American Recreation Coalition Offers 2018 Outlook

American Recreation Coalition has offered the Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2018 which offers specific economic impacts of the growing outdoor recreational market.  The report states:  “ the $36 Billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade.” According to the report this is results from “Economic factors, including an improving housing market, higher employment, strong consumer confidence, and growing disposable income, are creating a golden age for the country’s recreational boating industry.”

Click here to download the piece.

California, PA: A Surprisingly Historic Area


California PA River Town
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Who says day trips are a summer activity? With the perfect to do list, you can enjoy a day of traveling and an array of activities that are both fun and warm and cozy. And if that sounds good to you, we can’t think of a better place to travel than California, Pennsylvania.


Located along the Monongahela River in Washington County, the borough of California is best known for the California University of Pennsylvania. And sure, it’s worth walking through the school’s campus if you’re able to. However, this lovely town has more to offer to visitors than college-esque hotspots! Let us show you what else is worth visiting:

  • One place worth visiting is the California Public Library. The best libraries are housed in beautiful old buildings, and this one is no exception. Set inside an old train station, the library even displays a caboose displayed on its lawn. With a historic location and daily activities, this library is a great spot for a traveling family.
  • If you feel like bundling up and exploring more of the outdoors, the California Union Memorial Park isn’t far from its library. The memorial park houses the local cemetery, where one of the town’s founders lies. Soldiers from the War of 1812 and the Civil War also lie at rest here. Interestingly, there are two 60-foot retaining walls plastered with old grave markers, instead of the stones being buried in the ground. California Union Memorial Park is not an average cemetery, and is worth your time if weather permits a visit.
  • But if you’d rather stay indoors, you may want to visit the California Area Historical Society. Housed in a building that’s over one hundred years old, the society houses records on the history of Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counties, the Civil War regimental history, and local history. They focus in genealogy and history alike – so you may be surprised by what you find here.

California is a surprising center of history in Pennsylvania, and well worth your time and attention. As with all small towns, confirming seasonal hours before your visit is highly recommended!

Ready to plan a trip to the historic area of California, PA? In addition to Googling other local activities or browsing our website bio on the town, you can visit our website calendar to see upcoming activities!

California PA Mon River Town
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Nemacolin Castle: A Historic House Worth Visiting

Nemacolin Castle Pennsylvania Mon River Town
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Have you ever heard of Nemacolin Castle? Don’t let the shared name of an infamous Pennsylvania resort fool you – Nemacolin Castle is arguably the Mon Valley’s finest house museum. It’s primary name is Bowman’s Castle, although Nemacolin Castle is a common nickname for the structure. Built in present-day Brownsville, it’s approximately one hour away from Pittsburgh. Best of all, this Pennsylvania historic landmark is open year round, with volunteers offering tours of the castle interior and its spacious grounds!


The History Of The Castle

According to the Nemacolin Castle website, the structure was built “at the western terminus of the Nemacolin’s Trail on the east bank of the Monongahela River.” Nemacolin Castle was built around the site of the area’s original local trading post. The trading post has roots in the 1780s – but construction on the castle began during the mid-to-late 1790s, at the hands of Jacob Bowman.

Jacob and his wife were the first of three generations to live in the structure. In the beginning, the building housed a new trading post on its ground floor, and a single room above that. It was as Bowman family grew – the couple had nine children total – that a broad hallway was added to the building.

Upon Jacob’s passing in 1847, the house passed on to Nelson Bowman, who added an east wing and a brick tower to the ever growing building. Nelson, and one of their sons, lived out their days in the home. It was after the son and his widow passed that The National Historical Society purchased the house and began to open it up to the public as a museum.


The Castle Today

Currently the structure is maintained and operated as a house museum by the local Brownsville Historical Society nonprofit group. Nemacolin Castle is one of a handful of 1850s buildings that stands and survives today, and the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. It’s fascinating history of trade and family love makes it a wonderful attraction for visitors of many ages.

Best of all, the historical society offers tours year-round of the gorgeous structure. They just ask that prospective visitors contact them at 724-785-6882 or at!


Why Google “historic houses near me” when this one is so close? We cannot recommend a visit to Pennsylvania’s own castle enough. Guests may also be interested in the town of Brownsville, home of the beautiful building!

Love Historic Things? You’ll Love These River Town Museums

’Tis the season – for travel and holiday cheer! The winter season is an under-appreciated time for local travel and exploration. Many Pennsylvania and even West Virginia towns offer plenty to do during the chillier months of the year. Museums, for example, are a great go-to as you travel and unplug for your normal routine. This blog is for the museum lovers out there – and will help you find some off-the-beaten-path exhibits this season!


