Duration: Two days and two nights
Even though it didn't see any ground action, Western Pennsylvania used its industrial might and a lot of heart to play a crucial role in the Union victory. The Iron City built steamboats, train cars and forged tons of iron, while the Fort Pitt Foundry churned out a major bulk of the government's weaponry and supplies. The people here also selflessly kept the energy going on the Underground Railroad with countless lives saved. It's a region of stories, neighborhoods and timeless inspiration, not to mention an epic sandwich piled high with meat and fries. So get ready for a roadtrip you'll wish you could reenact all over again.
Find commemorative events, stories and more information at PA Civil War 150.
Start at the Under Ground Railroad Center in Blairsville. Housed in a former Second Baptist Church building, it's one of the oldest African American structures in town. While at the history center, pick up an Underground Railroad Driving Tour Map for abundant stops in and around Indiana County. We suggest giving yourself a bit of time for this driving tour of the towns that made some of the strongest forces along the Passport to Freedom. Enjoy this leisurely drive through lush countryside and quaint towns from Blairsville to Center Township to Diamondville. Along the tour learn how these towns were filled with upstanding citizens who offered housing and escape routes for fleeing slaves and who risked everything to ensure freedom to all Americans.
Head an hour west to the Iron City and its historic Strip District for our next destination on the tour. It's around lunchtime, and you're in luck - this neighborhood has tons to choose from.Read More >
The History Center presents some of the most compelling stories from American history. Check out amazing rare original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment, Lincoln's writing desk (complete with scribbles), and that iconic top hat. The newest exhibit at the History Center Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation celebrates the city's historic accomplishments all the way through their 21st century role as a leader in medicine, higher education and robotics.
Stroll over to Heinz headquarters and view the plaque in honor of Jane Swisshelm a radical abolitionist and outspoken Civil War heroine. Dedicated to ending slavery, Swisshelm faced countless threats as editor of several radical abolitionist newspapers including the Pittsburgh Saturday Visitor. Pittsburgh doesn't name neighborhoods after just anybody - it won't be long before you understand what made her so special.
Next, it's time for the true Pittsburgh initiation: a meat-cheese-tomato-cole-slaw-and-fries sandwich from Primanti Brothers. No directions are necessary - the aroma hits you halfway down 18th Street from Penn Avenue.Read More >
There's a reason you went to Primanti before this next stop – it's one of America's greatest stairmasters. Pittsburgh has 737 sets of steps, the most of any city in the world, with 44,415 treads spanning more than 24,000 vertical feet. This quirk reflects the city's hilly nature as much as its history. The wood stairwells were the easiest way for workers to get to the city's riverside mills. Head over to the retro-stylish South Side of the city for a good place to start and let the climbing commence. You'll pass through several gardens and what used to be the German and Italian neighborhood. Stop to enjoy the scenery, you'll earn some of the grandest views of the city.
Original Strip District home of the “almost famous” meat-cheese-tomato-cole slaw-and-fries sandwich since 1933. Atkins? South Beach? Forget about it. This is comfort food that commands your full attention, and plenty of napkins.Read More >
Head chef Anthony Zallo is known for his American spin on Mediterranean flavors in this local hot-spot. With an emphasis on innovation and local preparations Bigelow Grille is more than just a convenient place to grab a bit to eat - it's a full on experience. We recommend trying the Goat Cheese Pierogies or the Crispy Pork Belly.Read More >
Get there early, with the morning mist rolling off the rolling green hills, for the full effect. We all know the Civil War was the bloodiest war ever on American soil. But there's something about seeing all the headstones of all the brave men who died for their country. The same country. And then you see the women who also died, and the kids, and it all starts to sink in more than it ever has. There's just something about being there, at the Allegheny Cemetery.Read More >
Any roadtrip to beautiful Washington County is worthwhile, but the history really makes this trip. Find 49 East Maiden Street in Washington and discover the home Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne opened to escaping slaves en route to Canada and freedom. LeMoyne was the father to eight children, and his courage and legacy helped name this the first National Historic Landmark of the Underground Railroad. There are only six or seven landmarks like this in the entire United States.Read More >
Walk a few streets over to Main Street and you'll find what was proclaimed in 1788 to be “the finest house west of the Alleghenies.” Sure it was a small country then, but the interior woodwork was imported from England, and the stonework still stands up as a something to behold. You can tour the home and learn the history behind David Bradford, the leader of the “Whiskey Rebellion” and how George Washington personally defeated the uprising.Read More >
It's only open on Thursdays, but it's worth planning ahead to be in town for this weekly festival of freshness. Meats, produce, dairy and music take over Main Street from 3 to 6pm. The simple, convivial atmosphere transports you to another era, when a fresh outdoor market was the town meeting place.Read More >
Ever since the Minor family started milking their own cows, this country store's been famous for its chocolate milk that tastes like "a chocolate bar in a cup." The old-time country eatery also has a smokehouse for hickory hams, a from-scratch bakery and family-recipe meals for lunch and supper. And ice-cream concoctions galore for dessert.Read More >
The 400 thread-count sheets and down pillows are a few of the special touches of the George Washington. Designed in 1923 by renowned architect William Lee Stoddart, the hotel has standard suites and theme rooms, from the Al Capone room to the room the Beatles stayed in. You'll count little yellow submarines in your sleep.Read More >
Fort Pitt Block House
In Point State Park, you’ll find Pittsburgh’s oldest architectural landmark. The Block House is the only surviving structure of Fort Pitt. These days it’s open for visits and tours. Stop by for a look around.
Frick Art and Historical Center
This collection of art and artifacts celebrates the legacy of Helen Clay Frick, the daughter of Henry Frick, great American art collector. Inside, you’ll find vintage cars and carriages as well as educational programs and concerts.