He Has a Road Sign Along Route 30 in Ligonier Now

Photo of Fort Ticonderoga in New York State by Jonathan Woytek, circa 2009. General Arthur St. Clair faced a court martial for retreating from this fort and leaving it in the hands of the British in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. In 1791, St. Clair commanded the United States forces during their worst defeat by Native Americans, in present-day Ohio. A historical marker and a monument along Route 30 in Ligonier memorialize St. Clair’s final residence.

Arthur St. Clair, the commander of the American forces who suffered the worst ever defeat in United States history by Native Americans, has a road sign on Route 30 in Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania.

I learned about the road sign (erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) from this article by Renatta Signorini on Triblive.com.

The Trib article did not mention Arthur St. Clair’s 1791 military defeat in The Battle of the Wabash. I had to learn about this defeat by reading, first, The Red Heart (a fiction novel by James Alexander Thom) and later from Wikipedia.

The Trib article also did not mention that St. Clair faced a court martial after he retreated from Fort Ticonderoga – and left it in the hands of the British – in 1777.

From what I read about General St. Clair, his supporters argued that St. Clair didn’t have adequate resources to succeed at Fort Ticonderoga (which is in present-day New York) or at the Wabash (which is in present-day Ohio).

The road sign on Route 30 commemorates the Westmoreland County home where St. Clair lived at the very end of his life. The location of St. Clair’s grave a few miles away in Greensburg became a prominent public park named after him.

I myself travel on Route 30 between my current home and my hometown in Somerset County. I’ve never actually noticed the PHMC marker, or the monument installed by the county. That section of Route 30 is sort of tricky to safely drive, so I’m glad that the Trib notified me to the presence of this sign.

If you want to learn more about Arthur St. Clair without leaving Route 30, you can head on over to the museum at Fort Ligonier. The museum has pieces of Arthur St. Clair’s parlor installed in it. From what I read, the United States failed to repay a substantial debt owed to St. Clair. St. Clair lost most of what he owned, including the residence that contained this particular parlor. His possessions were sold to repay his own creditors. According to local folklore, General St. Clair’s ghost and his wife’s ghost haunt the fort’s museum. My fourth grade class visited Fort Ligioner several decades ago. I didn’t see any ghosts. I re-visited the museum in 2018. I still did not see any ghosts.

Just as an aside, I’ve previously blogged – several times – about Simon Girty. I learned from Wikipedia that Girty fought with the Native Americans at St. Clair’s defeat.

If you want to learn more about General St. Clair (or about Simon Girty), I recommend the website for the Heinz History Center.

“BeYOUtiful” Mural by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown

“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
“BeYOUtiful” by Juliandra Jones & Dejouir Brown. Downtown New Kensington. May 8, 2022.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Three Rivers Arts Festival / TRAF / Pittsburgh Pride 2021

Three Rivers Arts Festival. Point State Park, Downtown Pittsburgh, PA. June, 2021.
(Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Yes, this photo is about a year old. I took it at the Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh in early June (June 6?) 2021. Pittsburgh Pride 2021 occurred in downtown Pittsburgh this same weekend. I think that I took this photo the day after the Pride parade.

I don’t know any of the people in this photo. I don’t know the dog in this photo.

One of the people in this photo held a baby. I chose to post one of the photos in which you can’t see the actual baby.

(Some lurker will note that nobody in this photo wore a mask. So, here’s the thing: Remember how, back in the late spring of 2021, the CDC revised its mask guidelines? The CDC had lifted its mask recommendation for the fully vaccinated. The CDC didn’t announce until some time after July 4, 2021 that vaccinated people should resume wearing masks. )

So, we took photos and then watched that night’s TRAF headliner perform. The lead singer cried on stage between songs. TRAF was her first or one of her first live performances since March 2020 when Covid hit.

I get it. Maybe if I had actually practiced my clarinet in high school instead of reading historical fiction romance novels in the back of the library, I’d still be playing publicly today. Maybe I’d break down and cry after the Covid hiatus ended.

It was really hot at the Arts Festival that day. So hot that I only moved from my folding chair to obtain water or eliminate water. I even took this photo from the comfort of my chair. So, maybe the lead singer was dehydrated under the stage lights.

I don’t remember much else about TRAF 2021.

Final Friday

“Final Friday” Event. VooDoo Brewery. Fifth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. April 22, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

I took this photo at the “Final Friday” event held in New Kensington on April 22, 2022. Organizers schedule “Final Friday” in downtown New Kensington for the final Friday evening of every “warm weather” month. The Hoffman Road Band performed at this particular “Final Friday” event.