Donora PA Mon River Town
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Donora, Pennsylvania – 27 Miles From Pittsburgh

The borough of Donora is located in Washington County, alongside the Monongahela River. The town has an industrious history, with stories of steel-making, coal-mining, agriculture, and more. In addition to a long history of creation and production, Donora houses the Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum. A member of the Heinz History Center’s History Center Affiliate Program, the museum is dedicated to preserving and remembering 1948 Donora smog – an event that tragically killed 20 people and left 7,000 ill. This single event in Donora’s history helps to shine a spotlight on environmental dangers, residential welfare, and more – and is well worth a visit. Interested in visiting? Contact the museum to confirm their operating hours!


Brownsville, Pennsylvania – 40 Miles From Pittsburgh

Brownsville was once a frequent destination point for travelers who were heading west via the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. Today the town is a lovely place to escape busy city life – it has two historic districts, and the area by design celebrates its rich history and local scenic beauty.

Museum-wise, Brownsville houses the Frank L. Melega Art Museum and Monongahela River, Rail, and Transportation Museum. The art museum collects, preserves, interprets, and exhibits the artworks of Frank Melega – an Indiana-born son of a coal miner with an artistic talent that earned him recognition from prestigious organizations across the country. And if art isn’t quite your thing, the transportation museum displays an impressive collection of artifacts and archival materials related to the history of river and rail transportation in this region. Between the two, you’ll be sure to get your fill of historic things this season. (Be sure to call before visiting this museum, as its hours are limited!) Interested in visiting? Be sure to contact both museums to confirm if they are operating on seasonal hours.


Fairmont, West Virginia – 90 Miles From Pittsburgh

While West Virginia is commonly recognized for its outdoor activity options, Fairmont has plenty to offer in the way of museums and history. The Marion County Historical Society & Museum combines both of these things, featuring a diverse collection of historic things from across the centuries. The museum’s focuses include the Revolutionary and Civil War, coal mining, the glass industry, railroad lines, and more. This charming museum will help you settle into the state, understanding a little more about the factors that shaped it. Interested? Here are their hours of operation!

As a bonus, if your schedule matches theirs – their hours are very limited – the Telephone Museum will be your next stop. With switchboards, pay phones, test boards, and more, this little museum is a fabulous tribute to the history of the telephone.


Morgantown, West Virginia – 75 Miles From Pittsburgh

Morgantown may house West Virginia University, but it’s not just a college town by any means. Morgantown has consistently been rated as one of the top small cities in America to live or start a small business. Historically, the area was highly contested due to its location and resources. Today visitors can get a glimpse of the area’s glass and coal heritage at the Morgantown Museum. This city-sponsored museum and nonprofit aims to promote local and regional history and to make it accessible to the citizens of Morgantown and visitors to the region.

These are just some of the delightful museums hidden throughout our river towns. If any of them grabbed your interest, we definitely recommend planning a little holiday trip – you won’t regret the chance to shop and learn as you head out of town for a seasonal trip!


Ready to plan a trip? In addition to Googling local activities, you can visit our website calendar to see upcoming activities in many local Mon River Towns.

*Always check the most recently posted museum hours before planning a visit, as some museums may adjust their hours for the holidays or for the winter after the publishing of this blog.

Quirky, Crunchy, Cool

Interesting sites and happenings along the Mon River.

Let’s start with “cool.” The McTrail (Marion County Trail) is a short stretch of trail (2.2 miles) that packs in a lot of beauty and the ultra-cool Meredith Tunnel. Built in 1914 and put back into use in 2005, the 1,200 foot lighted tunnel in Fairmont, West Virginia, offers a cool respite on a hot summer day.

While in the area, head over to downtown Fairmont and check out Joe ‘N Throw, where coffee shop meets pottery studio. The shop celebrates local arts and culture, pottery classes, and a great little place to rehash your ride.  

Just like the north-flowing river, let’s move from south to north.

We could write a list a mile long about things to do in Morgantown. Isn’t it amazing that you can bike to a state park (Prickett’s Fort, via the Mon River Trail) or drive to a state forest (Cooper’s Rock) so effortlessly? In town, there are a number of great restaurants (find Thai, Indian, burritos, and more on High Street) and the Mountain People’s Co-op. But what we really want to tell you about is how Keith McManus, Mayor of Greensboro, Pennsylvania, has been driving down to Morgantown for 20 years to lead Morgantown Brewing Company’s Old Time Appalachian Jam starting at 9:30 on Wednesday nights.

