The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

heading home

with one comment


– photo by Mitch Waxman

After exploring a bit around the First Street Station on the T, in downtown Pittsburgh, one took a bit of a walk and decided on how my path back home via the light rail service would shape up. A brief scuttle soon found me perambulating across the Smithfield Street Bridge and crossing the Monongahela River towards the south side, as the locals would refer to it. Conversations with these locals will often result in a suggestion to check out a spot with a goofy name like “Deadman’s Hollow” or “Girty’s Run,” or some other fun nomenclature. I have to remind them that I’m still learning how to reliably drive back home at this stage of the game.

It was a lovely day in Pittsburgh, for early January, with air temperatures hovering in the high 40’s and low 50’s with calm winds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Monongahela itself was carrying a significant amount of what appeared to be soil. This river flows, I’m told, out of West Virginia to the south and along its route it transits through first wild and then rural areas where its tributaries carry a not insignificant amount of solute into the river. The closer you get to Pittsburgh, the more industrialized and developed the banks of the river get, and the entire region of its transit in this part of Pennsylvania is referred to as “The Mon Valley.”

My plan for the remainder of the day was simple, but Pittsburgh didn’t comply with my wishes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I spotted the T crossing the river on the nearby Panhandle Bridge, which was described in earlier posts this week, while walking across the Smithfield Street Bridge.

My plan, as it were, involved getting several loving shots of freight rail trains moving along the south shore of the river.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

None appeared, despite the absolutely fantastic framing that I was so proud of finding for the shot. When you’re going after trains, it’s a lot like fishing – sometimes they’re not biting no matter how patient you are.

C’est la vie, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I did get a tugboat, however, so there’s that.

I’ve been seeing a bunch of these river tugs moving about, towing mineral barges of what looks like coal or coke.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While walking to the T stop on the south side at Station Square, I did get a train photo – a Norfolk Southern unit moving along an elevated trackway carved into Mount Washington. I’m working out how to get a bit closer to this track, somewhere where a better angle of view with something that “says Pittsburgh” in the shot. In NYC, as long as you have the Empire State Building somewhere in view – bam, that’s a NYC photo. Sense of place, and all that.

Back next week, with more from my initial attempts to explore Pittsburgh and its environs.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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 20, 2023 at 11:00 am

One Response

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  1. […] The icing on my photowalk cake was finally finding a POV for the Norfolk Southern tracks, which is from the Liberty Bridge. I’ll admit to stopping my forward movement for about 15 minutes, and nearly jumping for joy when I heard it coming from the other side of the tree line. These tracks are on a shelf carved into Mount Washington. I’ve gotten shots from the ground of this scene which I’ve shown y’all in the past. […]

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