The adventure below is the latest in a series sharing my quest to explore Pennsylvania by visiting each of the sixty-seven county seats and eating a hot dog while in town.
We continued our journey west on Route 22 reaching Ebensburg the County Seat of Cambria County which is probably best known for the Johnstown Floods. Johnstown was founded in 1800 by a Swiss immigrant named Joseph Schantz. Before he gave his name to the town however, he changed his name to the more “American” sounding “Johns” (No kidding). I guess Schantztown just wouldn’t have been as popular a name. Anyway, he chose this really ‘ideal’ spot where two rivers merged (Stony Creek and Little Conemaugh) at the bottom of a bunch of mountains (The Allegheny Mountains). One article I read stated that “Johnstown was flood prone.” No kidding! How about major floods in 1889 (The Great Johnstown Flood), 1894, 1907, 1924, 1936, 1977. (My Jane and I where spending weekends in Hyndman (Bedford County) down stream from Johnstown in 1977 where we witnesses the damage done by that flood.) Hey, lets make life even more interesting by building an earthen dam at the top of the mountain on the Conemaugh river and allow a Pittsburgh hunting club to maintain the dam. Of course no one could have predicted that a huge thunderstorm would form over Nebraska and Kansas, move east and turn the Conemaugh into a river the strength of the Mississippi River in 1889. The Johnstown flood of 1889 killed more people than any disaster before it in the United States. Clara Barton and nearly 10,000 people came to help clean up what was left of the town after the disaster.
Oh yeah, in 1936 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the river where it flowed through Johnstown and declared that the town was now ‘flood free’. Hmm! Well, it was flood free for 41 years!
The Allegheny Portage Railroad was also located in Cambria County. The Allegheny Mountains were a major obstacle to the railroads and the Allegheny Portage Railroad was an ingenous attempt to get the railroad over the mountains. The engineers created 10 inclines to haul the trains over the mountains as well as digging the first railroad tunnel ever. Pretty cool!
Well all of this information is interesting but what about the hot dogs? Remember, we had just eaten a footlong pizza dog (I ate18 inches of hot dog) so decided to find the courthouse and to look for a quilt shop My Jane had found on Goggle before eating again. What do you know? “Creative Fabric and Quilt Shop” was located in the same strip mall as “Kosta’s Restaurarant”. My Jane, who was still digesting her half of a pizza dog could engage in her favorite activity and I could go eat a hot dog at the same time. Justine, Mackenzie and Beth Ann made me feel at home and took my order. Justine shared her own hot dog story with me. She was attending Cosmotology school in Pittsburgh and had a credit card to live on. One day Justine’s Mom asked her what these charges (I forget the exact amount but it was like $1.79) were every day on the card. It turns out that Justine was eating Sheetz hotdogs every day. She still likes Sheetz hot dogs. That is my kind of woman:-)
While at Kosta’s I learned that we should “Drink coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy”. You have to appreciate folks with a sense of humor like that. I enjoyed my time at Kosta’s and returned to find Jane and Cindy (the owner of “Creative Fabric and Quilt Shop” ) engaged in deep conversation. Cindy suggested we go inside the courthouse to see the beautiful stained glass windows in the rotunda. So, we went back to the courthouse to discover that it was closed. But we had fun taking a photo outside the front door together. After the second stop at the courthouse we followed Horace Greeley’s advise to “Go west young man.” and once again turned our car in the direction of California.
See you next time.