Pennsylvania, Maryland and Home

Saturday, June 11
Friendship Hill National Historic Site was our first stop today. Albert Gallatin left Switzerland to explore the new American land. He was a surveyor. He was able to acquire land which he named Friendship Hill, and built his home there in 1789. Over the years new additions were built. Gallatin was a state legislator, and US Congressman. He was also key to peacefully quelling the Whiskey Rebellion. Gallatin was fiscally conservative, and help to balance the US budget as the Secretary of US Treasury. He was also an active anti-federalist. After Congress, he was the Minister to France. He sold Friendship Hill in 1892.

Stop number two was at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. The fort was build by the troops under a young British lieutenant named George Washington. Prior to building the fort Washington had led a group of British soldiers to intercept a group or French soldiers in the Ohio Valley. There were differing accounts of what happened, but Washington won this skirmish. However, he knew that, because the French lieutenant had been killed by one of the Native-Americans assisting his troops, that the retaliation from the French be swift. Not far from the French fort he and his men quickly erected a small fort from which to defend their position. It was a disaster, and the first battle that Washington ever lost. This battle was the official start of the six years-long French and Indians War. Long after the war had ended, Washington returned to the site (the French had burned the old fort). With a new road being steadily built through the area he decided it would be a good location to build an inn.

Along the winding roads to the next site on our list, we stopped for lunch in a small town that seemed to be quite popular for rafting and tubing down the Allegheny River. We climbed the steps to Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe and got some pretty tasty sandwiches. It’s all outdoors, and we got there just ahead of the crowds.

The Johnstown Flood National Memorial was our third stop. We looked through the visitor center then took in the 35 minute, Academy Award (short documentary) winning, movie. We sat, stunned. This, in our opinion, was the worst NPS film we have ever seen. Outside of the film I had read about the catastrophic disaster that in 1889 took the lives of over 2,200 people. It was the single greatest loss of life on our soils until 9/11.

At our last stop, the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, we arrived just in time to watch the park’s film, which was much better than the flood film.

For 20 years they would take a canal boat up the canal, pulled by mules, put it on a train and take it over the mountains, then put it back in the water to finish the journey. It was 395 miles in five days vs 24 days by wagon. It was a no-brainer. There were occasional accidents from the ropes breaking, but eventually iron braided cable replaced the regular ropes and ended a majority of the accidents. The portage railroad helped streamline and speed up the move out west. Over time, a regular easy-graded train track was laid and the old railroad was replaced by 1857.

Sunday, June 12 to Tuesday, June 14
Today we traveled to Alan’s mom’s to visit for a few days.

Wednesday, June 15
We left Mom K’s and headed south to Delaware and Maryland. Our first stop was at Bombay Hook NWR where we drove the wildlife tour road. There were hoards of biting flies, which made opening a window or door nearly impossible. We did find a few spots where they weren’t too bad and got a few nice shots of some mute swans (a life list add).

Next up was the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Site. Because this is dedicated to Harriet’s work with the Underground Railroad, there are actually a bunch of sites that go with this particular NPS location. Unfortunately we had only a little time in which to visit this site, but we made the most of it.

After the NPS site, we visited Black River NWR, just down the road. There wasn’t a fly problem like at Bombay Hook, but the birds weren’t there either. We drove the wildlife drive and were disappointed. The one bright spot was an osprey nest sitting at almost eye level out in one of the ponds. We stood with another photographer and watched him fly around a bit, then wait for his mate when she brought in a catch. He tore into it and fed the very small chicks in the nest.

Afterwards we stayed in a hotel about an hour away, then headed home the next day.