The Mon River Towns are working with Cosmitto on social media outreach. Here is a recent presentation to the Mon River Valley Coalition.
An awesome boating event to try out touring kayaks and paddle boards on the Monongahela River.
Who doesn’t love a good farmers market? Fresh local produce and small business wares hold a special place in many of our hearts. And if there’s one thing Pennsylvania has plenty of, it’s farmers markets! Even better, these markets are hosted in scenic Pennsylvania river towns, many of which include beautiful places to hike.
Shopping and nature…that sounds like the perfect combination for a weekend trip! So before planning your next long drive into the great outdoors, hold off on typing “scenic hikes near me” into Google and consider visiting these lovely towns and farmers markets.
- Elizabeth (15 Miles From Pittsburgh) – The Elizabeth Homemade-Homegrown Market kicked off its 2017 season earlier this month, and will operate every second Saturday from June to October. Organized by the owner of local business Yogastyle Studio, the event has caught on thanks to the number of local craft makers and farm vendors. The market works with local nonprofit development groups and is a great place to find fresh produce, homemade one-of-a-kind jewelry, soap, and crafts. Our Recommendation: Elizabeth is a great daytime or weekend destination. Keep an eye on their farmers market on Facebook, and plan on taking some time to walk around this beautiful area. The market runs from 9am to 1pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to wander in Elizabeth’s busy and charming downtown. It features historic buildings and an authentic feel, not to mention a number of trails worth venturing onto. You’ll especially want to check out the Grand Theatre, built in 1902 as a Vaudeville House; today it’s one of the few remaining single screen movie theatres operating in the Mon Valley.
- Monongahela (17 Miles From Pittsburgh) – Named for the river it borders, this river town’s farmers market runs every Friday from June to October, in Chess Park, from 3-6pm. The beautiful market operates next to the park and runs into the heart of Monongahela Main Street District. Our Recommendation: Don’t settle for following this event on Facebook! Take a day off from work, make the quick drive south, and kick off your weekend with a dose of local beauty. Chess Park is absolutely worth taking a stroll through, before or after you shop. You’ll also want to explore Monongahela as a whole, which houses sites important to the Whiskey Rebellion as well as the local Underground Railroad. If you can, you’ll definitely want to check out an event at the Monongahela Aquatorium as well, as nothing compares to this unique riverside venue!
- Morgantown (75 Miles From Pittsburgh) – If you’re itching to venture out of Pennsylvania, Morgantown is a mere 75 miles away in West Virginia. While the town is quieter than usual in the summer – when most West Virginia University students head home – it still has plenty to offer visitors, including a farmer’s market that operates every Saturday from 8:30am to noon at Morgantown Market Place. Our Recommendation: Take an entire weekend to explore Morgantown. The area was once prime settlement territory, meaning it’s packed full of history. You can catch a glimpse of the area’s glass and coal heritage at the Morgantown Museum and in display cases at the Seneca Center. The area is also full of theaters, museums, parks, and eateries – plus a handful of microbreweries. If you’re the outdoors type, you won’t want to miss the chance to paddle on the nearby Cheat River or Big Sandy Creek, as both are beautiful places to kayak. Save some energy to hike the trails of Coopers Rock State Forest!
As you can see, these four towns offer a great combination of shopping and outdoor exploration. You’ll absolutely want to keep them on your list of places to visit, especially as you search for beautiful places to kayak, for scenic hikes near you, or for your next great farmers market find. Want to find out exactly what’s happening in these towns, as well as their sister Mon River Towns? Visit our website calendar anytime to find out what’s happening, and remember to save the date for your next adventure!
The days of summer may be winding down, but there’s still plenty of beauty to enjoy in western Pennsylvania and its communities! The cooling weather means that now is the perfect time to get outdoors – and the changing leaves will soon provide a glorious backdrop for hikers. No need to google for scenic hikes near you – we have a few ideas already!
The following are a sampling of local Pennsylvania towns with accessible trails and a welcoming spirit. There’s no need to travel far for your fall foliage tours this year; these river towns definitely have you covered:
- Elizabeth, PA. Located right in Allegheny County, the borough of Elizabeth sits 15 miles south of Pittsburgh. Elizabeth’s downtown area features great shopping and dining options – making it a great, affordable day trip destination! This fall, consider walking through this quiet town – you can enjoy the changing leaves and autumn weather as you stroll along the Monongahela River, which the town sits by. Elizabeth is also home to Round Hill Park – a 1,100-acre park with walking trails, picnic areas, and a working exhibit farm. Elizabeth’s quiet river walkways combined with these walking trails mean that you’ll get to enjoy some beautiful sights during a quieter day out and about. It all makes for the perfect day trip!
