On the Bike Trail: Dravo Cemetery

Here is the first post about the Great Allegheny Passage (a pedestrian / bicycle trail on the footprint of railroad tracks). This post references the Youghioheny (Yough) River Trail (YRT), which follows the Yough River but is just one section of the Great Allegheny Passage.

The Dravo Cemetery dates back to 1812. A former owner built the Dravo Methodist Church next to it in 1824. The church burned down twice.

You can access the Dravo Cemetery on the YRT from the trail’s Boston (Pennsylvania) trail head in Elizabeth Township.

My husband Jonathan and I once parked at the Boston trailhead, and biked past Dravo Cemetery to Cedar Creek Park in Rostraver Township.

Cedar Creek Park provides bike camping sites, a restroom, and clean drinking water.

We camped one night. As we cooked our dinner, an SUV drove down the bike trail and deposited a family’s supplies in a neighboring campsite. That family set off fireworks all night. I lay on the ground and listened to the freight trains moving along the opposite side of the Yough River. I worried about bears. I also worried about the type of people drive SUV’s down bike trails and then set off fireworks all night in the bike trail campground.

We pedaled back to Boston the next morning.

See this below photo? This pictured drinking well, bench, pavilion (in background of photo) and also Dravo’s Landing Campground all sit next to Dravo Cemetery.

So, you can stop and eat your lunch next to Dravo Cemetery.  Or, you can camp next to Dravo Cemetery at the Queen Aliquippa Campground.

At least the cemetery inhabitants won’t drive their SUV down the bike trail and then set off fireworks all night!

Note: The first summer that Jonathan and I knew each other, we pedaled round-trip sections of the Great Allegheny Passage. We continued each summer.  At one point, we conquered the entire accessible trail in round-trip sections. (Then new sections of trail opened!) 

I based this post about Dravo Cemetary and the YRT on trips that we took a few years ago.  Very shortly, I will post about our April 29, 2018, trip from McKeesport, along the Monongahela River, on the Great Allegheny Passage. 

Aaron Burr and the Two Logan Inns

Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.

Did he then hide out at the Logan Inn, mere blocks from present-day downtown New Kensington? Here in the land of Sheetz and the Black & Gold?

Or, did he flee to a different Logan Inn, in present day Flyers & Eagles Country?

Here is the link to Mrs. Luella Rodgers Frazier’s “The Early Years of New Kensington, Pennsylvania.” Halfway through this history, Frazier wrote that Alexander Logan owned the land that became Parnassus.

Frazier wrote that Aaron Burr stopped at Logan’s property “for a few days” after he dueled Alexander Hamilton. Per Frazier, “the Logans did not know about the duel and did not recognize Mr. Burr.”

As Frazier noted, Burr proceeded (by way of Pittsburgh) to Blennerhasset Island in the Ohio River.

Harman Blennerhasset owned the island and he allowed Burr, General James Wilkinson, and others to store men and supplies on the island in their  bid to create a new nation in the southwest.

Burr’s accusers arrested Burr in Alabama. They chained him. (This, during a time when men chained their slaves. During a time when Burr’s own son-in-law owned a plantation.) The accusers brought Burr to Virginia in these chains. They tried him for treason.

Burr won his freedom by acquittal.

This follows the history and lore of Aaron Burr.

History buffs know about the Logan family’s prominence here. I even added to this blog post the photo that Jonathan took of the former Logan Trust Company in downtown New Kensington.

However, ANOTHER Logan Inn on the opposite side of PA – along Ferry Street in New Hope – also claims that THEY hosted Burr after the duel. The OTHER Logan Inn markets itself with Aaron Burr lore.

Perhaps Aaron Burr did in fact shelter at two Logan Inns, on opposite sides of the state. Perhaps both ends of the Pennsylvania Turnpike own this story.

What do you think?

Here’s my post from my other blog about the novel My Theodosia by Anya Seton. 

Help Me to Find Rinehart’s Circular Staircase

Mary Roberts Rinehart grew up on Pittsburgh’s North Side. She wrote her first novel, The Circular Staircase, in the North Side house pictured at the top of this blog post. (MRR’s old neighborhood now markets itself as Allegheny West and it sits behind Heinz Field.)

