Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kennywood Park, Altoona Area
Vacation June 2014
This trip was inspired by members of the Back Fence Cat Club, especially Virginia.
It started when she posted links to Kennywood Memories, videos of the early days of Kennywood Amusement Park
near Pittsburgh. My wife and I were there in 1998 and loved the old style park and its Rollar Coasters.
We longed to return some day but that never happened. The videos brought back fond memories but I wondered if
I could justify driving 9 hours to visit a park. Then there was a post about the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia.
This gave me another reason for a trip, and a stop midway to avoid driving too long alone. I asked about other
things to do in Western Pennsylvania, had many replies, and this trip expanded to four nights.
In part this trip was a nostagic thing to do on the fifth anniversary of the death of my wife June 6, 2009.
We loved to travel together. She would object to this trip because I spent so much time, "getting there".
She taught me early on to stay at least 3-4 days at each hotel/motel/B&B, starting with our Honeymoon.
Many would find this vacation boring. It is not a cruise through the Caribbean with skin diving in clear blue water!
William Penn Statue on top of the imposing City Hall.
The largest Statue on any building at 37 feet tall, designed by Alexander Calder.
Not to be confused with his grandson who gave us mobiles and stabiles.
Calder argued that the statue should face South so it could be illuminated by the Sun all day.
As you can see he lost.
Convention Center with many floors.
Convention Center zoomed in. Note the faces between the holes.
That huge guitar rotates.
I happened to come upon Independence Hall. Since I have seen most of the City before
I did not go inside nor did I wait in the long line to see the Liberty Bell. It hasn't changed much.
The Wanamaker building, built in 1902 for John Wanamaker's Department Store.
The original Wanamaker's was built in an abandoned Railroad Station in 1876.
Mr Wanamaker was a leader in treating his employees respectfully.
Statue 'The Sign Boy' as seen above in front of Wanamaker Building.
This huge eagle in the main hall of the building has 5000 individual feathers.
I travelled to Philly to see the largest functional Organ in the world!
It has 28,000 pipes, twice as many as the Newberry Organ in Yale's Woolsey Hall.
The highest ranks of pipes are 7 stories above the floor.
The console of the organ is on the second level. Note 6 keyboards. The organist
played many different types of music (I heard a Disney song), total time was 50 minutes.
They invite the public to chat with the organist after the performance, I was the only one who did.
We had a nice chat. We discussed Woolsey, and he mentioned (with disappointment) due to contruction
on the seventh floor he could not use the highest pipes. With my limited knowledge of music I hadn't noticed!
The Battleship New Jersey across the Delaware from Penns Landing.
Possible day trip in the future.
Downtown Pittsburgh from Mount Washington.
Known as a City of Bridges you can see six crossing the Monongahela river in the foreground.
The Allegheny river is to the rear of Downtown, you can see a piece of it to the left.
Point Park is on the tip of Downtown Pittsburgh.
You can see six bridges crossing the Allegheny river, Pennsylvania is the bridge and tunnel capital!.
If I disregard Connecticut's only highway tunnel, a short one less than a mile from my house,
I can say I went through more tunnels in three days than the rest of my life!
I used this clock on Macy*s as a reference to find my bearings, and my car.
A detailed structure, note the windows on the Penthouse level are the smallest.
Zoomed in on the Sunny side of the building.
I love the curved lines of this bridge and took photos from many angles.
When I first came to New Haven, Yale was covered in Ivy.
The French also helped us fight our revolution.
North America was settled by people from many nations.
The Riverboat theme is everywhere, they came up the Ohio to where it split
into the Allegheny and Monongahela. This does not appear to be a real paddlewheeler.
This Tunnel through the mountain is for busses and trolleys.
The only Trolley I saw on the trip. Philadelphia had Trolley Tracks but no trolleys.
When you are known as 'The Steel City' you have sculpture that is large, heavy, and includes a blast furnace.
I travelled up the mountain often. This three family home has a wonderful
view of Downtown. The three owners don't seem to agree on color or window style!
Plaques at the top of one of Pittsburgh's two remaining inclines.
There were once five that provided transportation to the top of Mount Washington.
Looking down the incline before I started my round trip.
The two cars balance each other, one goes down as the other goes up. Pennsylvania is
very hilly and I saw inclines at two more stops in my journey. My wife and I have been
on one in Northbridge England and Quebec Canada (the French call it a Funicular).
Looking up the incline from inside a car waiting for a zillion kids to board.
Looking up the Monongahela Incline, which happened to be closed that day.
The cashier at the Duquesne Incline told me they only accept coins and pointed me
to a change machine. I cringed at how 40 Quarters would pour out for my $10 bill.
To my surprise Pittsburgh is using the dollar coins! Here you see a 1979 Susan B Anthony,
2007 John Adams, and 2010 Abraham Lincoln $1 pieces. I had thought they were all withdrawn
due to being too similar in size to a Quarter for blind people to tell apart. The Anthony coin
has an 11 sided recess to alert the blind, the newer coins do not. It took some close observation
to figure out the back side of the Anthony coin: The Eagle is landing on the Moon and the Earth is
in the upper left with the Western Hemisphere showing! Note all appear to be made of a different alloy.
The Presidential Dollar Coins are still in production though I never saw one in Connecticut.
The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh has many exhibits aimed at kids.
What caught my eye was a huge Model Railroad layout. It used the three rail track common for Lionel.
No Pittsburgh train layout would be complete without an incline.
Or an amusement park.
Or a baseball field.
