The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

north by northeast

with one comment


– photo by Mitch Waxman

After doing a sunrise tripod session (described yesterday) with the camera at the West End Overlook park on the 21st of December, a humble narrator pointed the nose of the automobile east after having crossed the Monongahela River to the southern side of the Golden Triangle. A number of rail lines snake through here, and there’s a couple of small rail yards as well.

I was mainly trawling about trying to develop an idea of the surrounding area, and looking for spots to return to when light and atmosphere would combine and align to get a proper photo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I’ve been doing, while randomly driving around Pittsburgh, is to motor up the prominences and see if there’s any sort of point of view I can find without trespassing. I guess that I was about 15 or 20 miles back on the Monongahela from the Downtown area where the three rivers converge.

I’m being extremely careful about the trespassing thing. Pennsylvania is an open carry state, and embraces “Castle Doctrine” which essentially makes it legal for somebody to start blasting away if they feel “threatened” while on their own property. There are gun shops in the shopping malls here. It’s probably a big part of why everybody is so polite in this part of the country.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the places I wanted to take a look at is Braddock, which is around ten miles east of Downtown. Beyond making a mental note to drive Forgotten-NY’s Kevin Walsh here if he ever visits, I was in absolute jaw dropping awe the entire time I was there.

Braddock is home to United States Steel’s Mon Valley Works, a still active steel mill which incorporates the 1875 Edgar Thomson works into its operation. Never in my life have I seen a working steel mill.

Wow. Yes, I will be back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeking some sort of prominence from which I could get a view of the enormity of the Mon Valley Works, I crossed the Monongahela and looked around but couldn’t find a spot where I was certain it was “kosher” for me to shoot from. That’s something to figure out for the future, thought a humble narrator, and I decided that it would be a good idea to head back home and have lunch.

The pathway back to Dormont carried me through McKeesport, which is the second largest urban area in Allegheny County, after Pittsburgh. Truth be told, I’m fuzzy on where Pittsburgh ends and McKeesport begins, but all of that will sort itself out in the fullness of time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I was thinking to myself “hey, I wonder if this rail bridge is active” a CSX freight train appeared and started transiting over it.

Forgive my ignorance here, as I like taking pictures of trains but I’m not a “train guy.” It seems that this bridge is the beginning of the “Pittsburgh subdivision” for CSX.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The water which the bridge spans is apparently the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers. It’s down the block from the municipal center of McKeesport, where the politicians and the Cops live along with their friends in the Fire Department. There was a little park set up under the bridges, which led to a couple of waterfront trails. Again, noted for spring and summertime exploration.

More tomorrow from Western Pennsylvania, at your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 10, 2023 at 11:00 am

Posted in newtown creek

One Response

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  1. We too experienced your sense of awe when first encountering a steel mill, south of Detroit.


    May 20, 2023 at 9:00 pm

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