- Fredericktown, PA. In the summer this Washington County town is a great spot for paddling along scenic Ten Mile Creek. As the seasons change, however, hikers and cyclists will be able to enjoy the foliage along Greene River Trail! This beautiful 5.2 mile walking and bike trail runs alongside the Monongahela River, giving visitors a chance to explore what was once coal mining country. Today you’d never know about this industrious past, as the area is lush and green – although soon the trail will be lit with vibrant autumn colors instead! Like Elizabeth, very little travel is required if you visit this trail, making Fredericktown a fantastic day trip location for those on a tight budget.
- Rices Landing, PA. In addition to being rich in local history – including the travels of George Washington and coal barges – Rices Landing is a beautiful spot to watch the autumn settle in. The Greene River Trail that passes through Fredericktown also passes through Rices Landing. So depending on your interests, perhaps you’ll want to venture to Rices Landing to combine a little history with your day of hiking!
- Greensboro, PA. Called “Delight” by the Mingo Indians who originally inhabited the area, Greensboro continues to live up to its name as it develops beautiful riverside trails and more for nature lovers to take advantage of. Drive to the area and you can explore the Greensboro Walking & Biking Trail – it stretches 1.25 miles along the Monongahela River, starting at Mon View Park. You can also step onto The Warrior Trail, which runs for 67 miles and follows ridge tops for most of its length. Despite its name, Warrior Trail offers one of the easiest hiking paths across Greene County, as well as some of the county’s most spectacular views! Not bad for a location that’s a mere hour and a half away from Pittsburgh!
- Fairmont, WV. Interested in trekking out of Pennsylvania for your fall foliage tour? With a population of just over 18,000, the quiet and small West Virginia town of Fairmont is a fantastic seasonal getaway location. Fairmont is actually the home of the first Pepperoni Roll, and you can even visit the Country Club Bakery – the home of the first roll – before heading out on a hike! Fairmont is home to two rail trails, or railway tracks converted to paths and walkways. One trail, the West Fork River Trail, runs for 14.5 miles, providing beautiful scenic views of the river and surrounding foliage to bikers, hikers, and more (as the trail is wheelchair accessible). And if you’re looking for a shorter trek, the three mile long Marion County Trail (MCTrail) runs from the Mon River Trail South marker to Prickett’s Fort State Park and Morgantown Ave. This destination may be out-of-state, but it’s well worth the trip!
- Morgantown, WV. While better known for West Virginia University and “The Mountaineers,” Morgantown’s beautiful setting makes it a fantastic destination spot for fall foliage seekers. The town includes numerous options for hikers, including the trails of Coopers Rock State Forest. Visitors may also consider traveling the 6-mile paved Caperton Trail, which follows the Monongahela River and passes through several local parks. And if that’s not enough, the western endpoint of the Deckers Creek Trail is located in Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, which Caperton Trail passes through. Start booking those hotels now, guys – you’ll thank yourself when you’re out on the trail of your choice!
As you can see, western Pennsylvania and even neighboring West Virginia has a number of cool and scenic hikes to help you get out and about this season. You’ll absolutely want to travel to at least one of these towns. Don’t forget to take a moment to find out exactly what’s happening in these towns this fall, too! You can visit our website calendar anytime as you plan your great fall adventure.
The Mon Valley, the scenic area of Washington, Fayette, and Greene counties along the Monongahela River, is becoming well known for its enticing outdoor recreation — biking, hiking, boating, kayaking and fishing. But it also offers plenty of opportunities for a beloved indoor sport: shopping.
Clusters of antique stores and curiosity shops are located in towns along the river, selling everything from vintage bowling shirts to repurposed farming implements perfect for decorating a country kitchen. You’ll find furniture you remember from Thanksgiving at Grandma’s and toys you remember from Christmases gone by. Visit one of these shops on a Saturday afternoon and you may very well find an item you didn’t even know you needed.
Unlike clicking through images on Amazon or falling in step with throngs of strangers at the mall, a trip to towns like Monongahela, New Eagle or Charleroi provides a relaxing and immersive experience, often starring a one-of-a-kind proprietor.
One such proprietor is Tim Bradburn. You’ll find his shop Tim’s Secret Treasures at 220 McKean Avenue in Charleroi. In fact, you won’t be able to miss it: It is the only spot in town flanked by a pair of giant roosters, a sizable steer, and a larger than life gorilla. And if you think the exterior of the store is a bit quirky, just wait till you go inside. Part museum, part fun house, it’s a unique experience.
The original building housing Tim’s was purchased by Bradburn and his wife, Rhonda Jaquay, about 10 years ago. Later, they bought the adjoining building and combined them into one large structure to hold their ever growing collections. Over the years, items from the shop — such as a World War II airplane propeller — have been used as props in Hollywood movies. Merchandise ranges from huge buffalo heads to Civil War uniforms, from porcelain dolls to vintage neon beer signs; all share space in the overflowing rooms of what was once a 19th century funeral home.
