Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Summer 2013 Festivals Along the National Road

Last year, I posted a list of festivals I had found that were scheduled along or near the National Road during the summer months. It proved to be one of the more popular posts this blog had, so I figured I would update the list to reflect this year’s events. If there’s anything that should be added, I’d like to know!

All States

May 29-June 2: 10th Annual National Road Yard Sale, Maryland to Missouri. See information from Old Storefront Antiques, where the tradition started, here.

Maryland

May 23-26: DelFest, Cumberland.

June 8-19: 45th Annual Heritage Days Festival, Cumberland.

June 28-30: 36th Annual Grantsville Days, Grantsville.

July 4: 37th Annual Soapbox Derby, Frostburg.

Sept. 21: Bicentennial Celebration of the Casselman River Bridge (see the bridge on this blog), Grantsville.

Pennsylvania

May 17-19: 40th Annual National Road Festival, Southwest Pennsylvania.

June 13-15: The 10th Annual National Road Chainsaw Carving Festival, Addison.

June 15: 12th Annual Beer & Gear Festival, Ohiopyle.

Aug. 5-10: Mountain Area Fair, Farmington.

Aug. 9-11: The 33rd National Pike Steam, Gas & Horse Assn. Show, Brownsville.

Aug. 23-25: Italian Festival of Fayette County, Dunbar (near Uniontown).

Sept. 2-7: West Alexander Fair, West Alexander.

Sept. 21-22: 43rd Covered Bridge Festival, Washington and Greene counties.

West Virginia

June 28-30: Ohio Valley Black Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

July 26-28: Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

Aug. 9-11: Heritage Music Bluesfest, Wheeling.

Aug. 24: 6th Annual Wine and Jazz Festival, Wheeling.

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta, Wheeling.

mid-Sept.: Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival, Wheeling

Ohio

Columbus Fairs and Events

June 13-July 20: Springfield Summer Arts Festival, Springfield.

July 12-13: Zanesville Pottery Lovers’ Show and Sale, Zanesville.

July 18-21: Jamboree in the Hills, Belmont.

Aug. 2-3: Y Bridge Arts Festival, Zanesville.

Aug. 9-11: 45th Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, Cambridge.

Aug. 16-17: Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, Reynoldsburg.

Sept. 21-22: Preble County Pork Festival, Eaton.

Sept. 28: Hebron Music and Arts Festival, Hebron.

Indiana

Indianapolis

May 23-June 1: Banks of the Wabash Festival, Terre Haute.

June 5-8: Jubilee Days, Knightstown.

Sept. 7-8: Hoosier Fall Fest, Knightstown.

Sept. 20-21: Quaker Day Festival, Plainfield.

Oct. 3-6: Riley Festival, Greenfield.

October: 10th Annual Clay County Popcorn Festival, Brazil.

Illinois

May 31-June 2: Fun Fest for Air-Cooled VWs, Effingham.

Labor Day Weekend (unconfirmed dates): Casey Popcorn Festival, Casey.

September (unconfirmed dates): Grand Levee/Harvest Festival, Vandalia.

Fall (unconfirmed dates): Harvest Moon Music Festival, Vandalia.

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Side Trip – Mt. Davis, Pa.

Mt Davis (33)Not even 10 miles from the National Road in Grantsville, Md., is a pretty cool natural landmark – Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania at just over 3,200 feet. I was pretty surprised I had never made a detour to the mountain, despite traveling just south of the area so frequently.

Boulders at the summit of Mt. Davis.

Boulders at the summit of Mt. Davis.

Due to the mountain being west of the Allegheny Front, it’s prominence isn’t really all that great compared to other summits. However,  there’s still some pretty commanding views of the surrounding area from the mountain’s observation tower.

Mt Davis (19)

The observation tower and the high-point are just north of Springs, Pa., and just west of Salisbury, Pa. The mountain is surrounded by rural roads that form a rough loop around the mountain. There are two ways to get to the observation tower: a one-mile trail from a large picnic area (which I inadvertently took), or from a parking lot almost adjacent to the tower.

At the summit itself, a natural wind effect has resulted in a series of large boulders arranged in a ring. Plaques providing information about the mountain and local geology have been affixed to many of the boulders. The high point itself – marked by a USGS disk – is on a boulder near the observation tower (hint: look for a boulder that comes to a point at its top).

A view to the west.

A view to the west.

I’ve always found making to the top of a state high point to be a unique experience. Additionally, south-central Somerset County is tied very closely with its neighbors right below the Mason-Dixon Line in Grantsville. The small community of Springs hosts the annual Springs Folk Festival, and is also closely tied with Penn Alps and the Spruce Forest Artisan Village.

A close-up view of Salisbury, Pa., to the east.

A close-up view of Salisbury, Pa., to the east.

