In 2009, I cycled 335 miles of off-road trail along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. Along the way, one of many scenic spots was Ohiopyle, PA, and I remember telling my co-rider, "I need to come back here one day". So, lo and behold, as I was mapping my way East from Ann Arbor, Ohiopyle was indeed the halfway point. Coincidence? I think not.
This little town was called "ohiopehhla" by area Native Americans, a reference to the frothy waters of the Youghiogheny River that passes through it. In 1753, George Washington traveled through the area to talk to the French, then returned a year later with soldiers, and so began the French and Indian War. While the early settlers were farmers and hunters, the building of roads and railroads in the 1800s brought industries like lumbering, tanneries, salt mining and coal mining. The railroads also brought tourists to see the waterfalls and to stay at the resorts along the river. With the advent of the auto, tourism declined, buildings were removed, and the natural beauty of the area regenerated.
Conservation of the land began in 1948, as one woman, Lillian McCahan, began writing letters to protect Ferncliff Peninsula from clear-cutting. She eventually convinced a seasonal resident, Edgar Kaufmann (owner of nearby Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece) to purchase the land, which he then donated to the Conservancy. Today, the State Park is over 20,000 acres, and is an outdoor recreation mecca for whitewater boating, fly-fishing, hiking, cycling, and x-c skiing.
While it is busy on the weekend, tourism is focused on outdoor activity, and weekdays are slow and peaceful. The town of Ohiopyle has about 20 main buildings with a small residential area, and two churches. According to a park ranger, the town's population in the winter is 50-something. This was a great spot to begin my return to the homestead, to see the eclipse, and to enjoy the great outdoors.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover