The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Scouting in Sharpsburg

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the Allegheny River, and my desire to get some photos of the United States Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam 2, after diverting away to check out the Highland Park Reservoir. Remote scouting using Google Maps had suggested several locations which might provide a point of view, and an attempt was made to visit them all.

That’s the Highland Park Bridge’s interchange ramp structure, as seen from below, on the south side of the Allegheny River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An ice cream shop, closed for the season, had a parking lot set on a prominence which overlooked the river. The shop actually had one of those tourist binoculars things that you pay a quarter to look through set up in the parking lot, along with picnic benches. It was “customers only” but since they were closed and I couldn’t purchase a vanilla cone, photos were gathered instead. That’s the Highland Park bridge again, and the dark shape in the river is the USACE dam.

Simple concrete based modifications to the natural flow of water has long been a potential remedy for Newtown Creek, back in NYC, that I’ve supported. Flow is Newtown’s problem, ultimately. Cheap and simple alterations like fish ladders and fixed crest dams are the way to encourage the laminar movement of water through the system. The City and all the other powers that be favor pumps and other mechanical contrivance instead. If you’ve got to plug it in, you’ve already lost, I always say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Across the river, in the north shore community of Sharpsburg, one had spotted a marina of sorts which sat on the river side of a railroad trestle. Said trestle is more or less at the center of the shot above. The island at the left side is called Six Mile Island, which I understand as being a nature preserve overseen by the USACE.

One packed up the gear and hopped into the Mobile Oppression Platform (my nickname for the Toyota RAV4), whereupon a quick crossing of the river on the Highland Park Bridge was executed. I soon found myself staring down a series of weathered “No Trespassing” signs at what seems to be a defunct or at least closed for the season boat launch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I could probably spend an hour or two just photographing the trestle found there, to be honest. Nitre cloaked, moldy, mossy, dripping… There was a dirt road one could have easily accessed with the MOP (all wheel drive, me) but the fence posts had “posted” signage. It probably would have been a “nothing burger” heading back there, but as is often mentioned – I’m like a vampire, inasmuch as I need to be invited in to do my work. What would Superman do? Answer – the Man of Steel doesn’t knowingly trespass even if he, unlike me, is bulletproof.

People are extremely well armed out here in Western Pennsylvania. There are gun shops in shopping malls, and as the saying goes – if you fuck around, you’ll find out. I intend not to fuck around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trestle carries railroad tracks above it, ones which the Norfolk Southern railroad outfit travel on. Beneath the tracks, it’s a dripping mess, and exactly the sort of post industrial sight that draws somebody like me directly in. As I was completely alone while driving through the thing to get back onto an actual paved road that goes somewhere, I opened the moon roof on the MOP and shot a few exposures on my way out through the roof of the car.

Monday’s post described the recent climate in Pittsburgh, with bands of rain and snow moving through the area, that have been inimical to my pursuits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thereby, given that this particular day out was likely the only opportunity I would have – another system of winter storms was in the forecast – for a few days, I decided to make the most of it and scout out another potential “POV” spot in another community nestled up against the Allegheny. You’ll see that one tomorrow.

More scouting from Pittsburgh and its riverfronts, at your Newtown Pentacle, in Friday’s installment.

“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

February 2, 2023 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. Why’s the MOP “oppressive”? Seems like it’s your BF at the moment.

    georgetheatheist . . . smart aleck

    February 2, 2023 at 6:31 pm

  2. […] River wanderings – after having visited Lock and Dam 2, Highland Park Reservoir, and Sharpsburg – was in Etna. Named for the Italian volcano, Etna was a steel town until 1953. My interest […]

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