Crossing into Pennsylvania, Point Marion’s most known local institution is Apple Annie’s, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and known for its pies, cakes, and cobblers. You won’t believe the spread! While you’re in the area, drive just outside of town to the Friendship Hill National Historic Site. Two tips here: take your walking shoes if you want to explore over 10 miles of hiking shoes, and go in September for the annual FestiFall event. Festifall will be held September 24-25 this year. Don’t forget to try the bean soup that keeps the locals coming back year after year.

One other thing about Point Marion…have you ever heard of Jordan Motor Cars? They were assembled in Cleveland from 1916-1931, made with parts from other manufacturers. We’re not exactly sure how a collection of them ended up here in Point Marion (other than the fact that they’re housed at Jordan Auto Parts on Main Street, but it’s worth peeking through the windows to some early twentieth century wheels.

We mentioned Keith McManus’s weekly trips to Morgantown. He’s also doing a lot locally to encourage the arts in at home in Greensboro. We recently partnered with Keystone Edge on this story on Greensboro’s arts-driven revitalization efforts. And the town’s Art Blast on the Mon, being held September 3 and 4 by the Nathanael Greene Community Development Corporation, is now in its 11th year.

In the Northside of Brownsville, keep an eye out for the occasional ghost walk event. We were there for one in August and were blown away by the turn out. They easily had 100 people. We couldn’t take the whole guided tour (as we had plans to go to the Brownsville Drive-In), but stopped by one of the sites. The volunteer portraying Jacob Bowman weaved a story of abolition, George Washington, deception, and community values. We could have listened to him talk for hours! Also in Brownsville, Nemacolin Castle hosts ghost tours in October and standard mansion tours on weekends throughout the year.

Finally, we cannot write about the Mon Rivers “quirk and cool” without mentioning the Donora Smog Museum. The volunteer-run museum commemorates the 1948 smog event that blanketed the town in a toxic wall of smog that killed and sickened community members and was an impetus for creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The museum also pays tribute to local community life. It’s well worth the stop.

We’ve covered only some of the many “quirky, crunchy, cool” spots along the Mon River. Please tell us what we missed in the comments section below.

Lessons from the “Pickle People”

Reviving an 1870 general store and so much more

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Olenik of Venango, PA (population 242) and talk about his family’s approach to business and community. Mark, his wife Tracey, and their children are affectionately known as the “Pickle People” because they got their start in business by selling artisanal pickles. They’ve since worked to open a general store, a bakery, and even start a Saturday market.

Their location in Venango, Crawford County along French Creek puts them in a “Creek Town.” We thought that some of what they’ve done in business may be of interest to those of you located in the Mon River Towns. We’ll consider it a Creek Town / River Town idea exchange (and do hope that some of you may offer some ideas back their way).

Before we get to the “lessons,” first some background:

The Oleniks decided to convert a family tradition of curing pickles into a home-based business, the Lititz Pickle Company. By their fifth year of business, their products were carried by more than 20 stores and specialty markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The family made the decision to seek a commercial property in 2012, and that’s when they found Venango, 300 miles from Lititz. Mark said that the vacant Oddfellows building kept showing up in real estate searches and they decided to take a look. Of the building and community, he said, “We came up and we fell in love with it.” (More on this later.) The family has been busy ever since renovating the property and taking on other community improvement projects. The store is not yet open for business. The building, he said, was in “utter disrepair” and they’ve been working on renovations since 2012. By the looks of the “before” and “after” images here, they are nearly there.

Lesson #1: See a Community for its Strengths

Make no mistake. Venango is a small town without any defined business district. There’s a public library and now the Sweet Treats Candy House, operated by the Oleniks’ daughter Brittany. There’s a family-run farm stand and also a couple of golf courses and Sprague Farm & Brew Works on the outskirts of town. That’s it. And yet the Oleniks saw all that was wonderful about Venango. They saw the golf courses, the brew works, and canoers and kayakers floating French Creek, and to them, that added up to opportunity. They’re not only seizing opportunity; they are creating it, which leads us to Lesson #2.

