The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Mt. Jewett PA’

Leaf Peeping at Kinzua Bridge State Park and Allegany State Park

Wednesday, October 5th, was sunny and a typical fall weather day.  We decided to go on a leaf peeping drive. We left home around 8:30 am and returned home at 2:00 pm. 

Our first stop was at Kinzua Bridge State Park near Mt. Jewett PA.

The Viaduct, or Kinzua Bridge, once was the longest and tallest railroad structure at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high.
The Viaduct was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003.
The Viaduct was reinvented as a pedestrian walkway in 2011.
Stroll 600 feet out on the remaining support towers,
peer miles out into the Kinzua Gorge, and
gaze down through the partial glass platform
at the end of the walkway.
The foliage color is really nice this year!
Looking down, way down, from the bridge
The support towers taken down by the tornado still remain on the forest floor 19 years later.
Proof that Bob and I were at Kinzua Bridge State Park 🙂

Our second stop was at Allegany State Park, which we entered via Limestone Road near Bradford PA.  It has been more than 5 years since we used that entrance point to the park.  We used to enter the park via Limestone Road, when we wanted to avoid the park fee (not every visit but sometimes).  We have purchased the NYS Park Empire Pass for the past several years and will continue to do so. We no longer concern ourselves with the cost to enter a New York State Park. The Limestone Road was just as rugged as we remembered it. We didn’t drive all over Allegany State Park, as we usually do when we visit the park. Instead we visited only Science Lake and Quaker Lake.

Science Lake at Allegany State Park
This tree by the fishing pier at Science Lake was quite vivid. This picture doesn’t even come close to the brilliance that my eye saw.

During our many visits to Allegany State Park, I take photographs mainly at the northern end of Quaker Lake near the Spillway Overlook. The lighting wasn’t good at that end of the lake, so I concentrated on the southern end of the lake.

Quaker Lake at Allegany State Park
Quaker Lake, looking north
Quaker Lake

From Allegany State Park we drove along part of the Allegheny Reservoir, past Kinzua Dam,  and then home.  The leaves are definitely changing colors, but neither Kinzua Bridge State Park nor Allegany State Park have reached their peak color. If time permits, we may make a return visit in a week to one or both of the parks.

Meeting a Blogging and Facebook Friend for the First Time

I met a blogging and Facebook friend for the first time yesterday morning. Eileen and I began reading and commenting on each other’s blog posts in December 2009. Eileen has three blogs, of which I read most often the blog entitled “Viewing nature with Eileen”.  Eileen and I became Facebook friends in September 2010.

Eileen and her husband, Michael, live in Maryland.  They are in Pennsylvania on vacation.  Their vacation plans included visiting two Pennsylvania State Parks —Cook Forest State Park and Presque Isle State Park— and meeting me, if possible.  Another Pennsylvania State Park was added to their itinerary, when Eileen and I made plans earlier this week to meet at Kinzua Bridge State Park.

I met Eileen and Michael at Kinzua Bridge State Park yesterday at 10:00 am. Kinzua Bridge State Park is located near Mt. Jewett, PA in McKean County.  It is the home of the Kinzua Viaduct.  The Viaduct, once known as the longest and tallest railroad structure at 2,053 feet long and 301 feet high, was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003.  I drove to the park from my home in Warren, PA. Eileen and Michael drove to the park from Clarion (where they stayed while visiting Cook Forest State Park).  While at the park we walked across the Kinzua Viaduct (now known as the Kinzua Bridge skywalk); we viewed the bridge and its ruins from three observation platforms; and we walked through the Visitor Center.

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Eileen and Michael on the Kinzua Bridge skywalk

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Eileen and me at the end of the skywalk

20170920_142759945_iOSKinzua Bridge skywalk and bridge ruins
(view from first observation platform)

We walked down to the lower observation platform seen in the photograph displayed above.

20170920_143221561_iOSKinzua Bridge skywalk and bridge ruins
(view from second observation platform)

On our way to the Picture Taking Platform under the skywalk, a colorful scene stopped me in my tracks.

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Autumn is right around the corner

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A nice woman took a picture of the three of us
and the remaining support towers from the Picture Taking Platform.
I LOVE the “3D” effect behind us.

I reciprocated the favor by taking a picture of the woman with her father.

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I LOVE the “3D” effect!

