As a side note, I spoke to one of the software engineers over at Gigapan and he complimented us on your participation in the comments area of the Monongahela panorama. Shortly after the panorama was posted, the image was ranked within the top 25 most interesting images on the whole Gigapan site! Gigapan is a partnership between Carnegie Mellon, Nasa and Google.
So far the Monongahela Gigapan has been viewed 4200 times and has received 43 comments.
I just found an error in my virtual scavenger hunt post of a few days ago. The image link took you to the general Gigapan.org site but not directly to the Gigapan image I created. Sorry about that. Here is a corrected direct link to the image:
Have you ever heard of a Gigapan? It is a photograph comprised of sometimes hundreds of small snapshots, all stitched together by computer software to create one incredibly detailed high resolution image. When the image is uploaded to Gigapan.org you can view it and keep on zooming and zooming to see all kinds of interesting details.
The original postcard photographs were shot from two close but separate positions on Cemetery Hill so it was impossible to get a perfect stitch (due to parallax error) but it’s good enough to make a decent panorama. Unfortunately you can no longer photograph from the same vantage point today because the view is now blocked by large trees. But this aerial picture below can give you some idea what the area looks like today:
(strike throughs mean the item has been identified by somebody as of Monday, March 15, 2010 – 3:19 pm)
– at least two people
– at least two horses or mules
– train cars (aka railroad cars lol, I couldn’t remember the correct term, It’s hell getting old)
– Gregg’s Warehouse (This is the warehouse for the A.M. Gregg Hardware store as seen in this 1908 photograph. You can also see an old ad and picture of the proprietor here.
– 3 and possibly 4 churches (extra credit if you can name them) (two have been found)
– a ladder
– my girlfriend’s old house
– two coal mine tipples (extra credit if you name the coal mines to which they belong)
– two houses with rain barrels (one found so far)
– a barn
– at least 1 coal barge
– another barge (not necessarily a coal barge)
– a saltbox
– three bridges
– Whiskey Point
– an outhouse
– this railroad tower: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4045/4427907903_66f481e672_o.png
– a factory
– the McGough Residence (oldest part built in 1802) was the oldest brick building in town until it was replaced by the architectural masterpiece known presently as the Monongahela Senior Center
– the Hotel Main
– the village of Axleton
– worker houses built by Liggett Spring and Axle Co.
– a gas lamp
– River Hill
I will reveal the location of several of the items above each day until March 20, 2010 unless you all find things first. Also, don’t be afraid to snapshot something you discover that isn’t on this list.
I just found a great website called Reminiscencesby Maury Tosi. Maury grew up in Monongahela and graduated from Monongahela City high school in 1942. He later served in the military and became an engineer. He wrote a fascinating story about his life, much of it spent in Monongahela PA. Here is an excerpt about “Rocky Beach” in the Catsburg area of Monongahela.
One of the most popular places in the neighborhood during the middle and late ’30s was the swimming spot along the river in our neighborhood which grew into the name of “Rocky Beach.” Coal mines in the area over the years had produced a large slate pile of waste material along the river, about 800′ long, 300′ wide and 30-40′ high. It screened off the river from the Pennsylvania RR tracks and Main Street.The size of the pile over many years had produced internal heat and spontaneous combustion, leading to a smoldering of the slate and coal refuse which slowly smoldered into a clinker called “red-dog.” This was commonly used at that time for rural road bases instead of the crushed stone used today.
The beach was about 50′ wide between the slate pile and the river, and the erosion of small particles from the side of the slate pile made a beach covering that was comfortable to walk on, or to sunbathe on a towel or blanket. With the many young unemployed during this time, the beach became an escape for whole families on hot sunny days. Every one walked to the beach. Gradually improvements were made to clear up the rocky beach, and the stones were used to build various walls at the back of the beach.
