Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pollocks Mill Bridge Incident 09.28.14

One of the things that SWPa is noted for, is the large amount of bridges.  When someone thinks of Greene County bridges, most likely, they imagine one of the Covered Bridges dotting the countryside. While the covered bridges are cool enough, I've always liked the old metal brides a little better.  There were literally tons of them in our area, some are GONE and FORGOTTEN, some are largely unknown and a handful still survive.  
A few years back, Danielle did a story on a few of the Old Iron Bridges of Greene County.  We noticed a lot of interest lately in this post, so we decided to do an update to the Pollocks Mill bridge. 

     Everybody in this area of Greene County knows this bridge.  Senior pictures, wedding pictures, band pictures have been taken here. People regularly fish here.  Parties happen.....(we have heard)...  So when we heard of the incident of the water truck, we went on down to investigate.

     According to HISTORICBRIDGES.ORG, The Pollocks Mill bridge was erected in 1878 by the Massillon Bridge Company in Ohio.  Also mentioned is the fact that any Iron Bridge that is older then  1880 is considered historic and worthy of saving.  Click the link above to learn more.

     On the evening of September 28th, 2014 , a 30 plus ton water truck attempted to cross the posted 4 ton limit bridge.  on our FaceBook page, there was a lot of speculation of why this happened, and whether or not the posted weight limit signs from last years pictures were removed...(they were not, just relocated further up the road).   The purpose of our post here is not political or critical, just documentation of the incident. 

      I overheard lots of "just how the hell are they gonna get that truck outta there" theories when I was taking the pictures Sunday.  Some people were speculating the worst, cutting the deck, letting it fall, or bringing a crane down and cutting the top off the bridge.  So We headed on down the next day and watched as they extracted the truck.  Wade's towing, a local company, pulled the truck free at an undramatic 1/2 mph pace with no more damage being inflicted on the bridge.  It seems the bridge is a lot more sturdy then we thought, as the giant wrecker was also partially on the bridge, pulling the truck free.  

Chip and I went down Monday and shot some video of the area and speculated on the the image below...

     It's too soon to know what will happen to the bridge.    We'll keep you updated....

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

34th Annual National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Show. Route 40, Brownsville, Pa




History..... them what you want but if you spend anytime at all in SWPa,  you'll undoubtedly see them.  Hiding under weeds near old industries, laying in the river, in fields just lingering as you drive down the highway.    A lot of times you'll see them there, then you'll notice them gone.... cut up for scrap, as this famous unit on Rt 51 was almost was.....

These are the machines that built and shaped this country.  Pushing dirt, digging coal, building buildings.   Most of these machines are long gone, lost to progress and bigger and better equipment, but there is a place where they still live.

Welcome to the 34th Annual National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Show.

Just west of Brownsville, Pa, on historic route 40, you will find, twice yearly, the largest digging show in the United States, and quite possibly the world.

 Even though this has been going on 34 year, my first visit was only 3 years ago.  Frankly, I was amazed.  Take a look at the pictures.  What you see is what you get......the steam and diesel shovels load the dirt into ancient trucks, where they take it to dozers pushing it, and it all starts all over again.

 This place is huge.  I'd estimate the working display area at 20 acres.  I was amazed at how close you can get to the machinery here.  Scattered around the perimeter of the display grounds are all sorts of activities.  There is a working rock crusher for the kids to watch and even feed, old tractors, steam engines of every size doing all sorts of things.  They have flea markets, car shows, live music, vendors, great foods of all types.

One of our longtime friends is Pete, of the Ohio Vintage Coal Company.  He and his group invited us down a few days ago for a sneak peek at his groups display.  He took us up in the lift for a birds eye view of the place....

  His group has a working tipple and dump, the Vesta 4.

Here, Chip and Pete have conversation 60 feet in the air, talking about the show

Also, the OVCC have a working Lee Norse continuos miner, made right up the river in Charleroi, Pa.  This is said to be one of the only working models still around..check out the video to see it just tear up the place.....

Just push play......

 This show is an awesome way to connect with our past and talk to a lot of great people who worked these machines. Kids will absolutely love this show, as there are great hands on displays for them, and what kid (of any age), doesn't love giant construction toys? 
 The following pictures are from last years show, but every year, it is getting bigger and better, so stop on out.

