The adventures of Pioneer Girl travelling with enthusiastic Camper Barn Owl Guy

Started as a blog about my trip from Pittsburgh to California in a Ford Pickup, hauling a 30' refurbed trailer/camper. Ah, California Dreaming, 'n all that. Found that adventures can be long distance or in your own neighborhood... I look for my own twist on local sites, don't take the known for granted...and always find something new. It's easy, just open your eyes..

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beyond the Bottoms, there are Ferris Wheels??

McKees Rocks Bridge Ramps
Good afternoon, Pioneers! Saturday December 10, 2010

This morning, yours truly reported from The Bottoms in McKees Rocks, and Brunot Island in particular. Contrary to what the photo says...we did not STOP at all.   Further along in the day, GPS coordinates tracked us heading along West Carson Street,  crossing the West End Bridge, through  Allegheny West and into the North Side area of Pittsburgh located to the north of the Allegheny River and the Ohio River.  The North Side used to be known as the City of Allegheny and was annexed  by Pittsburgh in 1907 and became known as North Side. It is made up of a collection of neighborhoods and has seven hills, (Troy, Spring, Observatory, Monument, Seminary, Fineview, Mount Troy).   I never realized that before, and I had lived on Spring Hill for quite some time...just never counted.

Bethesda Church of God, North Charles St.
First stop  on this gloomy day was an errand to pick up some fresh rolls from Pittsburgh’s own, Breadworks, snuggled between North Charles and Brighton Road.  Breadworks fresh crusty breads and rolls can be found in many local stores and restaurants, but getting them fresh from the bakery is great.  Best to get there early before they sell out.  

But as I was exiting the bakery, fresh whole wheat raisin rolls on board, I spotted the Bethesda Church of God on North Charles Street, and jumped on this photo.  Quite an intriguing, somber-looking structure adjacent to the Charles Street Rowhouse Historic District (a small 25-house area that used to be known as Pleasant Valley.)

Buena Vista Street, North Side
The historic Mexican War Streets are located in central North Side.  I head down Buena Vista Street to see the beautifully preserved Victorian rowhouses.  The Mexican War Streets were named by General William Robinson, Jr. upon his return from the Mexican-American War in 1848 which annexed Texas and California.  I read that he was the first “non-indian” child born in the City of Allegheny. Feeling excited and patriotic, he named four streets after the war’s battles, and three streets after military leaders during the war.  Robinson later became mayor.   

Adjacent to the Mexican War Street area is Allegheny Commons, Pittsburgh’s oldest park, dating to 1867.  It was originally created to provide a “breathing” space in the City of Allegheny, which was dirty and sooty.   It’s a beautiful park, also known as West Park.  Today Lake Elizabeth, only three feet deep, offers kayaking with great views of Pittsburgh.  Hey, and no sooner did I start kayaking at North Park Lake, they closed it and drained the lake, so this year, I promise to kayak at Lake Elizabeth...and possibly hit the river.

Quite a few important and famous individuals lived on our North Side, including artist, Mary Cassatt , writers Willa Cather (a personal favorite) and Gertrude Stein.  Stephen Foster was born and raised here, where he wrote “My Old Kentucky Home."   And I was very excited to discover a connection to my previous blog about Brunot’s Island.  I discovered that Felix Brunot, the French doctor who owned Brunot’s Island, lived in a mansion on the North Side on Stockton Avenue and is said to have once been a station on the Underground Railroad, where fugitive slaves from the South stopped for food and shelter. 

And, heck, if it hadn't been for North Sider,  George Washington Gale Ferris who invented the, what else?....Ferris Wheel, poor Dan Weaver here would not have been impaled by an 8 ft, 3/4 inch thick iron bar which was dangling off of his ferris wheel in Ohio in 1978.  It exited his back just missing his spine, pinning him to the metal base like a butterfly on a board.  He looked over at his fellow workers and said "Hey, boys, time to get me outta here."  

They had to use a circular saw to release him and had to leave the iron bar in until they could get him into surgery at the hospital.  No mention of what childhood nightmares the children on board still suffer.

Yikes, this blog sure went somewhere I hadn't intended, but then again, I never know what Pioneer Girl will discover in her travels.  I try not to get too detail oriented, so there are probably significant details missing in the historic element,as I prefer skimming over a ton of information..  But in PG,  I try to keep my segments short and simple and try to wrap things up neatly.  

Keep the pioneer spirit, and peace on the highway...PGxoxo

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