September 1, 2013

Linda Rettstatt- "Life's an Adventure--Wear Comfortable Shoes."

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.

A brief drive east from Brownsville, through Uniontown and up the mountain, will take you to a turn-off from Route 40 to Ohiopyle State Park along the Youghiogheny River where you can hike, bike or, for the more adventurous, go white water rafting. For the less adventurous, you can grab a cone at the Dairy Queen and sit on a bench, watching the water bubble over rocks.

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.

(Photos provided by author)


  1. Redstone Old Fort was the original name of Brownsville, PA.

    Salvatore Buttaci

  2. Thanks for your wonderful travelogue of Western PA. It's a state I have really only driven through, except for visits to Gettysburg and the Amish area. Your discussion of the Brownsville area and the castle make me want to put that on my bucket list of places to visit in the US. BTW, Brownsville was formerly known as Redstone Old Fort.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  3. What a beautiful tribute to Western PA. I have always wanted to visit Pittsburgh. I live on the border of Delaware and PA, only 30 miles from Philadelphia. I'm very familiar with Southeastern PA but not Western. You make the mountains and the rivers come alive.

  4. Lots of history and lots to see in my home state. My daughter is a Pitt grad. Haven't been back since she graduated, but you've provided incentive, Linda.

  5. Hi Annette

    This is just to let you know I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. For details, go to my blog at

    Faith A. Colburn

  6. It's been awhile since I've been in Pennsylvania, but never that part of the state.

  7. My daughter spent a few days in Pittsburgh at a national convention for her honors fraternity. She liked what she got to see of it, when she had some time off from meetings. I've never been out there. Anywhere I can drag my camper to and enjoy nature, is a good place for me, so I guess I'll have to add Penn. to my list of places I'd like to visit if I ever get to retire.

  8. Pittsburgh's a great city and mountains and farmland are not that far away. It's a beautiful place to visit. Brownsville, sadly, is showing the ravages of time and the economy, but the people sure have spirit.

    Thanks for commenting. I'll announce the winner of the signed copy of A Falling Star tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

  9. And the winner is.........Karen H. I'll shoot you an email for a mailing address. Congratulations! I hope you enjoy A Falling Star.

  10. I grew up in Pennsylvania and loved the walk through memory lane. Thanks, its been awhile since I had been home. I grew up in a small town called Bradford PA ,then lived in Pittsburgh before I moved south. I hate the winters. : ) Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks Linda. I'm sure I will enjoy your book.

  12. As i read your post, I realize this is the kind of place I like to visit. A big city with countryside near enough. Most likely, anything one wished for in a vacation, one would find there.


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