2018 C&O / Gap Tour Day 7: West Newton PA to Pittsburgh – We Made It!

37.9 miles.

Plus a 6 hour drive home.

Today was a much shorter day. We planned it this way so we could drive home to Lexington after we finished up today.

We left the rectory at Holy Family and started our trip out of town from West Newton. It was a little sad to say goodbye because we felt so at home there.

This last part of the trail is one of my favorites. There are lots of neat things to see and there is enough change going on to hold your interest. In 30 miles you go from small towns, past lots of little water falls, some old coal mining history, industrial areas, the outskirts of of the city, a bunch of nice bridges over the rivers and train tracks, and finally down into the heart of Pittsburgh. That’s a lot to see in such a short distance.

Here’s a neat example of one of the water falls. This particular one is full of iron so it runs red.

This one, a little farther down runs white due to some sort of aluminum runoff. I made a very short video so you can see it. In a picture, it looks like a regular waterfall. But in the video you can see that it looks more like a milky color.

We also passed this really neat little cemetery that is where two small railroad towns used to be.

As we pedaled along, we came through McKeesport. About this point, you start to see more of the industrial beginnings of Pittsburgh. Lots of old steel bridges and structures.

The Great Allegheny Passage has some really nice bridges across the river. I’d love to know the history of some of them – I’m sure some were former railroad bridges, and some of them appear to be new structures built specifically for the GAP.

We stopped mid-bridge to take in the view of the Monongahela River with some barges being pushed along.

You can see how overcast it was early this morning. We had chilly temperatures and some light rain for about the first half of the ride.

We reached Homestead, the sight of the famous strike clashes between the union and the steel mill owners.

We were getting hungry – we had just a very light breakfast of pocket food before leaving. We cycled past the Eat ‘n Park. Joe had never seen one before, so we went in and had a good breakfast. When we went in, it was raining. When we came out, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. It was an amazing change in such a short time. The nice weather stuck with us for the rest of our trip today.

The Hot Metal bridge is just on the south-east side of the city. It gets is name from its original purpose: it used to carry molten metal across the Mon river to be processed. Now it is a bridge for cars and a separate deck for bikes & pedestrians. The bridge also gives some great views of downtown.

Here’s the first real view of downtown we were treated to. It was a beautiful day once the rain stopped!

A few more miles took us down on a few city streets and to The Point State Park. This is at the confluence of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio rivers. It also is the historical location of Fort Pitt.

Inside the park is an iconic fountain that you will often see in pictures of Pittsburgh. There is a large marker in the concrete to show the confluence, as well as the official end of the Great Allegheny Passage.

Although it had been pretty chilly earlier in the day, it was getting a bit warm, especially in the direct sun. The water of the fountain looked very tempting. I’m quite sure the parks people would frown on our behavior, but we decided to take off our shoes and soak our feet in the fountain for a few minutes. It was delightfully cold and felt great. It was nice just to soak up the end of our trip. We talked for a few minutes and just enjoyed the accomplishment.

We did it! 373 miles in 7 days. 4 states + Washington DC.

We still had to get back to our car and drive home. We took a bike path up the eastern side of the Allegheny that took us very close to St. Stanislaus parish and our car. We quickly changed our clothes and did a quick bird bath with some wet wipes before driving home.

It has been a great trip, but I was awfully glad to get home and be greeted by my wife and our two schnauzers. If you ever really want a great greeting committee, it is hard to beat a happy dog – or two.

I’ll follow up with a couple more notes for the trip in my next posting. I’m really looking forward to my own bed tonight!

Peace,

Dcn. Matt

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