Based on my getting turned around several times during my visit to Mt. Davis, I feel that the best way to get to the mountain from U.S. 40 is via Md.-669 in Grantsville, which becomes Pa.-669 at the state line. Just north of Springs, make a sharp left onto Savage Road. Take Savage Road for about three miles until taking a right on Mt. Davis Road. Signs will direct you to the observation tower and picnic area. Of course, there are a number of ways to get to Mt. Davis, some of which may be more direct than the aforementioned. I’ve gathered that the route is better marked coming from the north than the south.

The top of this boulder is the highest point in Pennsylvania.

The top of this boulder is the highest point in Pennsylvania.

Because Mt. Davis is part of Forbes State Forest, backpack camping is permitted almost anywhere, with setback restrictions, and there are no fees to use the land.

The USGS marker at the high point.

The USGS marker at the high point.

The view to the east.

The view to the east.


Mile 106 – S Bridge, Buffalo Twp., Washington County, Pa.

The S Bridge, Washington County, Pa.

An unusual form of bridge architecture exists along the National Road in Pennsylvania and Ohio – the ‘S’ bridge. These bridges are exactly what the name infers – they are shaped like an ‘S,’ apparently in an effort to save on materials.

The S Bridge in Pennsylvania is the only one of its kind in the state, and spans a small creek in western Washington County, just east of Claysville. The structure was built around 1818, and was eventually bypassed by newer infrastructure (like the fate of the Casselman River bridge in Maryland). In the case of ‘S’ bridges, as cars began to replace horses, and as those cars became faster, the curvature of those bridges posed a safety hazard as well.

The historical marker nest to Pennsylvania’s ‘S’ bridge.

Today, the bridge, its deck covered in grass, is still open to the public as a pedestrian path and is on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a parking lot north of the bridge on Pa.-221, and its a short walk to the bridge from the lot. The current U.S. 40 passes right beside the bridge, adjacent with its intersection with Pa.-221.

While Pennsylvania only has one such bridge, there are several remaining ‘S’ bridges in eastern Ohio. Jim Grey, who has been a frequent resource for this blog, has chronicled those structures. So until I get to Ohio (and even after), check out his blog.

Pennsylvania’s ‘S’ bridge spans a small creek in rural Washington County.


Mile 100 – Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

It seems like almost every old city has at least one hot dog/hamburger/lunch place that has survived downtown for decades, despite the general decline of downtown areas in the U.S.

Washington has Shorty’s Lunch, tucked along West Chestnut Street downtown. Shorty’s has been around since 1932, and the eight booths inside haven’t changed. Like Coney Island in Cumberland, there is a bar/counter along one side of the dining area, and the booths line the opposite wall, making Shorty’s a pretty packed place with just a relatively small crowd.

The menu is pretty simple, with hot dogs and hamburgers being the staple. The grill sits in one of the front windows, so anyone walking along West Chestnut can see the rows of hot dogs being cooked inside. A hot dog with everything (which is what I inadvertently got) has a mustard base, and is then layers with a type of chili sauce and onions.

An “everything” hot dog.

I actually had no idea of the reputation Shorty’s has in southwest Pennsylvania. When I was in Washington, I just picked Shorty’s because it was one of the only older-looking restaurants downtown – and hot dogs always sound good. But as I started to look for background information online, I saw that Shorty’s had been featured in a number of publications including the Pittsburgh media (Shorty’s has its own Wikipedia article, which links to most of that information).

It’s not surprising that Shorty’s has a dedicated customer base – not only is the food good, but people seem to be generally protective of their old hot dog establishments (For me, I’m always going to be biased toward Coney Island in Cumberland, and will defend that it has the best hot dogs of anywhere – despite that there are just as many equally-great similar places).

Shorty’s is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Parking is available along just about every street in downtown Washington. Because the menu is so simple, you’ll probably have whatever you order in less than a minute. Take-out also seemed to be a popular option at Shorty’s. It is located at 34 W. Chestnut St., between Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.
Shorty's Lunch on Urbanspoon


Summer 2012 Festivals Along the National Road

Planning out summer activities? Check out this sampling of events happening along the National Road this summer! Of course, some are missed, but here’s what I’ve been able to track down:

All States

May 30-June 3: National Road Yard Sale, Maryland to Missouri.

Maryland

May 24-27: DelFest, Cumberland.

June 9-10: 44th Annual Heritage Days Festival, Cumberland.

June 22-24: 35th Annual Grantsville Days, Grantsville.

July 4 (tentative): National Road Monument dedication, Cumberland.

July 4: 36th Annual Soapbox Derby, Frostburg.

Pennsylvania

May 18-20: National Road Festival, Southwest Pennsylvania. (Note: I have had a hard time finding a website giving details about this year’s festival, but it is happening.)

June 14-16: The 9th Annual National Road Chainsaw Carving Festival, Addison.

June 16: 11th Annual Beer & Gear Festival, Ohiopyle.

Aug. 7-11: Mountain Area Fair, Farmington.

Sept. 5-10: West Alexander Fair, West Alexander.

Sept. 15-16: Covered Bridge Festival, Washington and Greene counties.

West Virginia

June 24: Ohio Valley Black Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

July 29: Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

Aug. 10-12: Heritage Music Bluesfest, Wheeling.