Claude Monet’s Better Dreams

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

I posted here some photos that I took at Phipps Conservatory this past Friday. In about a week or so, you will most likely see a story in the local media about the grand opening of Phipps’ upcoming exhibit, “Monet in Bloom.”

Phipps’ Spring Flower Show ended a few weeks ago. The “Monet in Bloom” show doesn’t officially open until next Saturday. However, Phipps remains open between exhibits. They install signs around their facility noting that visitors are watching the upcoming exhibit’s progress. The “Monet in Bloom” show was such a work-in-progress when Jonathan and I viewed it this past Friday.

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Wikipedia told me that Claude Monet’s father “disapproved” of Monet’s artistic ambitions and “wanted him to pursue a career in business.” So, you know, pretty on par with everything that I have ever read about creative people.

When he was a young adult, the older adults in his life most likely said stuff to him like, “Time for you to get better dreams, Claude. My co-worker’s son, Jean Pierre, studied accounting. He has a job offer and a hiring bonus. The neighbor kid, Antoine, is finishing his Pharmacy degree. How do you intend to feed yourself, Claude?”

I think that Claude Monet did just fine. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can.

“Monet in Bloom.” Phipps Conservatory. Pittsburgh, PA. April 29, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Jonathan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on Friday.

We travelled downtown and watched five young (college aged?) women hold a Dunkin’ Donuts party at PPG Plaza. The women kicked off the party by feeding doughnut bits to the plaza pigeons. The women boosted the party with a marriage proposal (complete with PPG Plaza Water Fountain, bended knee, ring, and screams of delight) between two of the women.

We heard a tour guide tell his group that locals refer to the PPG Fountain as the “Tomb of the Unknown Bowler.” (The fountain sort-of resembles bowling balls propping up a really big bowling pin. Here’s a photo from 2012.)

(Edit: A Google search told me that “former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Peter Leo” created the landmark’s nickname.)

PPG Plaza Water Fountain, October 2012. Some critics refer to it as the “Tomb of the Unknown Bowler” since the fountain “sort of” resembles bowling balls propping up a really big bowling pin.

Pitt’s graduation took place this weekend around the city. While we sat at the plaza, a man robed in doctoral regalia carried a folding camp chair back and forth across the plaza. (We joked that this chair was his graduation gift. “Congratulations on your doctorate! Here’s a camp chair. Now carry it back to your car!“)

Everyone’s just doing the best that they can.

Heron vs Koi?

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Iorld’s most observant person. Still, I remember the first time that I saw a heron “in the wild” here in Western Pennsylvania. I was an adult. We were driving on a highway that spooned a creek. I yelled, “Hey, there’s a heron standing in the creek!”

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Now, in the warm months, I see at least one heron fly directly over my backyard in Parnassus. Same time each evening. Perhaps my yard sits under the flight path between Pucketa (Puckety) Creek and the Allegheny River? What do you think?

So, anyway, my employer held an Earth Day photography contest on its intranet. Prizes are bragging rights only.

I entered one of these for the contest. I posted a heron photo. I wrote in the caption that to me, the heron is a symbol of the air and water clean-up efforts here in Western PA.

Within hours of my posting about my heron excitement, this one employee (who I don’t know) from another office (on the East Coast of the US) left a comment on my post. The comment went something like this:

I used to have a Koi pond my backyard. The pond had about 20 fish that were all worth a great deal of money. One day, I came home and all of the Koi were gone. My neighbor showed me a photo of a blue heron sitting on my roof looking down at the empty pond. So, I blame the heron for eating all of my expensive fish. I had to close my Koi pond.

(She capitalized the word “koi.”)

I have family friends who lost their own koi to raccoons. I’m sorry to hear this.

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. September or October, 2021.
This one’s blurry. Oh well. You try asking a heron to stay put so that you can get a photo.
Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

Heron are native to our part of North America. Koi are not native to North America.

Heron. Drummond Island. Lake Huron. Northern Michigan. August 25, 2021. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

In honor of heron just doing their best to survive in their natural habitat on this Earth, here are a bunch of heron photos that I took.

Heron. Moraine State Park, Butler County, Pennsylvania. October, 2020. Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek

CMU Fence with Ukrainian Colors

Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA. March 11, 2022. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Carnegie Mellon University has a fence that gets painted a lot as part of a fun campus tradition. I’m going to link here CMU’s own explanation of the fence painting. Everything that I know about the fence tradition came from the internet or from a random friend-of-a-friend who attended CMU.