The river here was a gradual slope for 10-15′ and then dropped quickly to 10-15′ deep in the river channel. A floating platform was built a little off-shore in the deeper water, and a diving board was added. It was a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon. Old inner tubes of all sizes were commonly used as a way to float on the water.
I highly recommend reading Maury’s Reminiscences. There are plenty of pictures and other interesting stories about Monongahela and the people who lived there in the 20th century. I would like to speak with him sometime. Does anybody know Maury or how I can contact him? If so, leave a message for me in the comments section. Thanks!
There is a very old section of Monongahela formerly known as Catsburg. Here is a map showing what this area looked like in 1902. (Though Catsburg was a part of Monongahela by that time.) Click on this thumbnail image to view a larger image.
I first became interested in Catsburg while reading the “Historical magazine of Monongahela’s old home coming week. Sept. 6-13, 1908” (see Resources tab above) This publication isn’t really a magazine like we think of today. It’s pages number 271 with about 20 more pages of advertisements. It was written to commemorate a city wide homecoming celebration and contains lots of history along with current events. It was written in a friendly conversational tone and is seldom dry and sometimes hilarious. Much of the historical content was written in the “first person” style. The only problem is that the writers will frequently refer to a building as “Mrs. Jenkins Home” assuming that every body knows where it is. Or, they’ll refer to areas such as Bellewood, West Monongahela (both known now as New Eagle PA) or Belvedere (somewhere out 4th street). These names were obsolete even back in 1908!.
Well one of the mysterious names that kept cropping up was Catsburg. It was always referred to as being an old part of town. My best guess is that it was the area right across Pigeon Creek along the Monongahela River.
How did Catsburg get it’s name? There are two stories of which I am aware, both from the homecoming historical magazine mentioned above. Dr. J.P. Norman, on page 159 says:
I have spoken of Pigeon Creek as the southern boundary of Monongahela in 1872, and but few dwellings could be found south of it in the place then named Catsburg. The origin of this title I was informed by whom I believe to be a citizen o the town, was due to the fact that cats, always numerous, resorted to the other side of the creek to fight their duels, settle their disputes, and eat their catnip which grew there abundantly. The tumult and noise of their battles disturbed and racked the quiet of the citizens and so they called it Cattsburg.
The second version can be found on page 229 of the magazine:
When Williamsport [a previous name of Monongahela] was laid out in 1811, the widow, Biddie Caldwell and her daughter were the only people residing on the plot now known as Catsburg. These two were always fighting, so the people called them cat and kittens, hence the name Catsburg originated.
Both explanations sound plausable to me but I lean toward the second version. What do you think? Anyways, it would be cool to find the location of Biddie’s house. (I wonder how I would go about that.)
In the magazine, Catsburg seems to be noted mainly for the Catsburg Schoolhouse and the Catsburg Mine. I’ll write about the mine now and save the subject of the schoolhouse for another day.
It is easy to spot the mine and the tracks leading down to the tipple on the river. I believe the Catsburg Mine was founded by Lewis Staib.
Here is a close up of the 1902 map showing the area around the Catsburg tipple:
Company homes exist today in the same spot as those depicted in the drawing above. I am assuming these are the same buildings however note that there are differences. The drawing does not show porches, it also shows four buildings vs five buildings shown below:
Mine waste between company houses and the tipple:
This is what the Catsburg Coal Co. tipple looked like in 1907:
The photo above says Catsburg Coal Tipple No 1. Was there another one?
Here is another photo of the Catsburg tipple:
It looks like there was another structure of some sort further up the river. The following is an image showing the Catsburg tipple in the background. Pigeon creek is shown on the right:
Here is what remains of the Catsburg tipple today:
And finally the official city of Monongahela website cites the following story:
Visitors were frequent to the city. One who made his mark in the literary world was Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), who made a trip up the Monongahela in 1891.While on board the boat “The New Dominion”, Captain J.S. Moorhead told Twain that Monongahela proper held an area called Catsburg. Twain, a lover of cats, decided the town “wasn’t half bad”.