Ride an Uncommon Passage in May

May is National Bike Month! 

Cyclists crossing the Salisbury Viaduct (pg. 37) | Photo by Paul g Wiegman

Take this opportunity to enjoy the rich history and scenic beauty of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, which stretches from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. The trail is featured in the book An Uncommon Passage: Traveling through History on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, by Edward K. Muller and Paul g Wiegman.

An Uncommon Passage reveals the historic importance of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail, now a scenic hiking and biking trail that stretches from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. Through beautiful contemporary photos, historic illustrations and a compelling narrative, the rich history of the trail comes to life for visitors (and everyone) to enjoy.

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Pinkerton Low Bridge over the Casselman river near Markleton (pg. 42) | Photo by Paul g Wiegman

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Bridge over Wheeler Flats near Connellsville (pg. 71) | Photo by Paul g Wiegman

To bike along the Great Allegheny Passage trail from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is to journey through both time and space. The trail follows a historic route through the Allegheny Mountains, connecting the Potomac River watershed and the middle Atlantic coast to the Ohio River watershed and the nation’s vast, midwestern interior. Native Americans, colonial armies, frontier trappers and traders, settlers, and railroads used this topographically dramatic and difficult corridor created by the valleys of Wills and Jennings creeks and of the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela rivers. With careful observation and some informed imagination, today’s biking enthusiasts can envision significant aspects of the nation’s natural, military, settlement, economic, and environmental history, all while enjoying the beauty and challenge of a great biking adventure. The Great Allegheny Passage bike trail is the culmination, indeed the triumph, of more than thirty years of vision and hard work by scores of volunteers and professionals of various skills and back- 2 an uncommon Passage grounds. The plan in the early 1970s to abandon the Western Maryland Railway tracks between Cumberland, Maryland, and Connellsville, Pennsylvania, spurred first the railroad’s managers and then the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to envision a rail trail through the magnificent Allegheny Mountains. Over the following decade or so, negotiations, land purchases, and construction by the Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources resulted in a completed eleven-mile trail between Confluence and Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, in the late 1980s.
(Muller, 2009, p. 1)

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Fall near Rockwood (pg. 267) | Photo by Paul g Wiegman

Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Keystone Viaduct near Meyersdale (pg. 242) | Photo by Paul g Wiegman

“This book ably presents the panoply of geology, geography, biology, and human history that is the Great Allegheny Passage. Read it to plan a trip and to achieve the full experience when you visit this rich and fascinating realm.”—Charles Fergus, author of Trees of Pennsylvaniaand Wildlife of Pennsylvania

“This is an uncommonly good read. It’s a welcome addition to the resources about the Great Allegheny Passage. An Uncommon Passage provides comprehensive overviews of the historical and natural setting of the trail. These provide a context that enriches our understanding of the trail.”—Mary Shaw, coauthor, Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic-Free Trip between Pittsburgh PA and Washington DC

“More than simply a tale of the history and development of one of this area’s most unique features. It also is a fine history of Western Pennsylvania.”—Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“A must-read for anyone biking or hiking along any section of the Great Allegheny Passage. It will enrich their experiences many times over.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“[Important] to scholars for insight into the process of community and regional regeneration in the postindustrial era . . . accessible and innovative . . . beautiful photography is seamlessly meshed with engaging prose.”—Pennsylvania History

University of Pittsburgh Press



A recent New York Times article tells about the experience of biking the trail, and its many highlights.



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