Monday, October 26, 2009

Something a little different...Laurel Mall, Connellsville, PA

Remember Laurel Mall?The one over on 119 in Dunbar,Pa.I decided to make a post on this inspired by (a great site,check it out).I used to frequent this mall with my Mom when I was small and went on my first date there to see 16 Candles in 1984!
I stopped by and shot some pix today to submit to the deadmalls site.I thought you bloggers would get a kick out of the pix.I still don't fully understand why malls are dying while GD Wal-Mart continues to pop up on every freakin' block,but thats another discussion altogether.
i dig the 70s-80s vibe in these places and remember most of the old stores.They had a cool Camelot Records I got my first 45 RPM record at.Turn to Stone by ELO...the Ames was a Murphy's Mart which kicked Ames my opinion...
Dave Dursa built bicycles at this Ames the same time I built bicycles at the Waynesburg Ames...coincidence? I think not...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Underwood Mine

Theres an old mine on my Dad's property in Rices Landing.Once owned by a man by the name of Underwood,it's all but covered up.I talked to Mr.Underwood several times about the mine and he tells me there is still a good deal of equipment in there.I'm not sure how...But I'm gonna open this sucker up.
As far as I know this is just one of those small private mines used for the family coal supply.I have no idea how far back it goes.
The cool thing is it's my Dad's property,so I don't have to deal with that end of it.However,It's filled with water and on a hillside I'm not sure if I can get any kind of machine to.Plus,If I do get it open,I'll have to re-gate it to keep the kids out..
Anyone with ideas,advice or just wants to get crazy with a pick and shovel...drop me an email.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Even more Poland Mine, PA coke oven shots!

Climbed atop the ovens to get some shots.Cool insight to the construction of the row ovens.

So...where was the mine...?

I found the tipple remains from the Poland Mine.I thought it was destroyed in the new construction of the Longview pump station on Dunkard Creek.Guess not!I will get better pix soon,as I was too lazy to climb down the hill....and back up.So stay tuned..

Poland kind of Patch!

If you were brought up in Western Pennsylvania, Northern West Virgina or any other coal producing've seen a patch.These were the housing built but the various coal companies for their employees.Usually,there was a Bosses Row,larger,sometimes double houses where the mine bosses lived.These rows were commonly a street above or below the main patch.
The rest of the patch homes were usually all alike in tight rows.Also common to the patch was the company store and at least one church or all purpose hall.Mather,Crucible,Nemacolin,Bobtown,Braden,Burson and Poland Mines are all patches in Greene County.I've lived in Poland for 12 years and my in-laws have been here all their lives.
Chances are your grandma, grandpa,aunt,uncle,dad or mom lived in a patch at one point.Most of the patches remain long after the mines were gone.Some of the housing plans were improved on as newer generations came and went...some not so much.People would buy the houses cheap and rent them,therefore a lot of folks came and went.This caused the little towns to become run down,losing much of the original homes and layout.Mobile homes were a popular replacement for the patch homes,because they fit well into the small footprint of the tight knit plan.Due to this,there is sometimes a a negative stigma associated with the patch.
I,however think these areas are a cool leftover from a time long gone.I laugh sometimes when I see million dollar housing plans going up in in the "ritzy" areas around Pittsburgh and Morgantown.I say..."Hell,that ain't nuthin' but a high priced patch!"
The photo here is the last original patch house in Poland Mines.10' on either side was the property line and they all had an outhouse.I believe they were all the same color,but not sure.Every time one of these lots goes up for sale or taxes,my father in law grabs them up.He has torn down more of these houses then he cares to remember,with two more slated for his dozer this winter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Monongahela Hotel

The Monongahela Hotel site.This is across from the bank.More on this soon...

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Poland Mines Coke Ovens

A few more pix from the Poland Mines Coke ovens.I'm gonna shoot some video this weekend.

more Dry Tavern School

 Stopped back at the school with a better camera..some cool pix! The picture of the gym celing has a story behind it that involves Larry Jamison...and,no...I didn't stop in the office!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Pumpkin Run Project

Talked to Murray Kline yesterday and got the o.k. to do some research in the park.What I wanna do is head down one day with my trusty trimmer,some rakes and the like.I wanna clean out around the foundations for better access/photos.Theres so much stuff in Rices Landing to check out,I'll be focusing there heavily for awhile.
My Mom told me about the stone quarry I was talking about in an earlier post.Thats on the "to do" list,too.As well at the "Red Row" foundations..
I'm getting a new cell phone Saturday (apparently you can't wash them!)I hope to get one with GPS so I can post locations for people to check this stuff out.I believe some gas wells may be going in around the park,which may actually provide some access previously unavailable.So...stay tuned.

