After watching Rick Sebak's fantastic new show Right Beside the River on WQED (about places and things beside our rivers), we decided to take a trip 40 miles northeast from Pittsburgh to Vandergrift. Situated on the Kiskiminetas (Kiski) River, Vandergrift had the largest sheet steel mill in the world in the early 20th century. In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel decided that providing their workers with good housing and a good community would make them more loyal and productive, so they hired the same architect who designed New York City's Central Park, Olmsted, to design a new town called Vandergrift. Today there are still a number of businesses in its business district (our favorite was a magic store), but it was nearly deserted when we were there--likely because everyone was at the Labor Day celebration at a nearby park.After Vandergrift, we decided to check out Crooked Creek Lake Park, a dam, lake, and park built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as one of 16 flood control projects in their Pittsburgh district. This is Tunnelville Beach, which was surprisingly empty for a holiday weekend.
Heading back, we stopped briefly in Ford City. It was a cute little town with a shady public park, a biking trail next to a huge abandoned mill, and this mostly intact Mail Pouch ad painted on the side of a building.
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