You can find information and times of this years show here, at the National Pikes home page.
Also, check out the good people at Ohio Vintage Coal Company here, at their home page.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

I.N. Dreamer Park. Richhill Township, Greene County

I had first heard of the I.N. Dreamer park a few months ago, while the mayor of Carmichaels was cutting my hair.   You see, in our little town, the town barber doubles as the mayor as well. In between official business and hair cuts, he is full of local knowledge, obscure facts and knows everybody.   So after I voiced my complaint about the giant pothole in front of Gabler's Drug Store, I settled in for a haircut.  

The mayor, Dave Jack at work.  This guy is gonna be on the chair for a while, as I got the barber talking. Once he starts, a 10 minute job turns into 30

Today's subject was lesser known places as he related a story about him being at a local festival, and him seeing a postcard from long ago, depicting a serene park.  The card, as he described, contained an image of monuments, sidewalks, benches and other park like compliments.  He had never seen this image before, nor heard of the park.  As he continued, it turned out the card was basically an artists rendering of a proposed park in north western Greene County.  Although the park was started, it was never completed as this postcard vision.  I've searched for this postcard image, but to no luck so far.

So last week it was beautiful out.  Danielle and Chip were off and I was in for the weekend, so we decided to deviate from our normal Sunday flea market trip. As Canned Heat might sing, we ended up "going up the country".   Dreamer Park is in the very northwest corner of the county, and in a very isolated spot, so we just picked a random, close address on the GPS and went with that.  We wound our way past old farms, old schools, derelict campers, gas wells, huge mine beltways and lots of cows, stopping occasionally to take pictures of everything and nothing.

  As we unknowingly approached the spot, we ran into the second coming of the industrial revolution, in the form of a new giant gas compression station up on Majorsville Road. Greene county is indeed the Saudi Arabia of the natural gas world, some would say.

I missed a turn or 3, ended up lost, hit a bump and spilled the Gatorade, so pulled over and Chip and Danielle got out to take some pictures of an old bridge, while I searched the dwindling cell service  for directions I saw on once on some antiquated Geocities site.  As our luck would have it, the bridge we were stopped at was the key.

Cross this bridge, then you are almost there.

  We were only a quarter mile away.   We rounded a curve and saw this.

"There it is" we all said at the same time.  As I mentioned earlier, there is an awful lot of gas drilling activity in our area, and a rather fresh road to a well bordered our park so we drove on up.

Back in the 1930's, Isaac Dreamer visioned a park where he could honor the people who served this country, and began plans and work for this park. Dreamer's Park would honor those fallen and those who had served in the 4 wars that we had fought at this time.  The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, The Spanish American War and The World War.  You have to remember, this last one was the war to end all wars, and at the time of the erection of the monument, the second world war wasn't invented yet, so to speak.

The most stunning and awesome sight in this remote park is its center obelisk.  A 35 foot granite memorial was shipped from Vermont, all 55,000 pounds of it.  On top, an eagle with outstreched wings watches over the park, his wingspan over 4 feet.   All four sides of this massive monument honor the 4 different wars.

Four cornerstones define the border of the park, one for each branch of service:  Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Nurses.

Chip.  He's a nurse, ya know.

The park was dedicated in 1935, in front of a gathering of 500 people. It's hard to imagine 500 people up here in this remote location, watching a monument being dedicated, especially in the 30's, but times were different then. 

  From there, things went south.  Isaac Dreamer died in 1935, and was laid to rest in the little cemetery up near the monument with his family.

 Although money was set aside for the perpetual care and upgrade of the park, his will was contested, and the big dream Dreamer had was never realized.  The money set aside for the expansion and upkeep of his park went to the family instead.   The county got the property back via a donation from the remaining family in 1966, rededicated in 1969, then fell in to virtual obscurity from then on. From what we are told, the park is maintained by the Rose Hill Garden Club and the Richhill Township supervisors these days. The really cool thing about this park is that it is located in the extreme north west corner of the county you could probably throw a stone and hit Washington county, throw one west and hit West Virginia.

Its pretty great that people still care enough to upkeep this park, and their care is evident.  The area looks weeded and mowed (despite the winter), and new flags are placed around the monument as well.

It was a great trip and we got lots of new ideas for a return visit. 

To get a better idea of the layout of the park, take a look at the video below.

Then, you can check out this video, from our friend and fellow explorer and Greene County judge, Farley Toothman.  He also visits the sheep and fiber fest in the town of Waynesburg in the beginning of his video.

Planning a visit?  Great!  We encourage you, I bet this place is exceedingly beautiful in the spring and summer.  Check out the interactive map here!  It will open so as that the park is in the center.

Some bonus video above