The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

foggy Homestead

with 4 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the many things that’s super intriguing to me about Pittsburgh, something that I’ve just dipped my toe into at this stage, is the abundance of “rail to trail” infrastructure hereabouts. As is the case with a lot of things here in this part of the country, the Government types have inherited a lot of land to manage that used to be used for the Steel industry or some other “mill.” The company which owned this sort of land is long gone, and the property has ended up in the hands of the “State.” By state, I don’t necessarily mean Pennsylvania, instead I’m using that word in the Machiavellian sense.

In the Homestead section, there used to be an enormous steel works which sputtered through the 70’s and finally gave up the ghost in the 1980’s. It’s the one where the infamous Homestead Strike occurred. The vast majority of the plant’s footprint has been converted over to a development project called “The Waterfront.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Set along the Monongahela River, the Homestead plant was served by several rail lines. One of these defunct lines has become part of the “Great Allegheny Passage” trail, which incorporates – amongst others – the track beds of the B&O and P&LE Railroads into a combined bike and hike path. One of the spots where you can both access the path and park your car is found at the Homestead Pumphouse, which is the trailhead for the Steel Valley section of the larger GAP.

The weather in Pittsburgh is always dynamic and changes by the hour. When I visited the Homestead Pumphouse on January 2nd, it was an unusually warm day which followed an unusually cold few days. The Monongahela flows out of the mountains of Southern Pennsylvania and West Virginia where it was even colder than it was in Pittsburgh, so when that cold water hit the warm air – fog erupted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself cannot resist photographing in such conditions, and I got busy. When things warm up a bit in the coming weeks, I’m planning on about a three miles there and three back walk along this section of the Steel Valley trail, where I’ll be walking over rail bridges and finding a certain point of view that I’m desirous of photographing the U.S. Steel Mon Valley works from.

What an absolute pleasure it is to discover new things. It’s been a while.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The entire time I was at this location, I was wondering if that rail bridge was active or if it was one of the decommissioned ones you can walk over that was part of the trail. As I found out while driving out of the “Rail to Trail” parking lot later on, when it was far to late to get a shot of the freight train that suddenly appeared and was starting to cross the bridge – it’s active.

It’s the “Pinkerton’s Landing Bridge,” aka the “Pemickey Bridge.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Across the water, that’s the skeletal remains of the Carrie Blast Furnace rising out of the mists of the Monongahela. Carrie is home to the Rivers of Steel outfit in Swissvale, whom I’m planning on having fun with during the spring and summer months. It’s a National Historical Landmark, Carrie is, and the Rivers of Steel people apparently offer boat tours and other programming that I’m interested in attending. About two miles down river from here, on that side of the Monongahela are the Mon Valley Works in Braddock, PA.

Our Lady of the Pentacle hasn’t described me as looking “like a pig in shit” yet, but all of this is quite exciting to one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Homestead Pumphouse, which is set up as a historic landmark and public park, there’s all sorts of gear left behind from the steel mill days on display. That thing in the shot above is apparently a ladle.

I’m still in the exploration phase right now, regarding Pittsburgh. I’m working a series of 20-30 minutes from HQ sites right now, scouting out places which I’ll return to when weather and season are a bit friendlier than what January in Western PA offers.

More tomorrow.

“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 18, 2023 at 11:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. […] week, I showed you what the historic Homestead Pump House site on the Monongahela River looked like when bathed in thick fog. Lament was offered regarding the […]

  2. […] that snake around the city. A couple of weeks ago, the Great Allegheny Passage’s trail in Homestead was discussed – part 1, part 2, part […]

  3. […] offered several posts (Part one, Part Two, Part Three) from the section of the GAP stretching from Homestead to a point directly across the Monongahela River from the USS Mon Valley Works on the northern side […]

  4. […] River all the way back to Rankin, where the Carrie Furnace still stands across the water from the Homestead Pump House […]

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