The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Etna

sweatshirt weather

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

After visiting the Fall Run Park in Shaler Township with Our Lady of the Pentacle, we next found ourselves in the nearby community of Etna along the Allegheny River. We weren’t there ten minutes when I heard train horns being blown to the west. A Norfolk Southern train was a-coming.

As a note, I’m playing around with using ChatGPT’s “AI” as a research assistant, so here’s what that machine says about the locomotive pictured above, which is designated as being #7504: according to publicly available records, Norfolk Southern operates a variety of locomotives that were manufactured by different companies over several decades. The 7500 series locomotives are typically EMD SD70ACe locomotives, which were first manufactured in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, it is possible that Norfolk Southern 7504 may have been refurbished or modified since its original manufacture date, which could affect its specifications and performance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additional machine perceptions are offered here:

Norfolk Southern locomotives are typically large diesel-electric locomotives used for hauling freight across the United States. They are designed for high performance and reliability, with powerful engines and advanced technology to ensure smooth operation and efficient use of fuel. Norfolk Southern locomotives are often painted in the company’s distinctive black, white, and gray color scheme, with the locomotive number prominently displayed on the sides and front. It is likely that Norfolk Southern Locomotive 7504 is similar in appearance and function to other locomotives in the company’s fleet, but specific details may vary depending on the model and year of manufacture.

The AI, which is not really an artificial intelligence but is still fairly amazing, uses Google’s data coupled with a learning algorithm to scrape information off the http level of the web. It’s a lot more targeted than Google is these days, as it’s not carrying advertising links or being manipulated by SEO (search engine optimization). Yet.

Also, before you ask, yes I’ve seen the Terminator movies, read Asimov, and Colossus: The Forbin Project remains one of my favorites.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Monday the 6th, one had to run a few errands north and west of the Paris of Appalachia and once these tasks were accomplished I decided to take advantage of a 62 degree sunny February day – in Pittsburgh – and head over to a section of the Montour Trail which was next on my ‘go see it’ list. This part of the trail straddles the border of Pennsylvania’s Imperial and Findlay Township.

The machine that goes “ping” says this about the Montour Trail:

The Montour Trail is a multi-use recreational trail located in southwestern Pennsylvania, in the United States. The trail follows the former Montour Railroad line, which was originally built in the late 19th century and served the coal mines in the region. The trail stretches for more than 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Coraopolis, near Pittsburgh International Airport, to Clairton in Allegheny County.

The Montour Trail is a popular destination for hiking, biking, running, and other outdoor activities. It is a non-motorized trail that is open to the public year-round, free of charge. The trail offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape, including forests, hills, and streams. It also passes through several small towns and historic sites, such as the Montour Railroad Museum and the Walker’s Mill Covered Bridge.

In addition to its recreational uses, the Montour Trail also serves as an important transportation corridor for commuters and other travelers. The trail is part of the larger Great Allegheny Passage, which connects Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., via a continuous system of trails and bike paths.

Overall, the Montour Trail is a valuable resource for residents and visitors to the Pittsburgh area, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, transportation, and education about the region’s rich history and natural beauty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The waterway in these shots is called Montour Run. As described in the post about Fall Run Park, the “official and legal”definition of what a ‘run’ is in the Pennsylvania context is “run of the river means a facility where there is a continuous discharge of water without storage and release of water.” Apparently, it’s synonymous with Creek, and is an archaic language artifact just like the usage of the term “kill” is back in NYC.

Computer says:

Montour Run is a tributary stream of the Ohio River, located in western Pennsylvania in the United States. The stream flows for approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) through Allegheny County, draining an area of about 36 square miles (93 square kilometers).

Montour Run is named for the Montour family, who were early settlers in the region and operated a gristmill along the stream in the 18th and 19th centuries. The stream is formed by the confluence of two smaller streams, North Fork Montour Run and South Fork Montour Run, near the borough of Coraopolis. It then flows westward, passing through several towns and suburbs before emptying into the Ohio River near the borough of McKees Rocks.

Montour Run and its surrounding watershed are important natural resources for the region, providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. The stream also serves as a source of drinking water for several communities in the area. However, the watershed has faced environmental challenges in recent years, including pollution from agricultural runoff, industrial activities, and urbanization.

Efforts are underway to protect and restore Montour Run and its surrounding ecosystem. This includes initiatives to reduce pollution and improve water quality, as well as efforts to conserve and restore natural habitats along the stream and its tributaries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled about a mile in the wrong direction, encountering this old rail car sitting on the property of a community center in Imperial. I realized that the tunnel I was keen on seeing wasn’t in this particular stretch, so I backtracked a bit after this to go the other way. It was a really beautiful day anyway and it was nice to just be kicking the dirt around in Pennsylvania’s community of Imperial.

