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Seven Springs, Pennsylvania Shamrock Tour: Allegheny Autumn

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores

The old and weathered Allegheny Mountains run through north-central Pennsylvania and portions of neighboring Maryland and West Virginia. The range was once the furthest reaches of a young nation, and within the mountainsí wrinkles lie stories and tales that, like tree rings, reveal the past.

History

Itís early October and thereís a chill in the morning air reminding us that the riding season will soon be over. This is my girlfriendís first motorcycle trip. An experienced thru-hiker (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and others) and bicycle tourer, Anna finds the Honda Gold Wing an absolutely indulgent treat. We ride down from Seven Springs Mountain Resort, which spans two counties in the borough of Seven Springs, but the valleys are still sheathed in shade. The roads are quiet and we can ride at a leisurely pace until the thermometer climbs. Itís a mix of small farms and woods here; the soil is tilled when it is flat enough and left alone when it isnít.

At Youghiogheny River Lake dam, we stop to take in the view. Built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1943, the earthen dam doesnít look like much, but it holds back a 16-mile reservoir and prevents the water from inundating the communities downstream, including nearby Confluence.

We cross over into Maryland and have a quick lunch before continuing our wandering. Our next stop is another reservoir, Deep Creek Lake, Marylandís largest inland body of water. Fun fact: All lakes in Maryland are man-made. This part of Maryland is a world away from the Chesapeake Bay, literally and figuratively.

A little to the east, Lonaconing is a tiny dot on the map. Less than half a square mile in size, itís an old iron, coal, and glassworks town nestled in a small, narrow valley. In the center of town thereís a statue, unveiled in June 2019, of a tall, lanky Major League Baseball player who has just pitched a ball, his intense eyes following the ballís trajectory toward home plate. Itís Lefty Grove, hometown hero and Hall of Fame pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox. In 1931, Lefty won 31 games against just four losses and pitched an amazing 27 complete games. He won the Most Valuable Player award that year and made ,000. When he retired, Lefty returned to Lonaconing to oversee a bowling alley he built there.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2020 back issue.