Sports & Outdoors

Tap Tap Tap

Set aside that steaming cup of cocoa and watch. Your bird feeders, flecked with last night’s early snow, beckon. That black and white blur is the first downy woodpecker of the day. There is a red streak on the head: the male. He’s a regular. The chickadees and titmice are his winter companions. They flock …

Tap Tap Tap Read More »

Pittsburgh’s First Great Hockey Rivalry: The Needle and the Great Wall

In the 1950s, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns were well on the road to what eventually became known and celebrated as the Turnpike Rivalry. But that wasn’t the only rivalry at that time between sports teams from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. While Pittsburgh sports fans were in the early stages of hating the Cleveland Browns, …

Pittsburgh’s First Great Hockey Rivalry: The Needle and the Great Wall Read More »

A Peaceful Respite

At the bottom of the steep, rutted trail lay a deep green five-acre pond, lush at its shorelines with cattails, multiflora rose and staghorn sumac, its surface glossy in the early-morning mist. Ridges rose abruptly on three sides, sporting stunted red pine and white spruce near the swampy bottomlands with red oaks, silver maples and …

A Peaceful Respite Read More »

Duquesne’s First Great Rivalry: Slaying Dayton’s Goliath

There have been outstanding college basketball teams and great players in Pittsburgh’s sports history, but only the 1954–55 Duquesne Dukes, led by All-Americans Dick Ricketts and Si Green, won a major national basketball tournament when they defeated a powerful Dayton Flyers team in the 1955 National Invitation Tournament. At that time, the NIT was considered …

Duquesne’s First Great Rivalry: Slaying Dayton’s Goliath Read More »

Joshua Troup: Nature’s Bounty

He’s a data scientist by day, but for the last eight years Joshua Troup has also been a professional photographer based in Canonsburg. While the work he does for clients varies, the photos he takes for himself most often feature the special beauty of the western Pennsylvania region. “I try to get outdoors as much …

Joshua Troup: Nature’s Bounty Read More »

The Gray Catbird—a Natural Mimic

“It seems like there’s a cat in the bushes, but I think it’s a new species.” That’s the report from our daughter, who is learning her birds. She knows chickadee and blue jay, cardinal and crow. She’s seen an eastern screech owl and two short-eared owls. And a merlin. Nice birds. But the phantom cat …

The Gray Catbird—a Natural Mimic Read More »

Saving Injured Animals

Carol Holmgren lifts a baby bunny—a kit—from its bed at Tamarack Wildlife Center in Saegertown, Crawford County, for morning ministrations that include potty training and breakfast. Just four days old, the tiny Eastern cottontail weighs little more than an ounce and its eyes and ears are still closed. He and three littermates were brought to …

Saving Injured Animals Read More »

A Natural Escape Minutes from Downtown

Some of the deep ravines in the regional landscape provide secluded getaways for hiking and exploring, while not far from the urban center. One such special place is the 370-acre Toms Run Nature Reserve, eight miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh, off Route 65 just before the I-79 interchange. The stream that intersects the reserve, Toms …

A Natural Escape Minutes from Downtown Read More »

Counting Your Chickens During COVID

Buff Cochins: sold out. Barred Rocks: sold out. Light Brahmas: Sold out. Not a hen of my choice available this year from Murray McMurray, the hatchery in Iowa where I’ve ordered peeps for 30 years. This has never happened before, but due to coronavirus, suddenly everyone wants to be a chicken farmer. I had no …

Counting Your Chickens During COVID Read More »

The Steelers’ First Great Rivalry: Those Bloodbaths with the Eagles

In 1933, Art Rooney, in anticipation of the elimination of Pennsylvania’s Blue Law banning professional sports from playing on Sunday, paid $2,500 of his racetrack winnings to purchase an NFL franchise for the city of Pittsburgh. Across the state, Philadelphia native Bert Bell, partnering with his friend Lud Wray, paid $2,500 for a defunct NFL …

The Steelers’ First Great Rivalry: Those Bloodbaths with the Eagles Read More »

A Day at the Track

As a kid, Dave Palone played competitively in typical high school sports. That changed when his dad bought a few horses to race at The Meadows, a harness racetrack located near Washington, Pa., 25 miles from Pittsburgh. He fell in love. “I love horses so much I decided I wanted to do them right,” Palone …

