North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, New York, and of course Pennsylvania just to name a few.

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North Carolina
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New York
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There were monuments to each battle, some still protected by cannons.

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There were monuments to individual soldiers,

And then there were just beautiful fields that were once bloodied by war!!!

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This was also the place of Lincolns famous Gettysburg address, a speech that lasted only 2 minutes, but have been carved in our history ever since.

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All in all a very interesting and beautiful National Historical Park!!!  Peace and Love!!!