Bethlehem Steel

My usual MO is to figure out where I’ll land next the night before or even the day I depart my current location.  I was leaving Clinton MA, heading to West Grove PE which is down in the corner next to Delaware and Maryland.  Since I don’t care to travel major highways, I looked for a place to stop for the night that would allow me to check out some out of the way places. 

I identified the Sands Casino in Bethlehem PA. I had no clue what Bethlehem was like.  Perfect! Off I went.

Whoa!! the Casino was built on the grounds of the old steel mill in the heart of town.  As usual, I found parking in the most remote parking lot and settled in.  It was very late in the day, I was tired and we settled in for the night right next to a huge abandoned industrial structure.  I suspected it was part of the steel mill.

During the night, I could hear faint bits of music and voices drifting through the abandoned buildings.  It was eerie to say the least.  As on most days, the dog and I were up before the sun rose.  We walked around a bit while I enjoyed coffee.  As daylight approached, I grabbed a camera and shot some photos of the old building.  Shortly, casino security came by and I flagged them down. I asked if this was the old Bethlehem Steel plant.  They said it was and then pointed toward some stairs on the edge of the parking lot and said I could climb them and walk on an elevated catwalk that wandered through the steel mill buildings right up close to the blast furnace.  WOW!  What a treat.  It was awesome.

The catwalk stretches on along several buildings and has signs explaining what they were and discusses the history of Bethlehem Steel.  I noticed that there was an amphitheater across the street from the steel mill.  So, that’s where the music came from.  Not long after I was there, Arlo Guthrie played there.  He described the steel mill in a most eloquent way.

For me, it was and unexpected and very moving experience.

Mount Desert Island

Venus looking down at the entrance to Bar Harbor at 04:05. 

The Schooner Heritage

As we approached the Atlantic coast at Seabrook at the bottom of New Hampshire, we found ourselves shrouded in fog.  That world famous New England sea fog. You know, pea soup fog.  For miles of driving if we could see the ocean at all, it was only in tiny patches.  This fog stayed with us until after we arrived in at Bar Harbor Maine.
However, the fog interfered with neither our appetite or our exploring.  We drove along the coast and explored where we could taking time to stop and enjoy lobster.  The following day we crossed into Maine still socked in with fog.  Finally we came to a spot where the fog thinned out a bit and I found a place to park. It was at the harbor at Rockland. I walked around the harbor and explored.  It’s a wonderful harbor with numerous vessels and quite a healthy maritime industry. Being a sailor, I thoroughly enjoyed poking around the harbor

The fog lifted just enough for a few photographs while I was here.

This is the Schooner Heritage laying alongside the wharf in Rockland.

After exploring Rockland we continued north.  We had Lunch at the Wicked Good Restaurant in Waldoboro Maine. I enjoyed Lobster for the next few days.  Yum!

Village of Fonda NY on the Erie Canal

Once we departed the Great Lakes, I mapped a course along the Erie Canal and drove through many villages and towns.  The Village of Fonda was one such place.  We drove right down Main Street.  But of course! In most of these places, Main Street was the only thoroughfare and presented the best chance of passing without detours due to low clearance overpasses, weight restrictions, etc..

The village is located near the former Mohawk village of Caughnawaga. This was the 17th-century home of Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk girl who converted to Catholicism and became renowned for her piety. It has a national shrine devoted to her; she is the first Native American saint. After a French attack on the village in the 17th century, Kateri and many other Mohawk moved to a Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, established opposite Montreal in Quebec, Canada on the south side of the St. Lawrence River.

European settlers, mostly German and English, officially organized the present-day village in 1751 at the site of Caughnawaga. Fonda was later named for an ethnic Dutch settler who was scalped in an Indian raid during the Revolutionary War.

After the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, Fonda thrived with the growth in trade and traffic that accompanied it. The canal provided transportation and commercial links to communities around the Great Lakes. Fonda became a center of cheesemaking which was part of the regional dairy industry. The area was devoted to agriculture. As the county seat, it also did well with the arrival of the railroad in 1835, which increased cross-state transportation and shipping of goods. The village was incorporated in 1850.