Lesson #2: Embrace and Create Community

A quick perusal of the Venango General Store Facebook page reveals that the Olenik family is committed to the community. They occasionally offer a “shout out to locals,” like this one: “Doug Sanner will be in town doing some rototilling. If you’d like your garden tilled let him know – $25.” Or the one about a spaghetti dinner raising funds for a youth program. It’s these kind of things that back up the Venango General Store’s stated mission. Of this, Mark said, “We view this as much more than a general store. We put our business case together to revive the town. By restoring an anchor building, our hope is that others will want to invest.” And it seems that they have. Mark shared stories about property improvements being made around town.
While it’s clear that the family has embraced (and been embraced by) the local community, they have also taken steps to create a sense of community. In May, they started the Venango Saturday Market. Located next to the general store, the market gives artisans, crafters, and growers who may not otherwise have an outlet the opportunity to set up in a high-traffic area. (Although the community is small in size and population, the busy two-lane state route 6/19 passes through town.)

Lesson #3: Seize Business Opportunity Where it Exists

You may have noticed that the Oleniks have gone from running an artisan pickle company to also opening a bakery and (soon) a general store. The bakery is a no-brainer. Brittany Olenik’s banana doughnut with a chocolate ganache was about the best doughnut we’ve ever had. One must go with their strengths. About the general store, Mark and Tracey saw the need for more than barrel-aged pickles when visiting Venango. There was (and remains) a need for groceries, and their business plan morphed as a result. Sweet Treats will eventually be moved into the general store, reducing the family’s overhead costs and also making another property available for business. This is a family with a business plan.

About the Area

We were curious about how Mark viewed the area in general, so we asked him where he would take any visiting friends and relatives. Without hesitation, he said that he’d take them on a canoe or kayak trip on French Creek. “The scenery is absolutely beautiful, it’s an easy float, and you don’t have to be an expert to do it. And there are a lot of migratory birds in the area that can be spotted from the creek.” He went on to talk about the area’s rich history and other nearby towns (Cambridge Springs among them).
We all travel differently. The hook that brought us to visit Venango last month was the nearby Erie National Wildlife Refuge and the prospect of a beer on the porch of Sprague Farm & Brew Works. Too cold for a paddle, that day’s trip consisted of the wildlife refuge (hook), a beer (reward), and a doughnut (reward). Mon River Town friends – what are your area’s “hooks” and rewards?

Morgantown Area Paddlers

Want to know more about Morgantown Area Paddlers (MAP)?!

MAP is a flat-water paddling group focused on promoting and developing social, relaxed kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding in the Morgantown area. As of May 17th, 2016 there are 173 members, with 15 of them having joined just in the last month. In other exciting news the group, through local businesses, organizations, and grants, raised over $38,000 to put towards a new kayak launch. The new launch will provide a safe way to enter, avoiding slipping and bobbing when getting in or out of your boat. It also avoids the deep muck along the river’s edge. You can look for this new boat launch to be installed at the Van Voorhis Trailhead of the Mon River Rail Trail and Water Trail. Be sure to come out and join the Morgantown Area Paddlers on their paddling trips or other outings. Upcoming events can be found on their Facebook page.

Balancing Nature and Commerce

Conference in West Virginia
On May 3 -5, 2016, representatives of the River Town Program joined with the chairwoman of the Canal Town Partnership to participate as a team at The Conservation Fund’s leadership program: “Balancing Nature and Commerce in Rural Communities and Landscapes.” Held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the conference consisted of lectures by nationally recognized economic development experts followed by workshops conducted by the Conservation Fund’s facilitators.

Three teams, in addition to the River Town/Canal Town team, were selected to attend this program and benefit from the knowledge of a wide range of experts in numerous fields related to economic development in rural communities and small towns. Other teams were from Tucker County, WV, the Northern Neck of Virginia, and the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois.
The River Town/Canal Town team consisted of Cathy McCollom, River Town Program director; Donna Holdorf, Executive Director of the National Road Heritage Corridor; Kent Edwards, an architect and principal of McCollom Development Strategies; Dennis Martinak, a 21 year employee of Mackin Engineering and a resident and councilman of Allenport, Pennsylvania, a town which recently joined the River Town Program;. Marla Meyer Papernik with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Lois Turco, chair of the Canal Town Partnership; and Wendy Duchene, an attorney and writer rounded out the team.

Over an intensive three days of lectures and workshops, the River Town /Canal Town team applied what was gleaned from the speakers to the particular needs of the towns in the Monongahela River Valley region. In workshops held over the duration of the program, including an intensive four-hour session on the final day, the team developed an action strategy and timeline for a trail project to connect and benefit a number of towns bordering the Monongahela River. Community meetings will be held in the near future to get public input on the proposed project.