Aug. 25: Wine and Jazz Festival, Wheeling.

Ohio

Columbus Fairs and Events

June 15-July 22: Springfield Summer Arts Festival, Springfield.

July 7-15: Zanesville Pottery Show and Sale, Zanesville.

July 19-22: Jamboree in the Hills, Belmont County.

Aug. 3-4: Y Bridge Arts Festival, Zanesville.

Aug. 10-11: Salt Fort Arts & Crafts Festival, Cambridge.

Aug. 18-19: Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, Reynoldsburg.

Sept. 15-16: Preble County Pork Festival, Eaton.

Sept. 22: Hebron Music and Arts Festival, Hebron.

Indiana

Indianapolis

May 24-June 2: Banks of the Wabash Festival, Terre Haute.

June: Jubilee Days, Knightstown.

September: Hoosier Fall Festival, Knightstown.

Sept. 22: Quaker Day Festival, Plainfield.

Oct. 4-7: Riley Festival, Greenfield.

Oct. 5-7: Clay County Popcorn Festival, Brazil.

Illinois

June 1-3: Fun Fest for Air-Cooled VWs, Effingham.

Sept. 1-3: Illinois Popcorn Festival, Casey.

Sept. 28-29: Grand Levee/Harvest Festival, Vandalia.

Fall: Harvest Moon Music Festival, Vandalia.


Mile 83 – Madonna of the Trail, Beallsville, Pa.

The Madonna of the Trail in Pennsylvania, Beallsville.

Located between the borough of Beallsville and the small community of Richeyville is the Pennsylvania edition of the Madonna of the Trail, one of 12 such monuments along U.S. 40 and U.S. 66 in each state through which those routes pass.

These monuments were planned by the Daughters of the American Revolution in the early 1900s, and were meant to mark the National Old Trails Road, which included the National Road on its journey west, as well as commemorate female pioneers who settled the American west. Each statue is identical and was designed by August Leimbach.

The Pennsylvania Madonna was put in place on Dec. 8, 1928 – the tenth of 12. Every monument is along the original National Road or Santa Fe Trail, with the exception of Maryland’s, which is in Bethesda, a suburb of Washington, D.C. In order from east to west, Madonna of the Trail monuments are located in Bethesda, Md.; Beallsville, Pa.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Ind.; Vandalia, Ill.; Lexington, Mo.; Council Grove, Kan.; Lamar, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Springerville, Ariz.; and Upland, Calif.

Pennsylvania’s monument was rededicated in 1978, and was restored and rededicated again in 1990. The DAR’s Washington County chapter is responsible for the maintenance of the statue.

The Madonna of the Trail is located right between the central areas of Beallsville and Richeyville, directly across U.S. 40 from the main entrance of the Nemacolin Country Club. Like all of the Madonna monuments, it is free and open to the public. A small pull-out exists on the north side of the National Road (the same side as the monument). It’s important to use common sense when visiting the monument, as it is right up against U.S. 40, and drivers aren’t always aware of pedestrians along the highway.

Also, check out these other posts on Madonnas around the country from Jim Grey, Sculpted Portrait and Frank Brusca.

The Madonna as seen from across the National Road at the entrance to the Nemacolin Country Club.


Mile 75 – Frank L. Melega Art Museum, Brownsville, Pa.

A portion of the recreated studio at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum in Brownsville, Pa.

Most towns have monuments, statues or signage to commemorate the accomplishments of past residents of the said town. In Brownsville, a museum and art gallery is dedicated to a long-time resident of the area, Frank L. Melega, an artist who lived across the Monongahela in West Brownsville. An Indiana (the state, not the Pennsylvania city) native, Melega’s family moved to West Brownsville during his childhood; his father worked for a local coal mine. Melega produced art for  myriad of institutions, concentrating in Southwest Pennsylvania, and received various honors for his work. Melega also operated an art shop in Brownsville.

The Melega Art Museum features a variety of work from the late Frank Melega.

Melega dabbled in a variety of media during his life, including mosaics, sculpture and paint. His work focused particularly on the region, notably the period when coal and coke reigned in Fayette County and surrounding areas (a history chronicled by the Coal and Coke Heritage Center north of Uniontown). All types of Melega’s work is featured in the gallery, which even includes a recreated portion of the artist’s studio, using actual furnishings.

Exhibits are rotated throughout the year, and the museum is home to the National Road Festival Juried Exhibition, which occurs this year from April 21 to May 27, with the award ceremony taking place on Friday, May 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The art gallery itself is located in the back half of the historic Flatiron Building in Brownsville, and is open to the Brownsville Heritage Center, which takes up the front of the building. In other words, both museums are in the same building and open to one another, making it easy to visit both facilities in the same visit.

An exhibit at the Melega Art Museum.

The Frank L. Melega Art Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge to visit the museum. Appointments outside scheduled hours are available by calling 724-785-9331, or by e-mailing barcinfo@barcpa.org or manager@barcpa.org.