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Tracks Across the Sky

© by George Bailey
Mount Jewett, Pennsylvania: within a 2.5 hour drive from the Buffalo/Niagara border on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest Region there is an attraction like no other in North America. And, it's free.
     In 1882, the Kinzua (pronounced kin-zoo) Viaduct was built over the Kinzua Gorge on the eastern edge of the Allegheny National Forest Region. This railway bridge was the highest and largest in the world, measuring 92 metres (301 feet) high and 625 metres (2,053 feet) long. It was built to transport coal, and lumber over the gorge. The bridge saved the builders from laying an additional 13 kilometres (eight miles) of track over rough terrain. After several upgrades, it was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003.
     Now fast-forward to the fall of 2011 when I was invited to attend the official opening of the Kinzua Sky Walk. Was I in for a surprise! Six towers of this historic aqueduct have been reinvented into a spectacular walkway that allows pedestrians to literally "Walk across the sky." In the centre of the walkway, the original tracks remain. From the vista, you can drink in dramatic views of the gorge below. Remnants of the steel from the bridge blown down by the tornado can be seen through a partial glass floor at the end of the walkway. Go ahead, I dare you: stand on the glass!

ANF Sign  Autumn Colours  Kinzua Viaduct  Lookout  Lutheran Church  Route 6 Diner  ZippoCase VC and Car

     The morning light from the walkway was breathtaking as autumn revealed its colourful clothing of magical flaming red maples and golden sugar maples. This Kinzua Bridge State Park features lovely picnic areas, hiking trails, interpretive programs and scenic overlooks. For those ready to embrace the outdoors, this is a soft adventure of the mellow kind. It's a unique spot of beauty to enjoy unspoiled wilderness. Admittance is free.
     When you leave the park I suggest you take Route 6E, then Route 46N where more adventures await you. In the tiny hamlet of Smethport, enjoy a meal in Connie's Route 6 Diner. Owner Connie Ronan told me, "It was built in 1937 to resemble a railroad dining car." You won't go wrong with the $5.99 Hubber Burger.
     Along winding Route 46 (I love these lazy type roads), you will come to an intersection; turn right to Bradford or left onto Route 446 to Eldred. Keep your eyes open when you reach Eldred for the Eldred WWII Museum. There's a tank crashing out of the side of the building! The museum is breathtaking from the moment that you enter. Curator Steve Appleby is bubbling over with enthusiasm as he takes you through the museum filled with hundreds of artifacts and videos. Adult admission is $5.00, and WWII veterans are free. Times vary but the museum is open daily.
     Circle back on Rt. 346W to Bradford. A visit to the Zippo/Case Visitors Center is interesting. Admission and parking are free. Before you enter, you'll see the Zippo Car, a replica of a 1947 Chrysler built in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Zippo product mobile. The self-guided tour inside has plenty of exhibits showcasing two American icons, Zippo lighters and Case knives. In their store, you can purchase a wide variety of these famous wind-proof lighters and quality Case knives. You can also get your hands on Zippo hand-warmers, ashtrays, camp starters, sun-glasses and even a bottle of Zippo Fragrance. No, it doesn't smell like lighter fluid. It was quite nice.

Photo Credits
George Bailey

George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.

If you go
Mount Jewett: is a half-hour from Bradford PA. Take l90W; exit 55 to 219S to the intersection of Rt. 6 and Rt.219, and turn left onto Rt. 6 to Mt Jewett. Turn left at the sign onto Lindholm Drive (marked as PA Scenic Byway) and 6 kilometres (4 miles) to the park entrance. GPS user can punch in 1721 Lindholm Drive, Mount Jewett, PA.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Jewett
Kinzua Bridge State Park: www.visitANF.com or 800-473-9370
Eldred WWII Museum: www.eldredwwiimuseum.net or 866-686-9944
Zippo/Case Visitors Center: www.Zippo.com or 814-368-2700; at 1932 Zippo Drive
Mountain Laurel Inn: www.mountainlaurelbradford.com or 877-686-5275; located
at 136 Jackson Ave.
Places of worship: http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=14489

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Maps (Google interactive map): http://maps.google.com/
Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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