“What a delightful prospect it must have afforded…when the morning sun
first touched with its rays the summit of the Allegheny, and in its setting,
flooded the heights of the Laurel Hill with a sea of gold, and bathed
the whole intervening country with its soft and mellow light.” -Hon. Wm. H. Koontz, 1895
Life between the Ridges, living IN the heart of the Great Allegheny Mountain, provides an embarrassing affluence of beauty. Charles Dickens recognized it; nineteenth century Congressman William Koontz noted it; George Hetzel and the Scalp Level School of artists emulated it; generations of exiles have longed for it; and for a century and a half residents gushing to out-of-town visitors, “Oh, you have GOT to see this!” have felt it.
Back in July, Marcus Schneck’s article, Pennsylvania’s Best Views from pennlive.com, popped up on my Facebook news feed about half a dozen times over a couple of days. I noted in one response that I could find comparable views within 20 minutes of my Johnstown home. My friend, Mike Teeter, challenged me to provide directions to these places. Herewith I rise to that challenge.
Okay, 20 minutes was a bit of hyperbole, but I will limit my area to the Land With No Name, or too many names, or we’re not sure what to call this place: the Laurel Highlands, Southern Alleghenies, South Central or Southwestern PA. It’s not easy identifying this cusp of regions, where half of the waters fall to the Gulf and the other half to the Atlantic, where the sun sets two hours earlier in the valleys than on the hilltops, where everybody, it seems, knows your name. Our area of discovery will include Cambria and Somerset Counties and parts of Bedford, Westmoreland, Blair and Indiana.
I don’t think Mr. Schneck listed his sites in any particular order, so I’ll simply respond one to one in the order provided in the original article. Tomorrow we’ll explore the Allegheny answer to Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row, itself an enchanting sight, and I would encouraging anyone visiting Southeastern Pa not to miss it.
I and your fellow readers welcome your thoughts, reactions, tips and suggestions. Feel free to join in the conversation below. And if you like what you see here, be sure to like the Laurelight Facebook page.