The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Rivers of Steel Boat Tour, part 2

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself attended a boat tour of Pittsburgh’s Monongahela River offered by the Carrie Furnace ‘Rivers of Steel’ outfit. The weather was ghastly, but… y’know, it’s Pittsburgh. We were heading roughly eastwards, but the Monongahela meanders along in a snake like manner through the hills and valleys of the foothills of the Appalachian range.

The shot above looks back west towards Downtown Pittsburgh and the Birmingham Bridge. This was shot just as we approached the Hot Metal Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A towing operation was delivering a barge while we passed by. I’ve seen a surprising amount of ‘port activity’ in Pittsburgh. Wasn’t expecting that, I must offer. Turns out that there’s a ton of maritime activity going on.

Those dark clouds in the first shot caught up with us somewhere around this point and the rain started really pissing down.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The barge delivery was being made to this concrete company on the shoreline, which I’d noticed from the landward side while walking the Eliza Furnace trail on the Monongahela’s northern shore a few months ago.

One of the things I’ve always liked about being on a boat tour is the way that it allows me to stitch together disparate experiences I’ve had while walking along waterfront areas, which aids in forming up a sense of geospatial awareness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Mill 31, a former coking mill that was part of a long departed steel mill. The modern building is being used as a ‘technology industry incubator’ and I’m told that everything from prosthetic limbs to actual autonomous robots are being worked on within. Notice the solar roof?

Nearby this site, there’s a closed off driving range where multiple car companies test out autonomous driving vehicles. That includes semi trucks. You’re worried about ai driven chat bots? Wait till robot trucks have begun to populate the highway system in 20 years. Maximum Overdrive indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maritime infrastructure from the age of industry is littered all over the Monongahela River’s shorelines. Some of it has been repurposed to modernity, but much of the stuff just sits there decaying while the uplands change around it. Newish residential development is spotted here and there between the trees.

The narration continued from the Rivers of Steel guide, detailing the history and circumstances of the Steel industry and the hundreds of corollary trades which supported it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, a kayaking outfit operates out of the spot pictured above, which used to serve the J&L Mill as their harbor master HQ. The red thing in the previous shot was more or less directly parallel to this building, and both it and the yellow things like the one at bottom right were used for tying off barges – back in the day.

Back next week with more from the Monongahela River and the Pretty City of Pittsburgh, at this, 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

May 12, 2023 at 11:00 am

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