Elizabeth is a borough located 15 miles south of Pittsburgh on the eastern shore of the Monongahela River in Allegheny County. It was founded in 1787 by Samuel Mackay, Colonel Stephen Bayard and his wife Elizabeth Mackay Bayard (for whom the town was named). In 1803, the keelboat used for the first stages of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was built in Elizabeth, although the City of Pittsburgh often claims the keelboat was built there. Early industry in Elizabeth included glass making and steamboat building, as well as the building of safes. Like a great deal of southwestern Pennsylvania, coal was a once a major local industry.
The Monongahela river continues to play an important role in the lives of Elizabeth residents, both as a recreational resource and for coal barge and riverboat travel.
Elizabeth has a busy and charming downtown with historic buildings and an authentic feel. Popular stops for shopping and dining include Rockwell’s Red Lion, FHG Creation Studio, Top O the Mornin’ Donut & Coffee Shop, Barton’s Florist & Bake Shoppe, and Yogastyle Studio. Elizabeth is also home to the Grand Theater, a rare vaudeville era theater. Mon River Arts hosts live community theater productions here throughout the year. Every Thursday evening from June to August, live outdoor music can be enjoyed in the middle of downtown on Plum Street. These concerts are free and open to the public. Efforts have also begun to further beautify the downtown with public art, including a mural depicting the borough’s ship building history and riverfront heritage.
In addition to the river and the downtown business district, Elizabeth’s Round Hill Park and Exhibit Farm, a 1000 acre working farm, offers walking and bridle trails as well as a spray park in summer. (http://www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/round-hill/index.aspx) The Farm is a popular destination for families and school children and provides an opportunity for both education and fun. Run by Allegheny County, the park is a popular field trip for local schools.
This section of the Monongahela River doesn’t carry an official water trail designation but it has been scouted and a map and guide was created in 2013. Click here to download the map. Click here to download the guide.
The nearby Great Allegheny Passage Trail offers walkers and bikers recreational opportunities. The “Little Boston” trailhead of the Passage is a popular starting spot and refreshments are available at a number of locations by the trailhead
Access to the River:
Elizabeth lies on the banks of the Monongahela River. At Riverfront Park on Water Street, the barge at Riverfront Park is available for fishing year round and a kayak launch was added in 2014. A Boat Launch is accessed from Second Avenue extension. Kayaking groups regularly paddle from Elizabeth to McKeesport. All parks are open dawn to dusk.