20170920_144425872_iOSA side view of the Kinzua Bridge skywalk and the bridge ruins

Eileen and Michael told me that they visited Kinzua Bridge State Park, with their young son, many years ago.  The park looks a lot different now, compared to when they first visited.  Their first visit was several years before the tornado hit that knocked down the railroad bridge.  A train still traveled across the railroad bridge on their first visit.

We departed each others company, after visiting Kinzua Bridge State Park.  Eileen and Michael headed to Presque Isle State Park; I returned home.

I am glad that Eileen, Michael and I were able to get together, albeit for a short time. We enjoyed each others company and conversation, while taking in picturesque views.

Kinzua Bridge State Park Visit

As is usual on Friday, Bob came home from work at noon. Soon after coming home, we went for a ride on the motorcycle. We rode to Kinzua Bridge State Park, via U.S. Route 6.

Kinzua Bridge State Park is located in McKean County near Mt. Jewett, PA.  The park features remnants of the 2,053-foot railroad bridge (viaduct) that an F1 tornado struck in July 2003. A visitor center is under construction.  Until the visitor center is open, visitors park in the overflow parking area.  From the overflow parking lot it is a short, easy walk to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

Kinzua Park Visitor Center

We walked past the Kinzua Bridge State Park Visitor Center on our way to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.  The construction of the new visitor center appears near completion. According to a park brochure dated January 2016 the visitor center will include park staff offices, conference room, gift shop, reception area, lobby, restrooms, classroom, exhibits and vending machines.

A deck wraps around the north and west sides of the visitor center.
The deck will offer views of the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk, debris field and gorge area.

We followed the trail shown in the photograph displayed above to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

Kinzua Bridge Skywalk
(Note the Picture Taking Platform below the skywalk.)

We walked across the skywalk.

Bob walking across the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

At the end of the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk is a glass floor, through which you can see the forest floor way below you.

We encounter people every time we visit Kinzua Bridge State Park
who are afraid to walk across the glass floor.

Remnants of railroad bridge (viaduct) on forest floor,
as viewed from end of skywalk

We walked back across the skywalk. We saw signage for the Kinzua Creek Trail, which provides access to the bottom of the gorge. We opted not to hike this trail on this visit. The trail is 0.4 mile one way and is described in the park brochure as a “steep, challenging trail”.  We did follow a short side trail from the Kinzua Creek Trail to the Picture Taking Platform. This platform is located under the skywalk and provides a view of the remaining support towers.

View from the Picture Taking Platform

We waited for a short time before taking pictures from the Picture Taking Platform.  When it appeared that the two girls in the photograph displayed above would not be leaving anytime soon, I held up my camera and said “your picture is going to be on the Internet”.  Neither girl moved, and the girl on the right smiled nicely for me.  Having the girls in the photograph does add perspective.  At the time I didn’t know whether or not Bob would climb up there to have his picture taken.  The girls did leave a few minutes, after I took this picture.

The “3D” effect is interesting.

Bob did climb onto the bridge.

 

An overlook of the remnants of the railroad bridge (viaduct) is located a short distance from the Picture Taking Platform.

Railroad Bridge Remnants overlook
(view from the skywalk)

 

We stopped at the overlook on our way back to the parking lot from the Picture Taking Platform.

Railroad Bridge (Viaduct) Remnants Overlook

On our way back home we stopped for lunch at the Barrel House located on U.S. Route 6 at Lantz Corners in Kane, PA. Bob had a prime rib wrap, while I had teriyaki chicken on a bed of wild rice. We each ordered peanut butter pie for dessert.  Our lunches were filling and delicious.

We returned home around 4:30 pm.  It was a very good day for a motorcycle ride.  I am glad that we went for the ride yesterday.  The forecast for today and tomorrow call for rain.  Neither of us like to ride in the rain, unless we have no choice.

An All-Day Motorcycle Ride

Bob and I, along with two other couples, went on an all-day motorcycle ride on Saturday. We left home at 7:30 am and returned home about 12 hours later. We rode 266 miles.

We rode to Leonard Harrison State Park in Wellsboro. We made two stops en route the park. Our first stop was in Smethport, along Route 6.

Smethport, PA

We had just ridden over several miles of Route 59 that was tarred & chipped. This stop was to stretch and to commiserate with each other about having to ride over a road surface that had been recently tarred and chipped. Bob, Paul and John were driving at speeds to minimize the effects of fresh tar and chips to the motorcycles. People passing us drove too fast, disregarding what could happen, as they sprayed chips in our direction. Bob heard gravel hit our motorcycle. He thought the gravel hit the windshield. When he checked, he didn’t find a ding in the windshield. Bob said if the motorcycle sustained a ding, he will find it when he washes the bike. I hope none of the motorcycles received dings from flying gravel.

