Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Point Park

There is so much to see at Point Park in Pittsburgh! This post will only cover a little of the rich history and diversity of the place, because we were able to spend only a short time there. 

My main interest was to see the place where the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers come together to form the Ohio. I travel alongside the Ohio River so often; it borders my county and flows past two towns where we have antique mall booths. I am often storytelling in the northern panhandle region of West Virginia, following Route 2 along the river to reach the pretty towns on its banks. The history of the river fascinates me, and I wanted to see its birthplace.

To get to the confluence, we passed under this concrete arch, glimpsing a fountain as we walked.

Inside the arch, reflecting pools bordered the walkway. Some people had tossed coins in the water.

And then, after a long walk, we were there. It was difficult to get a photo of the joining of the rivers; I needed to be much higher up to do that. So, next trip that will be a goal. But here you can see the Monongahela flowing in on the right, the bridge over the Allegheny on the left, and in the center, the beginning of the Ohio.

There were many people about this day, but in one area there were only these two fishermen, perhaps because spray from the fountain washed over the area. I enjoyed the peace of these two, plying a simple craft against the backdrop of modern buildings and bridges.

And the fountain! It had not been operational for a while, but restoration and repairs were completed on Friday and it was a sight to see. If coming into Pittsburgh through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, be sure to look to the left to see the fountain against the backdrop of the city. 

Plaques along a wall showed images of the Point at various times in history. I wish I had seen it in its early days.

Today's view looks like this:

The Fort Pitt Museum is housed in a structure built, I believe, on the foundation of the original fort from George Washington's time. We did not tour the museum (Larry was in a hurry, remember?)

but we did go into the blockhouse.

Inscription over the door:

A rifle port, one of many along the walls.

Dates on the wall and into the ceiling area indicate the levels of historic floods. The 1907 flood was devastating all along the Ohio River, although the 1936 flood ( not shown in this photo, but just below the 1907 mark) probably created more damage because by then the river was heavily settled and there were many industries and thousands of people living along its banks.

This is just a quick overview, which unfortunately was all we were able to do. It's definitely worth a return visit. I was very glad to see where my river started, and to stand still and quiet, thinking about the flatboats, canoes, keelboats, shanty boats, steamboats and tugs that have plied its waters over the centuries. I tried to imagine the river before the locks and dams that controlled its flow and water level, to envision people riding horseback across shallows or walking across the ice. I thought about the many steamboat disasters along its course, the people drowned in accidents of one kind or another, the boom times of the industrial days when coal smoke blackened the skies and the river was filled with barges of coal. 

This river has been part of the story of America from its beginning to the present. It took settlers down to the Mississippi where they could then venture up the Missouri and into the western lands. It carried goods and raw materials out of the mountains and down to New Orleans for shipment around the world. 

Today the river is cleaner and calmer, but still she plays a part in the daily lives of all who live along her course. I will never tire of watching her flow, smelling the river water smell and seeing the moon shine on her at night. She is, without as the Native Americans called her, the Beautiful River.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

This was an interesting history tour, beautiful photos I enjoy photos along with all of the amazing facts-great post.

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