Friday, December 24, 2010

Visiting Fayette county, PA, the Fredericktown Ferry and eating a hoagie at Stan-Lee's in Crucible, PA.

Today, Chip and I left out early and headed to Fayette County. Our original plan was to take the Fredericktown Ferry,

but that was quickly snuffed as it was closed for some reason, so we headed on down 88 to go the long way over the Mon at Brownsville. Brownsville, a once thriving river community, predicted to be at one time larger then Pittsburgh, has fallen into tough times.
The good old days......

.....and now.  Same view, different century.

Two of the now closed banks in Brownsville bookend the middle building, I believe a former hotel.

In the truck on the way to Brownsville, Chip and I talked of how this would just be a day of exploration or scouting future places to visit. Either Chip or I had really spent anytime walking around Brownsville so we decided that theres no better time then a snowy, 12 degree winter day, so we parked and looked.

As it was cold, we stopped in the local landmark Fiddles Confectionery for some coffee and conversation.

The ladies behind the counter talked and talked about the "old" Brownsville and the "new" much less improved Brownsville. They spoke of how they have just finished filming a movie in Brownsville, and used Fiddles for a lot of location work. One of my favorites filmed locally was Maria's Lovers, a small film most are unaware of, staring Natassja Kinski (she is beautiful in this movie), John Savage and Robert Mitchum. Brownsville was dressed up nicey for this film.

"Maria's House"

Another cool place they used for this movies filming was High Point bar, just up the hill overlooking California PA.  In the film, the bar had a certain old charm to it, sort of like Fiddles place, but right after they made the movie, they extensively remodeled it....I guess a dump truck load of cash for movie making makes you forget your history.  Its still an OK place, made even better by the spectacular view of the Mons horse shoe bend at Newell
But I have digressed.

Back into the truck we went and set off on a mission to take a photograph of Rices Landing PA from the Fayette side for Chips dad. There was a house across the river, and not much else. We would find it. Oh, along the way and during the day we filmed a few videos, now mind you, they are mostly rambling efforts, but there is some good scenery included in them. Pardon the sometimes shaky nature of the camera as it was quite cold and I need to find a rig w/ image stabilization.  The video below begins w/ The Fredericktown Ferry, the last operating ferry on the Monongahela river, and quite possibly further.  I have recently secured a vast quantity of pictures of the ferries past, and soon as I get more, there will be a  entire post devoted to this subject.

.....So, I could just type forever about the long, good day, but I won't seeing as it's Christmas eve day, but to sum it up, we found the house, met the owner Dave Watters who merits a trip back in non 12 degree weather where he stood outside and talked history w/ he and his wife for 40 minutes (he worked w/ Chips grandad, small world) took the picture from Daves gas well..........
(Chip here.I spent my entire life looking across the river at this one house on top of the hill and swore one day I would visit it.We found it! Evan and I discovered its not only the places you visit but the people you meet that make this project fun.The best history lessons are from the folks that live there everyday!)

We got directions to the old Crucible ferry, Fayette side, and after a few wrong turns, landed on its ramp.
A short time later, we were rolling back to Greene, hungry and cold, but chip needed to make a special request stop....

Chipper at one time fancied himself a "skater" and he showed me the "full pipe" he and his "crew" used to skate on in the mid 80's. Its a big concrete tube that just sits (and has sat) behind the Shop-N-Save in Masontown Pa. Graffiti he and his buds did 25 years ago still shows thru. Back into the truck, over to the former Crucible mine site.

Crucible shut down operations in I believe 1961 and there it stood deserted and abandoned up until 2006.

And now.

You can see its current state in the video here.....

Hungry, we decided to wrap it up for the day and get a hoagie, so we headed up the steep hill to Crucible to the former Crucible company store.....Stan-Lee's

For a better look inside Stan-Lee's check out this video....again, we ramble a bit, but its all so clever...

Thats my friend, Holly in the video, the new owner of Stan-Lee's.  We rode bus 4 together, Mrs. Kings bus.  She makes one heck of an italian hoagie as well.  Stop by, grab one.

Even if we really didn't do any heavy duty exploring, we had fun, met some good people and it was a  great day altogether, and we found a lot of "return to" spots....
Have a Merry Christmas and see you soon.....


  1. It's stuff like this that makes me miss SWPA. These small towns have some cool places with real character.

  2. Can I make the assumption that Crucible was never anything other than a company-owned coal town?

  3. Yes,Crucible was the patch for the Crucible Mine which closed in the early 1960s.Its a classic patch with a "bosses row",typical patch layout,etc.We will be doing more on Crucible and the mine soon.Its a cool little town with a lot of history.

  4. I will watch for the new blog. My mother's birth certificate reads "Crucible" 1923 - so I am most interested. She always lead us to believe she was born in Pittsburgh - and her father worked for the steel mills. I do have plans to come to Crucible soon - just don't know when yet. Would you have an idea of where they would have buried a Catholic woman who died approx 1927?

  5. There are several cemetaries in the area and plenty of "old timers" around who may be able to clue us in.The area churches may be of help also.If you email me your mothers name/birthdate..I can ask some people I know who are lifelong residents.(we love a good challange!)

  6. I am not able to access your email address from your profile. :-(

  7. Hi Chip;

    I'm just checking to see if you received my email.

  8. my grandma was the one who started stan-lees back in the day.