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Western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh’s Smokey Island and it’s Ghoulish Past

It’s not a secret that Pittsburgh has more than a little bit of a dark history. There’s absolutely a reason why it was once described as “Hell with the lid off.” One part of the dark history was the former Smokey Island near Pittsburgh’s Point. This island was nowhere you wanted to be if you …

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Buhl Planetarium: The North Side’s Million Dollar Theater of the Stars

Overall, I haven’t been hugely impressed with some of the “improvements” that have been made on Pittsburgh’s North Side (ahem, Allegheny Center, gag). Anyway, thankfully someone had the foresight to save some of that area’s true treasures including the Carnegie Library of Allegheny, the Allegheny Post Office, and Buhl Planetarium. Buhl Planetarium is one that …

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The Ruins of the McGinnis Rod and Gun Club at Linn Run

Linn Run State Park is absolutely one of Westmoreland County’s best places for hiking and spending time outdoors in nature. Whether you are at the park to see Adams Falls, Flat Rock swimming area, or just to have a picnic, there is one thing most visitors are familiar with — the remains of the McGinnis …

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Abandoned Storyland Park in Schellsburg Pennsylvania

Note: Storyland is located on posted, private property and trespassing is strictly forbidden. Enjoy the trumpeter and statues that can be seen from the road from exactly that — the road. I’ve visited a lot of amusement parks over the years. While I love the historic value and unique rides that can be found at …

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Martha Frick and Henry Clay Frick: Dumb Luck or Divine Intervention?

Everyone loves a good villain story, and here in the Steel City we have several characters that make for good villains. However, despite their hard exteriors some of them did have softer sides, such as with Henry Clay Frick. Frick never got over the loss of his daughter, Martha Frick, and even credited her for …

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Finding Mister Rogers Neighborhood at the Heinz History Center

There is a lot of excitement in the air these days with the upcoming Mr. Rogers movie. Fred Rogers was such an iconic figure here in Pittsburgh that you can find tributes to his legacy in many different places around the area. One of my favorites is the Mister Rogers Neighborhood exhibit at the Heinz …

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Idlewild’s Former Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make Believe Ride

Tucked away in a heavily wooded section of Idlewild is a life-size tribute to the late Fred Rogers in ride form. I’m talking about Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make Believe. During my freshman year of college in 2003, Mr. Rogers passed away from stomach cancer. I felt a special connection to Mr. Rogers, who was …

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The Curious Move of the Allegheny County Morgue

With Pittsburgh’s colorful history spanning more than 250 years it is no wonder its buildings have quite a few stories to tell. Honestly though, when I think of Pittsburgh buildings and curiosities, one in particular absolutely rises above the rest — the Allegheny County Morgue. This is definitely a case where the truth is stranger …

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The Fall of Aliquippa Park and Rise of the Aliquippa Works

It might surprise you that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, amusement parks were much more common in Western Pennsylvania than they are today. In fact, dozens of parks were operating all around the Pittsburgh area including Woodlawn’s Aliquippa Park located in Beaver County. I’ve written in the past about how I was shocked …

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Ivyside Park: How An Amusement Park Became a University

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I was in college I was one of the students who would give campus tours to prospective students. One of my favorite stories to tell the families was the story of how a one-time amusement park, Ivyside Park, eventually became the branch campus of Penn State …

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The Abandoned Broad Ford Overholt Distillery

To read more about the history of Old Overholt Whiskey and the Broad Ford Distillery, check out part one of my post.   By the 1970s, the Broad Ford site had descended into ruin. Although the massive grain silos, warehouse, water tower, boiler house, and warehouse remained their neglect and exposure to the elements made …

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