I know, I know–there has been a bit of a gap between Western Pennsylvania’s Part 1 and Part 2. That’s what happens when you follow a lazy blogger.
So, to review: my last post pointed out our mistaken belief that Fallingwater would be the only attraction the Ohiopyle area had to offer. Were WE ever wrong. Instead, we discovered multiple highlights, many of them located at the Nemacolin Resort.
If you have never heard of the Nemacolin resort, join the club. Neither had we. The Fallingwater website listed several area hotels, beds & breakfasts and inns. Because this trip was an anniversary celebration, a Ramada, Holiday Inn Express or Days Inn was not what we had in mind. Okay, the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort was a splurge, but was it ever worth it!
First some background information: The resort is privately owned by 96 year old Joseph Hardy III, who still has a home somewhere on its 2,000 acres. He leaves its day to day operation to his daughter Maggie, who also is the CEO of 84 Lumber, the source of Joe’s wealth. You can read all about Joe’s history in the lobby of the Lodge.
Well, not exactly ALL. You need to go to Wikipedia to learn that he had FIVE wives instead of the three the display fessed up to. His first marriage to Dorothy lasted more than 50 years, which means that from his 70’s until now, he made up for lost time by wedding 4 more lovely ladies. Three of his brides were in their 20’s, which made the 50 something woman he wed (wife #4) appear age appropriate. Unfortunately, THAT marriage went the way of the three before, and Joe’s last (possibly current?) Mrs. Hardy was under 30 when he married her. The display tells about his founding of 84 Lumber and its financial success, but somehow I find his marital history far more intriguing. Admit it, you probably do too.
Joe’s interest was not confined to women. He also was fond of classic cars, which are displayed in a “museum” on the property. Here are just a few of Joe’s toys. Notice the motorcycle? That is a replica of Peter Fonda’s wheels, built from parts of the motorcycles used in the movie “Easy Rider”. The Captain America helmet is perched on the back.
Right by the private airstrip is a hangar containing classic planes, including Steve McQueen’s, from a movie I didn’t see and don’t recall. Sorry. THAT museum was locked up, but if you have a burning desire to get up close and personal with those babies, you can call security from the phone helpfully placed by the entrance and they will let you in. We weren’t that curious, so the photo was shot through the window. I’m confident you get the idea.
Although there are many diversions to thrill children and teens, we didn’t partake in any of those.
Instead, we rode the “free” shuttle to the Frank Lloyd Wright “tribute” restaurant located in another hotel (each room at THIS hotel comes with your personal butler. If you are anything like me, you probably are wondering “what does the butler DO??? Hand you your slippers, floss your teeth? ). Lunch outside was lovely, but probably not worth the price.
The walk back to our hotel, however was pretty delightful. In addition to stopping to visit the two museums, we enjoyed looking at the extensive sculpture collection scattered along the walkways.
My favorite thing, however, was our anniversary dinner. Pricy, yes, but very delicious and quite an elegant experience. Can you tell from the photos below which was the main course?
I chose the Wagu Beef, which is shown in the upper right hand corner. Makes one recall that commercial “where’s the beef”? Yes, I am old enough to remember both the original commercial and the political ad that used the phrase.
Enough about Nemacolin. I’m sure you’ve gotten the idea by now. ANOTHER big area attraction is Fort Necessity. I’m married to a man who never saw a fort that he didn’t love. Although this Fort Necessity isn’t very big, and is a replica of the original, the visitor’s center is fantastic.
I probably was taught this in either elementary or high school, but I had forgotten this fort was where George Washington started the French and Indian War. Here’s what happened: either the French or the British fired the first shot at Fort Necessity. The well done video makes it clear that each side claimed the other was the aggressor. What is important was the way the battle ended. The British had to surrender, and the terms were written in French, a language Washington didn’t understand. his translator wasn’t all that fluent either, and to make matters worse, it had been raining and the ink had run.
What Washington didn’t realize was that he had admitted to assassinating the French commander, and the rest is history.
One final note: if you are visiting the area, The Bittersweet Cafe is a great choice for breakfast. Don’t miss it!
9 thoughts on “Western Pennsylvania’s Surprises – Part 2”
oh …always good to know there’s often a gem right in our back yards if we care to look ….. fun post to read about a state I was just in…..
I think you and Tom should consider that area for YOUR anniversary. It wouldn’t be crowded in January and you could probably get great rates then. It is YOUR kind of place. I didn’t mention the spa, but they have one.
You write the most interesting blogs! Thanks for sharing! 😊
You are so sweet! I feel the same way about YOUR posts.
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Wait… what? I never heard (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention) that story about Washington. It looks like you had a lovely anniversary celebration. I’m so glad you included pictures of your dinner… were you full afterwards?
Hi Janis, I know! That’s what I loved about the visitor center and the film they showed.
According to the video, the French commander was killed by a member of the Native American tribe that sided with the British. I guess no one bothered to explain the rules of engagement to him.
The other thing I learned was General Braddock was wounded during an earlier battle, then died at Fort Necessity and was buried nearby. Washington ordered the troops to march over his grave and drive wagons over it, so the enemy wouldn’t find his body and desecrate it.
Braddocks body was found years later, in the 1800s, and reburied nearby. My husband visited the monument that was erected there.
The legend is that before he died, Braddock gave Washington his sash, which Washington wore during revolutionary war battles. It was later presented to Zachary Taylor.
All I remember from history class is being bored out of my mind by all the battles and battlefields we had to memorize. They’re just weren’t enough stories about “girls”, as far as I was concerned.
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Your delightful post just made my day!
Aw thanks, Deb. your comment made MINE.
All very interesting and entertaining, especially ole Joe and his many young wives. Amazing what money will buy . Belated Happy Anniversary.