We did see immediate injury from a flying piece of gravel, though.

Paul was hit in the cheek with a flying chip. He sustained a small cut. Thankfully, his injury wasn’t any worse!

Our second stop was a fuel stop at Sheetz in Coudersport.

There is a very pretty park near Sheetz in Coudersport.
The park is where I took this very nice photograph of Debbie and Paul.

Oh no!  Not again!
We had no alternative but to ride on this road.
We were on the road leading into Leonard Harrison State Park.

We took our time admiring the view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, while at Leonard Harrison State Park.

Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

Leonard Harrison State Park

John, Carol, Bob and I

It was John and Carol’s first visit to Wellsboro. They liked the ride to the park, as well as the views from the park itself.

From Leonard Harrison State Park we rode into Wellsboro and ate lunch at the Wellsboro Diner. The diner was crowded, when we arrived. There was a booth available in the main part of the diner and a round table in the gift shop area. We chose the round table, as it provided more room and was in a quieter location. Everyone except for Bob ordered cheeseburgers and fries. Bob ordered a steak sandwich and onion rings. Lunch was very good.

On our way back home we made three stops. We made a fuel stop in Port Allegheny and we stopped for ice cream in Mt. Jewett. In between those two stops we visited Kinzua Bridge State Park. We walked across the Kinzua Skywalk.

Kinzua Skywalk

Remains of Kinzua Bridge, after tornado

It is quite an experience to walk out onto those blocks of glass.  I am smiling here.  I wasn’t smiling a few minutes before this photograph was taken.  I probably had a look of surprise on my face at that time, as Bob, Paul and John jumped up and down on the block of glass that I was standing on!

 

Paul is peering down to the forest floor below the bridge.

All six of us on the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

We hung around the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk for a while. It was fun to watch and listen to people’s reactions, as they contemplated whether or not to walk on the blocks of glass from which you could see way, way down to the forest floor.

Oh, I almost forgot.  While riding en route Port Allegheny, Bob had to dodge flying square pieces of slab wood. He rode over one. Thankfully, we didn’t blow a tire and, more importantly, none of us were injured!

We had an amazing day with great friends. We enjoyed the ride, the laughter, the fun and making memories with our friends. Bob and I have visited Leonard Harrison State Park many times since we were married. We have enjoyed the beauty there together, alone.  Saturday was the first time that Bob and I were able to share the beauty of the view of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park with friends.

Kinzua Bridge State Park

Saturday was the first time that our friends, Cathy and “Ducky”, had visited Kinzua Bridge State Park.  When I discovered that my friends had not seen Kinzua Bridge prior to the tornado strike, I told them that I would write a blog post containing details and photographs of previous visits that Bob and I have made to the park.

Map

Kinzua Bridge State Park (“B” marks the spot in the map shown above)  is located in Pennsylvania four miles north of U.S. Route 6 at Mt. Jewett on State Route 3011.  The park contains 329 acres in McKean County and features the remnants of a railroad bridge (viaduct) that had been designated as a National Engineering Landmark. When Kinzua Bridge was built in 1881, it was the world’s highest and longest railroad bridge at 301 feet tall and 2,053 feet long.

I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park for the first time, with Bob, in May 1998. We visited the park once again in October 1998.

KBSP 1998-1I am standing on Kinzua Bridge.
In May 1998 we walked across Kinzua Bridge.

KBSP 1998-2Autumn colors, October 1998

In September 2001 Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park with our exchange student from Germany.

KBSP 2001Bob and our German exchange student on Kinzua Bridge in September 2001

In August 2002 an engineering inspection of the viaduct revealed potential problems with the structural integrity of the supporting piers, so the viaduct was closed to all access. Therefore, when Bob and I visited the park in October 2002 with Leo, our exchange student from Brazil, we were not allowed to walk across the viaduct or hike below it. We could, though, still view the bridge from the observation deck adjacent to the bridge.

KBSP 2002Bob and I in October 2002
Kinzua Bridge in background

On July 21, 2003 an F1 tornado caused the center section of the Kinzua Bridge to collapse. Kinzua Bridge State Park was closed so that cleanup and damage assessment could take place. The park was reopened on August 1, 2003. Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park on June 20, 2004 — the first time that I had been to the park since the collapse of the bridge almost 1 year ago. I was in awe of the damage done by the tornado and the amount of cleanup that still needed to be done.