(My father-in-law, Dennis Woytek, took this photo when we toured this house on the Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour several years ago.)

Now, here’s the thing:  I don’t positively know which house actually inspired The Circular Staircase. This novel takes place at a summer home in the countryside.

Now, I have a copy of History of Old Alleghney Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, From Prehistoric Times to c. 1876 by Rev. Reid W. Stewart, Ph.D., self-published in 2005. Stewart claims that this house which inspired The Circular Staircase “stood toward the southern end of River Forest Golf Course in Allegheny Township.” (This is near Freeport, PA.)

Stewart claims that Duncan Karns built this mansion in the 1870’s but that he lost his fortune in oil speculation. Finally, he claims that Mary Roberts Rinehart visited the house before it burned down.

The First “Roller Coaster” of Mauch Chunk

Have you ever heard of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania?

Well, then. Have you ever heard of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania?

In the 1950’s, the officials of Mauch Chunk renamed their borough “Jim Thorpe” after Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe. That whole story deserves its  own blog post. (Or its own blog.)

The humans cognizant in the 1820’s still spoke of this Lehigh Valley town as “Mauch Chunk.” Many earned their livings from the coal mined above this town. In the 1820’s, they built the Switchback Gravity Railroad from these coal mines.

The railroad used gravity to transport the coal down the mountain, past Mauch Chunk. This “railroad” used mules to haul the empty coal cars back up the mountain.

Eventually the railroad offered rides to tourists on this gravity railroad. This inspired the first roller coaster at Coney Island.

If you want to read about Mauch Chunk ghosts, check out this post that I wrote on my other blog:

They Saw the Bloody Handprint – and Orbs

Here is a blog post that my sister wrote:

5 Reasons To Visit The Jim Thorpe This Halloween Season (or anytime)

Pittsburgh Sunrise

Good morning!  Here’s the sunrise view from the window closest to my desk at my job in downtown Pittsburgh.

So, many years ago, a woman from my employer’s Manhattan office came to visit my co-workers here in our Pittsburgh office.

(I shall henceforth call her “the Manhattanite” even though she may live in Jersey, for all that I know.)

The Manhattanite looked out of our office’s windows onto downtown Pittsburgh.

( Maybe the Manhattanite looked out of this very window.)

The Manhattanite said, “My, my, my. That’s a regular little city out there!”

Why, yes, it is.

Do outsiders ever damn a place that you love with faint praise?

Murphy’s Law At the Basket Blessing

Holy Saturday morning in my house means a frantic “grocery store hop” in which we visit every store in New Kensington.

You see, families in our traditionally Polish Catholic parish in New Kensington assemble baskets of the food for their first meal on Easter morning. We bring the baskets to church Saturday for a short ceremonial basket blessing by our priest.

Our baskets include very specific foods, including beet horseradish. Every year, we forget to purchase beet horseradish until Easter weekend.

And of course, the store closest to our house is clean out of beet horseradish the morning of Holy Saturday. Because this store is, like, 2 minutes away from the church and other people beat (beet) us to all of  it!

So, we walk into our third store of the morning. We can buy the last remaining bottle on that store’s shelf.

Then we meet up with our in-laws at the church. They tell us similar stories of frenzied dashes to assemble their baskets five minutes before the ceremony.

Then it happens all over again the next Easter.

#TBHT (Throwback Holy Thursday)

This is Jonathan’s family’s collection of pisanka (or pysanka) eggs. Jonathan’s uncle crafted all of these when he still lived right outside of Pittsburgh. (Uncle did the whole “go west, young man” thing when the steel industry collapsed in the 1980’s.)

Jonathan’s Babcia (Polish for grandmother) set these out every Easter.

I mention all this on my blog about Pennsylvania because Jonathan’s family traditions and his family’s Polish and Slovak roots partly wrote PA’s history.

I will post morsels of Easter traditions throughout the holiday weekend. Have a blessed Holy Thursday.