|photo 12/11/2010 @ The Mounds|
Good morning, Pioneers… Today GPS coordinates tracked me down in McKees Rocks, PA, in a section called The Bottoms on this beautiful early winter morning. Although my mission is not clear, I leave that to fate, see what I see, and learn what I learn. And I was not disappointed. Sometimes what I think is my mission, in the end is completely different, it unfolds as I go.
Pioneer spirit drove me to explore The Bottoms as a historical site and, in particular the McKees Rocks Mounds. Crossing the McKees Rocks Bridge, and exiting on Helen Street, we enter into an interesting mix of industry, row houses, tattoo shops, abandoned asphalt lots, and beautiful churches. This is quite a beautiful area. Passing the “Bottoms Up” saloon, which has gone bottoms up, by the way, I find my way down Sproul Street to an area where the Chartiers Creek meets up with the Ohio River. The Historical Marker tells the story in a nutshell, and I finally found it inside a playground and softball field called Roger’s Field. But was this really today’s mission?
As I was following River Road, I could see mysterious Brunot’s Island with a beautiful Pittsburgh skyline in the distance and I had to pull over to take this moody shot. This 129 acre island is formed where the Ohio River splits briefly before making it’s way back to join the Ohio again. It is owned by Reliant Electric now and home to some sort of power plant generating station and that is it. There is only a railroad bridge and a walkway across the bridge for workers’ access to the island, there is no plumbing or drinking water. That’s why it seems to mysterious, one can only view it from a distance unless you are a kayaker or boater. But, I don’t know, maybe it’s better that way. Herr’s Island is now home to condominiums and boat launches tennis courts and walkways, maybe leaving this natural and mysterious is nicer instead of fully harnassing it. There are actually deer and various other wildlife on the island. People have said they have seen deer actually swimming (?), crossing the channel to the island.
I learned that In the early 1900’s there was a one-mile dirt oval race track on the island, wealthy industrial types raced horses there, and eventually cars but it was demolished in 1914..those were the days when there was a ferry that took people back and forth on the island. It is named for Dr. Felix Brunot a French surgeon who practices in Pittsburgh during the American Revolution. He bought the island for $2,800 in 1787. Actually Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark famed, stopped at the island (and that turned into a fiasco too long to indulge in) first on his way to St. Louis to pick up “Clark” to begin their frontier journey. Ahh, so this is how I tie into my pioneer theme today, I knew it would work it’s way out.
This past summer, a fisherman came upon a badly decomposed woman’s body at Brunot’s Island floating in the Ohio River. She had no id on her, but was wearing a zippered sweater with the word “Freedom” on it, a “Citizens for Humanity” jeans, and (among others) 2 tattoos with the words “God’s Child” on them. She was later identified by her tattoos, a young 24-year old girl named Sidney from the North Side. They never released what the cause of death was that I could find. Rest in Peace, Sidney, I feel I passed your spirit today… You could have been at the exact spot where I stopped for the moody lonely photo….your messages left behind on your corpse fascinate, for I too am a Freedom lover, a Citizen for Humanity, and Gods child, sister.
Well, that wraps up this pioneer segment….scout and I had a few other interesting sitings today, and as usual, I will have some fun reporting them. This little trip definitely unfolded a little differently than I had anticipated, but this PG is always open to change and what the universe opens up..
More about McKees Rocks to come, but until then, peace on the highway, friends… Pioneer Girl xoxo