No matter where I live, Southwestern Pennsylvania will always be home. One can travel in less than two hours from Pittsburgh, a city that has reinvented itself, becoming a corporate center, to the small towns that sit along the National Road-Route 40, and further East into the Laurel Highlands.
Pittsburgh not only boasts of being a thriving business community, but is also noted for its medical centers and universities. The city is home to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, the Penguins hockey team and, of course, the Steelers football team. I think it’s written into law somewhere that if you’re not a fan of at least one of these teams, you can be voted off the island. Pittsburgh is also rich with culture—The John Heinz Regional History Center, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Carnegie Museums of Natural History and the Museum of Art, as well as ballet, opera, and Broadway productions. Restaurants offer everything from fine dining to local fare—kielbasa, pierogies, and beer. If you don’t have a good time on a Saturday night in Pittsburgh, the problem is definitely you.
South of Pittsburgh, you will find yourself in the foothills of the Laurel Highlands in Uniontown, the Fayette County seat. Fayette County is both agricultural and a part of the coal mining industry. Among the towns that lie along the Monongahela River is Brownsville—rich in its own history as a once-thriving town that has, sadly, seen better days. I grew up here and remember when this small town, like so many others, bustled with businesses that lined the main street. Unfortunately, time and change have not been kind, as is the case with so many of our small towns. While most of those businesses are now closed or the buildings fallen to ruin, one thing remains alive in Brownsville. Hope. People still turn out for celebrations—parades for St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas. They hold community festivals and Rubber Ducky races on the Mon (which, by the way, was named Pennsylvania’s River of the Year for 2013). Brownsville is home to Nemacolin Castle (formerly Bowman’s Castle), built in 1789 by Jacob Bowman as a home and trading post. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and maintained today by the Brownsville Historical Society. Brownsville (under a fictional name) serves as a setting for my recent novel, A Falling Star.
While I think this region of Pennsylvania is beautiful any time of the year, I get homesick every year in early October when the mountains come alive with splashes of color, fall festivals offer homemade crafts and baked goods, and the rich aroma of autumn fills the air.
Linda offers one signed copy of A Falling Star to someone who can tell her the former name of Brownsville. If more than one is right, she’s drawing from a hat. Comment here with the answer to be eligible to win—include your contact email.
Bio: Linda Rettstatt is an award-winning author who discovered her passion for writing after years of working in the human services field. When she’s not writing, Linda loves travel, nature photography, and figuring out what makes people tick. Her fantasy is to win the lottery, buy an old Victorian home on the eastern shore and open a writer’s retreat. While she waits for that fantasy to materialize, she continues to write women’s fiction and mainstream romance novels under the supervision of her tuxedo cat, Binky.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/linda_rettstatt(Photos provided by author)