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  • Cathy and Chris

History on Wheels in Pittsburgh!

Our first stop on this September adventure was late on a Thursday night in Shippensburg in an adorable trailer out in a back yard beneath the stars. We just needed a place to crash to get a head start on our trip out to Ohio State University for the big Penn State game. We are! (Or Chris is and I'm not, and yes, I am aware we experienced a crushing defeat). Anyway, this little trailer was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. This was the sight that greeted us as we ended a long day of working and then driving to our first home for our trip. Look inside our slideshow for the rest of the pictures!

For me, it's the little things that make up an experience. I loved the pretty touches around the trailer.


The next day was a sunny and warm day to head out with our bikes! It felt like a true fall day. It was an absolutely gorgeous day to bike the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail traces the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers and began it's creation 25 years ago. Before that it was an industrial waste land. How sad is that to think of this beautiful scenery as sitting unobserved for so long? It's so cool to know that it is now available to all. Friends of the Waterfront and their volunteers now take care of it, some of whom we met on our ride.

Check out our slide show!

water steps at pnc park

These steps are the water steps at PNC park. There was no water flowing on this day. The water steps are constructed of 500 blocks of sandstone and 1000 pieces of sandstone. At the top, the steps are 40 feet wide. The steps connect a larger water landscaping display at the top. It's all part of NorthShore RiverFront Park.

It's called a heritage trail because it has so much history along it's route and the trail posts lots of signs to mark the history.

Allegenhey Cotton Mill Strike marker

Allegheny Cotton Mill Strikes.

These workers went on a strike for a living wage and a reasonable work day. At the time, these women made under $6.00 a week and children made under $3.00 a week. What was a living wage at the time, and what is a living wage today? What is a reasonable work day today? At one point, women broke down the doors and forcibly removed the "scab girls" who were working in their place. This was the "Battle of Blackstock's Factory." Although the strikes at the time had no effect, the strikes eventually caught up with the conscience of Americans of the times, and the Pennsylvania legislature eventually passed bills for a ten hour workday. However, business lobbyists created ways to get around those laws. Have we changed?

Along the trail,we met people and saw signs advertising "Bicycle Heaven." Of course, we were curious and here is what we found.

Inside was a crazy world of wheels...

There were some culturally historical bikes in this museum/store!

There were other oddities here as well. Who remembers this?

We also met the owner, Craig Morrow. This guy grew up jumping trains and building shacks along the river. Clearly a creative type. He began fixing bicycles 30 years ago after he had to quit the auto body industry due to the paint fumes and such. Somehow, he went from that to hoarding bicycles and then on July 4, 2011, he opened his aptly named Bicycle Heaven which went on to become one of Trip Advisors biggest attractions in the Pittsburgh area.

Craig Morrow and Chris

Back on the trail again, we had more historical reminders.

The Korean War Veteran's Memorial is constructed by shape and position to invite the sun to be a part of it's display. The Vietnam War monument is shaped like a hibiscus flower pod, as a symbol of rebirth.The Old Allegheny Jail has a long history. It was built in 1886 and designed by H.H. Richardson in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the same as our hometown Foundry Building in Phoenixville. In 1902, Jack and Ed Biddle escaped the prison with the help of the warden's wife! Mrs. Sofel becomes enamored of Ed Biddle and helps him to escape. They take off on stolen horseback and then on foot through the snow but never made it out of Butler County. They were brought to justice by Detective Charles “Buck” McGovern.Check out the movie!

For more information about this amazing trail, check out Rails to Trails blog post for trail of the month in April, 2017.


We rode our bikes over the West End Bridge. The braced ribbed arch is what makes this bridge so pretty and the view is spectacular. The bridge won the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award in 1991.

What would be even more spectacular is if the pedestrian bridge was built. In 2006, Riverlife, a non profit organization creating plans to redevelop the Pittsburgh waterfront, created a competition to design a pedestrian bridge along this bridge. Endres Ware won the competition due to his visually undulating design and connections to the shores and the communities, but they don't yet have the budget for the construction. Donate!

As technology advances and jobs become more and more specialized, it seems to me that a good source of income for cities is to redevelop it's art and recreation centers. This has been good for people that love the waterfronts.

Next, we made our way over to the Duquesne Incline. No words adequately express how cool this is.

two bikes, Duquesne Incline

We found ourselves at the top of the City.

Just down the street from where we got off of the ride up the mount, is the historic Gothic style church, St Mary of the Mount. It was built in the 1870's and cost $70,000.

Finally arriving on the South Side flats, careening down the mountain, hoping I don't crash, we arrive at food! We took a bike ride through the restaurant row and checked out the vibe of all of the places we had to choose from. Jack's Bar stood out to us as a But Where's The Coffee kind of place, or maybe "But Where's the Dive Bars?" and the interesting characters and odd decor spoke to us. We sat at the bar, like we always do and ordered our not so healthy food. Don't go here if you need to eat healthy. We are usually healthy eaters, but I was hungry and the hot dogs, nachos and french fries hit the spot.

Arriving in Point State Park

When my son was in Pittsburgh, he went to Primante Brothers for amazing sandwiches, so we went from Jack's to Primante brothers, which was getting to be difficult as I was tired and it was getting dark. But Chris had to have a sandwich. I couldn't eat a thing after Jack's.

Finally, we arrived back at our car and off we took for our next airbnb adventure in Barnesville, Ohio.


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