In Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh I was expecting to read about the not forgotten tales of Pittsburgh like the “fourth river” or the mysterious military plane the allegedly crashed into the Monongahela River and disappeared. I was pleasantly surprised that this was really about forgotten tales; some tragic, some funny, and some enlightening. I don’t know if you have to be from the Pittsburgh area to enjoy this, but it did make it more enjoyable to visualize where some of the events took place. In fact I took a ride this morning to see one of the places and drove on one of the other places that author Thomas White described.
It seems that in the mid to late 1800s roads were so poorly maintained (sounds much like today) that some enterprising folks took it upon themselves to make toll roads by laying wooden planks to create roads. One of the longest and busiest was Butler Plank Road. I actually drive by and use this road daily. I could never understand why it bore that name.
Those of us who have interest in Pittsburgh’s history can be a little snotty and no example is better than the Lewis and Clark Expedition. There was much national ballyhoo years ago when there were celebrations over the anniversary. Pittsburghers were screaming for attention to remind media-types that their expedition actually started here. Many believed that it started in Elizabeth, Pa just south of Pittsburgh. This was where it was generally believed that Lewis had his boat built. Thomas White makes a good argument that perhaps the boat was actually constructed in Pittsburgh at a boatyard on the Monongahela River.
My destination today was a local cemetary located on Cemetary Lane in Pittsburgh’s North Hills where Charles Taze Russell is buried. Minister Russell is famous for founding the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is a unique pyramid monument near Russell’s grave. Something came over me as I read this and I had to see it for myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Tales and highly recommend them for all Pittsburghers.