A Day at the Track Read More »

Pitt’s First Great Rivalry: Fordham and the Seven Blocks of Granite

When The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated selected their top ten college football rivalries, their lists featured neighboring state rivalries such as Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Oklahoma, and Florida-Georgia. The Sporting News list of top rivalries included the Pitt-West Virginia backyard brawl. Traditional rivalries for Pitt began over 100 years ago when they first started playing West …

Pitt’s First Great Rivalry: Fordham and the Seven Blocks of Granite Read More »

The Oven Bird

In 1916 when Robert Frost published “The Oven Bird” in his collection Mountain Interval, he had just returned from three years in England. There, he found his poetic voice in both the vernacular and imagery of New England as well as traditional British forms. “The Oven Bird,” a sonnet like many of Frost’s poems, describes …

The Oven Bird Read More »

The Pirates’ First Great Rivalry: The Dreyfuss-McGraw Feud

Sports rivalries usually develop between teams that are competing with each other for league championships. For the Pirates, it was the Reds in the 1970s, the Phillies in the 1980s, and the Braves in the 1990s. Once the teams are no longer contenders, the rivalry fades away. The most intense and bitter rivalry for the …

The Pirates’ First Great Rivalry: The Dreyfuss-McGraw Feud Read More »

A Walk in the Northern Woods

About two and a half hours northeast of Pittsburgh is a remote property in Elk and Clearfield counties known as Bennett Branch Forest. The 1,500-acre tract owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy adjoins Moshannon State Forest. Visitors can hike a newly designed 3.6-mile round-trip trail through forests of mixed oak, sugar maple, black birch and …

A Walk in the Northern Woods Read More »

Floating on the Shenango River

One wonderful way to see portions of our western Pennsylvania landscape is to paddle a river or stream by canoe or kayak. One place to paddle is the upper Shenango River in western Mercer County, 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. A 23-mile stretch flows unimpeded between the Pymatuning and Shenango reservoirs. The Iroquois name Shenango, …

Floating on the Shenango River Read More »

The Invincible Elder

“Judas was hang’d on an elder…” —Biron in Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” “What shall we do with it?” Ron Weasley asked Harry Potter and Hermione in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.” “It’s the elder wand. The most powerful wand in the world. With it we’d be invincible.” Who knew that the lowly-looking shrub perched …

The Invincible Elder Read More »

What’s That Song?

Spring brings warblers! It’s that simple. Spring, longed for after the buffeting chill of winter, gives way to warmth and light… and birds. Birds by the millions feel the instinctual pull north every spring, and we who await their passage are rewarded with color and song. One of my favorite species is the black-throated green …

What’s That Song? Read More »

Ramps

At Greene County’s 29th Annual Ramp Festival on a sunny Saturday last April, a party atmosphere was in full swing with crafters, wood carvers, metal workers and a band. But the main draw were about 15 vendors selling ramp chili, ramp sausage, ramp cookies, ramp mints, ramp butter, ramp wine, ramp hardtack, ramp pancakes, ramp …

Ramps Read More »

Fallingwater and Bear Run Nature Reserve

Southwestern Pennsylvania now has a world Heritage site. Fallingwater, designed in the 1930s by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family, was inscribed this summer to the UNESCO—United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—World Heritage List. It’s in good company: the few structures in the United States on this list include Independence Hall, the Statue …

Fallingwater and Bear Run Nature Reserve Read More »

Snow Birds Fly Away—to Pittsburgh

When we hear of snow birds this time of year, the first thing that comes to mind is probably grandparents in Florida. “At least,” we think to ourselves, “they have the good sense to fly somewhere warm.” The same might be said of a bird that I never see except in western Pennsylvania’s coldest months: …

Snow Birds Fly Away—to Pittsburgh Read More »

Bring on the Steeler-less Playoffs

Playoff tickets were punched for 12 teams on Sunday, with a handful of crazy finishes having major implications. For the second consecutive year, the Steelers are on the outside looking in, capped off by perhaps their ugliest loss in either season. Steelers Corner It was an entirely forgettable month for the boys in black and …

Bring on the Steeler-less Playoffs Read More »

Top