2016-09: The Venango Line

We took a road trip October 2016 to see the sites of the four forts of the Venango Line, established by the French to maintain communication between Canada and Louisiana. They could walk just 14 miles of portage south from Lake Erie, then float to Fort Duquesne or 2000 miles further to the Gulf of Mexico. (Young George Washington was sent to try to get them out of Fort Duquesne.) We drove north intending to see what wine tasting could be had,

  including both at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and then at Lake Chautauqua, NY, on the way back.
Wikipedia image, the Venengo Line 
We four couples travelled in two cars — often the guys’ car and the gals’ car — stopping halfway from home to Pittsburgh for lunch at Penn Alps, adjacent to the famous stone bridge at Little Crossings of the Casselman River (as called by George Washington in 1755 on his way to Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh).

Built in 1813, this bridge was then the longest single-arch stone bridge in America, high enough to accommodate anticipated barge traffic on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (although said canal unfortunately never made it this far west due to the arrival of the railroads).
We drove the old National Road, US 40, over the ridge into Pennsylvania.

Had a nice dinner at Le Mont in Pittsburgh, overlooking the city and eventually the fireworks that had something to do with Steelers Football.
I did get a chance for a quick run next morning across the Hot Metal Bridge. No steelworks to be found today, just the American Eagle Outfitters corporate headquarters. Then wedrove through the city passing landmarks including the First Lutheran Church (at the very top of this page), the Allegheny County Courthouse,the former US Steel Building, Penn Station and its rotunda . . . . . . and on to Pamela’s for breakfast in the Strip District (the wholesale market area between river and railroad). That’s the Pennsylvania Railroad flower depot on the right.It’s 160 miles due north from Pittsburgh to Erie, in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. But before hitting the road, as a first stop for the guys anyway, was the Fort Pitt Museum, on the site of the earlier Fort Duquesne. (Across from us is the Duquesne Incline, leading to Mount Washington, with Le Mont Restaurant at the top.)Not much to see at Fort Machault (see Wikipedia map at very top of this page), except for this building, remembered in Lou’s family history:

There was more at Fort Le Boeuf, including a museum, closed on Mondays, and anotherimportant sign, All Day Mondays Yuenglings $1. The ladies went shopping.We stayed two nights at Erie, having a good look at (but not on) the replica of the US Brig Niagara, the flagship of Commodore Perry. (Reference: the Battle of Lake Erie, 1813, “We have met the enemy and they are ours, two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.” We couldn’t go aboard because they were working on the rigging, preparing to sail (200 miles maybe?) to Detroit (which 103 years earlier had been freed from the British as a result of that battle). See the Lake Erie map below, showing Pennsylvania as the rectangle with the chimney in the lower right.Above, Lou with the Rufus S. Reed, a model representing an 1800s Great Lakes cargo schooner. Below, the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.This column with a gas lantern on top stands near the tip of Presque Isle, the sandy hook peninsular which forms Erie Harbor, thus our terminus of the Venango Line. But as military history was not the only motivation for our trip, we marched onward and upward, first into New York State, then via the Peace Bridge at Buffalo, with some ado into Canada.

Peeking out from the tunnel under the Horseshoe Falls:We had our ride on the Maid of the Mist but I didn’t dare get my camera out while aboard.We stayed at Niagara-on-the-Lake, in expensive wine country a few miles north of Niagara Falls. I was able to run a few miles along the Niagara River, first upstream (south) towards the Falls, then back north past the hotel a little way to where the river empties into Lake Ontario. Here looking (north!) over my shoulder is Old Fort Niagara in the United States.All the wine we tasted at Niagara-on-the-Lake was very good.The size of each enterprise was stunning. The Two Sisters Winery looked like a cathedral:

Arriving at Lake Chautauqua, there was still time for a game of pool in the hotel bar before supper at 7pm. The lake is 17 miles long, but only 2 miles across at its widest.
This time we didn’t try driving to the wineries.Although we must have hit four or five wineries that afternoon, none were a match for the Niagara wineries, although one of them did have beer . . . Then it was time to load upand begin a long day’s drive home clear across central Pennsylvania.

(Click on a pic to enlarge, then hover on pic for left/ right arrows or slideshow)