Poppin' and Lockin'

Original Lock 6 Gate at rest on the river bottom.This pic from 1985 following the flood.The dams had to be opened to remove barges,so the pool dropped and we got a rare peek at whats in the bottom of the river.

Speaking of stuff in the river...

I would lose my Monongahela River ghetto pass if I didn't mention the B-25 bomber that crashed in the river in 1956.People often call it the B-52 that crashed in the was a B-25.MUCH smaller...heres a cool website by some dudes that think it's still in the river near Sandcastle.
They need $25K to find it....Guys, save your money.It ain't there.My father,who worked for the Army Corps of Engineers for 41 years,maintains that plane was removed and hauled away on flat bed trucks that night.Although he wasn't there,many of his old bosses and co-workers were.I have a hard time believing that plane is still there.I would LOVE for them to prove me and the 1,000,000 other people who say the same thing wrong.Not holding my breath...

However...I don't know what a B-25 looks like in the bottom of the Mon...but one put a nice ding in the Empire State Building...ouch.

Wheres the Crucible Ferry?

Alright...settle down....You know, the boat...took ya across the river...that one.I remember it being sunk in the river just off the ramp.You could swim out and stand on it.I heard it was removed.Where is it? I wanna see it! Anyone?

wrapping up...for now...

Today is October 7th.The day Debbie Makel's body was discovered near the old foundation near Pumpkin Run in Rices Landing,Pa.Are we any closer to knowing the truth 36 years later?Is the person who did this still alive...still around? Are they reading this...?
I'm gonna move on,but send some messages....The stories I heard about the way the people of Rice's Landing (and nearby towns) came together during this tragedy were awesome. I hope it doesn't take another event like this for the town to come back together...
The only member of the Makel family I knew was Vaughn,who once defended me while being picked on in a school bathroom (true story).I hope they are well and hope to meet them someday..
To everyone who was there and remembers....I'm gonna keep this online,as there is little info about the case available on the internet.If I left something out...was misinformed or flat out wrong...drop me a line and I'll fix it...
To the best of my knowledge,the case,although cold,is still open.Talking to folks,I did hear tidbits I don't feel comfortable sharing on it's time to move on for now.I leave you with one last photo.The sign at the end of Debbie's road....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Debbie Makel ......continued. Rices Landing, PA

Today I went back to the site where Debbie was found.I also talked to some folks who were directly involved in her search.Something I've noticed is that everyone who tells their story of that weekend has the same look on their face.A combination of sadness and matter who it is,its the same look.They all say"How long has it been?"Thirty six years hasn't faded the vivid memories of the residents of my home town.Not one bit.
People may wonder why I'm so involved in this as of response is...I don't know...I was in kindergarten at the time.My memories are vague at best.I'm not trying to solve the case...or re-open old wounds...I guess I'm just telling a story.Send your memories of this my way....I wanna hear your story. More here..

Monday, October 5, 2009


A few pix.I plan on going back to the site tomorrow.... continued here...

Debbie Makel...

This subject seems to have fallen together.My posts about Rices Landing...Pumpkin Run...have kind of lead me here.Its weird I visited a place today that I have never been to in my life.A couple hundred yards from everything I knew as safe and good.I walked down the path and took a left in exactly the right spot...weird.

Who Killed Debbie Makel?

36 years ago tonight,8 year old Debbie Makel rode the bus home from Dry Tavern school on a Friday evening.Her books were found at the house but Debbie was gone.After phoning friends and neighbors,an announcement was made at the Jefferson-Morgan football game and the search began for Debbie.The Rices Landing Fire Department,PA State Police,the local Boy Scout troop...everyone searched for Debbie....
I'm stretching this post over the next few days to collect more photographs and talk to people involved with the search.This happened about one month before my sixth my memory of the event is faint.But everyone else in Rices Landing knows where they were when the search was on until she was found.

A article on the 30th anniversary of the murder:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Random Rice's Landing

A few cool pix from around town.The garage was the first fire department.I think it was behind the bank building. The foundry and jail are popular spots.The old Pumpkin Run entrance.I've got a reborn interest in the park and am planning to map and explore the old foundations from the mills and homes.A visit to Murray Kline will clear some fog,for sure...stay tuned!

The Monongahela...

Just a few river shots.The one boat launch is the upper (northern) end of the lockwall.If you look can still see the "Rices Landing" logo on the wall.I'm not sure if this is private property or not,so if you stop down in cool and don't litter.The folks down there are really nice...

Pier 1 Imports. Rices Landing, PA flood

The Rices Landing Piers.The popular boating party spot.Have you jumped off?Have you DOVE off?I did...once.It was freaky actually watching the pier pass as you went down.Few people know what lurks underneath....I've heard stories of someone getting caught within the posts and drowning...yikes...