Things to Do
Hidden Valley sits amidst a number of interesting and important sites to visit. Many are of historical importance. As the site expands, it will become a short guide to the principal visitors’ attractions in the neighborhood of Hidden Valley.
Compass Inn Museum
The Compass Inn Museum is an authentically restored 1799 stagecoach stop. It served as a popular Inn for stagecoach travelers on the Philadephia-Pittsburgh Turnpike during the first half of the 19th century. The original Inn was constructed of logs, and a stone wing was added in 1820. The Inn has been completely restored and furnished with an extensive collection of period pieces.
Enjoy a tour of the Inn and three reconstructed outbuildiings by costumed docents. The blacksmith shop has a working forge, and the barn houses a restored stagecoach and Conestoga wagon, complete with a six-horse hitch. The museum is open from May through October. The Inn is located a few miles from Logonier, a convenient drive from Hidden Valley.
Johnstown Flood Museum
May 31, 1889, was the tragic, historical date. A neglected dam and a huge storm led to a disaster that killed more than 2,000 people. The story of this flood is an amazing tale of privilege, where the privileged operated a country club with a lake secured by a dam. No one cared much about the dam, and it was more than neglected–it was weakened by how it was used–and then one day it let go, flooding the local valley and wiping out much of the town of Johnstown.
The story of the flood and the subsequent recovery is told at the Johnstown Flood Museum, another local site worth a visit. Johnstown is about a half hour from Hidden Valley.
Johnstown Inclined Plane
Close to the Flood Museum is the Johnstown Inclined Plane. This is a tram pulled by cables that runs up a very steep local hill. The angle of the inclined plane is 35 degrees! The claim has been made that this is the steepest tram operating anywhere in the United States.
This is a photo of an old car–they’ve been modernized since this was taken. There are two cars, connected by a cable that runs across pulleys at the top. While the car on the track to the left is coming down, the car on the left is going up. In the photo, as the bottom car starts its journey up, you can see the car on the left just beginning its descent.
At the top of the plane is an observation deck with a wide view, a nice tavern where you can have a beer and celebrate your trip up the plane. Recently, a sculpture garden and walking paths have also been added.
Ligonier has a fort of historical significance–any visit is enjoyable, even better when they’re having an event. The town is also interesting. It’s an older town, with a nice selection of art galleries and craft stores. Ligonier has a very activde arts community. We recommend a visit if you’re in the mood for some touring.
Flight 93 Memorial
In 2001, on September 11 Flight 93, the flight where the passengers fought back against the highjackers and kept the plane from crashng into a public building in Washington, crashed outside Somerset. It’s worth a visit, even to the temporary memorial that’s there today. This photo shows the strip-mined field where the plane crashed. Today there’s a temporary memorial, that’s very touching because visitors have left all sorts of memorable and thoughtful messages.
There is a Web site for the organization that’s putting together the memorial, that you can use to help you plan a visit. It’s about a half hour drive from Hidden Valley.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous home design was Fallingwater. The design nestles in to a waterfall so that residents of the house hear but don’t see the falling water. The design itself is gorgeous. This is the only one of Wright’s houses to reach public display with its original furniture and furnishings–all designed by Wright for the house–intact. This is definitely worth a visit, and on your second visit you see and appreciate even more (trust me). On the way to Ohiopyle.
A less famous residence than Fallingwater, but less than fifteen minutes away from it, is Kentuck Knob, another Frank Lloyd Wright house that was built for a friend of the owner of Fallingwater. It’s said to be a more comfortable place to live than Fallingwater. In its own way, it too is a dramatic and fascinating design, also definitely worth a visit.
There is a Web site for the foundation that operates the Kentuck Knob house, and it’s useful to use that site if you are arranging a visit. However, the photo at the left is from Peter Beers’s site, that has more good photography of the residence than the foundation Web site, so you may also want to visit Peter’s site.
Strangely, the foundations that operate Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob both appear to hold the view that if they restrict photography of the residences, then people will have to pay to visit. I have the opposite view–that availability of images, including the photos that everyone takes, would increase the popularity of the residences.
In any event, you can’t find a lot of photos of these great places to see on the Web–but they are worth the trip if you have any interest in architecture.