Girl plays Air Hockey against a robot. They seemed evenly matched.
My astro buddies have seen meteorites from the mile wide Berringer Crater
in Arizona. This is the third largest piece found. I visited the Crater in 2012.
Basketball tossing Robot lines up an over-the-head toss.
It throws to a basket to the left of this view. Accuracy was over 50%.
Girls climb the side of a "Space Station".
Kennywood Amusement Park
Kennywood, like Lake Compounce, is very old. For 11 years Kennywood owned Compounce.
They have kept several of the old rides including this car ride and some wooden Roller Coasters.
I've seen this type of ride in several parks, this one seems to always have girls riding.
I can't beleive I've seen one as tall as this SkyCoaster!
WIKI says both Kennywood and Lake Compounce are 180 feet tall.
Garden and Fountain.
Fountain, Log Ride, and Black Widow. Note how tall the swing is.
My wife and I rode on the Original Steel Phantom. With a 225 foot drop at 84 MPH
it held the world record at the time. The one in the photo is the Phantom's Revenge, similar except
they removed the loops and corkscrews. I agree with that, I was nausiated that day in 1998!
The Phantom has a drop greater than it's height. This is possible because
it goes a short distance down a ravine (toward the Monongahela river). This makes the second
drop longer (and faster) then the first.
This fountain reminded me of visiting Eleanor at Yale New Haven Hospital
which has one like it in the lobby.
The sign is correct, George Washington was in the area before Kennywood.
Those are legs sticking out from the circular swing seat.
About 40 people fit on this ride. The girl in the middle had her
sandle fall off, the attendent picked it up for her. Most of the young ladies took
their footwear off if there was a chance of loosing it..
Driving Back East from Pittsburgh
The Allegheny Portage Railroad requires some explanation. The Pennsylvania Railroad needed
some way to cross the mountains to compete with other routes of cargo transport like the
Great Lakes. They built a means to pull train cars carrying cargo or even canal boats up
inclines to get over the mountains. The Portage Railroad had severel inclined sections to
pull the cars slowly uphill, pulled by "stationary engines" in sheds at the top of each hill.
These were the early days of steam trains, the Portage opened in 1834.
One such section has been restored/recreated and is a National Historic Site in Gallitzin, PA.
This is the top of the incline, where the track goes level toward the building.
Here we are looking down the incline, the track here is long gone.
Here the level section of track goes right through the building.
The long tow rope must be pulled from the center of the track, thus the pulleys are
under the rails, protected by the roof. Thus the train goes through the building.
The tracks come out the other side and here a train engine would
be coupled to the cars and take them to the next incline.
The brick structure is three boilers, making steam to power the lift.
The tow rope extends from here down the hill. In later years the hemp
rope was replaced by a metal cable for longer lifetime.
Wheels and Pulleys.
More wheels and Pulleys.
Here is a closeup of the tracks. In some places stone blocks were used
to support the rails instead of wood ties. The site includes a demonstration
of how the blocks were shaped and drilled.
This "skewed" bridge is at the bottom of the incline. The tracks did not meet the
existing road at 90 degrees. Rather than put a twist in the road the bridge was built
skewed to keep rail and road straight. Yes, the wind turbine was not built in the 1800s.
I saw many wind turbines in the Alleghenies.
An enterprising local businessman built a tavern on the top of the portage.
The couple who lived in the tavern.
Horseshoe Curve is a section of the Pennsylvania Railroad where the track goes around a box Looking up the incline. This one is unusual in that only one track is shared I had not expected to see a train pass during my 30 minutes at the top. Same two engines. The little boy in red had a camera on a tripod. The only other engine I saw in the tracks. Looking down into the valley there is a series of reservoirs. The lower altitude side of the Looking down the funicular. Info Altoona PA has a four story Railroading Museum. Behind the museum is a very long dropped flat car. A lot of equipment used to test products used on the Railroad.
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canyon, gaining altitude to cross the hills. It is a long, tight curve by Railroad Standards
often requiring a train engine on both ends to pull/push the cars around the bend. You can't
"see" the whole curve in the summer, it is obscured by trees, You can take a funicular from
the highway to the track and see a piece of the curve. There are also historical exhibits.
and the cars pass in the center section. This makes the stations simpler.
As I got off the Funicular a pair of engines passed by. Extra engines pass from end to end
as needed to pull long trains up the hill.
It appeared his mother brought him up here for the day so he could photograph trains.
horseshoe is on the hill to the left, passes behind me, and the higher end is up the hill on the right.
WHY ALTOONA the sign asks? A city I barely ever heard of turns out to have been
key to the operation of the Pennsyvania Railroad. Many of the steem engines were built
and serviced in Altoona. The large workforce attacted entertainment: you can see photos
of Babe Ruth and George Burns who performed here. Many presidents came to the city and to
visit Horseshoe Curve. Pennsy RR resisted the conversion to Diesel to keep the Altoona
workers in jobs. Eventually the RR had to switch, obsoleting the steam train builders.
The drop allowed tall machines to be carried through the old small tunnels.
Looking up the incline. This one is unusual in that only one track is shared
I had not expected to see a train pass during my 30 minutes at the top.
Same two engines. The little boy in red had a camera on a tripod.
The only other engine I saw in the tracks.
Looking down into the valley there is a series of reservoirs. The lower altitude side of the
Looking down the funicular.
Altoona PA has a four story Railroading Museum.
Behind the museum is a very long dropped flat car.
A lot of equipment used to test products used on the Railroad.
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