Broad Ford Rose Grows

Broad Ford Rose (1)

This is the sprig of a rose bush that I found at the Distillery Building last fall.  It is continuing to grow, now showing several strong shoots along its narrow length that are even longer today, just a couple days after I took pictures.  It has been in front of this southwest-facing window on a table in my kitchen, gaining strength from the long arc of each day’s afternoon sun at the back of my house.

On the table to the left, my Christmas cactus is keeping the sprig company, along with another house plant I am trying to save.  Outside and to the left, you can see the tops of my twin cherry trees that grew there without my bidding, but are really beautful, especially in the spring.

Broad Ford Rose (2)

I may not be an gardening expert, but I do grow attached to my plants.  I kept the rose sprig in a jar of water until a whole lot of roots developed, and then transplanted it into organic potting soil, just a few weeks ago.  Hoping it would survive, I prayed over it a lot, and sang songs suggesting it could spring forth in glorious growth, and then Boom!

Now I am looking forward to seeing rosebuds, anxious to learn what color they will turn out to be.  As it grows, I will keep everyone up to date with pictures.  As long as my son Matthew is home from college, I can use his camera!  Until we discover exactly what variety this rose is, I will be calling it Broad Ford Rose.

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Broad Ford 2012 Spring

New photographs of the Overholt Distillery buildings are now available at Karen’s Branches.  These shots were taken with an Apple iPhone early in April 2012, and were made available for publication by the photographer, whose work became known to me by email, and who is unnamed by request.

The colors displayed in the pictures will remind us of the autumn colors during our group’s visit last fall, but include plenty of spring greens that were already overtaking the site.  The URLs of the new two-page feature, Broad Ford 2012 Spring, are posted here for your convenience, but you can also find them at Karen’s Branches via the left sidebar or the Table of Contents.

Somewhere among the weeds, vines and grass may be more rose bushes, which must be remnants of many gardens that once brightened up the grounds of the A. Overholt and Company Distillery.  The long branch I saved from a rose bush in front of the Distillery Building is still doing well.  After several months in a jar of water, many healthy roots developed, and then it survived transplanting into a large pot of organic soil.  Currently, it is showing a whole lot of new leaves, and my hopes are high that we will be seeing roses before too long.  Then we shall discover which variety of rose it is, and see what color they turn out to be.

It is my hope that other rose bushes and native wild flowers will be discovered and protected for future gardens at Broad Ford.

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Youghiogheny River Sojourn

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy ( has announced the details of this summer’s “one-day float” along the northern Youghiogheny River.  Scheduled for Saturday, June 9, 2012, “Rock the Yough” will focus on the geology, ecology and history of the river.  The Conservancy has hosted a river sojourn since 2004.

This year’s event will begin at the Yough River Park in Connellsville, PA, then participants will travel to Hazelbaker’s Bottom Yough Outfitters, Inc., in Layton, a distance of 14 miles.  The cost per person is set at $65.00, a price that will include meals, canoe rental, shuttle service, a 2012 sojourn T-shirt, and educational programs.

The WPC played a key role in the creation of Ohiopyle State Park and the Youghiogheny River rail-trail.  Some of their earliest land protection efforts, dating to the 1950s, were in the Youghiogheny River watershed.  The organization has helped expand the holdings of Forbes State Forest, and their conservation efforts along the river protect habitat for important plants and animals.  This work also provides recreational opportunities, and scenic protection along the river corridor.

Sponsors for the 2012 “Rock the Yough” float include Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania American Water, Sheetz, WYEP Radio, Immersion Research, and REI.

For more information or to register for the river sojourn, contact Michelle Loose (724-471-7202, ext. 5110).  The registration deadline is Friday, May 25, 2012.

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Braddock’s Road Seminar

The Mount Pleasant Area Historical Society has announced the details of their upcoming seminar on Braddock’s Road, part of their Speaker’s Series.  The seminar will commence at 2:00 p.m., and last about two hours, Saturday afternoon, March 24, 2012, at the Mount Pleasant Senior Citizens Center at Washington and Diamond streets.  No admission will be charged, but donations will be welcomed.

The focus of the seminar is the route taken in 1755, by British General Edward Braddock and his 1,400 regulars, accompanied by Colonel George Washington and the Virginia militia, with the intention of capturing Fort Duquesne.  The fort was considered to be an encroachment of British territory by the French Canadians, and was located at the confluence of two great rivers, today known as Point State Park in Pittsburgh.