Future machine overlord says:

Imperial is a small suburban community located in Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania, in the United States. The community is situated approximately 17 miles (27 kilometers) west of Pittsburgh, near the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Imperial is primarily a residential community, with a mix of single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The community also has a small commercial district along its main road, including a grocery store, gas station, and several restaurants and shops. The Imperial Volunteer Fire Department provides emergency services to the community.

Imperial is surrounded by a mix of rural and suburban landscapes, with farms and fields to the west and north, and other suburban communities to the east and south. The Montour Trail, a popular recreational trail, passes through the community, offering opportunities for biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

The community has a rich history, dating back to the early 19th century when it was first settled by European immigrants. The area was originally known for its coal mining and farming industries, and later became a hub for transportation and commerce, thanks to its location along the Ohio River and major highways.

Overall, Imperial is a quiet and peaceful community with a strong sense of history and tradition. Its proximity to Pittsburgh and other major attractions in the region make it a desirable place to live for those seeking a suburban lifestyle with easy access to urban amenities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One headed in the other direction and was soon walking past the parking spot occupied by the Mobile Oppression Platform, whereupon a humble narrator then set out in search of this particular ‘Enlow Tunnel’ on the Montour Trail which had drawn my attentions.

Back tomorrow with that part of the walk.

I asked the electrical collaborator for today’s post to “describe yourself,” here’s what it said:


Actually, it was:

As an AI language model, I don’t have a physical body, so I don’t have physical characteristics like height or eye color. However, I can describe myself in terms of my abilities and functions.

I am ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI. I have been designed to understand natural language and provide responses that are as human-like as possible. I have access to a vast database of information, including knowledge about a wide range of topics and the ability to perform various tasks such as calculations, translations, and data analysis.

My primary function is to communicate with humans through text-based interactions, such as chat and messaging platforms. I can answer questions, provide information, offer suggestions, and engage in conversations on a wide range of topics.

Overall, I am a versatile and adaptive language model that can help people find answers and solutions to their questions and problems.

“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

March 9, 2023 at 11:00 am

Etna my heart out

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last stop on my Allegheny 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 in the place was piqued by the promise of a waterfront trail with an attached parking lot. It took me a minute to find the parking lot, but after doing so, I left the Mobile Oppression Platform behind and headed for the water.

Check me out, a troll who can always be found under a bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 62nd street, or Senator Robert D. Fleming Bridge, pictured above. It’s a 1962 vintage truss bridge which connects south side’s Morningside and Lawrenceville to north side’s Sharpsburg and Etna. It overflies a set of railroad tracks and the entrance to the waterfront public space is found right alongside of it.

One was really hoping for a train to roll by. These tracks are Norfolk Southern ones, same line as those carried by the decaying rail trestle mentioned yesterday. Denied, however, on the locomotive front.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge is a bit over 1,000 feet long, I’m told. I won’t be offering any shots of the trail itself today, since that’s not what I came to Etna to do. Honestly, I had been running around all day at this point, and Etna had already been decided on as my last stop before heading back to HQ.

As is the case with most of the public spaces I’ve visited in the area, there was a Porta Potty set up for public usage. Imagine that? An acknowledgement of human biology.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m definitely going to come back here sometime, and bring a folding chair. This will be a great spot for a railroad photo, something which I haven’t even gotten started on yet. As mentioned, nearly everything I’ve done behind the camera since getting to Pittsburgh in mid December has been basic scouting. Learning the lay of the land, and all that. Where’s what, why is it there, how did it get built, and when. That sort of thing.

Ignorance really is bliss, incidentally. Back in NYC, when I looked at street signage that carried somebody’s name, I could often picture the face of the actual personage (photos, yes, but also paintings and etchings) that the City named the street for. Farragut Avenue, anyone? How about The Bronx?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As always, my odd appreciation of the elegant curves and supremely utilitarian nature of freeway on and off ramp architecture was particularly piqued here. As mentioned endlessly – scouting. That shot above? It’s a morning thing, and now on my list for a day when I went out before dawn for a sunrise and will need something to shoot during the breakfast part of the day. I’m planning to zoom in a bunch, towards the area nearby the do not enter sign, and frame the ramps up with the brightness of the morning sun lighting up the hill behind it. Should be sweet.

That’s the problem with the remote scout stuff, using Google maps and whole other bag of tricks, you don’t know what it looks like – really. Sometimes you get there and decide it’s best not to get out of the car. That’s the other thing which digital research can’t tell you – vibe. Instinct is something which is honed, and especially so after all those years walking around Brooklyn and Queens’ “picturesque” areas – Newtown Creek, LIC, the Happy Place, Skelson’s Office on Staten Island, industrial Greenpoint and Bushwick, Sunset Park and Red Hook, the Gowanus, several random but picturesque docks and abandoned railways, all those bridges, etc.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way out of Etna, I spotted this absolute unit of a Roman Catholic Church. It’s the 1856 vintage St. Mary – Christ the King Parish church, I’m told. Wow.

That’s it for this week, from Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh.

“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 3, 2023 at 11:00 am

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