Martinak, who has an extensive background in community planning, explained the lessons he took away from the conference: “There are opportunities for our communities to experience revitalization but it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to work together, promote our assets, have a plan and support it, and use the resources that are available to us.” Martinak also noted that the towns in the River Town Coalition need to strive for responsible development and “look outside of the region for assistance when there are gaps in our expertise in order to move our plans forward. Image and quality of life are important to the future success of our towns. The way residents and business owners see their own community is key.”

Papernik agreed, stating: “Economic development, particularly as it relates to tourism, must embrace what is organically part of the community. There is nothing that can replace authenticity to engage the local population as well as provide for a rewarding visitor experience.”

A recurring theme of the conference was the need to focus on improving the lives of residents of small towns in a rapidly changing world. All team members noted this theme reinforced the goal of the River Town Program to work to enhance both the natural and community assets which already exist in the Monongahela River Valley towns and to rekindle regional pride in those towns. The River Town Program’s focus on outdoor recreation exists to enhance the lives of the town residents first, while also using those outdoor recreational opportunities to drive economic development.

Mon River Town’s Bald Eagle Photo Instagram Photo Contest: Official Rules



Mon River Towns will begin gathering entries on December 4th 2017, continuing weekly, and will complete the contest on a date that’s TBD. The contest end date will be announced once decided. Entries are encouraged immediately.


The promotion is open to any legal U.S. residents residing in any of the 50 United States, who are 18 years of age or older.

How to Enter

To enter the contest, post a photo of the area’s bald eagles using the hashtag #RTPEagleSearch2017 on Instagram. Submissions will be gathered weekly and submitted to a judging committee. In the event of a dispute regarding the identity of the person submitting an entry, the entry will be deemed submitted by the person in whose name the account is registered.

Winning and Notification

Once a winner is selected by committee, you will receive a comment on your photo asking for you to email your contact information for your prize to be sent. Contact information must be obtained within one week of comment, or before the next round of submissions are collected to receive prize. By participating in this promotion, account holder certifies that his/her post is original, has not been previously published or won any other promotion, and does not contain any material that would violate or infringe on the rights of any third party, including copyrights, trademarks, or rights of privacy/publicity.


Each weekly prize winner will receive one $25 gift card to a local restaurant. The value of the prize may be taxable as income and winners are solely responsible for any taxes on the prize, including, but not limited to all applicable federal, state and local taxes if applicable. If the restaurant closes, sponsor has no responsibility to provide a new prize.

Privacy Statement

Entering the promotion constitutes permission for the sponsor and its agencies to use participants’ Instagram post, captions, any accompanying materials, and names (first name and last initial) for the purpose of advertising or promotion via consumer newsletter and social media channels (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Google+/Pinterest) without compensation, unless prohibited by law. Should the company choose to use this content for promotional purposes, entrant is not entitled to compensation or credit. Sponsor holds the right to use all entries for marketing purposes.

Additional Rules

Disruption of nests, harm to animals, and altering environments in any way is strictly prohibited. Do not trespass on private property and be respectful at all times of property, leaving no trash behind. It is essential that these beautiful birds not be stressed or disturbed so please follow the recommendations for viewing outlined below. When viewing bald eagles, Pennsylvania Game Commission asks that people:

  • Keep at least 1000 feet from an active nest, roost or feeding area. Use binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles at a distance.
  • Be quiet. If you must talk, whisper.
  • Cover up. Use your vehicle or boat as a blind, as eagles are more alarmed by pedestrians.
  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Don’t make the birds fly. Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather or a nest predator. It also wastes energy and may cause them to leave a valuable meal behind or abandon a nest that they are constructing.
  • Respect the privacy of the landowner.

Bald Eagles Along The Mon

With more and more work going into the care of the Monongahela River and the creeks and waterways throughout western Pennsylvania, more and more wildlife is making its way into our area. You’re sure to spot a multitude of birds and fish during your Mon River journeys – and if you’re really lucky, you may just spot a bald eagle!

Once an endangered species, this beautiful national symbol has bounced back since 1963, when only 417 mating pairs of bald eagles remained. As recently as the 1980s, only three bald eagle nests existed in Pennsylvania.

Today this fish-eating raptor is no longer considered endangered, and it’s estimated that 7,066 nesting pairs live in the U.S., primarily in sections of Alaska, Canada, and the northern U.S. As for Pennsylvania? The eagle population has bounced back tremendously, to the point that tracking the eagles can be quite difficult.