P6200001No trees obstruct view of bridge from parking lot.

P6200004Tornado destruction

We returned to the park in July 2005 with Bob’s sister and her husband. The damage caused by the tornado was still very much in evidence.

P70300311Cynthia and Larry at Kinzua Bridge State Park
(July 2005)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
July 2003 tornado damage still evident in 2005

It was a few years later when we next visited Kinzua Bridge State Park.  In June 2011 we returned to the park once again, accompanied by our Canadian friends Tom and Heather.

Tom and Heather at Kinzua Bridge State Park
In the background is what is left of Kinzua Bridge.

It had been 8 years since Kinzua Bridge had been blown down by a tornado. Remnants of the bridge still lied on the forest floor.  We were not able to walk on the bridge, as restoration was taking place. We didn’t realize it at the time; however, the restoration culminated in the creation of the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.  A grand opening of the Skywalk was held on September 15, 2011.

Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in October 2011 for the first time after the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk was completed.  The Skywalk, which is built on six original towers, leads to a 225-foot high observation deck that gives a lofty view of the Kinzua Gorge.  A partial glass floor in the deck allows one to look into the steel structure of the bridge, a view that takes one’s breath away. Remnants of the bridge blown over by the tornado remain at the bottom of the gorge for visitors to look at from the deck railings.

Bob on the Skywalk, October 2011

In March 2012 I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park with Raphael, a Brazilian boy who lived with us as an exchange student for 10 months during the 2004-2005 school year.

Raphael on Observation Deck

Raphael on Kinzua Bridge
The Skywalk is behind him.

Raphael on the Skywalk, March 2012

Our next visit to Kinzua Bridge State Park was on Saturday with Cathy and “Ducky”, which I wrote about in my previous blog post.  I am certain it will not be our last visit to the park!

Meeting a Facebook Friend

Our friendship started in September 2010, with a few comments on the photograph of a sparrow.

Poole1

Poole2

The photograph of the sparrow is the work of Christopher Cochems, who I met via an online photography forum.   Christopher lives in California.  We have not yet met each other in person.  I hope one day that Bob and I can meet him.  Christopher inspires me each day in my own photography with his beautiful photographs.

The Internet makes the world such a small place, doesn’t it?  Two women who live in Pennsylvania, a little more than 100 miles apart, run into each other while commenting on a photograph of a sparrow posted by a man who lives in California.

Cathy and I became Facebook friends on September 30, 2010.  A little more than 2 years later we met in person.

Yesterday morning Bob and I met Cathy and her boyfriend “Ducky” at The Westline Inn, located in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest.  We traveled together from there to Kinzua Bridge State Park, where we walked out on the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

Cathy and “Ducky” on Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

What a cold and windy day it was!  The temperature was around 34 degrees at the time we visited Kinzua Bridge State Park.  We saw our first snowfall of the 2012-2013 season.

A young man asked if we wanted a group photograph.  We agreed quickly.

Bob, Cathy, “Ducky” and I at Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

We returned to Westline Inn and enjoyed a lunch of grilled chicken salad (Bob and I) and crab cakes (Cathy and “Ducky”).  Service was a little slow but well worth the wait.  Our lunches were very good.  The relaxed atmosphere allowed the four of us to get to know each other better too.  It was wonderful to meet Cathy, after being Facebook friends for so long.  We talked about getting together again.  I believe getting together again is a strong possibility.

Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

Raphael and I took a drive to Kinzua Bridge State Park (clicking on this link will take you to all blog posts I have written about Kinzua Bridge State Park).

This was my second visit since the “Skywalk” was completed. Raphael had never visited Kinzua Bridge State Park, as the bridge had collapsed from an F1 Tornado in July 2003–a year before he came to live with us as an exchange student. Raphael was in awe, as he gazed upon the damage caused by the tornado, which was still very much in evidence even 8+ years after the tornado. He liked very much the Skywalk as well.

Raphael on Observation Deck

Raphael on Kinzua Bridge
The Skywalk is behind him.

The next picture was taken in October 2011, when Bob and I visited Kinzua Bridge State Park for the first time after the Skywalk was completed.

Bob on the Skywalk, October 2011

Raphael on the Skywalk, March 2012

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