Population is declining, currently estimated to be 759.  The village consists of .6 sq mi, with .1 sq mi being water.  I saw many fine homes, some in perfect condition and others in varying states of disrepair.  All were evidence of a time when Fonda Thrived.

Lost along the Erie Canal

As usual, I was driving along a long forgotten 2 lane road.  On this particular morning it was highway 5S in New York not far from Vermont.  We were following the Erie Canal on the south bank, soon to cross north and head into Vermont.
Highway 5S was pretty empty which made it a pleasure to watch the landscape unfold.  We came to the top of a rise and right in front of me and pretty much in the middle of nowhere were the remains of a once elegant estate. As I passed it, I decided to turn back and see if I could find a place to park.  As is normal with two lane roads, it took a while but I turned back and parked in a empty NY State Road Dept. lot.  Wearing shorts, tee shirt and flop flops I grabbed some camera gear and walked a quarter mile or so up the road looking for some good spots to shoot from.
As I walked back to the RV I spied a man walking to one of the buildings so of course I stopped and spoke with him.  Glen Mosier spent some time telling me about the estate and the area.  Somewhere down in the valley is a castle complete with dungeon that was build by some military man back in the 1700s.  Across the Erie Canal is a Quarry where Glen once worked.  I gathered that Glen’s grandfather still lives in the old mansion.

Our Lady of Lourdes

Just a block from the word famous Anchor Bar stands a once magnificent structure, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

The church has roots back to 1850 after an ethnic split-up of the Lamb Church of God built in 1832.  That congregation consisted of German, Irish and French immigrants. In 1837 the Irish members left to establish Saint Patrick’s Church where they could worship in in the English language. In 1843, A group of German members left  and formed Saint Mary’s church.  Finally, the French members separated and established Saint Peter’s French Catholic Church.

When toward the end of the 19th century,  the parishioners outgrew the church they procured land and began construction of a new church located on the corner of Best and Main Streets.  The new church was named Notre Dame de Lourdes and had four cornerstones commemorating both Saint Peters and Notre Dame de Lourdes in both native language and in English.

Movin on up the road

Yesterday we parted ways with the Ohio River at the point where I could no longer follow it up river to the north. When it turned to the east (up river) I continued on to the north. Next stop is Niagara Falls. We went straight up through Ohio until we ran into Lake Erie. 

Then we followed the shoreline to the east and finally stopped for the day at Presque Isle Casino in Pennsylvania. Yeah, I know. . . . Casino? Hey, if it isn’t a destination and I need a relatively safe place to stop for the night I’ve found that many casinos have decent parking and security patrols. After all, we are self contained and only need a level place to park that feels safe.

I’m dragging my feet this morning as Buffalo NY is only a couple hours away and I want to check it out in the middle of the day. I’ll also top my diesel tank near Buffalo. It seems that fuel in this part of NY is fifty cents a gallon less than where I am in Pennsylvania.

Oh and speaking of destinations and casinos, I’ll probably “camp” at the casino just a couple blocks from the falls at Niagara. While it isn’t a campground, it is only 2 blocks from the falls and I can walk back and forth while I’m there. That is unless I find a better alternative.

Cheers!

Paul and HeyLeigh the wonder dog.

Wheeling WV – a sneak preview

What an awesome morning it was.  The overcast skies were gone and the sun was bright and warming.  Wheeling West Virginia is absolutely delightful.  Take it from someone who rides a seriously underpowered trail bike, the 25 mph speed limits are a joy.  I rode just a couple miles south to Benfield where I had spied an old, no longer used bridge across the river when I drove into town. Found it.  Pictures will have to wait until I get home and refview them on a decent screen.

Meanwhile, here are several from todays explorations.  I’ll have more once this Roadtour has ended and I find time to sort through them.

The diverse architecture here is a marvelous sight. Every Block brings new and different styles. I can’t put my finger on it but for some reason Boy George came to mind when I saw this. Not exactly Ybor city but still….. A lot of cigar business has been conducted here.Wheeling is the home of Swisher tobacco. Their advertisement is painted on numerous buildings.  thanks to the Federal Government, the signs are disappearing and cannot be repainted or replaced.