Day 70 - Pittsburgh (Homestead) to Connellsville (GAP - Great Allegheny Passage)
11 - 26
Bob accompanied me on the first part of the trail which, it turned out was planned, built and is maintained by the volunteer organisation he is on the board of. When we stood on the ledge at a steel bridge crossing over the railroad Bob called my attention to the last steel mill in operation in the Steel Valley, the Edgar Thompson Steel Mill, owned by Carnegie at one point, the steel magnate who was known for quite brutal exploitation of his workers. "Sure you can have a Sunday for Church and your family - if you make up for it the following Sunday!" That meant one Sunday off was to be compensated for by three consecutive 12-hour shifts!
The steel bridge we were standing on was prefabricated and when it was installed the train company arranged a 4-hour standstill of train traffic for the installation of two bridges to finish the bike trail.
The GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) follows several rivers and at a length of 240 kms (150 miles) connects Pittsburgh with Cumberland, MD. It follows the beautiful Youghiogheny River and this route played an important role in the French - Indian - English war in the 1760s. Both the French, who had entered the region from Canada and the English, who came in from the east, were interested in the booming fur trade. One of the first settlers in this region known as "Stewart's Crossing" were the Stewart brothers of Virginia (1753) who ferried travelers across the Youghiogeny River.
Official Homepage of the GAP
The next few days will see me riding once again in hilly country, the first mountain range since the Rockies!
Bob on his Surly bike which he also used to commute to work.
Just a loo? Well "World Headquarters" (quote Bob) of the trail
The city of McKeesport has definitely seen better times!
From now on I'll be on a limestone bike trail for the next 240km until I reach Cumberland.
This bikepath is a far cry from the wild and "uncivilised" trails in Canada and Montana!
In Connellsville cyclists get a good solid shelter to keep dry and safe.