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Secluded between Laurel Mountain and Chestnut Ridge, the Ligonier Valley has been the mountain playground of western Pennsylvania since the nineteenth century. Yet this picturesque retreat was at the tumultuous center of history--during the French and Indian War, Fort Ligonier was key to the British strategy, and in the late nineteenth century, the Ligonier Valley Rail Road helped transform the industry of the region. Author Jennifer Sopko traces the story of the valley and its residents through a series of fascinating vignettes. From the earliest histories to nostalgic reminiscences of the Ligonier Opera House, socials at the Valley Dairy ice cream parlor and bygone days at Idlewild Park, Sopko captures the history and spirit of the Ligonier Valley and its communities.
Secluded between Laurel Mountain and Chestnut Ridge, the Ligonier Valley has been the mountain playground of western Pennsylvania since the nineteenth century. Yet this picturesque retreat was at the tumultuous center of history--during the French and Indian War, Fort Ligonier was key to the British strategy, and in the late nineteenth century, the Ligonier Valley Rail Road helped transform the industry of the region. Author Jennifer Sopko traces the story of the valley and its residents through a series of fascinating vignettes. From the earliest histories to nostalgic reminiscences of the Ligonier Opera House, socials at the Valley Dairy ice cream parlor and bygone days at Idlewild Park, Sopko captures the history and spirit of the Ligonier Valley and its communities.
Nestled in the hills of western Pennsylvania, the Ligonier Valley has always had an air of mystery about it. The small towns and rolling countryside bear little witness to all that has occurred here. A fort was built but decayed and disappeared before being reconstructed recently. Many people have made significant contributions to the town and beyond, although time has lost many of their stories. The valley became an early industrial center with the growth of lumbering, mining, and iron production until the best resources were spent and these industries dwindled. Using hundreds of rare photographs, author Sally Shirey tells the story of this beautiful, historic area. In Ligonier Valley, readers can see the valley as it stood many years ago. After making the steep descent of Laurel Mountain, many pioneers were content to stay and build their lives in the valley. In 1758, the army of Gen. John Forbes erected Fort Ligonier. John Ramsey laid out the town of Ligonier around a public square called the Diamond. The influx of people, thanks to the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, gave rise to the hospitality industry in the valley. The Hotel Breniser, Ligonier Springs Hotel, and Kissell Springs Hotel were among those that served tourists and residents alike. Idlewild Park, dating from the 1870s, remains one of America's most beautiful amusement parks today. Reconstructed Fort Ligonier has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.
Located in the scenic Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, America's third oldest amusement park, Idlewild, was founded in 1878 as a picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road. Its tranquil setting quickly established Idlewild as the premier place for church, school, and corporate picnics, as well as a recreational getaway for families. Idlewild added new amusements and facilities as its crowds continued to grow, but it always strove to maintain the picturesque landscape of the site. Soon a full-fledged amusement park was in operation, with throngs of visitors disembarking the trains from such places as Latrobe, Greensburg, and Pittsburgh. Home to unique attractions like Story Book Forest, the Rollo Coaster, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and the SoakZone, Idlewild has been the backdrop for generations of fond memories. Idlewild's proximity to the Lincoln Highway helped the park survive the abandonment of the railroad, and careful development by the Mellon and Macdonald families and the Kennywood Entertainment Company continue to help it thrive. This collection of photographs tells the story of how one of America's most beautiful theme parks has grown throughout the years.
Idlewild and SoakZone has charmed people across Western Pennsylvania and beyond since the late 1800s. The park was developed by Pittsburgh's Mellon family as a picnic grove to boost traffic on the Ligonier Valley Rail Road. When C.C. Macdonald took the helm in 1931, rides, entertainment and other attractions came to Idlewild over the next half century, along with the adjacent Story Book Forest. After joining the Kennywood family of amusement parks, Idlewild added a Wild West town, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make-Believe and a water slide complex. Author Jennifer Sopko tells the heartwarming history of a Pennsylvania amusement park that continues to delight generations of families.
History lies almost forgotten among the low mountains and quaint towns of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands. Tales of Titanic survivors, brilliant inventors and forgotten heroes are all a part of the region's dim past. Since the 1790s, the highlands have been home to a booming glass industry that spun out early windows and flasks and, later, beautifully cut pieces of art. The wonder of the World's Fair of 1893 was none other than Westmoreland's H.C. Frick Coke Co.'s replica of a modern mine. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, lush fields and meadows produced the country's finest whiskey, Monongahela Rye. Author Cassandra Vivian travels off the beaten path to explore the hidden history of the Laurel Highlands.

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