Of all the towns along the 130-mile Monongahela River, only one shares in its name. This is fitting given Monongahela’s history as a transportation center supporting thousands of river journeys to the west. Known locally as Mon City, Monongahela is the oldest settlement in the Monongahela Valley. This third class city is located in Washington County, PA, just 17 miles from Pittsburgh.
Monongahela has a rich history, no doubt related to its riverside location. The city includes two Native American burial mounds (read more below), and was the location of a meeting of 226 whiskey rebels during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. The meeting was held on a bluff overlooking the Monongahela River, now known as Whiskey Point. Also of historical note, many buildings in Monongahela, such as the Longwell House and the Bethel A.M.E. Church, were used as part of the Underground Railroad.
Annual events such as the Rockin’ on the Mon summer concert series and Fleatique on the Mon give residents and visitors a reason to rediscover Mon City’s charm. Fleatique on the Mon is a three-mile street sale including homes, churches, and businesses. It’s held each June in Monongahela and the neighboring town of New Eagle. See below for more on Rockin’ on the Mon.
Some Mon City trivia…Monongahela is the hometown of famed NFL quarterback Joe Montana. Motorists on the Mon Valley Expressway might notice twin bridges named the Joe Montana Bridges.
Chess Park is a local park near the center of town, complete with a lovely gazebo. Mounds Park is the site of two Native American burial mounds built by the Adena culture over 2,000 years ago. Late 19th century excavations found skeletons, pottery, copper implements and other antiquities. The site today hosts a local playground and sports complex. Other local attractions include the Monongahela Aquatorium (see below) and two museums – the Historical Society Museum and Monongahela River Museum.
This section of the Monongehela River doesn’t carry any 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 Monongahela Aquatorium is an invaluable asset to the Mid-Mon Valley; it is simultaneously totally unique and typically American. The aquatorium is an amphitheater situated along the Monongahela riverfront, right in the heart of Mon City. It first opened in 1969 as the first of its kind in the nation. This “super-sized” outdoor auditorium located on the banks of the Mon connected local residents to the river during an era that undervalued riverfront access.
The aquatorium was renovated in 2013 and remains one of the area’s true cultural treasures, the type of place that makes Mon City and the region as a whole so wonderful. The 3,700 seat facility includes guest boat docks so that the shows can be accessed by both land and water.
The aquatorium comes alive in the summer months with the Rockin’ on the Mon!(TM) summer concert series, live theater performances, and other events. Any given evening at the aquatorium can be one of the best nights all year with warm summer breezes blowing down the river, the music and lights bouncing off the water, and performances with the river and its banks as the backdrop.
Those looking to access the river itself for paddling and boating can either use the surfaced ramp at the auqatorium or the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission ramp off of Nelson Street.
The aquatorium is a popular fishing spot for kids of all ages. A fishing tournament is held there every June.