Beginning the mission in Williamsburg, General Braddock’s men hacked their way through forests and mountains for several hundred miles, and reached a spot just south of the fort, where they were ambushed by a small force of French and Indians.  Braddock and half of his army were killed or wounded, and Washington was responsible for leading the survivors back to Virginia.

Questions remain about the exact route of Braddock’s Road, but locally, it passed through Mt. Pleasant Borough and Township, as well as East Huntingdon Township, and the Industrial Park.  Seminar panelists will include the former director of the Westmoreland County Historical Society, James Steeley; a nationally known historian and Virginian, Norman Baker; a Mount Pleasant native and artifact collector, Bill Hare; and another local historian and researcher, Bill Biller.  Local author and history enthusiast Cassandra Vivian will be moderating the discussion.

Seminar participants plan to have a table displaying some artifacts related to Braddock’s Road, and look forward to seeing a large audience.  Everyone is encouraged to bring along their own artifacts, and personal stories, to share and add to the discussion.  Refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact Cassandra Vivian by phone (724-542-4949) or email (

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Jacobs Creek Finley Bridge

There is additional background information on the Internet about the nation’s first modern suspension bridge, which was designed and built across Jacobs Creek by James Finley in 1801.  Two YouTube videos by CB Bridges tell the story, the first giving details of Finley’s design, and the second showing the deduced location of the bridge, which no longer spans Jacobs Creek.

CB Bridges: Finley’s Chain Bridge Over Jacob’s Creek,
Part 1: The Missing Link

 CB Bridges: Finley’s Chain Bridge Over Jacob’s Creek,
Part 2: Finding the Bridge

Our thanks to CassandraV for passing along the information!

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Senator Jim Ferlo Preservation Luncheon

Senator Jim Ferlo (D), District 38, sent around an open invitation to volunteers and staff of historical societies, public officials, and the local preservation community to attend and participate in a luncheon forum, scheduled for Friday, March 23, 2012, at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center.  The topic for discussion is Preservation in Our Commonwealth:  New Challenges and Opportunities, and gives the senator a platform to welcome James Vaughan to his new appointment as executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC).  Jim Ferlo is a Senate appointee to the Commission.

Friday, March 23 – Noon
Heinz History Center – Mueller Education Center – 5th Floor
1212 Smallman Street – Strip District

Participants include Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center and Board Chairman of the PHMC, and Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.  A complimentary luncheon of soup and salad will be served, and a reduced $5.00 parking rate will be in effect at the lot across the street from the History Center.

During the event, information tables will be available for preservation and museum organizations to share educational and promotional materials.  Please RSVP at, or call Senator Ferlo’s office at 412-621-3006.

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Jacobs Creek (1801) – First Modern Suspension Bridge

Flickr photographer Suspensionstayed wrote to me about America’s very first modern suspension bridge, which “was built in 1801 across Jacobs Creek on the road from Connellsville to Mt. Pleasant in an area now known as Iron Bridge, just east of Scottdale.”  Many of the pioneering families of this corner of Western Pennsylvania might have used this bridge, including the Overholt families, since West Overton is less than a mile away.  Designer and builder James Finley obtained a patent in 1808, “due to the many unique innovative features of this bridge.”

This historic bridge no longer exists, but there is a historical marker at the Uniontown Library.  You may be interested to read an article online, “Finley’s Wonder on Jacob’s Creek,” posted in the Fall of 2010.  Suspensionstayed mentioned it has “a few errors,” noting that the bridge was completed in 1801, but the patent on the design was obtained in 1808.  To get a very nice jpg of the signature design, click on the small picture drawn by William Strickland.

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Suspension Bridges

During a recent search for Broad Ford references, I came across the photography of Suspensionstayed on Flickr. He has a great compendium of photos showing the details of suspension bridges found all over the world. Bridge #841 details the remains of the Broad Ford Swinging Bridge. He has given me permission to use some of these photos on Karen’s Branches, but it will take some time to accomplish that, so I am posting his URL, for your convenience.

He also has photos of a pedestrian-bicycle suspension bridge built atop “existing railroad piers about 40 miles north of Broad Ford near Leechburg,” called Hyde Park Suspension Bridge — his Bridge #36.

Also, he helped build a suspension-type bridge just outside Baltimore, with towers that were constructed “on existing stone masonry piers that were once part of a railroad bridge carrying America’s first railroad.”  The photos of Bridge #539 show details of the actual construction.

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