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The Rail Archived
Treasures Along The Rail Archived Issues
Fall & Winter 1997
Fall and Winter 1997

Brownsville - Our Gateway to the National Road

In any journey through the area of Return to the Turn of Century, a visitor must enjoy this Mon River town by taking in its attractions, historic areas, and festivals. And in doing so always begin with --

Nemacolin Castle - the crown jewel of this historic city, on Front St. over looking the Monongahela River.

The site itself is steeped in history, once the location of Indian burial grounds and fortifications, the area was the intended destination of Chief Nemacolin when he guided the Cresap expeditions across the mountains, establishing the Nemacolin Trail which later became the approximate route of the National Road. In 1759, during the French and Indian Wars, Fort Burd was constructed very near the Castle's current site. In 1780, Jacob Bowman purchased a building lot from Thomas Brown, co-founder of Brownsville for 23 English pounds. He named the site in honor of Chief Nemacolin, setting up a trading post and later building the Castle around it. (Ed. Note: More about Jacob Bowman in our next issue.)

As Bowman's wealth grew, so did his family, and what is now the center section of the house was added as living space. About 1850, the home's famous tower and a formal Victorian wing were added by his second generation.

Nemacolin Castle is unique in that three distinct time periods are represented in the interior design and furnishings. Through the generosity of Bowman heirs, family portraits, much furniture, and accessories and clothing have been restored to the home. In the trading post, visitors can see German tavern chairs, chopping block, and a pewter plate brought from Hagerstown, Md. by Jacob Bowman in 1786. A beautiful canopied bed, early sampler, crockery and clothing from as early as 1840 are also on exhibit. The elegance of the Victorian era is evident with marble statues from Italy, a hang gilded tilt top table inset with mother-of-pearl, the 1840 Chickering square grand piano and the famous "Bishop's bed".

The gilded chandeliers in the Victorian wing, althrough eletrified, are the original gasoliers. All woodwork, fireplaces and windows are inact.

The grounds, enclosed by a beautiful old stonewall are filled with lilies, peonies, roses, and two Chinese Gingko trees over 100 years old. The Brownsville Garden Club maintains a lovely herb garden.

Excellent guided tours are available from 11 AM to 5 PM, Sat. Sun. Easter through mid-October. The Harvest Festival is October 4th and 5th, and Candle Light Tours begin the day after Thanksgiving and run for ten days at 4 PM until 9 PM. Weekday tours are available only from through August, Tuesday through Friday. Plan a minimum of one hour for your tour. A modest Admission fee is charged. Group rates are available and tours may be arranged at other times and dates for groups of 20 or more. Call 724-785-6882.

Fayette Festival Celebrates 50th Year !!

- By Gladys Lee Powell-President

Fayette Festival Association, a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, and a major force behind the Return to the Turn of a Century Concept, is celebrating its 50th year in October, complete with banquet, dancing and the renewal of old friendships. In addition, an invitation is extended to representatives of the 13 towns in the "Century" area (known as the Fay-West Northern Tourism Project) to bring everyone up to date on their progress since the last meeting at Linden Hall.

Former members and officers of the Association are especially welcome. If you served in such a capacity please contact me at 724-736-4383, or call Jim DeOre at 724-628-0776.

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