About The Bald Eagle

Bald eagles are well recognized for their brown body and white head and tail. If you spot an eagle with this plumage, that means that eagle is over 5 years old. Prior to reaching full adulthood, bald eagles are speckled brown-and-white. As with all raptors, female eagles are larger than their male counterparts.
Bald eagles love fish, which is why they are most commonly spotted near bodies of water. These eagles are opportunistic hunters, however, and will also catch birds, rabbits, and squirrels if they aren’t having any luck fishing.
Bald eagles mate for life and pairs are very territorial during their breeding season. Incredibly, the breeding season of eagles can occur any time between October and May, depending on the exact location of the eagles and the climate in that area; the local Hays neighborhood bald eagles were seen laying eggs in the month of February last year.
During the month (or even three months) before their mating season, bald eagles build a nest in a tall tree or on a cliff that’s near a body of water. The eagles use the same nest year after year, adding twigs and grasses to the nest to strengthen it each season. As a result of this repeated use, nests may become very large, up to 13 feet tall and ten feet across.
Once the nest is ready, bald eagles will then lay two or three eggs. After an incubation period that is just over a month long, the eaglets hatch, and spend the next ten to 12 weeks growing in their nest. After 6 weeks the eaglets are old enough to fly, although they do not reach full adulthood for several years. Incredibly, these eagles can live up to 50 years, assuming they avoid severe sickness or injury.
While some bald eagles migrate great distances seasonally, local Western Pennsylvania pairs are not very migratory, as they can find plenty of food throughout the year. Nearby eagle pairs likely will not migrate unless food becomes scarce, and even then, it would just be for a short time and distance. They may only go as far as Maryland, where there is a small winter colony of birds.

Sights Near Us!

It’s one thing to read about bald eagles and another to see them during local nature hikes. Fortunately, as bald eagles continue to recover, visitors to our Mon River communities have reported more and more eagle sightings. For example:

Visitors and staff have reported seeing up to four bald eagles at a time soaring above the Youghiogheny River, particularly between the Yough bike and pedestrian bridge and the point where the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers and Laurel Hill Creek merge. Locals report that visitors are likely to spot ospreys, red-tailed hawk and turkey buzzards during visits as well.
The owners of the Yough Tree House were lucky enough to snap a photo of two bald eagles – one perched about eight feet above the other one – in a tree near the Yough Tree House.
Locals report that bald eagle sightings are a common occurrence in Confluence because there is a variety of food sources, especially since the fish commission stocks the Yough, Casselman and Laurel Hill Creek.

More Sightings Coming Soon?

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh was recently consulted about the possibility of eagles in the Mon River Valley. According to experts, the Mid Mon Valley could definitely be the next location for an eagle couple to select for a territory and nest.

An eagle matures around the 4th or 5th year. The Hays pair (which nests near the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail around Pittsburgh) has been mating in the area for five years. There is also a pair of eagles in Harmar and by Canonsburg Lake. With new birds growing in the surrounding areas, it is the Aviary staff’s opinion that in the next few years, there will likely be at least one pair in the mid Mon.

Interestingly, eagles tend to select areas that do not have hiking trails. They avoid human interaction and do not like ATVs. However, things like trains and other industrial equipment do not bother them. They seem to be able to distinguish from a non-threat and a potential human threat.

Sighting Eagles Safely

If you plan on looking for eagles during your next trip along the Mon, we ask that you consider the land and animals you will be interacting with and plan accordingly. Since eagles do not tend to nest near trails that are used by humans, you will need to prepare to view any nests from a distance. Attempting to leave an approved trail for a closer look could put yourself in danger and drive away these beautiful birds. And it’s especially important to not try to climb into an eagle’s nest, both for your own safety and to avoid disrupting the eagle’s habitat and family. Having binoculars on hand is the best way to see these beautiful birds without getting too close (i.e. within 1,000 feet). Respecting the land they live in and not straying far from local trails is also very important, as is respecting all local property laws.

A Special Announcement

Have you come across any of these majestic animals on your hikes? Snap a picture and enter our Instagram Photo Contest! Post your Bald Eagle photos using the hashtag #RTPEagleSearch2017 for a chance to win a weekly $25 gift card. More information on the contest and rules can be found here. If you unable to get a photo, we would still love to hear where you are seeing the eagles. Please direct message the Mon River Towns Facebook page, @RiverTownProgram, with the location, date, and time of day with your sightings.

Ready to plan your trip? Skip the “nature hikes near me” Google search – you can visit our website any time to find a list of towns and trip planning resources!