That deathly past — and rumors of the building being haunted — has led to visits from television’s Ghost Hunters and inspired a popular Halloween “Fright Fest” held every year. Attendees can purchase personal psychic readings performed in the cavernous upstairs rooms. Bradburn, who still works as a corporate accountant, and Jaquay donate all profits from the celebration to the Washington County food bank.
“About 80 percent of my business comes from out of state,” says Bradburn. “Others are Pennsylvania travelers, and I do get some dealers as well. None of my inventory is on consignment, so I know the history of what I sell.”
You can also learn the history of the items sold by Bobby Gilotty of Main Street Antiquesin Monongahela. Gilotty’s mother Inez opened her store over 25 years ago. Bobby is now the face of the business, greeting shoppers and answering questions about the merchandise and the shop. The 12-room Victorian house — purchased by Inez in 1991 — houses seven different antique dealers, each with their own section of eclectic merchandise. Many of the dealers have been there since it opened.
“We are all like family,” says Gilotty, who credits the continued success of the business to the many events held in Monongahela throughout the year which bring out-of-towners to the business district.
In addition to the town’s Riverfest celebration, Community Days and popular Ghost Walk, Monongahela holds a twice yearly “Fleatique”: a 2.5-mile upscale yard sale featuring food vendors, crafters, entertainment, and participation by the area’s antique stores. Held on the first Saturday of June and October every year since 1999, the next Fleatique, sponsored by the Monongahela and New Eagle Chambers of Commerce, is scheduled for October 7, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information about events held throughout the Mon Valley can be found on the Mon River Towns Events Calendar.
Marcia Homa, proprietor of Red Boot Antiques just up the road at 905 W. Main, also takes part in the Fleatique. Homa has been in the antique business for over 12 years, and in her current location for eight. Twenty years ago, a former client — and shoe repairman — gave Homa a unique boot-shaped sign which she later used as inspiration for the name of her charming, well-kept shop. From a large collection of Longaberger baskets, vintage toys and games, to stunning 19th century farm tables, Homa has a little bit of everything. Asked about the strangest thing she ever sold, Homa recalls a “giant fire extinguisher” which she purchased mainly to draw interest from the street. Turns out, for one shopper, it was a must have.
The Mon Valley is an easy drive from Pittsburgh — simply follow Route 88 South or, for a faster trip, hit the Route 43 Turnpike extender and take Exit 39 for Charleroi/Donora. The road splits as you enter Charleroi, so follow signs for the Business District. The town retains its industrial feel. In fact, manufacturing remains active; one example is Channelcraft, a large manufacturer of authentic, non-electronic American toys, games and puzzles. Head to McKean Avenue, Charleroi’s primary business corridor, and soon you will see the roosters of Tim’s Secret Treasures on your right.
When you have finished exploring Tim’s, continue north on McKean toward Monongahela, a straight shot of about 5.5 miles on Route 88. Follow West Main through town and you will reach Main Street Antiques on your left, followed by Red Boot Antiques on your right. Go a little further and you will enter the small neighboring town of New Eagle. Yesterday’s Best, an antique and consignment shop, and Queen Anne’s Lace, which carries antique and vintage home décor, are almost directly across the street from each other on Main Street.
If you want to get a little new to mix in with your old, you can slow down a bit in downtown Monongahela. Stop in at CJ’s Furniture at 142 W. Main Street, which offers new and contemporary furniture in an impressive older building, complete with tiled entry and a restored tin ceiling. Just a few doors down at 168 W. Main Street is newly opened boutiqueUncommonly Bella, which carries one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, handmade soaps, unique gifts, and outfits for children.
Of course, after a hard day of shopping, you need to refuel. The Twist, located at 207 Main Street in New Eagle, is an old fashioned ice cream parlor and café that has been in business since 1957. They serve a breakfast and lunch menu (many dishes are topped with local favorite Cinco de Mayo Salsa) along with cold, creamy treats.
Along with their unique and quirky merchandise, some of these shops and eateries have quirky hours of operation. Not all locations are open Sunday, most are closed Monday, and some do not have Tuesday hours either. A few have hours that change with the seasons. Check out their Facebook pages for hours and contact information. Saturday is the safest bet to visit to find all spots open. And who would want to miss a single one?
WENDY DUCHENE is an attorney with offices in Allegheny and Somerset Counties. She is also an avid user of the many hiking and biking trails in western PA, where she can often be found on her recumbent bike or walking her dog Sander.
Images by Wendy Duchene.
This story was created in partnership with the Keystone Edge