Shout-out to Ghost Tour Operators

Nemacolin Castle. (Bowman’s Castle.) Brownsville, PA. Circa October 8, 2011. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Firstly, I added a few more photos of downtown New Kensington. Some were of the December parade. I also added a photo of the new Anne Frank mural. You can click on the “Murals” tab in the last post to see all of my posts that include mural photos.

I have a new podcast rec for people who like spooky things. I personally listen to this on Spotify. If you don’t do Spotify, it’s available on other popular platforms. The podcast is “Ghost Tour” from Southern Gothic Media.

I’m already a HUGE fun of Brandon Schexnayder’s “Southern Gothic” podcast. I’m such a fan that I joined its Patreon membership. So, I barked and drooled (not really) when Schexnayder announced that he partnered with Alicia King Marshall of Franklin Walking Tours to produce “Ghost Tour.”

Ghost Tour” currently has only one season. The hosts interviewed the owners and operators of ghost tour companies. I’m not talking about the “scare houses” with theatrical blood and gore and manufactured horror stories. Those are fun for some people. That’s not the theme of this podcast. I’m talking about those research-based ghost tours at historically significant sites. For instance, in Episode #5, Alicia King Marshall discussed the ghost stories that Franklin Walking Tours told about the 1864 Battle of Franklin in Franklin, Tennessee. In Episode #7, the hosts interviewed Janan Boehme, the Tour Manager / house historian at the Winchester Mystery House in California.

Ghost Tour” attracted me since I’m curious about how to create a historical ghost tour.

In other news, Troy Taylor from American Hauntings (a podcast, book, and ghost tour company based in Illinois) did a shout-out to southwestern Pennsylvania in one of his recent Zoom livestreams. He specifically referenced Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville. He also referenced the borough of California, Pennsylvania. Nemacolin Castle is a 1700’s and 1800’s -era home that I blogged about here. It sits on a cliff overlooking the Monongahela River (the Mon). It was built in sections over multiple decades. The same family lived in it from the 1700’s up through the 1900’s. Multiple ghosts from multiple generations reputedly haunt it.

My dad learned how to be a high school Special Education teacher at California University of Pennsylvania while he courted my mom in Pittsburgh. Dad refers to the school as “Harvard on the Mon.” I was really excited to discover that I have a family connection to a place that Troy Taylor visited.

Taylor also gave a shout-out to a tattoo parlor that he patronized in that region. I’m trying to track down the name of this place so that I can get a tattoo from the same person who gave Troy Taylor one. I’m that much of a Troy Taylor fan.

Humor doesn’t translate very well on the internet. I’m not really going to drive out to Brownsville just to do this. It’s a 120 mile round trip from my house. Gas is expensive and I don’t like to drive. I’m still glad that southwestern Pennsylvania made a good impression on Taylor. The American Hauntings podcast, hosted by Troy Taylor and Cody Beck, is available on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms.

Valley High School Color Guard; Mural by Shane Pilster

Fifth Avenue, Downtown New Kensington. December 4, 2021. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Here’s another photo of Valley High School’s marching band at the December 2021 Christmas Parade in downtown New Kensington.

I didn’t grow up in New Kensington. I grew up in Somerset County. However, I was in my own high school’s marching band for four years. Well, first I was in my elementary and junior high concert bands. I wanted to quit before high school. The high school band seemed like too much work. My parents didn’t want me to quit band because they had already invested money in my music interests (or lack thereof). My parents had a handful of other kids. (There are five of us!) They realized that I had a better chance of getting college financial aid if I had “high school marching band” listed as an extracurricular on my applications. Also, I have never been accused of being “too physically fit.” Most likely my parents figured that participation in the marching band would force me to get some exercise. So, four years of marching band it was!

It worked out well for me. Almost all of my high school friends were also in the band. I’m old. I remember stuff differently than how it actually went down. However, I remember all of the fun stuff about band and very little about the unpleasant stuff. (For instance, band camp.) I’m trying to work on a lifestyle change. I get discouraged about all of the extra walking. I remember that I actually walked much further during four years of football games and parades and practices. (All while blowing through a woodwind.) I can totally up my walking game now!

I recently Googled my old band director. He retired from teaching. He now performs professionally with other professional musicians. He didn’t just put in his time and then let his art atrophy. He’s still going strong. I find this inspiring.

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